This Instant Pot updated honey bourbon chicken recipe quickly jumped to the top of the request list in my house. Let me know your thoughts on it, and click on the affiliate links I share to help support my blog. I get a small percentage from any purchase.
When I got my Instant Pot, I’ll admit that it sat in its box for a few weeks. I was so excited to get it, but once it arrived, I was completely intimidated. Does that sound familiar? I asked friends for their suggestion for what to make first. What no fail recipe should I make? What did they and their kids like? That’s how I developed this updated Honey Bourbon Chicken recipe. Of course, they pointed me to the recipe from Once a Month Meals, and as I perused it, I grew intrigued.
The recipe had flavors I would never have put together myself – pepper flakes and soy sauce and honey and ketchup and more. I admit I was slightly dubious of the combination, but with the repeated cry of “yes yes yes!” from my friends, I gave it a shot. Or I planned to. That’s when I realized I had no ketchup in the house. And not the full cup of honey the recipe required. And wait, how much soy sauce? More importantly, why do we call it honey bourbon chicken when there’s no bourbon in the recipe? I’m still stumped on that one.
Regardless, I put on my thinking hat, and I got creative. I started with an emergency honey bourbon chicken recipe and ended up with an updated honey bourbon chicken recipe. I love the flavor of this recipe, and so do my kids. Every time I say I’m making it, they jump up and down. Literally. It tastes fantastic, and like just about everything I make in my Instant Pot (the exception: my homemade chicken stock), this is ready in no time flat. The ingredients are somewhat “cleaner” in this updated honey bourbon chicken recipe, which means I’m willing to make it for my family more often. It still contains a lot of honey, but we never use all the sauce this generates anyway. I use this much because the chicken needs to cook in the liquid to absorb the amazing flavor on every bite.
If I have no time, I make this with whole frozen chicken breasts and shred them while the sauce thickens. Simply adjust the cooking time to 15 minutes (and maintain the natural pressure release time). When I can, I prefer to cut the chicken into bite size chunks before cooking, as I find the flavor gets into and through each bite of chicken better that way. You do what works best for you, which is another benefit of the Instant Pot. The fact that I can get this started, then run out the door to my kids’ activities and have a delicious homemade meal ready within five minutes of walking in the door? Oh winner winner chicken dinner!
The key to developing some of the rich flavor is sauteing the onions in your Instant Pot before doing the ingredient dump. The onions start to caramelize just a touch, but more importantly, the tomato paste you stir into the onions develops a deep rich flavor you simply can’t match if you skip this step. It’s one of my favorite cooking tips. Anytime you see a recipe with tomato paste, add it to the step where you saute your veggies. It creates a sweeter flavor as they start to caramelize the same way your other vegetables do.
We could eat this updated honey bourbon chicken every night. It has less honey and soy sauce, and uses a little chicken stock to ensure you retain enough liquid for cooking. Sauteing the onion, tomato paste, and (at the end) garlic adds a great depth of flavor that you can taste through their stronger counterparts. The slightly smoky paprika adds just a little touch of a kick that takes this dish from good to perfection.
How to Make This Updated Honey Bourbon Chicken
Like so many Instant Pot recipes, you need just the Instant Pot and no other dishes. You can make this in either the Lux or the Duo, as it uses the poultry and saute settings only. Turn it to saute while you quickly chop you onion. Add oil to the pot and then the onion and tomato paste. Stir to distribute the tomato paste, then mince your garlic. Turn off your Instant Pot as soon as you add the garlic and stir.
Cut your chicken into bite size chunks. Add them to the Instant Pot with the honey, soy sauce, chicken stock, smoked paprika, and pepper. Feel free to use low sodium soy sauce, or substitute tamari to make it gluten free. Stir to distribute, then cover and close your lid. Make sure the vent is closed, and turn it to poultry for 7 minutes. You will need to adjust the time up to 10 minutes if you plan to skip the natural pressure release, but I don’t recommend it.
Once your chicken finishes cooking, use a natural pressure release for 10-15 minutes to ensure your chicken stays moist, especially if you cubed it. Make a slurry with the corn starch (or arrowroot powder) and water.
Open your Instant Pot, and turn it to saute. Pour it into the Instant Pot while stirring, and let it cook for a couple minutes. You’ll notice it start thickening almost immediately.
Serve over rice or quinoa.
Need some other great Instant Pot recipe ideas? Try this updated honey bourbon chicken, then check out my other favorites.
- Creamy chickpea tomato soup (with adaption to make on stovetop)
- Easy peasy tomato soup
- Homemade chicken stock
- Spanish rice
Honey bourbon chicken is an Instant Pot classic. This updated version makes it slightly better for you while deepening the flavors with some quick cooking tricks. This will quickly become your family's new favorite!
- 1 T oil
- 3/4 c onion, diced
- 3 T tomato paste
- 3 gloves garlic, minced
- 2 pounds chicken, cut into bite size pieces
- 1/2-2/3 c honey
- 1/3 c soy sauce
- 1/4 c chicken stock
- 1/2 t smoked paprika
- 1/2 t pepper
- 2 T corn starch or arrowroot powder
- 2 T water
- Turn Instant Pot to saute while you chop your onion. Add oil to the pot and then the onion and tomato paste. Stir to distribute the tomato paste, then mince garlic. Turn off Instant Pot after adding garlic and stir.
- Cut chicken into bite size chunks. Add to the Instant Pot with the honey, soy sauce, chicken stock, smoked paprika, and pepper. Stir to distribute, then cover and close vent Set to poultry for 7 minutes.
- Once the chicken finishes cooking, use a natural pressure release for 10-15 minutes. Make a slurry with the corn starch (or arrowroot powder) and water.
- Open the Instant Pot, and turn it to saute. Pour slurry into the Instant Pot while stirring, and let it cook for a couple minutes. Once it thickens, serve immediately over rice or quinoa.
You can easily make this gluten free by using tamari in place of the soy sauce. Arrowroot powder makes a great substitute for corn starch if you can't eat that, as well. Use whole frozen chicken breasts in place of the cubed pieces and adjust the cooking time to 15 minutes, ensuring you maintain the 10-15 minute NPR.