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Instant Pot Chicken Pad Thai

Skip the takeout and make this easy Instant Pot Chicken Pad Thai! Made with homemade sauce and plenty of vegetables, you will love how easy it is to make this healthier version of pad Thai at home.

If you’re looking for more takeout-inspired meals, try my Instant Pot Chicken “Fried” Rice!

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Instant Pot Chicken Pad Thai on a white plate garnished with cilantro and chopped peanut, next to small bowls of garnish and a second plate

Lately, I’m really into making at-home versions of our favourite takeout dishes. We’re eating out a lot less these days, but sometimes we miss a particular meal. This Instant Pot Chicken Pad Thai has quickly become a go-to recipe.

This version of pad Thai is definitely not authentic (well, of course, it’s made in a pressure cooker!), but I love that it uses easy-to-find ingredients. Traditional pad Thai sauce includes tamarind paste, but it’s not easily found in my local grocery store and I bet not everyone has it on hand. I don’t think you’ll miss it, once you taste the sauce in this recipe!

Ingredients

Here’s what you’ll need to make Instant Pot Chicken Pad Thai. See the recipe card below for detailed ingredients and instructions.

For the homemade pad Thai sauce

  • Soy sauce – or wheat-free tamari, if you follow a gluten-free diet
  • Brown sugar – for sweetness
  • Chicken broth – water works, too
  • Rice vinegar – you can substitute apple cider vinegar in a pinch.
  • Fish sauce – I used the Thai Kitchen brand. I highly recommend fish sauce for the umami flavour it brings, but you can substitute more soy sauce if you don’t have it.
  • Peanut butter – the creamy, natural variety. This makes the sauce (in my opinion). I tried it without peanut butter and it tasted great, but didn’t have the same wow factor.
  • Garlic – because garlic makes everything better
  • Sesame oil – for flavour
  • Sriracha – for some heat. The recipe as written is mildly spicy with 1 tablespoon. Add more if you like it hot!

For the pad Thai

  • Chicken breast – one pound, 1.5-inch dice. You want the pieces to be bite-sized, but fairly large so they stay juicy once cooked.
  • Carrot – cut into matchsticks
  • Green onion – sliced. Pressure cook the white and light green parts and reserve the dark green tips for garnish.
  • Rice noodles – flat stick noodles that are typical of pad Thai, not the super thin kind
  • Zucchini – I like it spiralized, but you could also cut it into matchsticks if you don’t have a spiralizer. I’ve linked to a spiralizer similar to the one I have in the recipe card below.
  • Bean sprouts
  • Red bell pepper – thinly sliced

For serving

  • Lime wedges – highly recommend
  • Chopped peanuts – so awesome, if you like peanuts
  • Cilantro – unless it tastes like soap to you (haha)
  • Sliced green onion
diced green onion, matchstick carrots, spiralized zucchini, bean sprouts and sliced red bell pepper on a wooden serving tray

How to make it

First, make the sauce. Whisk all the sauce ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl.

homemade pad Thai sauce being whisked in a white bowl

Next, pressure cook the chicken and cook the noodles. Place the diced chicken in the Instant Pot and pour the sauce on top. Put the carrots and diced green onion on top of the chicken. Pressure cook on Manual High pressure for 4 minutes. At the end of cooking time, let the pressure release naturally (NPR) for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil on the stovetop. Cook the rice noodles according to package directions, until they just reach your desired texture. Drain and set aside.

Diced chicken breast, homemade pad Thai sauce, sliced green onion and matchstick carrots in an Instant Pot viewed from overhead

Now, steam the vegetables. After the 5-minute NPR, quick release the remaining pressure. Add the zucchini, bean sprouts and bell pepper. Stir until well combined and let the vegetables steam with the lid on top for about 3 minutes.

Add the cooked rice noodles and use tongs to gently toss them until they’re evenly coated in sauce and warmed through. Then serve with your chosen garnishes!

sliced red bell pepper, bean sprouts and spiralized zucchini in an Instant Pot viewed from overhead

Variations

  • Change up the added vegetables. Use any vegetable that would steam nicely in about 3 minutes.
  • Add some scrambled egg. I tend to skip this because I don’t want to wash another dish, but egg is a great addition.

Can I cook the noodles in the Instant Pot with the chicken?

You can, but I don’t recommend it. After many tests, I wasn’t as happy with the texture of the noodles or the chicken when I cooked them together. There are 3 main reasons:

  1. Rice noodles are starchy. If you’re not draining the cooking water, they get really sticky due to the starch. It tastes okay, but it’s not the best texture for Pad Thai.
  2. Inconsistent pressure cooking results with different noodle brands. I want you to have success when making this recipe. There’s a better chance you’ll be happy with the result if you make the noodles on the stovetop and have control over the finished texture.
  3. Natural pressure release results in a better meat texture. If you pressure cook with the noodles, you need to do a quick release or they’ll turn to mush. Cooking the noodles separately means you can give the chicken some time to hang out in the cooking liquid, resulting in a juicier, more tender texture.

Okay, but I still want to cook the noodles in the Instant Pot. How do I do that?

If I didn’t convince you with my reasons above (I admire your determination!), you can add 1.5 cups of water along with the sauce and sit the noodles just on top of the vegetables (spread out the carrot and green onion in a layer on top of the chicken first).

Pressure cook for 3 or 4 minutes (depends on your noodle) and quick release pressure at the end of cooking time. Steam the added vegetables as written in the recipe.

Tips for Success

  • Don’t skip the natural pressure release. It makes the resulting chicken texture so much more tender and juicy!
  • Rinse the noodles in cold water if they’re done cooking well before the chicken. This will stop them from cooking further and reduce stickiness.
  • Test your noodle texture. I found the package timing wasn’t always long enough. Some manufacturers may assume you’ll continue to stir fry the noodles. We want the texture to be just reaching your desired finished texture, so they’ll be perfect once they sit in the sauce for a minute or two.
Chicken Pad Thai in an Instant Pot being swirled with kitchen tongs

More Instant Pot Recipes

Instant Pot Chicken Pad Thai on a white plate garnished with cilantro, chopped peanuts and a lime wedge

Instant Pot Chicken Pad Thai

Laura Lawless, BASc
Skip the takeout and make this easy Instant Pot Chicken Pad Thai! Made with homemade sauce and plenty of vegetables, you will love how easy it is to make this healthier version of pad Thai at home.
4.89 from 18 votes
Servings 4
Calories 535
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 7 mins
Inactive time 15 mins
Total Time 37 mins

Ingredients

For the sauce

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth or water
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce or wheat-free tamari
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce (or sub with more low-sodium soy sauce)
  • 2 tablespoons creamy natural peanut butter
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha (or to taste)

For the Pad Thai

  • 1 lb chicken breast, 1.5-inch dice
  • 1 cup matchstick carrots (about 2 medium carrots)
  • 1/4 cup diced green onion, white and light green parts only (reserve dark green part for garnish)
  • 8 oz rice noodles
  • 2 zucchini, spiralized or cut into matchsticks
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced

Serve with

  • cilantro
  • sliced green onion
  • lime wedges
  • chopped peanuts

Instructions
 

  • In a medium bowl, whisk together all the sauce ingredients.
  • Place the diced chicken in the Instant Pot and pour in the sauce. Put the carrots and green onion on top. Pressure cook on Manual High pressure for 4 minutes. It will take about 10 minutes to come to pressure. At the end of cooking time, allow for a 5-minute Natural Pressure Release (NPR).
  • Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil on the stovetop and cook the rice noodles according to package directions, until you just reach your desired texture. Drain in a colander and set aside.
  • After the 5-minute NPR, quick release any remaining pressure in the Instant Pot. Stir in the zucchini, bean sprouts and bell pepper. Put the lid on the Instant Pot to steam the vegetables in the heat of the sauce for about 3 minutes (see note 6).
  • Add the rice noodles to the Instant Pot and use tongs to carefully toss them with the chicken and vegetables, until they're evenly covered in sauce. Let them sit for a minute to warm up, if necessary. Serve immediately with your chosen garnishes. Store leftovers in a sealed container in the refrigerator and eat within 4 days.

Notes

  1. This recipe was tested in a 6-quart Instant Pot model. 
  2. Nutrition estimate does not include optional garnishes.
  3. Inactive time indicates the time it takes the Instant Pot to come to pressure and release pressure. 
  4. To make this in an 8-quart Instant Pot model, you can double the entire recipe or double everything but the noodles. 
  5. See my comments and recommendation in the post about pressure cooking the noodles along with the chicken.
  6. Some Instant Pot models have a “Steam” function. Do not use this as it will pressure cook your vegetables and they will turn to mush! Just steam them in the heat of the cooked chicken/sauce. 

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Equipment

Instant Pot (6qt)
Spiralizer

Nutrition Estimate

Calories: 535kcal | Carbohydrates: 75g | Protein: 32g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 73mg | Sodium: 1599mg | Potassium: 1053mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 21g | Vitamin A: 6570IU | Vitamin C: 67mg | Calcium: 78mg | Iron: 2mg
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Hey, I’m Laura!

Creator of The Recipe Well


I love food and cooking, but hate doing the dishes. I use my nutrition degree to create easy, approachable recipes that will help you find your happy place in the kitchen.

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Recipe Rating




46 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Thoroughly enjoyed our homemade Thai dinner. The next time I try it, I might try putting all the veggies in at the same time. Flavors and overall effect, however, was excellent.

  2. Gloria mellyn says:

    Hi!! Can you use a slow cooker?
    Gloria Thankyou

    1. Laura Lawless, BASc says:

      Hi Gloria, it may be possible, but I haven’t tested the recipe that way so I can’t provide guidance on timing etc.

  3. 5 stars
    Hi Laura, made this for dinner tonight and followed to the t. It was delicious and lots of flavour. My husband loved it and said to make it again so that says a lot.

    1. Laura Lawless, BASc says:

      So glad you both enjoyed the recipe! Thanks for leaving a review!

  4. 5 stars
    Followed the recipe almost exact, but excluded the bean sprouts and added broccoli in at at end. It was delicious! My picky eater of a husband went back for seconds. I cannot wait for the leftovers!

  5. Question…if I double the recipe is the cooking time/NPR time doubled too? Instant Pot newbie here…

    1. Laura Lawless, BASc says:

      Cook time and natural release stay the same!

  6. 5 stars
    Somehow, we ate all the noodles yesterday so we had a lot of leftovers with no noodles. I just ate the sauce over white rice and it was so so good 😊. This is a recipe that keeps on giving

    1. Laura Lawless, BASc says:

      Such a great idea!

  7. 5 stars
    Turned out really good. Definitely better then anything I’ve ever had at a restaurant. Adding to the rotation.

    1. Laura Lawless, BASc says:

      This is wonderful to hear, Kayla!

  8. 5 stars
    I made this for my boyfriend and we both loved it!! Such a good recipe!

    1. Laura Lawless, BASc says:

      So happy you both liked it! Thanks for leaving a review, Mayra!

  9. 4 stars
    The flavor was great but the sauce turned out watery

    1. Laura Lawless, BASc says:

      Hi Diane, glad you enjoyed the flavour! I find the noodles tend to soak up some of the sauce as they sit in the sauce to warm up, but you could also use the sauté function to whisk in a cornstarch slurry (before adding the noodles) if a much thicker sauce is your preference. Thanks for leaving a review!

    1. Laura Lawless, BASc says:

      Glad you enjoyed it, Ken!

  10. Nadia Rodriguez says:

    This recipe looks amazing! I have everything for the sauce except rice or apple cider vinegar. Is there another substitute that I might be able to use for the sauce?

    1. Laura Lawless, BASc says:

      Hi Nadia, white wine vinegar would work too! Or you can use freshly squeezed lime juice. You really just need some acidity. Hope you enjoy!

  11. Can you use frozen chicken breast?

    1. Laura Lawless, BASc says:

      Hi Casey, it’s best made with thawed chicken so that you can cook the carrots at the same time. If you use frozen chicken, I wouldn’t add the carrots until after pressure cooking. You could use grated carrot or thinly shaved carrot, so that it can steam with the other veggies. If you’re using 8oz frozen breasts (separated, not frozen together), I would pressure cook for 10 minutes, plus 10 minutes natural release. Be sure to check it’s cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F. Hope this helps!

  12. 5 stars
    Great recipe – directions are perfect. I initially worried that the sauce looked to thin, so I hit the saute function to steam some of it off. However, this isn’t necessary – when you add the rice noodles, the noodles completely soak up the sauce (at least the brown rice noodles that I used did). Thank you.

    1. Laura Lawless, BASc says:

      Yes, the noodles will soak up the sauce after a few minutes warming up. So glad you enjoyed the recipe, Doug!

  13. 5 stars
    My whole family loved it! Very easy to follow the steps. We will be making this again and again.

    1. Laura Lawless, BASc says:

      So happy to hear this, Sara! Thanks for leaving a review!

  14. Sofie Trapp says:

    5 stars
    The best Pad Thai I have EVER had. my only advice would be to add some cornstarch to the sauce:) will be making again!

    1. Laura Lawless, BASc says:

      So happy you liked it, Sofie!

  15. 5 stars
    The rice noodles I used literally have no instructions and are from a 2 pound pack in small bunches bound with straw. They worked great when I made pho but I think they need longer for this purpose. It ended up like soup. I let it sit there in the pot for an hour and it was fine after that. If the liquid doesn’t dissipate just leave it for a bit!!! I have a jar of store bought thai peanut sauce that made it a bit creamier. Ended up being just fine.

    1. Laura Lawless, BASc says:

      Glad your noodles worked out! They can be tricky when you cook them in the Instant Pot. Thanks for leaving a review, Tyler!

  16. Timothy Costello says:

    5 stars
    Perfect recipe

    1. Laura Lawless, BASc says:

      So happy you enjoyed it! Thanks for leaving a review!

  17. Laura-Anne says:

    4 stars
    I tried this recipe tonight for dinner. I used broccoli instead of bean sprouts and red pepper because that is what I had on hand. I found that there was too much liquid after I finished cooking so I drained it and cooked it down with some cornstarch and water to thicken it up. I also found that the flavor was a little strong on the vinegar so I added another quarter cup of brown sugar when I thickened it up, and it came out amazingly well. Would make again with my minor changes to the sauce.

    1. Laura Lawless, BASc says:

      Hi Laura-Anne, glad you were able to customize it to your taste! Thanks for taking the time to leave a review!

  18. 5 stars
    I recently tried Pad Thai for the first time and now I’m hooked! This was my first time making it but it did not disappoint. Make a couple subs on the sauce ingredients (like coconut aminos rather than soy sauce, maple syrup instead of brown sugar, almond butter since I didn’t have peanut) and it still had a ton of flavor. I especially love all the veggies incorporated. We will be making again soon!

    1. Laura Lawless, BASc says:

      Thrilled to hear you enjoyed it, Dakota! Thanks for taking the time to leave a review!

  19. 5 stars
    This was super easy and very delicious. The flavours were fresh! I added a tablespoon of cornstarch to thicken the sauce. I will definitely make again. P.s. Adding the lime on top is a must.

    1. Laura Lawless, BASc says:

      So happy to hear you enjoyed it, Holly!

  20. I’m making this now, and I’ve used my own judgement for answering this question. Maybe you can clarify, though.

    In allowing the bell peppers, zucchini and bean sprouts to steam for 3 minutes, do you mean using the “Steam” mode on the IP?

    1. Laura Lawless, BASc says:

      Hey Rhiannon, no, I don’t mean the Steam mode on the IP. Just steaming the vegetables in the heat of the sauce. I will clarify this in the recipe, so thank you for pointing this out!

    2. Michelle Root says:

      5 stars
      This was SO GOOD. Even picky eaters liked it (i.e.kids). I ate 2 bowls and I am not afraid to admit it. I don’t care – it was that good. Felt like I ordered out. Will make again, and again, and again!

      1. Laura Lawless, BASc says:

        I’m so happy to hear this, Michelle! Thanks for taking the time to leave a review!

      2. 5 stars
        Just made this tonight love it!! Will definitely make again.

      3. Laura Lawless, BASc says:

        Awesome! 🙂

  21. Would love to try this. I’m not a lover of rice noodles just wondering if a thin pasta would be an option? Also, would this work better in the instant pot.

    1. Laura Lawless, BASc says:

      Hi Jan, I haven’t tested this recipe with another type of noodle cooked in the Instant Pot, but you could certainly add any cooked noodle in place of rice noodles. Another reader used regular spaghetti noodles and loved it!