This better-than-P.F. Chang chile-flavored orange chicken lettuce wrap recipe is incredibly easy to make thanks to the Instant Pot pressure cooker that does double duty as a self-serve, low-carb appetizer or as a healthy main meal that’s quick to make and even more fun to eat.
Just ask any three year old—or my 13 year old daughter’s best friend Elise who has yet to conform to the norm—eating with your hands is supremely gratifying.
Her parent’s say she’s “expressive and artistic.” I think she’s just laser-focus hungry and doesn’t want to play by anyone else’s rules. Either which way, lettuce wraps are a fun way to “nosh-on-it” and this Asian chicken lettuce wrap recipe proves it.
Because who says eating with a knife and fork should be the norm anyway? Cultures all around the world have eaten without utensils for centuries, and even more. Indian. Ethiopian. From Asia to Africa to the Middle East. As quoted in this New York Times article, cookbook author Julie Sahni emphatically states, “Eating with the hands evokes great emotion,” she says. “It kindles something very warm and gentle and caressing. Using a fork is unthinkable in traditional Indian eating. It is almost like a weapon.”
Okay. It looks like I need to give Elise a break. But I will NOT ease up on reminding her to wipe her hands and her face, even if I get that teenage “look” in return nearly every single time.
When Williams Sonoma Test Kitchens sent me their new The Instant Pot Cookbook to review, I was more than happy to say, heck to the yes, let’s do this. Their cookbooks are some of my very favorites and I regularly refer to their entire Dish of the Day series and every single Williams Sonoma cookbook authored by Kate McMillan who is one of my favorite recipe developers because of the series.
But this cookbook is different, just like the Instant Pot itself.
It’s fast. It’s concise. It’s efficient. In fact, this cookbook is slim, compact, and sports just 25+ recipes and cooking tips.
So while this cookbook isn’t your typical encyclopedia of recipes, it looks like every one of The Instant Pot Cookbook recipes are some you won’t want to skip-to-flip-the-page over. From Sesame-Green Onion Short Ribs, to Coq au Vin, to Truffle Gruyere Mac and Cheese. These are recipes you’re going to want to make instead of just look over, because yep, simple IS and less IS MORE.
How to Make Instant Pot Orange Chicken Lettuce Wraps
I really don’t need to come up with a new, witty reason for making this recipe in the Instant Pot. Instead I’ll take it straight from the cookbook recipe’s headnote itself: “The Instant Pot shows off its versatility in this version of spicy chicken lettuce wraps, acting first as a sauté pan, then as a pressure cooker, and then again as a sauté pan for thickening the sauce.”
I’d say that’s reason enough to smell what the Instant Pot Rock is cooking.
But here’s a few key points that will also help you on your way:
- It doesn’t matter what flavor of chicken you choose, they all work. Whether you want to use chicken breast, ground chicken, or chunks of chicken thigh, go with what’s easiest and fits in your budget. My husband usually grinds his own chicken thigh meat in the food processor for a more larb-like consistency.
2. Choose a leafy green lettuce for your wrap. Either Bibb, green, red leaf, baby romaine, or butter lettuce provide a nice, broad base for your wrap.
3. The Williams Sonoma recipe didn’t originally include rice, but we love adding it and so it’s here. If you’d like, you could use brown or red rice, vermicelli noodles, quinoa, or any grain you’re into right now. Or skip it all together and go full-on carb-free.
4. First we talked about eating with our hands. Next it’s all about considering the ingredient options and composing the perfect bite. Just like the perfect spring roll, or burrito (!) choosing your favorite veg to amplify the flavors and crunch is essential. Here’s a few to consider:
- red bell pepper
- green onion
- minced water chestnut
- all the herbs: mint, basil, cilantro and even watercress
And finally…everyone’s favorite part: Dipping in the sauce and licking the fingers. Elise will tell you, it’s the only way.
More Asian-flavored Recipes To Make This a Meal — Or a Party!
- How to Make an Asian-Inspired Cheese Board
- Sweet and Sour Asian Pickled Cucumbers
- The Best Steak Marinade in 30 Minutes
- Grilled Teriyaki Cauliflower Steaks with Asian Gremolata
- Crunchy Asian Cucumber Watermelon Salad
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Bookmark this recipe and leave a comment below, or take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #foodiecrusheats.
Instant Pot Orange Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Serve the lettuce leaves, chicken, rice, and garnishes at the table and encourage everyone to concoct their own lettuce leave creations with extra chile-garlic sauce for dipping and lime wedges on the side.
- 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2-inch cubes
- 5 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1/3 cup water
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon chile-garlic sauce
- 1 cup fresh orange juice
- 1 tablespoon grated orange zest
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 or 2 small heads of Bibb, butter, leafy green, or romaine lettuce leaves, for serving
- Cooked white rice
- Thinly sliced cucumbers, carrots, red bell pepper, carrot, water chestnuts
- Fresh herbs like Thai basil, cilantro, mint and watercress
- Toss the chicken with 2 tablespoons of the cornstarch in a bowl to coat evenly. Select Sauté on the Instant Pot or pressure cooker and warm the canola oil. Cook the chicken in batches, turning as every minute or so so the chicken doesn't stick to the pan, until all sides are golden brown, about 5-6 minutes for each batch. Add the water, soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, sesame oil, chile-garlic sauce, and 1/2 cup of the orange juice and stir to mix well.
- Lock the lid in place and turn the valve to Sealing Press the keep Warm/Cancel button to reset the program, then press the Poultry button and set the cook time for 7 minutes at high pressure.
- Let the steam release naturally for about 10 minutes, then turn the valve to Venting to release any residual steam. Carefully remove the lid and transfer about 1/4 cup of the sauce to a small bowl. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of cornstarch to the bowl and stir to dissolve. Return the mixture to the pot and stir well. Press the Keep Warm/Cancel button to reset the program, then press the Sauté button ad cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Stir in the remaining 1/2 cup orange juice and the orange zest and season with salt and pepper.
- Arrange the lettuce leaves on a large serving platter with the sliced garnishes and herbs, and serve aside the cooked rice, green onion, and sauce. Scoop the chicken, rice and garnishes into the lettuce leaves and and serve.
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