Instant Pot Kung Pao Chickpeas


This is a classic Chinese takeout recipe with a twist! These Instant Pot Kung Pao Chickpeas are a bit sweet, a little spicy and super savory with the perfect amount of umami. Think buttery soft chickpeas with crunchy celery and peanuts covered in the most delicious sauce!

Out of all Chinese take-out dishes, kung pao has been my favorite for as long as I can remember. I thought I’d make a vegan version of my favorite dish so here it is y’all… kung pao chickPEAS!

Now THIS is what I call fakeout takeout. It tastes like takeout but it’s obviously much healthier – a dish you can feel really good about eating and feeding your family. It’s so tasty that you’ll probably forget it’s healthy.

It’s hard to find a restaurant that will make this dish gluten-free and I’m also pretty sure I’ve never seen a vegan version on any menu as well. This dish is both! We’re killing two birds with one stone here — not actual birds of course… this is a vegetarian dish after all. 🤓

I love chickpeas and I love using them as a meat substitute. They’re perfect for a satisfying meatless meal. Plus they’re fun to eat and toddler friendly too. I know you guys really loved my take on butter chicken with my butter chickpeas recipe and I’m sure you’ll love these kung pao chickpeas just as much.

a dump and cook recipe!

This recipe for Instant Pot Kung Pao Chickpeas is full of flavor and texture. It’s a breeze to make too – basically a pour and cook type of recipe with a bit of stir-frying at the very end.

To make this dish, you literally just dump a bunch of ingredients into the instant pot and cook! While the dish cooks, you can prepare some ingredients to add into the pot later. Once the chickpeas are done cooking, you just add the remaining ingredients (water chestnuts, peanuts, celery and bell pepper) for a quick stir-fry, add some garnish and you’re done! You can add a thickener if you want – it won’t affect the flavor but will make the sauce a bit thicker. I like to do this but totally up to you!

talk about texture heaven!

You guys, this dish is texture GOALS. I know that’s not actually a thing but here on the blog texture is EVERYTHING hence the phrase texture goals. I’m talking buttery soft chickpeas paired with crunchy ingredients like peanuts, celery and water chestnuts! I know kung pao normally doesn’t call for water chestnuts but I’m a crunch nut and loooove water chestnuts in Asian recipes. Please add them, you will thank me.

I prefer to use dried chickpeas:

I love using dried chickpeas – I keep them in my pantry. I buy a big bag of organic dried chickpeas from my local Indian grocery store and they are extremely affordable. I want to say 1 cup of dried chickpeas = around 3 cans. You can use canned of course – if you do, there’s really no need for a pressure cooker as canned beans are already cooked. I personally prefer the flavor of cooking dried beans over canned and I also feel like they absorb flavor better.

I normally soak chickpeas overnight – it makes them nice and plump! If you forget to soak them overnight, you can easily do a quick soak by covering the dried chickpeas with an inch of water and pressure cooking them for 10 minutes with a natural release. Then dump out the water, rinse the chickpeas well and follow the directions from there.

I hope you love this recipe for kung pao chickpeas! Tell me what you think if you make it!

Instant Pot Kung Pao Chickpeas

Instant Pot Kung Pao Chickpeas

5 from 10 reviews
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  • 1 cup dried chickpeas soaked overnight (or see directions on how to quick soak)*
  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ cup gluten-free tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon ginger powder
  • ½ - 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes adjust to taste

Add later:

  • 1 8 ounce can water chestnuts, drained, optional
  • 1 cup chopped bell pepper i like using red and green
  • 1 celery stalk chopped
  • ½ cup unsalted roasted peanuts


  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
  • Handful of chopped scallions


  • Slurry made by mixing 1 teaspoon arrowroot in 1 tablespoon water


  • Soak chickpeas in cold water overnight. Drain, rinse and set aside.
  • Add all of the ingredients except for the ones listed under “add later” to the Instant Pot and mix well.
  • Secure the lid, close the pressure valve and cook for 35 minutes at high pressure.
  • Naturally release pressure.
  • Press the saute button, then add all of the ingredients listed under “add later” and the optional slurry if you prefer a thicker sauce. Cook for 5 minutes, or until the bell peppers are slightly tender. 
  • Stir in the sesame seed oil then sprinkle with sesame seeds and scallions and serve.


Forget to soak chickpeas? You can do a quick soak by covering dried chickpeas with an inch of water and pressure cooking them for 10 minutes with a natural release. Then dump out the water, rinse the chickpeas well and follow the recipe directions from there.
You can add cayenne or extra red pepper flakes to make this spicier.
Did you make this recipe?Tag @myheartbeets on Instagram and hashtag it #myheartbeets!

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Find out more about my cookbooks Indian Food Under Pressure and South Asian Persuasion.

About Ashley

Hi, I’m Ashley. Thanks for being here! I truly believe that food brings us closer together. Gather around a table with good food and good people, and you’ll have the ingredients you need to create some happy memories. My hope is that you find recipes here that you can’t wait to share with family and friends.


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  1. Austin says

    5 stars
    This recipe is delicious! I subbed chopped carrots for the water chestnuts and a tsp of sriracha for the red chili flakes. It tastes so good and is so easy to make.

  2. Cat says

    I’m a little confused. Pressure cook the soaked chickpeas 35 minutes? My Instant Pot manual says max 15 mins for soaked chickpeas; 32-35 for dried chickpeas. Can you please confirm this recipe should be 35 mins for soaked chickpeas?

    • Ashley - My Heart Beets says

      Hi Cat, it depends on how cooked you prefer your chickpeas. I prefer the texture at 35 minutes as I like my chickpeas to be very soft. I’ve tried using shorter cook times but haven’t liked the texture – feel free to adjust to your preference though.

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