Instant Pot Chicken Rendang Recipe

Posted April 10, 2018 by Stephanie

Have you guys heard about Rendangate? Last week, a contestant on MasterChef UK was eliminated. I mean, people get eliminated every show, so that in of itself wasn’t worthy of going viral or trending. But in this particular case, the contestant that was eliminated was done so because she make a non-crispy chicken rendang that wasn’t good enough. One of the judges said  “I like the rendang flavor, there’s a coconut sweetness. However, the chicken skin isn’t crispy. It can’t be eaten and all the sauce is on the skin so I can’t eat it.”

Instant Pot Chicken Rendang Recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com

It sounds like a fair assessment, I guess. But the thing is, chicken skin isn’t always crispy. And it’s certainly not crispy in a traditional Indonesian or Malaysian rendang, a saucy and tender flavorful slow braised chicken dish. Anyway, the internet and the entirety of South East Asia is up in arms because well, it was kind of a dumb 5 year old thing to say, kind of like “the carrots are touching the sauce, I can’t eat it.”

Anyway, chicken skin non-crispiness aside, chicken rendang is really, really good. Saucy but not too saucy, stewy, and tender. Chicken rendang is one of those dishes that you’ll want to eat again and again, especially with rice. Rendang was always a treat growing up because my mom never made it for us at home. She claimed that it took too long to pound everything together to make the paste. This coming from the woman who would love to make hundreds of curry chicken puffs, for fun.

Instant Pot Chicken Rendang Recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com

Instant Pot Chicken Rendang Recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com

I don’t know why she didn’t just use a food processor, which is exactly what I did here. I went the very non-traditional route with both a food processor and an Instant Pot because, well Instant Pot. You shave off hours of cooking and end up with a quick and easy chicken dinner. I served it up with some refreshing chunks of cucumber and crunchy freshly fried shrimp chips. We would have had rice too but we’re on a low-carb kick, so that was out. The chicken was super tender and juicy and the sauce was wonderful. Rendang lovers unite!

Instant Pot Chicken Rendang Recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com

PS – It was definitely irking what happened on MasterChef UK. There are definitely questions around authenticity, food values, and who can and should judge food. To be honest, the whole thing made me laugh but also made me feel a bit icky.

PPS – What are your thoughts on crispy vs non-crispy chicken skin? I’m totally down with tender chicken skin, like on Hainanese chicken, soy sauce chicken, or chicken skins in curries.

Instant Pot Chicken Rendang Recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com

Instant Pot Chicken Rendang Recipe Recipe
serves 3-4
prep time: 15 minutes

Rendang Paste:

  • 4 shallots, chopped
  • 1 inch piece galangal, chopped
  • 3 stalks lemongrass, white parts only
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 inch piece ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 5-10 dried chilies, to taste, seeded


  • 2 tablespoons neutral oil
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 3 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, white parts only, bruised
  • 5-6 bone in, skin on chicken thighs
  • 4-6 lime leaves
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1-2 tablespoons sugar
  • salt, to taste

Blend together all of the paste ingredients until smooth.

With the Instant Pot in Sear/Sauté mode on high, heat the oil in the insert. When the oil is hot, add the blended paste ingredients and fry, stirring, until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in the coconut milk, cardamom, star anise, cinnamon, and lemongrass until mixed well. Nestle in the chicken. Put the lid on, set the pressure to high and cook time to 15 minutes.

While the rendang is cooking, lightly toast the shredded coconut in a dry pan over medium to medium low heat, stirring often, until golden brown. Remove from the pan and let cool.

Quick release when the cooking time is completed. Stir in the lime leaves, coconut, sugar, and salt to taste.  Turn the Instant Pot to High on Sauté and reduce the sauce, stirring often, for about 5 minutes. Enjoy warm.

Note: If you can’t find galangal, you can skip out on it or add a touch more ginger instead.


  1. Kari says:

    This sounds delicious! I need to get on the instant pot band wagon!

  2. Cheryl says:

    Full disclosure: I was totally going to breeze through this post as soon as I read “no crispy-skinned chicken” in the caption. But you bring up a good point, tender chicken skin makes sense under certain circumstances, e.g. Hainanese and soy sauce chicken. I totally get the uproar though, the judge’s critique sounds like such a gwai lo thing to say. Tsk tsk

  3. Stephanie says:

    I’m sad to say that this ended up not working for me in the InstantPot – it gave me the message “burn” and the liquid was indeed browning/sticking to the bottom so I opened it, scraped everything up and tried again to no avail as I got a second “burn” message and even worse stickage this time. Seems like 1 cup of coconut milk wasn’t enough for my InstantPot? I felt like I put enough oil. Anywho! I ended up throwing it in a dutch oven and into the oven – sorta like the red curry chicken quarters from your website, which I love. Fingers crossed it works out!

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi stephanie,
      which size instant pot do you have? usually 1 cup of liquid works out for me, especially since the chicken ends up releasing a lot of liquid too. hopefully you were able to save them! if you try again, i would suggest a whole can of coconut milk.

      1. Annie says:

        You can get galangal in most vietnamese grocery stores. We can get in Vancouver T&T too.

      2. Eliza says:

        Hi there! To avoid the burn sign (speaking from experience! it was frustrating when it happened to me), make sure you scrap off any burnt portions at the bottom of the pan using a wooden spatula, add in all the ingredients, mix them, then *add in coconut cream LAST and DO NOT MIX*. It’s the coconut milk that burns easily and trips the instantpot. Once added you can start the pressure cook as per usual. Hope this helps! Trying this recipe tonight ^^

  4. Lauren says:

    Are there any substitutes for galangal? They are rally hard to find in Canada.

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi lauren,
      you can just leave it out :) it won’t taste quite the same but it’ll be good still. if there are any asian grocery stores near you they might have frozen galangal :)

    2. Annie Tan says:

      You can get galangal at T&T or any Vietnamese store in Canada.

  5. Tony says:

    Im going to try this recipe today, I just got an insta-pot! However i dont think 2 TBS of oil is enough. When I make rendang normally I would use 1/4 to 1/3 cup of oil. Yes once everything is cooked down and reduced to its signature rendang thick texture you can take out the excess oil from dish but this is how I was taught by my husband who is from Indonesia. I will sauté the paste with oil in a separate pan before adding to instapot and then continue with instapot recipe. Also the browned coconut is usually ground into a paste before adding into dish.

  6. Kim says:

    Could we substitute chicken for beef? Or would that ruin the flavor?

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi kim, you can totally use beef. depending on what cut you’re using, i would probably cook it longer!

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