Instant Pot Chicken with Walnut Sauce (Satsivi) is a delicious Georgian dish with only a handful of ingredients. It is served cold or hot and it’s totally delicious over rice, pasta or on pita. It is also low carb and gluten-free!
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Half of the times when my mom comes to visit I have Instant Pot on the kitchen counter. It is really one of my most used appliances. I cook with it many times a week, sometimes a few times a day.
And each time mom wonders out loud if she needs Instant Pot. Each time we try and talk about what she could make in it. I still haven’t convinced her that she needs this electric pressure cooker but I did convince my grandma who apparently now absolutely loves it!
A few weeks ago mom and I were talking about what she cooked when I was little. Funny enough, we couldn’t really remember. We remembered all the desserts, all the birthday celebration foods. We remembered breakfasts and snacks but everyday dinners were a bit elusive.
Finally, my mom remembered one of the recipes: Satsivi or Chicken with Walnut Sauce – classic Georgian recipe that was very popular in my family. That evening she sent me an email with her recipe and wondered if it could be adapted to be cooked in Instant Pot.
Two week later, after making it four times, I finally let her try my Instant Pot Chicken with Walnut Sauce. Verdict: she loved it! It was different from my childhood recipe but also very similar. The flavours were spot on but I made some significant changes and, I humbly think, made the dish better.
And I can absolutely definitely say that my version of Instant Pot Satsivi is much easier than the traditional way that my mom used to make. So, in honour of upcoming Mother’s Day, I’d like to dedicate this childhood recipe to my mom.
Before I delve into all the recipe tips and instructions, I’d like to note that this is not an authentic recipe. However, just like with an Apple Pie or Borscht, there are many different variations of Satsivi.
What is Satsivi
Satsivi is actually Georgian walnut sauce. Most often it is served with chicken or other poultry such as turkey or duck. Sometimes it is added to vegetables such as cauliflower or eggplant.
Georgian cuisine is very popular in Russia and this dish is very common in many Russian families. Chicken Satsivi, as such, is one of the more common variations of Satsivi recipes.
Interestingly enough, traditionally Satsivi is eaten cold and this is how I grew up eating it. But now that I developed my own version of Instant Pot Chicken with Walnut Sauce, I must say that I like a hot version as well. In fact, I can’t choose if I like cold or hot more.
Ingredients in Instant Pot Chicken with Walnut Sauce
Besides the traditional Georgian Spice Mix, Khmeli Suneli, the rest of the ingredients are actually quite common and there are only a few of them.
How is Satsivi traditionally made?
Traditional Chicken Satsivi is made in a few steps. Usually chicken pieces are boiled first. Then walnut sauce is made by combining crushed nuts with garlic and cilantro with a little bit of chicken broth.
The sauce is then cooked for a little while. Then the cooked chicken is added to the sauce and the whole concoction is cooked together.
How to make Instant Pot Chicken with Walnut Sauce
Instant Pot Satsivi is different from traditional stove-top Satsivi because it has fewer steps and is much faster and less cumbersome to make.
- Make the Walnut-Garlic-Cilantro mixture by processing all the ingredients in a small food processor until very finely chopped.
- Layer the chopped onion, chicken thighs, spices, chicken broth, then walnut mixture in Instant Pot.
- Cook on High Pressure for 10 minutes, let it naturally release the pressure for another 10 minutes and then finish with a quick release.
- (Optionally) Sauté the sauce for about 7-10 minutes to thicken if you’d like to serve warm. If you will be serving this Instant Pot Satsivi cold then no need to sauté as the sauce will thicken in the fridge.
No need for cooking the chicken separately, no need for cooking the sauce separately, no need for simmering everything for a long time to combine the flavours.
Tips and variations for making Instant Pot Chicken with Walnut Sauce
Type of chicken: Traditionally, at least in my family, Chicken Satsivi was made with skin-on and bone-in chicken pieces, usually a whole chicken cut up into pieces. I personally never liked cold and boiled chicken skin so I knew right away that I’d be making my version without the skin. However, skinless bone-in chicken thighs (if you can find them) might add more flavour to the final dish.
Hot or cold: If you are going to be eating this Instant Pot Chicken with Walnut Sauce hot, then you might want to remove the chicken once it’s done and then cook the sauce on sauté for another 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, to thicken it. If you don’t follow a gluten-free diet, then add one tablespoon of flour to the sauce while you sauté it. Return the chicken back to the sauce to heat through and serve. I like my sauce thick so I usually do that but you can omit the step as the sauce will thicken slightly as it cools.
Cilantro: Cilantro is one of the most common herbs in Georgian cuisine so it’s crucial in this recipe, however, if you don’t eat cilantro, feel free to use parsley instead. Flavour of the final dish will be different though.
Pomegranate: Pomegranate is a very common garnish and ingredient in Georgian cuisine. Not only it looks pretty and makes the otherwise bland-looking dish beautiful, but it also adds a delicious tangy-sweet flavour to the sauce. I highly recommend not omitting this garnish.
Walnuts: Walnuts are another staple ingredient in Georgian cuisine. I suspect that you can use pecans or other nuts to make this dish with similar results although I haven’t tried myself.
Khmeli Suneli spice mix: As I mentioned in many previous posts, my mom rarely used any spices, so her version of Satsivi only had salt and pepper. But I strongly urge you to use Khmeli Suneli as it is essential in this recipe.
Order of ingredients: Note, the order of layering of the ingredients is important as adding the walnut mixture under the chicken may result in Instant Pot not coming to pressure or producing a burn notice. If that happens, safely open Instant Pot, scrape the bottom with a wooden spoon, add a bit more stock and re-pressurize again.
Texture of the sauce: Many recipes call for walnuts to be ground into a paste which creates a very smooth sauce. I prefer a little bit of texture so I grind them fine but not smooth. You can use your food processor to make the paste smoother if you’d prefer.
How to serve Instant Pot Satsivi
Many Georgian recipes are served with pomegranate seeds on top. Not only they are absolutely beautiful but they actually add a much needed burst of tangy-sweet flavour to the dish. So, even though pomegranate is a garnish, it’s something I highly recommend using.
If you are serving Instant Pot Chicken with Garlic Sauce hot, then it’s perfect on rice. It is also great with fettuccine or tagliatelle. It’s delicious with warm pita or tortilla.
Because it is commonly served cold, it is also great for Meal Prepping. Just pack a small container with cold Chicken Satsivi, some pita, and a few fresh cucumbers for a delicious lunch.
More Instant Pot Chicken Recipes:
- Instant Pot Creamy Chicken Pasta
- Instant Pot Healthy Chicken Stew
- Instant Pot Creamy Pasta and Chicken Meatballs
- Instant Pot Chicken Meatballs and Mashed Potatoes
- Easy Instant Pot Recipes to Try
DO YOU WANT MORE INSTANT POT RECIPES?
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Instant Pot Chicken with Walnut Sauce (Satsivi)
- Add the cilantro, garlic cloves, and walnuts to a small food processor. Process until very finely chopped for about 30-45 seconds.
- Add a layer of chopped onions to Instant Pot. Layer the chicken thighs on top of the onion and sprinkle Khmeli Suneli evenly over the chicken. Pour the chicken broth over. Spread the walnut mixture over the chicken.
- Close the lid of your Instant Pot and turn the valve to Sealing.
- Press Manual or Pressure Cooker button (depending on your model) and use the arrows to select 10 minutes.
- It should take about 12-13 minutes to come to pressure, depending on the temperature of the ingredients.
- Once the Instant Pot beeps that the 10 minutes of cooking are done, do a natural pressure release for another 10 minutes. This means you let your Instant Pot release pressure naturally without touching it for 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes of natural pressure release, do a Quick Release. This will take about 2 minutes.
- Carefully open the lid of Instant Pot and mix everything.
- If the sauce is too thin, then remove the chicken to a plate, turn Instant Pot to sauté mode and cook for about 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. You may wish to add a tablespoon of flour at this point to thicken the sauce further. The sauce will thicken as it cools.Note: you don't have to remove the chicken, you can sauté the sauce with the chicken but it will mean that the chicken will continue cooking.
- Serve either cold or hot over rice.