Slow Cooker Cashew Chicken

An amazing slow cooker meal that is way better than takeout!  The chicken is breaded to perfection and the sauce is full of flavor!  The cashews hidden throughout are the best part!
My love for cashews run deep.  One time I bought a big thing of cashews from Costco and ate the entire thing by myself.  Cashews are amazing.  And when added to this amazing chinese slow cooker meal.  Mind blown.
I have made this cashew chicken several times.  It was one of the first recipes on the blog.  Since then, I have re-photographed it twice.  I decided to make it again today, (4-1-15).  But this time was different and I have been missing one simple step.
I haven’t been coating the chicken in cornstarch and browning it before putting it in the slow cooker.   What a HUGE difference that made!  It took this chicken to a whole different level and was so much better than takeout!
Instead of the sauce being thin, it thickens it up while it cooks and soaks the delicious marinade into the breading.  As soon as it was done, I couldn’t believe that something that delicious was just made in the crockpot.  I mean, I know that my crockpot has made some amazing things, but this was incredible!  The breading on the outside resembled the same quality that you would get from takeout.
Of course, I have made the chicken without the breading.  It is still amazing.  But if you have 3 minutes and want to take this chicken to a delicious level, bread and brown the chicken!
TRUST me on this one.  You have to make this!  It is seriously one of thee best slow cooker meals that I have ever had.  The cashews add so much amazingness to this meal and it was uh-mazing!  Like I couldn’t stop eating it amazing.
This is one meal that you aren’t going to want to pass up!  I know that your family is going to love it as much as we did!

3.9 from 14 reviews
Slow Cooker Cashew Chicken
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
An amazing slow cooker meal that is way better than takeout! The chicken is breaded to perfection and the sauce is full of flavor! The cashews hidden throughout are the best part!
  • 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts (About 4 pieces)
  • 3 Tablespoons Cornstach
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • 4 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 4 Tablespoons ketchup
  • 2 Tablespoons sweet chili sauce
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup cashews
  1. Combine cornstarch and pepper in resealable food storage bag. Add chicken. Shake to coat with cornstarch mixture.
  2. Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Brown chicken about 2 minutes on each side. Place chicken in slow cooker.
  3. Combine soy sauce, vinegar, ketchup, sweet chili sauce sugar, garlic, ginger, pepper flakes, and cashews in small bowl; pour over chicken. (I like my cashews to be softer so I add them during the cooking process, if you want more of a crunch, add them right before serving)
  4. Cook on LOW for 3 to 4 hours.
  5. Serve over rice. Makes 4-6 servings.


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  1. says

    You rock Alyssa!! This looks so yummy and thanks for the tips on how you changed this up! Will be making this for my own two boys (and hubs too!) very soon! Heather :)

  2. says

    Sounds delish but I don’t know how much chicken: at a guess if it serves 4-6, 600-900gms? And, the quantities you’ve given need doubling for the sauce?
    Thanks for this, can’t wait to make it.

    • says

      Yes sorry I forgot to add that! About 4 pieces of chicken breasts or about 2 pounds! And the ingredients listed above do not double the sauce. Let me know how you like it! :)

    • says

      Hi Tressa! When I made this this time, I cut the chicken into chunks before hand and breaded them in the flour, browned the chicken for about 2 minutes and then put them into the crockpot. But I have done it before where I just throw the chicken into the crockpot without breading them and frying and then cut them into chunks at the end. Let me know how it turns out! :)

      • girlfriendmd says

        consider making it the way it’s described in the recipe for the picture, otherwise it just looks like a stolen picture.

  3. says

    The recipe came out a little salty, I added some water about 1/2 cup and cooked it for another 20 min, I also added some more sugar and I thought it tasted much better!

  4. says

    I forgot you said to double the sauce and yes I would double it next time also I cooked it all day while I was gone and that was too long it got a little dry but other than that it was very good – will try again with double sauce!

    • Mom of 5 says

      I cooked mine a little longer in the oil when browning and put on high for 2 hrs. and 1 1/2 would have been perfect!

  5. Kitty says

    If you want to have crunchy cashews, add them just before serving. Also, it you want them to stay crunchy, sauté them in a tiny bit of sesame oil (or olive if you prefer) before adding. That is a Chinese restaurant trick.

  6. Amy says

    Just made this recipe and although it tastes good, it turned out not like the picture at all. The sauce is much darker (dark brown). Has that happened to anyone else?

    • Alyssa says

      Thats strange because mine wasn’t dark at all and almost had a reddish to it… Did you use dark brown sugar?

    • ray diaz says

      i tried the same receipe but the secret is what colour soya saurce did you use. …… i find the original

      so easy to follow. … kia. ora

  7. Stacey says

    I just pulled this out of my crockpot and its DELISH!!! And yes, it definitely has a kick to it! Only took 3 hours to cook. My hubby will be pleasantly surprised when he gets home from work :)

  8. Ivy Grelewicz says

    Fabulous. I changed just a little bit. More red peppers, etc. We like very spicy. I used both dark and white pieces and cut in small pieces at the beginning.. Also cooked only 2 hours.

  9. Amanda Wilkinson says

    I’m making this for dinner tonight hoping my fiancé will like it since this is his favorite dish when we get Chinese. I doubled the sauce (as I saw others suggest and then realized it myself.) I also added water chestnuts and green onion. I’m planning on serving it with some egg drop soup.

  10. Sarah Bray says

    This is a fab recipe. Whilst the sauce comes out a dark brown I thought that might be due to the soy sauce. My family loved this and wolfed it down including my picky 7 year old!! I added the cashews when I cooked the rice separately. I also w

  11. Carly says

    Great recipe! I bought 2 lbs of chicken and it was more like 6-7 breasts, which was too much for the sauce. I added a bit of water to it part way through which saved the meal

  12. Amy says

    We just made this for dinner, doubling the sauce as recommended. It turned out pretty delicious but a little sweet. We are wondering what flavors the ketchup added and if it could be omitted. Also we left it in the crockpot a little closer to 5 hours and that allows a little too much sauce to absorb into the chicken. This was yummy and is worth a repeat! Thanks for sharing!

    • hollie says

      I was wondering about omitting the ketchup as well, I have to admit — ketchup is my least favorite condiment. We don’t even keep it in the house. have you tried it without the ketchup? How was it?

  13. says

    I made this for dinner tonight and it was a HUGE HUGE hit! My teenager only eats things deep fried and/or covered in cheese and he said that this is his new favorite dinner. Effortless deliciousness is my new favorite too! Thanks so much!

  14. Marcy says

    I really want to make this meal but my slow cooker only has 4 settings, 4 hours high, 6 hours high, 8 hours low, 10 hours low. Any suggestions? I want to set it before I go to work in the morning.

    • Marybeth says

      i think I’m confused. Is the chicken better with or without the frying and do I need to double the sauce all the time?
      I really want to make this tomorrow night!

      • Mom of 5 says

        I just made it and “browning” the chicken first is best – in my opinion. It also helped it cook faster – I put mine on high and it was done in 1 1/2 hours. Next time I would add extra water as it almost burned and I don’t know why but mine turned out pretty vinegary tasting so I plan to add more brown sugar next time as well. It turned out beautiful looking! ha and I love the way it coated the chicken :)

  15. Margaret says

    I agree that after only 3 hours on low my chicken fell apart when I tried to cut it into chunks. It ended up being mostly shredded like Barbeque. Any idea of how to have it still be in nice chunks like Chinese food cashew chicken? Maybe if it’s cut into cubes first as you did? But even when I would try just gently stir it, it would shred on its own.

  16. Veronica says

    Made as a stir fry on the stove top. Added a couple bias-cut carrots and used half the chicken called for. Made a full batch of sauce, which effectively doubled the sauce. Didn’t have enough ketchup, so I used all tomato paste; the sauce had a very heavy tomato taste, which the kids liked, but I thought it was too strong. I would have preferred more of a beef broth-based sauce. Breaded the chicken in a mixture of flour and corn starch to make sure the sauce would thicken properly. Over all, it wasn’t bad, but I won’t make it again.

  17. Karen says

    We made this tonight with chicken thigh meat trimmed up and cashews sprinkled on top afterwards – over rice. Everyone loved it! The sauce was dark in color as well like someone mentioned above and very strong/condensed. I think we needed to use MORE chicken thigh meat in order to ‘thin out’ the sauce more. Might add a touch of water or broth maybe next time so not so strong as well. Perhaps cut down a touch of the ketchup a little bit, but not by much. We’ll be making this again with adaptations! Thank you!

  18. Deoboed says

    Doubled the sauce as described, using low sodium Tamari style soy sauce. (My rice wine vinegar was seasoned which turned out to be fine). After the first hour I added about 2 cups of cubed carrots and the same of cubed celery hearts and about 2 tablespoons of water as the mix looked a little dry once I stirred in all that veg, but I knew the veggies would sweat so I didn’t want to go overboard. After 4 hours the chicken was still in nice cubes with minimal shredding, there was just the right amount of sauce. It tastes like the best possible version of the Chinese take-away cashew chicken! I also threw in the raw unsalted cashews at the beginning and they were soft enough to be stabbed easily with a fork. For firmer cashews I would add at the end but I like them this way. Absolutely terrific recipe! (I omitted the red pepper flakes as I don’t like spicy things at all but the ginger and garlic still gave good flavor).

  19. Ann says

    What size slow cooker did you use? I wonder if that’s what is making the difference in the sauce color and someone had said it condensed too much.

  20. says

    I made this last night for my husband and he loved it! This was a dry run to see if I liked it well enough to make it for a birthday party next week. I made it per the recipe except I tripled the sauce for three large chicken breast. I think doubling it would work as well. I used powdered ginger and dry garlic.Next week I will use the real deal. I added an additional tablespoon of brown sugar..
    I cooked this on the stove because I waited too late. The sauce was dark. Next week I will use light brown sugar. The chicken breast cooked up very quickly on the stove. Next week I will use chicken thighs because I need to put it in the crock pot and I really do not like dry chicken breast. I will add carrots and celery and sprinkle the cashews and green onion before serving. The sauce was really good, like a Chinese restaurant sauce!

  21. kari says

    I made this yesterday and followed recipe as Alyssa suggested, doubling the ingredients for the sauce. I agree the sauce needed to be doubled, there would not have been enough otherwise. I thought it was too salty. I did use reduced sodium soy sauce for half of the required amount. The hub thought it was fine though. Maybe next time, I’ll replace some of the soy sauce with something else. Not sure what though!!

  22. Jessica says

    I never post about recipes, but this was soooo yummy! Although I didn’t do it in the crock-pot because I was running out of time so I just lightly skillet fried the chicken thighs and then added the sauce to the skillet and then let it simmer for about 35 min. I bought an Asian frozen stir fry veggie mix and sauteed? the lightly salted cashews with the veggie mix in a separate pan with a little bit of ginger powder and some soy sauce. I served it with vermicelli noodles. I have the pickiest eaters and I tell you the pans were almost licked clean!

  23. Kolleen says

    Made this tonight for dinner, was salty so I watered it down and added a little more sweetness. The color wasn’t dark so maybe others used dark brown sugar?? Threw little broccoli florets in for the last hour, yummy !! Thanks for the idea

  24. Leah says

    Chicken is in the crock pot and I am waiting to see the results! I never made chicken breast in a crock pot before so I hope it’s good! I used a combination of rice vinegar and white wine vinegar, powdered ginger and some chili powder instead of the red pepper flakes.

  25. Tara says

    I made this recipe yesterday and it was delicious! Although, the ingredient list seems to have changed, substituting cornstarch for flour (the directions still mention flour)? And adding a few other ingredients. Is the original recipe available? Thanks!

  26. says

    Great recipe. I would not have believed you could make chicken like this in a crock pot. For us it was way too salty though. I will make this recipe again using much less soy sauce.

  27. Jessica says

    This looks great! Can’t wait to try it! Has anyone tried frying the cubes then cooling and freezing it for a freezer crock pot meal? OR using precooked and breaded chicken chunks from the freezer when making this? Just looking for a way to make it quicker.

  28. Faleen says

    I have a few questions please…..first in the description you mention that the chicken is ‘breaded to perfection’, did i miss a step or ingredient for breading of the chicken? You do say to add the chicken to the slow cooker and then at the end it is served, so, am i to assume that the chicken will only be cut just prior to serving or perhaps prior to adding to the slow cooker at the start of the recipe? Are the cashews salted or unsalted? Thank you very much in advance.

  29. Jessica says

    This sounds deliscious. But I must be the only one who does not know what sweet chili sauce is. Can you give me more info about it?

  30. Mike Conlon says

    Just a suggestion: I would find these recipes much easier to deal with if you would begin your post of them on Facebook with the name of the recipe. That way, I don’t waste a lot of time trying to figure out what it is. Thanks.

  31. helen says

    I’m in the UK, and couldn’t find canola oil in the supermarket. Can I substitute any other oil? Also, are red pepper flakes the same as chilli flakes? Thanks in advance.

      • Stephanie says

        Hi Helen! Canola Oil is the same thing as “Rapeseed Oil” in the UK. I heard that American’s were offended by the name and changed it to “Canola”. :) But yeah- veg oil should work too. I’m about to try this out tonight- excited! Hope it worked out well for you! :)

    • Alyssa says

      You totally could! Just brown the outside of the chicken and pour the sauce over the top and bake. If you need to see how I bake some of my chinese dishes, just search “Baked Sweet and Sour Chicken” and the instructions should be the same. :)

  32. Elizabeth says

    Definitely needs the sauce doubled. Wish I would have paid attention to comments before making it. If I make it again I would also maybe add a little more brown sugar and ginger.

  33. Jenna says

    This looks great! I love to cook freezer meals and was wondering, do you think I could brown the chicken, and then put it in a ziplock with the sauce until I’m ready to use? Thaw, and then put in the crock pot? Wondering if the breading would get soggy? :/

  34. says

    We shared this recipe last week and here is our report after we actually made it.
    Our whole family loved this recipe. It’s restaurant quality, or even better since we know what is in it. Here’s our comments about the recipe itself and the dish. 1) The picture shows chopped green onions which doesn’t show on the recipe. We think that would have been a great addition to garnish with and to include in the recipe. 2) There’s enough main dish in the recipe to support about 6 rice servings. You’ll have to remember to prepare the rice to finish cooking about the time the main dish does. 3) This was spicer than we expected. We liked the spice, only 1/4 teaspoon of both black pepper and red pepper flakes, and we will use the same amounts again, but we know some people like to stay away from spicey food, and if that is the case in your home, cut back on the two types of pepper. 4) Ours was redder and less crispy looking than what the picture shows. I don’t know if that makes a difference in the taste or not, but don’t be surprised if your’s looks a bit different than what the picture shows. Several possible explainations why but, It’s still wonderful. 5) We liked the cashews both cooked and as a garnished at the end. We split the cashews and put 1/2 in the main dish and let them cook, and put the other 1/2 as a garnish at the end. Both ways are good and we are going to split them again when we make it next. 6) Recipe didn’t say to cut up the chicken into bite sized pieces, but it should, and do it before you coat the chicken with the cornstarch and pepper mixture. Make a few notes on your copy of this recipe and you’ll have a perfect and delicious meal. Highly recommend this recipe with some clairifications.

  35. Jamie says

    I made this and it was so good. I added a 1 lb bag of “broccoli stir fry” frozen veg because I wanted something else and was too lazy to chop up broccoli 😀 It was really really good. I do think low-sodium soy sauce is a must, it’s almost too much soy sauce taste for me and I was generous with all other sauce ingredients. I did not double the sauce but I will increase the total sauce amount next time, somehow. I don’t feel like the sweet chili sauce made as much of an addition as I was hoping, but anyway, I LOVE the cornstarch coated and browned chicken. Going to make all my other asian-style recipes this way from now on for SURE. It was ready after only a couple of hours though I did give it about 30 minutes on high to get it started. I was impatient. Thanks a lot this is a great great recipe. I feel like there is a lot of room for variation to personal taste.

  36. says

    I know you have lots of q s so i will keep it short. I dont fany the breaded bit, can i leave it out and can i use red wine vinegar or white instead of the rice. wine vinegar as i do not keep any.

  37. Erin says

    Made this tonight and it was definitely a “keeper”! A few suggestions… It was a bit salty but could be lessend by using low sodium soy sauce and unsalted cashews. Also, adding the cashews at the end is something I will do next time for added crunch. ( I wasn’t fond of the softer cashews). Finally, I added 1/2 chopped onion, one chopped green pepper and several slice red mini sweet peppers,and a bunch of green onions at the very end. I loved the combo of added veggies!!!

  38. Larissa says

    Wanting to make this for the family I nanny for (just mum and little boy)
    So a lot doesn’t go to waste I was thinking of halving the recipe – would the cook time still be the same or less ??
    Or is it able to be frozen? could I freeze it in individual portions?

    My mum made this for me last week for the first time and I loveddddd it!!! It’s a new fav on our dinner rotations :)

  39. Donna says

    Was wondering if this recipe would work using frozen, breaded popcorn chicken? We are in the process of remodeling our kitchen, so the simpler the better as far as cooking goes.

  40. Crystal says

    I made this tonight for my family. My husband liked it the most. My kids thought it was to sour. I followed the instructions and used exactly what the measurements listed. I cut up the chicken though. I warmed up the crockpot first. I cooked mine for 1 hour on high and had no problems. I will say this tasted more like orange chicken. It was very good. Thanks!!

  41. Hilda Fields says

    This was delicious. I did use almond flour to coat the chicken and it was fine.- Just took the chicken a little longer to brown.

  42. Britney says

    If doing this as a make ahead freezer meal, would I just coat the chicken and freeze before browning it? Or should I go ahead and cook it all the way through?

  43. Bomber says

    Made this tonight after my wife has asked for it for several weeks. Used Maryland fillets (no bone) to reduce chance of overcooking. Verrrryyy salty, even with a light and not overly salty soy, it needs thinning down. I’ll try once more with a little less soy and top up with water.

  44. Tina says

    Made and loved this! It did thicken up quite a bit and overcooked, so just keep an eye on it. Next time I’m going to add more sweet chili sauce since I would like a sweeter flavor. Overall, awesome recipe. I love making Chinese food from scratch!

  45. Matt_2_27 says

    Made this today for dinner. I doubled the sauce like lots of comments recommended, but otherwise I followed the recipe exactly. It came out looking nothing like the pictures. No breading on the chicken, and a much darker sauce. Both my wife and I couldn’t eat more than a few bites before we were tired of the flavor. Would not make again. :'(

    • Alyssa says

      I am sorry it didn’t turn out for you! It is really one of the best things we have had. And receives countless rave reviews from others.

  46. Andy Earl says

    Dear Alyssa, since finding this receipe, I have made it three or four times. I am a live alone dad and when my kids come round to visit I make this. We all love it. Thanks for posting.

  47. Sandy says

    I am interested in this recipe for the cashew chicken. I am allergic to tomatoes and most chinese food does not have ketchup or tomatoes of any kind. Can I make this without the ketchup and sweet chili?

  48. Brooke says

    My family loves this recipe! I add a can of light coconut milk about 30 minutes before its done and serve with jasmine rice drizzled with sriracha.

  49. jane says

    We are forever searching for a cashew chicken recipe like at our fav hotel restaurant in Bangkok. I gave this a shot last night. It is nothing like our favourite, but we are in love with this version and will make it regularly. I used 3 T of tomato paste rather than 4 T of ketchup (we never have ketchup in the house). I put in 2 chicken thighs and 5 drumsticks, adding water to the sauce after it had cooked for awhile in the slow cooker. I cooked it about 2 hours and it was fall-off-the bone tender. (I had fried the chicken a bit longer than you suggested.) At first I was thinking it was bad that I had not cubed the chicken. But we found it so delicious just pulled off the bone. What a great recipe! Thanks so much!

  50. J'Marinde says

    I am confused. Was breading and browning ithe chicken what “took this to a new level” or not doing so that did? Pleas clarify this, as yo comments seem contradictory.
    Also – I see no mention above of “doubling the sauce” — any hints on this?
    VERY excited to try this. I LOVE cashews too!.

    • Alyssa says

      Breading and browning the chicken took it to a whole new level. :) It gave the outside a crisp edge just like a restaurant. I have recently adjusted the recipe so that their is more sauce.

  51. Sue says

    WITHOUT READING the reviews first, I followed this recipe to a T. I thought the sauce tasted to vinagery, so I added a little more sweet chili sauce. BUT the biggest problem I had was cooking the dish on LOW for 3 hours and then discovering almost all the chicken was hard as rocks!!

    Today, I READ THE REVIEWS AND DISCOVERED I SHOULD HAVE DOUBLED THE SAUCE. Well, at least I know now. LOL All-in-all, the dish was good; I just need to make some changes for next time and, perhaps, cook it maybe just over an hour. After all, when the chicken pieces are browned on both sides before placing it in the crock pot–the chicken is essentially already cooked.

    AND I will add the cashews LATER,

    Thanks for the recipe.

  52. Sarah says

    I made the chicken exactly as described and I was shocked at how salty it was. While the chicken cooked, I made vegetables to mix in (2 cups sliced carrots, 2 cups sliced zucchini, 1 sliced bell pepper, and 2 green onion tops) with a half-sized batch of the same sauce used in the chicken (sans cashews) in another crockpot. When the veg finished (this took about an hour), I drained them of liquid and combined the drained veg with the chicken and sauce in the first crockpot.

    In short, I like the addition of the veg and the extra 50% sauce, but next time I will cut the soy sauce (in both the chicken and veg sauce) in half and perhaps add more chili.

  53. Sue says

    I have posted my comments on here twice before. In July 2015. Each time I’ve posted my comments and gone back later, MY COMMENTS ARE NO WHERE TO BE FOUND.

    This is the THIRD TIME I have tried to ask about this recipe. I am beginning to think something’s not right. I hope SOMEONE proves me wrong.

    Many thanks.


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