Skinny Slow Cooker Kung Pao Chicken

Skinny Slow Cooker Kung Pao Chicken is a delicious chicken coated in a sweet and spicy sauce with tender vegetables and crunchy cashews. Skip the takeout, this is so much healthier and better!

I love the light and tastiness of this skinny Kung Pao Chicken recipe. If you are looking for skinny meals this new year try this Skinny Chicken Enchiladas, Skinny Fettuccini Garlic Alfredo and for a sweet dessert try this Skinny Mini Cheesecake.

Skinny Slow Cooker Kung Pao Chicken in a slow cooker with a wooden spoon.

Skinny Slow Cooker Kung Pao Chicken

I love making my favorite Asian take out dishes at home because I can lighten them up without sacrificing on the flavor.

This recipe is a lot healthier than the Baked Kung Pao Chicken you would typically get when ordering out.

According to My Fitness Pal, it’s about 443 calories per serving.

Plus, it’s really easy to whip up and has all the same amazing flavors we love.

Cook on low for a few hours then add in the veggies right near the end for the perfect tender & crisp texture.

You can serve this over your favorite quinoa, fried rice or even zoodles for a lower carb option.

Either way you choose, it’s so much easier and healthier than takeout!

What’s the difference between General Tso’s Chicken and Kung Pao Chicken?

Both Kung Pao and General Tso’s chicken are equally delicious with a sweet and spicy glaze sauce.

However, they are both different ways of cooking them and different flavoring of glazes over top of the chicken.

Skinny Slow Cooker Kung Pao Chicken recipe is served with a few vegetables and mixed in a sweet and tangy sauce that has a little bit of heat in it if you prefer.

Slow Cooker General Tso’s Chicken is breaded and usually fried chunks of chicken that are chopped up and cooked in a sweet and spicy sauce.

General Tso’s chicken does not usually have vegetables in it either.

Both dishes taste AMAZING and are simple to make.

With Kung Pao chicken you are able to control the spiciness and which vegetables you prefer in the recipe.

With these two recipes, you are sure to please your family and make the BEST food right at home.

What you need to make Skinny Slow Cooker Kung Pao Chicken:

Sweet, savory with just enough of a fiery kick that you can totally customize according to your taste.

There is no deep frying required. Just a little oil to brown the chicken.

Plus it has a generous serving of tender crisp veggies.

I used red peppers and zucchini but you can easily swap in your favorites.

  • Black pepper and salt: to taste
  • Chicken: skinless chicken breasts (about 2-3 pieces), cut into bite-sized chunks
  • Olive oil: helps cook the chicken in a pan.
  • Red Chili Peppers: to taste found in Asian supermarkets or the International section of a large chain grocery store – see NOTE
  • Roast Cashews: or roasted peanuts
  • Red Bell Peppers: chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • Zucchini: chopped into halves

Sauce:

  • Soy Sauce: dark in color and adds a sweet and salty flavor.
  • Water: keeps the consistency thin and runny.
  • Honey: thickens the sauce and adds sweetness.
  • Hoisin Sauce: dark red appearance that has a slightly sweet and tangy flavor.
  • Garlic: minced
  • Ginger: freshly grated.
  • Red Pepper Chili Flakes: more or less depending on how much heat you prefer.

Cornstarch Slurry:

  • Cornstarch Powder: helps make it thicker.
  • Water: plus more as needed to thin out consistency of sauce

Skinny Slow Cooker Kung Pao Chicken in a slow cooker.

How to make Skinny Slow Cooker Kung Pao Chicken:

To make this Kung Pao Chicken, start by browning the chicken before adding it into the slow cooker.

If you are in a pinch, you can skip this step but browning the chicken on the stove first makes a big difference!

Then combine the sauce ingredients together and toss with the chicken.

  • In a large zip-top bag, toss in chicken, salt and black pepper. Shake until well-coated.
  • Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook chicken about 2-3 minutes on each side, until lightly browned. **Skip this step if in a pinch and add chicken directly to the slow cooker.
  • Transfer chicken into slow cooker. (SEE NOTE FOR STOVETOP DIRECTIONS)
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, water, honey, hoisin sauce, garlic, ginger and red pepper chili flakes and pour over chicken.
  • Cover and cook on LOW for 2.5 – 4 hours or HIGH for 1.5 – 3 hours. (SEE NOTE)
  • About 30 minutes before serving, whisk together the cornstarch and water in a small bowl. Stir into the slow cooker. Add the dried red chili peppers, red bell peppers, zucchini and cashews.
  • Cover and cook on HIGH for another 20-30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and the sauce has thickened up. (Add more water to thin out sauce to your preferred consistency).
  • Sprinkle with sesame seeds, green onions and serve over rice, quinoa or zoodles, if desired.

Tips for making Skinny Slow Cooker Kung Pao Chicken:

  • Adding vegetables: If you are adding in more vegetables you will want to increase the amount of sauce to cover all of the vegetables and chicken.
  • Increase the heat: Add in cayenne powder or more red pepper flakes.
  • Decrease the heat: Leave out the red pepper flakes or substitute with chili garlic paste.
  • Shopping: Most the sauces are found in the Asian section of your local supermarket.
  • Substituting red chili peppers: If you can’t find dried red chili peppers, leave out and add an additional 1/2 – 1 teaspoon red pepper chili flakes.
  • Slow cooker tip: If your slow cooker runs hot, be sure to check on chicken earlier as it may cook faster than the suggested cooking times.
  • Stovetop Directions: Brown the chicken until cooked through (7-8 minutes). Then add vegetables and saute for about 3 minutes – or until tender. Add the sauce to the pan, turn to high heat and cook until the sauce bubbles and thickens up – about 1-2 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings. Once everything is coated and heated through, serve hot with favorite sides.

Variations for making Skinny Slow Cooker Kung Pao Chicken:

  • What vegetables can I add to Skin Slow Cooker Kung Pao Chicken?  Broccoli florets, green beans, peas, sliced carrots, sliced yellow or green zucchini.
  • How do I change the heat/spiciness of kung pow chicken? One easy way to adjust the spiciness is to increase or decrease the amount of red pepper flakes listed in the recipe.
  • Can you use other meats? Yes! This Kung Pao Chicken recipe goes well with shrimp, pork or beef. Here is my Awesome Kung Pao Shrimp recipe.

Skinny Slow Cooker Kung Pao Chicken unclose photo with a wooden spoon.

Storing Skinny Slow Cooker Kung Pao Chicken:

  • How long will Skinny Slow Cooker Kung Pao Chicken last? This dish will last in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.
  • Can you meal prep Skinny Slow Cooker Kung Pao Chicken? Yes! This is perfect for meal prep. Make this and add rice or chow Mein to the meal prep containers. This makes about 4 to 5 days worth.
  • Can you freeze Skinny Slow Cooker Kung Pao Chicken? Yes, this recipe does well frozen. You can freeze it in a ziplock bag and lay flat in the freezer. It will last in the freezer for about 1 to 3 months long.
  • Warming up Skinny Slow Cooker Kung Pao Chicken: When ready to warm up, slowly warming up in a microwave will work great or adding it back into the slow cooker to warm on high or low heat for about 1 hours.

More Delicious Chinese Food to Try:

Skinny Slow Cooker Kung Pao Chicken in a bowl with rice and chopsticks to the side.

 

Skinny Slow Cooker Kung Pao Chicken

5 from 7 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours 10 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 25 minutes
Author Alyssa Rivers
Servings 6 people

Description

Skinny Slow Cooker Kung Pao Chicken is a delicious chicken coated in a sweet and spicy sauce with tender vegetables and crunchy cashews. Skip the takeout, this is so much healthier and better!


Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Asian American, Chinese, Japanese
Keyword kung pao, kung pao chicken, slow cooker kung pao

Ingredients

  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 - 1 1/4 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 2-3 pieces), cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • **4 - 6 dried red chili peppers to taste found in Asian supermarkets or the International section of a large chain grocery store - see NOTE
  • 2/3 cup roasted cashews or roasted peanuts
  • 1 red bell pepper chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 medium zucchini chopped into halves

Sauce (Feel free to double the sauce if you like more sauce)

  • 1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 Tablespoons honey
  • 2 Tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper chili flakes

Cornstarch slurry

  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot powder
  • 2-3 Tablespoons water plus more as needed to thin out consistency of sauce

Instructions

  1. In a large zip-top bag, toss in chicken, salt and black pepper. Shake until well-coated.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook chicken about 2-3 minutes on each side, until lightly browned. **Skip this step if in a pinch and add chicken directly to the slow cooker.

  3. Transfer chicken into slow cooker. (SEE NOTE FOR STOVETOP DIRECTIONS)
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, water, honey, hoisin sauce, garlic, ginger and red pepper chili flakes and pour over chicken.

  5. Cover and cook on LOW for 2.5 - 4 hours or HIGH for 1.5 - 3 hours. (SEE NOTE)
  6. About 30 minutes before serving, whisk together the cornstarch and water in a small bowl. Stir into the slow cooker. Add the dried red chili peppers, red bell peppers, zucchini and cashews.
  7. Cover and cook on HIGH for another 20-30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and the sauce has thickened up. (Add more water to thin out sauce to your preferred consistency).
  8. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, green onions and serve over rice, quinoa or zoodles, if desired.

Recipe Notes

Updated on January 2, 2019

Originally Posted on January 18, 2017 by Kelly Kwok from https://lifemadesweeter.com.

**If you can't find dried red chili peppers, leave out and add an additional 1/2 - 1 teaspoon red pepper chili flakes

**If your slow cooker runs hot, be sure to check on chicken earlier as it may cook faster than the suggested cooking times.

**FOR STOVETOP DIRECTIONS: Brown the chicken until cooked through (7-8 minutes). Then add vegetables and saute for about 3 minutes – or until tender. Add the sauce to the pan, turn to high heat and cook until the sauce bubbles and thickens up – about 1-2 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings. Once everything is coated and heated through, serve hot with favorite sides.


Nutrition Facts

Serves: 6

Calories443kcal (22%)Carbohydrates21g (7%)Protein42g (84%)Fat21g (32%)Saturated Fat5g (25%)Cholesterol107mg (36%)Sodium934mg (39%)Potassium900mg (26%)Fiber2g (8%)Sugar13g (14%)Vitamin A686IU (14%)Vitamin C32mg (39%)Calcium29mg (3%)Iron3mg (17%)

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods and portion sizes per household.

Tried this recipe?Mention @alyssa_therecipecritic or tag #therecipecritic

Alyssa Rivers

I am Alyssa and the blogger behind The Recipe Critic. I started my blog in June of 2012 as a place to share my passion for cooking. I love trying new things and testing them out with my family.

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    1. Yes, you can cook this on the stove. Brown the chicken until cooked through (7-8 minutes). Then add vegetables and saute for about 3 minutes – or until tender. Add the sauce to the pan, turn to high heat and cook until the sauce bubbles and thickens up – about 1-2 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings. Once everything is coated and heated through – serve hot.

  1. Just made this tonight. It was soooo yummy. However, mine was not as saucy as I would like. Do you think it would be good if I doubled the sauce that goes in with the chicken?

    1. Unfortunately, I do not have a calorie count; however, I recommend using fitness pal and that is pretty accurate for the calorie count on each meal prepared. Thanks for following along 🙂

      The Recipe Critic
      Alyssa

  2. I loved this recipe! I made it all in a skillet though and it took about 30 minutes to cook. (Cooked chicken, then added carrots and red peppers, then added zucchini at the end.)

    My modifications: Used half the chicken and added carrots. Mine was not very spicy so my kiddo would eat it.

    I’d like a calorie count if you have it.

    1. Unfortunately, I do not have a calorie count; however, I recommend using fitness pal and that is pretty accurate for the calorie count on each meal prepared. 🙂 Great suggestions on the recipe too! Thanks for your input!

      The Recipe Critic
      Alyssa

  3. Hello I tried the Kung Pao Chicken recipe last week. It was fantaastic. I don’t have a slow cooker but I do have a cast iron pan. The recipe is great. Thanks again

    Sherry

  4. Hello! I was curious about the corn starch how much do I use in the beginning on the chicken and then how much do you use later when it says stir into slow cooker with water ? Thank you!

  5. This was a delicious and simple to make dish that my daughter really liked as written. I’m vegetarian, so I made the same dish for myself, substituting extra firm tofu for the chicken and using a pan on the stovetop for the vegetarian version instead of the slow cooker. Both versions were great! Thanks!

  6. This recipe was delicious and I agree, better than take out. I would experiment with adding different veggies next time, but this is an excellent recipe to work from. Thanks for sharing this one, its a winner in our family.

  7. Actually one of the nicest things I’ve ever made. Loved this so much. Doubled the sauce and was perfect. Literally can’t wait to have it again

    1. 5 stars
      Yes. Coconut aminos substituted nicely and since we follow a very low sodium diet for heart health, I tried it that way after doing it the original way and liked it better! I don’t add salt when sauteeing the chicken either and buy unsalted cashews.

  8. I made this for dinner tonight and it was delicious! So easy to make & love the lighter take. I used arrowroot powder & a little extra dried red pepper flakes to replace the whole dried red chili peppers. Also left the recipe cooking on high for 60 minutes at the end instead of 30 – in literally melted in your mouth. This is a keeper recipe I’ll be making plenty of times again!

  9. 408 calories/serving not including rice if preparing as directed with only 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 pound chicken for a total of 4 servings
    SO GOOD!

  10. I made this last night, and we absolutely loved it. I doubled everything and only had time for the skillet, and it turned out great. I had to split the chicken and veggies into two pans because there was so much, but ended up pouring the (doubled) sauce over both without problem. Next time, I’ll give myself more time and do this in the crockpot to make it even easier. This recipe was such a nice break from our normal meals!

  11. Made this dish in the slow cooker on the high setting. Only had time to cook for 1.5 hours then another 1/2 hour with the veg. Delicious! Very filling too. We had it with 50g rice each. Will definitely be making this again.

    1. I have found the best way to get nutritional info on all of the recipes is through MyFitnessPal.com. You just type in the recipe and it tells you! Skinnytaste.com is also a great resource for healthy and delicious meals and provides nutritional info. I am not sure if it calculates the macros for you- you may need to find a converter for that. Hope this helps! XOXO

  12. I made this once so far and we loved it. I didn’t coat it in the cornstarch, just put the chicken in the crockpot and it still turned out wonderful. Thank you so much for the recipe!

  13. This recipe was amazing! I didn’t use the slow cooker, I made it conventional. I host two Chinese students who never got a custom to American food, so this recipe was something they loved! Too bad I can’t share my pic.

  14. Can I leave out the hoisin sauce and the red pepper flakes;? Trying to cut back on sodium and I do not like hot stuff.

  15. Made the fast skillet version and my whole family LOVED it… and if you serve with quinoa or brown rice it wouldn’t have to be doubled. I doubled it for our family of 7 and had a lot left over.

  16. Just wondering what the actual carb count is on these recipes? They say low carb but I don’t see the nutritional facts anywhere.

  17. Amazing recipe, tasted better than my usual take out. Made it on stove top and it was superb. I wish I could show you a photo…. It’s Instagram worthy. Definitely recommended

  18. Hi there! I’m about to make this on the weekend. If I double the amount of chicken, should I double the amount of veges (in the “ingredients” section of the recipe). I will be doubling the sauce…….thanks!

  19. Looks really great. Will definitely try this.
    But why using a plastic bag that gets thrown away afterwards, just for salt and pepper? So much plastic waste in our oceans…

  20. I browned the chicken in my Instant Pot on the saute setting and then finished cooking it in the sauce on high pressure for 10 minutes while I cooked the vegetables in a skillet. It turned out really good. Definitely making this again.

  21. 5 stars
    Delicious! Used chicken thighs instead of breasts, added 1/2 red onion cut into chunks. Didn’t have fresh ginger or whole dried chilies, so I used 2 tsp. ground ginger and 1 tsp. red chile flakes. OMG so good! Better than takeout!

  22. Can this stay in the slow cooker longer? As someone who works full time – it has to go in the pot before I leave for work and I won’t be home for 10 hours. It can stay on keep warm for a while but only a couple of hours. Would 8 hours cooking time be too long?

  23. I have the same question as Sherry. Can this be cooked all day in the crock pot. I can’t do the 2.5-4 hours while I’m at work. Can’t wait to try it….sounds delicious. You have wonderful recipes!

    1. Hi Sandy!
      Thank you so much! Yes, you should be able to set to low and leave it while you are away. I can’t wait for you to try it! It is so yummy! Thanks for following along with me!

  24. This looks delicious! Would I need to change the cook time if I were to double the recipe? I like to make leftovers for my husband and I to take to work during the week.

    Can’t wait to try it out!

  25. 5 stars
    This was SCRUMPTIOUS !!I wasn’t able to find the red chili peppers but the entire family enjoyed it from my 30 year old daughter to my 11 year old son.. I have been TOLD this is a make again meal. Thanks Alyssa

  26. hello.
    i love this recipe. i made this to day and it was delicious my whole family loved it.
    i’m so glad that it was quick and simple for me ta make it, i add mushrooms to the veggies because we like mushrooms in our casserole it was yummy yummy i will definitely be making it again.
    Thank you for sharing this recipe with us.
    bless you

  27. This looks delicious! Do you think I could sub firm tofu in place of the chicken? I’m a little nervous about the cook time.

  28. 5 stars
    I made the stovetop version of this recipe last night. I added matchstick carrots and sliced water chestnuts. I considered doubling the sauce but decided against it and it turned out plenty saucy. Absolutely delicious! This one is going into my rotation for sure.

  29. So if you choose not to sear it on the stove how much adjustment to cook time will I need to make. Like if I cube the chicken and just put it straight into the crockpot?

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