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!

4.1 from 62 reviews
Slow Cooker Cashew Chicken
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
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!
Serves: 4-6
  • 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts (About 4 pieces), cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 3 Tablespoons Cornstach
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • ½ cup low sodium 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.
We loved the recipe as is and many people do as well but here are some different things you can try after some comments received.
-If it is too salty you can simply use low sodium soy sauce.
-If there isn't enough sauce, you can double the sauce or make it 1 and ½ times.

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Want to make this even easier? Here are a few products that I LOVE:

The Recipe Critic Measuring Cups
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Instant Pot



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. I made this in the Instant Pot last night! Based on other comments, I tried the poultry setting plus 5 minutes. The chicken was definitely over cooked, but the sauce consistency was perfect. No one in the family complained though. I would try just the Poultry setting next time (20 minutes). Maybe even 15 minutes, since the chicken is partially cooked when it goes in. If anyone else tries it, please post. The Instant Pot is my new obsession and it’s fun to see recipes I like being adapted for it.

    1. I was just going to ask if this could be done in the IP! Thanks for the tips Jennifer! My hubby loves cashew chicken but I’ve never made it for him. But this I’d be willing to try.

    2. I made this in my Instant pot too! After browning the chicken I set my pot on manual for 14 minutes. Chicken was tender and sauce was perfect too! I also added one 1/4 cup of water to the sauce. I added the cashews and they were just the right amount of crunch! I’ve made this recipe at least 6 times in the slow cooker and am so happy it works with my instant pot too:).

  2. This looks fabulous but I have to ask, would there be something else to add if I didn’t use any of the spicey ingredients? Allergic to cayenne pepper which is also red pepper flakes and in chili powder. Thank you for your help!

    1. It is a bit spicy. You are welcome to leave it out and see if that helps, then add in what you feel it needs. I haven’t tried the recipe with out the spicy ingredients but I don’t think it would change the flavor too much-just no spice. Hope that helps! XOXO

  3. Just made this tonight and found that it had a strong vinegar taste (but had smelled fab while cooking!)…after some tweaking with more ketchup and brown sugar it was really good! I cut it up into chunks beforehand and browned it for a few minutes first. It also was done, chicken super moist, after 2 hours on low. Did anyone else experience the vinegar taste? I was wondering if it was meant to say 4 tsp and not 4 TBSP?? X

  4. Alyssa, why are the green rings in the photos not in the ingredient list ?
    And what are they ?
    The rings look like cut scallions, green onions, or spring onions.

  5. Alyssa, scratch my previous comment about the green onions, etc.
    It’s all over the comments. Serves me right for not reading the comments first. I’m going to make this today.

    1. It was delicious. I ate half of it on my own with Basmati rice (2 dashes). (I know, I know.) I was punished with a light stomach ache from overeating.

  6. This was delicious. I also doubled the sauce. Added a little fresh orange juice and zest to the sauce. Yum! Thank you for these great recipes, I know there is a lot of time and effort that goes into your posts. This is the second one I have tried, and I appreciate recipes that are easy and delicious. Have saved a bunch more of your recipes…looking forward to trying them. BTW, my boyfriend loved both of the recipes too. Thanks again.

  7. I just came across your website. I am anxious to try your recipes.
    Being 77 and still loving to cook. I have a garden for fresh herbs
    And veggies.
    I too love to invent recipes. I tend towards m3xican food even though
    I am not Hispanic.
    I remember making Porcupine meatballs for my kids, they loved them.
    Thank you for the inspiring recipes.
    P.S. love McCormick too.
    Barbara Upton

    1. That is so great to hear! I am so happy you love to cook! I hope you feel inspired and find something on my site that will be one of your favorites! Thanks so much for your sweet comment! I look forward to hearing from all the recipes you try! XOXO

  8. Tasty but a little bit on the spicy side for my taste buds. I should have guessed that when it called for Red Pepper Flakes.

  9. Not sure what happened…but this did not turn out well. The sauce was too ketchupy. I had four pounds of chicken breasts so I doubled the recipe and made double and a half of the sauce. Cut the chicken pieces more than one inch since everyone commented the chicken was shredding. The chicken came out perfect…it’s almost cooked after browning in the frying pan. The cashews ugh…bought raw cashews…and put them in with an hour left to cook thinking they wouldn’t be too hard or soft…yuk…no taste and very soft. Should have purchased unsalted roasted cashews and put them on top once plated. Not sure what could help this recipe…maybe some red pepper, water chestnuts to break up the chicken and cashews. But the sauce…really don’t know what could be done about that…unfortunately will not make again….tastes nothing like the Chinese restaurant versions I’ve had.

    1. The sauce tasted like there was too much of the rice wine vinegar. Wondering if it’s a misprint. Should it read tsp. Instead of Tbls?

      1. I think so too, I will halve this next time.
        I added honey to try tone it down.
        First taste while cooking after added honey seems okay, but too much rice wine vinegar.
        Will cook again with adjustments

  10. I am planning on making the slow cooker cashew chicken recipe soon, but I was wondering if it can be cooked on high for 2 hours instead of low for 3-4 hours.

  11. This smells so good cooking.! I couldn’t find rice wine vinegar so just bought rice wine. Followed directions for the sauce but it tasted too vinegary so I added a little more sugar and a tsp of sesame oil. Now it’s perfect! Chopped up some onion, green and red pepper and threw it in. Now I wait. But again it smells wonderful.

  12. This is a great recipe. I have made it so many times, and everyone loves it. It has never disappointed. I get requests for it all the time. Thank you!

    This is 5 stars! I left off the rating because it would only let me give one star and this is not a one star recipe!

  13. We have stuck fairly much to the Recipe. The only thing is that we used chilli flakes, and the garlic and ginger were minced already. We only used half of the rice wine vinegar, but otherwise, as is. It is cooking at the moment, and the smell is fantastic. We will serve on a bed of Basmati Rice.

  14. This recipe is fantastic! It can even be made on the stove top fairly easily, if you are in a hurry. (We ate the whole batch, standing around the pot, as soon as it was done.)

  15. This recipe is a favorite and I make it frequently. It is easy and always turns out delicious. My only change is I omit the hot pepper flakes so the kiddos don’t find it too spicy. Thinking of making it again tonight actually! Yum!

  16. Delicious. Per previous reviews, I was afraid of it being too vineagery or ketchupy so I used 1/2 of each. My mistake was using regular soy sauce. This made the dish a bit too salty. However everyone in the house enjoyed the dish and we will make again.

  17. Can this be done without browning the chicken first? Have made it the original way and was delicious! I’m trying to do crockpot prep where I just dump all the ingredients in snaplock bags and freeze until I make it (baby on the way).

    1. It would be best to brown the chicken first and it still can go into the crockpot that way. If you are going to dump it all in though, I would add more time to the cooking to make sure it is cooked all the way through. Congratulations on your baby! Great idea making things easier! Way to go!

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