Slow Cooker Cashew Chicken

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This amazing slow cooker cashew chicken is way better than takeout! The chicken is breaded to perfection, the sauce is full of flavor and the cashews hidden throughout are the best part!

Make this a restaurant-worthy meal with these sides. My tried and true favorites will make it yummy, Wontons, Egg Rolls, and of course, Rice.

A bowl of cashew chicken on top of a bed of rice.

Slow Cooker Cashew Chicken Recipe

My love for cashews runs 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. If you haven’t ever tried coating and browning the chicken before adding it to the slow cooker. It is a must, it makes a HUGE difference in taste and texture. It will take your Cashew Chicken to the next level. 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.

Slow Cooker Cashew Chicken has to be seriously one of the 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!

Ingredients For Cashew Chicken

Super simple ingredients that come together to make a divine dish.

  • Chicken breasts boneless skinless: About 4 pieces, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Cornstarch: Coats the chicken to create the crust when pan-cooked.
  • Black pepper: Flavor booster.
  • Canola oil: This is a great choice to cook the chicken in.
  • Soy sauce low sodium: You can use regular if you want to.
  • Rice wine vinegar: Mild flavor that still has the tang.
  • Ketchup: Sweet and savory, perfect for the sauce.
  • Sweet chili sauce: Adds a touch of heat.
  • Brown sugar: Adds sweetness and caramelization.
  • Garlic cloves: Mince your garlic
  • Grated fresh ginger: Packs a punch of flavor and heat you will love.
  • Red pepper flakes: More heat.
  • Cashews: The nut of choice.

How to Make Cashew Chicken in the Slow Cooker

The slow cooker makes this so easy and so delicious. The extra step of browning the chicken is divine.

  1. Prep the Chicken:Combine cornstarch and pepper in resealable food storage bag. Add chicken. Shake to coat with cornstarch mixture.
  2. Brown: Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Brown chicken about 2 minutes on each side. Place chicken in slow cooker.
  3. Sauce: 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. Slow Cook: Cook on LOW for 3 to 4 hours.
  5. Enjoy: Serve over rice. Makes 4-6 servings.

Other Ways to Cook Cashew Chicken

No Slow Cooker, No Problem: This can easily be made in a large skillet on the stovetop. After you saute the chicken add the sauce to your large skillet, let it simmer for 20-30 minutes covered. If you need to thicken the sauce more, make a cornstarch slurry of 1Tablespoon cornstarch and 2 Tablespoons cold water, mix and then stir into the sauce and bring to a gentle boil. Serve as desired.

Instant Pot: Sauté the chicken in the instant pot, once cooked remove and add the sauce. If you are getting a burn notice add half a cup of chicken broth. Pour on the sauce and manually cook for 20 minutes.

Coating the chicken and pan frying before adding it to the slow cooker with the sauce.

Tips and Variations for The Best Cashew Chicken

The fact that you can make this luscious of a meal in the slow cooker is insane. It seriously tastes like take out, only better!

  • Chicken: You can use chicken breasts or chicken thighs. If you do not like chicken, pork or beef are also good choices. Shrimp is not recommended as it does not do well in the slow cooker.
  • Breading and Frying: It takes an extra step and a few extra minutes, but it is totally worth it. Please try to work this step into your plans. You can thank me later!
  • Vegetables: Add some vegetables to round out the dish. Broccoli, zucchini, bok choy, snap peas, celery, mushrooms, edamame, and green pepper all make great choices. Add to the crockpot the last 30 minutes of cooking.
  • Cashews: I do not recommend using salted cashews as they will cause the dish to be too salty. If that is all you have, you can rinse them off and sauté them dry before adding them to the crockpot.
  • Serve: We love this dish on rice, but you can use brown rice, cauliflower rice, zoodles, ramen noodles, or quinoa.
Stirring the cashew chicken in the slow cooker.

Storing Your Cashew Chicken

This dish tastes even better the second day.

  • Fridge: Keep in tightly sealed in the fridge for up to 5 days.
  • Freeze: Place the cooled cashew chicken in a freezer-safe bag or container that is air-tight and freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to use thaw in the fridge overnight. Heat in the crockpot for 1-2 hours or on the stovetop till warm and bubbly.
  • Make-Ahead Freezer Meal: Make a double batch of this insanely delicious meal and freeze one batch for later use. For the freezer meal, skip dredging the chicken as it will make it a bit messy. Add everything to a freezer-safe bag except the cashews. Press all the air out of the bag and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight, add to the crockpot, and cook as directed by the recipe. Add the cashews and enjoy!
Sitting on a bed of rice, slow cooker cashew chicken in a bowl.

Slow Cooker Cashew Chicken

4.72 from 7 votes
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!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 4 hours 15 minutes
Author Alyssa Rivers
Servings: 6 Servings

Ingredients
  

  • 2 pounds chicken breasts boneless skinless, About 4 pieces, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 3 Tablespoons Cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon canola oil
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce low sodium
  • 4 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 4 Tablespoons ketchup
  • 2 Tablespoons sweet chili sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup cashews

Instructions
 

  • Combine cornstarch and pepper in resealable food storage bag. Add chicken. Shake to coat with cornstarch mixture.
  • Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Brown chicken about 2 minutes on each side. Place chicken in slow cooker.
  • 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)
  • Cook on LOW for 3 to 4 hours.
  • Serve over rice. Makes 4-6 servings.

Video

Notes

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.
Updated on May 20, 2021
Originally Posted on July 13, 2012

Nutrition

Serves: 6

Calories381kcal (19%)Carbohydrates21g (7%)Protein38g (76%)Fat16g (25%)Saturated Fat3g (15%)Cholesterol97mg (32%)Sodium1409mg (59%)Potassium774mg (22%)Fiber1g (4%)Sugar10g (11%)Vitamin A121IU (2%)Vitamin C3mg (4%)Calcium25mg (3%)Iron2mg (11%)

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.

Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Asian American
Keyword Cashew Chicken, chicken recipes, slow cooker cashew chicken, slow cooker recipes
Tried this recipe?Mention @alyssa_therecipecritic or tag #therecipecritic

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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. could you translate low into degrees or number on a stove?

    I dont have a cooker, only a stove .
    Thanks
    Dennis

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. The photo shows scallions, but they’re not listed in INGREDIENTS. How many & When are they added ?

  9. 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

  10. 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.

  11. 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

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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!

  15. 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.

  16. 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.)

  17. 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!

  18. 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.

  19. 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!

  20. I need to make this recipe for about 30 people. I was wondering if that means I need 5 or 6 5-quart crock pots?

  21. Great recipe. I will reduce cornflour to 2 TBL for next time though as sauce a little thick. Used Apple cider vinegar as had no rice wine vinegar. Was perfect. Added the cashews towards the end so they still had some ‘crunch’ Also added chopped up spring onions before serving. Will be a favourite from now on.

  22. Made this last night. My partner said it was the best meal he’d had in 16 years. He gets the left overs tonight. I get Iceland’s fish pie. Damn.

    I actually added chopped red peppers, green or yellow would work. Added spring onions. Half the soy was added and put in about a cup of water to give it some sauce. Doesn’t take away from the flavours. Making it again next week. It’s that good

  23. This was amazing. Made tonight just as recipe was! We really enjoyed it over rice. Saving this one. Thanks for sharing.

  24. 3 stars
    Its delicious and I doubled the sauce and it all dried up and burnt after 2 hrs ..anyone else have this issue

    1. I had to periodically add water while it was cooking (4 hours on low was too long, IMO) – added a bit more than 1 cup total, and I initially made 1.5 times the sauce recipe.

  25. 5 stars
    I’ve made this recipe 3 times so far. Since radiation treatments, my husband’s taste buds are a little wonky, but he can taste the spicy stuff, but not sweet or sour. He loved it every time I made it.

    It was very spicy the first time, so I cut down on the red pepper flakes on the second try. It was still a little spicy. Finally on the third try, I realized that a lot of the “kick” is actually from the fresh ginger!!! I cut back just a tad (actually, more like I accurately measured this time) and used the amount of red pepper flakes called for in the recipe. It still has enough of a kick for my husband and not too spicy for me. I love this recipe.

  26. 5 stars
    Made this for dinner last night and will surely be making it again! The chicken (I used breasts) was so moist and the sauce was delicious. I did read some of the other comments prior to making so doubled the sauce (we’re a saucy bunch here) and cut the vinegar measurement in half. I didn’t have chili sauce in the pantry so substituted with 1 tsp of sesame oil which worked quite well. I also added red bell peppers, vidalia onion and cremini mushrooms at the start of cooking. Thank you for a new go-to recipe!

  27. 5 stars
    This was delicious! Tasted like the spicy cashew chicken from Cheesecake Factory. I served over rice with a side of mixed stir fry veggies.

  28. Just made this. OMG so good. I didn’t have Asian sweet chili so I added 1 tbsp honey and increased the red pepper flakes. If I was to do it again I’d add 2tbsp of honey no extra flakes and a bit of water. Depending on crowd I might decrease the red pepper flakes. I did add celery with 10 minutes left. I’d do that again too. And maybe water chestnuts.

  29. Thought I lost this recipe! Looking it up on the internet I knew this was it! You’re the only one that does the cornstarch and chicken then browns it first, makes all the difference and comes out like very good takeaway. Thank you for this excellent recipe!

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