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

4.34 from 12 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. Followed this recipe to the letter, well almost, I added more brown sugar to the sauce. Only one problem, about 45 minutes into cooking time on low in the slow cooker, I checked and stirred the chicken. The sauce was reduced to paste and the chicken had the texture of sandpaper.
    Needless to say, I quit cooking the chicken, thinned out the sauce and because I refuse to waste this much food we ate it.
    Yes the cooker was on low but to be honest who cooks small pieces of chicken breast for 3 hours?
    The only thing I can figure is that my cooker is a lot hotter than most.
    Anyway, we love the sauce and I will do it differently next time.

  2. I made this and we all loved it. Used maple syrup instead of brown sugar AND NO CROCK POT. Chicken cooks so fast. Just browned as advised then sautéed onions and ginger in the pan and added sauce and the cooked chicken. Voila! Delicious and one pan in 20 minutes. Used the instant Pot for the rice instead.

  3. Repeat: If you are worried about your chicken becoming dry try using boneless skinless chicken thighs. They will stay moist if left for a longer cooking time.

    1. If you want to make this a freezer meal simply brown the chicken and freeze it, then whip up the sauce and freeze it separately.

  4. This was amazing! I substituted 1/2 the soy with water, used 1/2 the sugar, and boneless/skinless thighs. So delish! Thank you!

  5. I have made this recipe several times – and, I’m making it for myself for Mother’s Day! I absolutely love it and so does my family. I do brown the chicken, first, and I add extra cashews because I’m a cashew lover, too!

    1. That is so great to hear! I am so happy you love it so much! Happy Mother’s Day to you! Enjoy your dinner, I know it will be another great meal for you! Xo

      Your Recipe Critic,
      Alyssa

  6. Sadly, not our fave. Too salty. Followed the recipe exactly. Didn’t look like the picture at all – looked more like BBQ. Hubby tolerated it but the kids didn’t like it. They said it tasted sour. We will stick with take out.

    1. I am sorry to hear that! Thank you for your comment and letting me know about it. I hope there are other recipes that work better for your family!

      Your Recipe Critic,
      Alyssa

  7. Kinda disappointed with this recipe unfortunately. I was really looking forward to it. Followed the recipe entirely except I had a little more chicken so made the sauce 1 1/2 times what the recipe says. Cooked for 2 1/2 hours on low before checking it, the sauce was runny and it tasted a bit salty so I added some sesame oil, honey and some frozen veggies to try thicken and sweeten it a bit more, put in on high for another half hour or so. Still doesn’t taste ‘restauraunt quality’. Want to make it again because of all the great comments, but don’t want it to turn out like this again so not sure what to do 🙁

  8. cooked it exactly as written except I cooked it in the cast iron pan (instead of the slow cooker). It was not too salty (tho I did use the the low salt soy) but next time I think I will reduce the ketchup. Just a personal taste. Good recipe otherwise!

  9. I used low sodium soy sauce and the sauce was still so salty it was inedible. Maybe halving the soy sauce amount would be better.

  10. It looks wonderful but I can’t imagine the breading sticking after all that time in the crockpot, so I’m going to have to trust you on that one, lol!

  11. Loving the recipes that I am finding here, haven’t tried them yet, but if the photos are anything to go by, should be very happy tummies

  12. This has jumped to being one of my family’s favourite recipes – but… She who must be obeyed says “what about vegetables” – Any suggestions on what Veg to add?

  13. I found that low sodium soy and lightly salted cashews were great. I doubled the sauce recipe and then 3 hours into cooking I added 1-2 cup of honey an additional 1/4 cup of brown sugar and a splash of white pepper ! It was fabulous !!!

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