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. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

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

  7. 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

  8. 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.

  9. 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?

  10. 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!

  11. 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.

  12. 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!

  13. 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.)

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