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.
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.
- Prep the Chicken:Combine cornstarch and pepper in resealable food storage bag. Add chicken. Shake to coat with cornstarch mixture.
- Brown: Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Brown chicken about 2 minutes on each side. Place chicken in slow cooker.
- 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)
- Slow Cook: Cook on LOW for 3 to 4 hours.
- 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.
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.
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!
Slow Cooker Cashew Chicken
- 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
- 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.
-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
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.
Made this tonight and it was excellent. Will make more sauce next time, however. Thank you.
When would I add mushrooms? I have made this before and it was delightful. Thought I would add some mushrooms.
Add them to the crockpot when there are only about 30 minutes left!
It was just okay. I’ll eat it but won’t make it again.
My daughter made this for me and I loved it. The next time she came home from university, I had her make it again! I noticed she uses honey roasted cashews instead of regular, leaves out sugar. She adds slightly more garlic. Thank you for sharing this recipe
Not sure what I did wrong but this came out horrible. The sauce burned in my crockpot rendering the entire dish dry and inedible. I was afraid that would happen given the small amount of fluid for crockpot cooking and high sugar content. Tossed the whole batch. Not a keeper for me.
Thank you, Alyssa! Tried this recipe last weekend. My husband loved it! Did not have brown sugar, so I tried honey instead.
Ohh, that sounds like a great idea! I’m so glad that it turned out and you loved it!
I don’t have any sweet chili sauce, what can I substitute? I want to make this tonight for dinner! Please help!
Try mixing a teaspoon of hot sauce with a Tablespoon of honey to make your own!
Do you use red or white rice vinegar?
Regular white rice vinegar.
Do you cook the chicken chunks fully prior to going into the crockpot OR do you simply brown the chicken?
Just brown the chicken for about 2 minutes and then place it into the crockpot. It will finish cooking in there! I hope you love it!
Do the cashews get mushy? Can I add them later in the cooking process?
This was so delicious!!! I read the reviews and took the suggestions of using less rice vinegar. I used half the amount called for. I also added a tablespoon of honey, bell peppers and onion (raw straight in the slow cooker). I think mushrooms and broccoli would also be a great addition. I would definitely double the sauce if serving over rice. Thank you!
I just made this dish and it was so good! Everyone loved eating it; thank you for sharing your delicious idea with us. I added some additional ingredients to give me all of those unique flavors like sesame oil.
This looks so amazing! I am making it tonight for dinner!
I’m always on the lookout for new and interesting recipes. 4 hours in the slow cooker and you’ll have a succulent dish of sweet, nutty chicken. This one is definitely my new favorite meal. Thanks Alyssa!
This sounds delicious. Would like to try it but I can’t have any soy, especially this much. Any suggestions for a sub? I’d really like to try this.
You are welcome to use teriyaki sauce or even Worcestershire sauce in replace of the soy sauce.
Use coconut aminos. No soy and gluten free! You won’t notice any difference in the recipe. Bonus, it has less sodium than low-sodium soy sauce and it’s a little sweeter. I always adjust the sugar called for in a recipe for that reason.
Coconut Aminos is an EXCELLENT sub for soy sauce! tastes
the same without the salt.
This is the first time I tried Cashew Chicken and it got me hooked, thanks for sharing this fantastic recipe.
I tried to cooked this recipe. Very delicious!!!! my family loves it
I cooked this recipe. Very delicious!!!!
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!
Very very delish!!!! I added Asian frozen veggies blend to make it more hardy…everyone LOVED it so much …..thanks for sharing