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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.

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Slow Cooker Cashew Chicken

4.08 from 25 votes
By: Alyssa Rivers
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
Slow Cooker: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 6 Servings



  • 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.



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 1/2 times.
Updated on May 20, 2021
Originally Posted on July 13, 2012


Calories: 381kcalCarbohydrates: 21gProtein: 38gFat: 16gSaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 97mgSodium: 1409mgPotassium: 774mgFiber: 1gSugar: 10gVitamin A: 121IUVitamin C: 3mgCalcium: 25mgIron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: Asian American
Tried this recipe?Mention @alyssa_therecipecritic or tag #therecipecritic!


About Alyssa Rivers

Alyssa Rivers is the author of 'The Tried and True Cookbook', a professional food photographer and experienced recipe-developer. Having a passion for cooking, her tried and true recipes have been featured on Good Morning America, Today Food, Buzzfeed and more.

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  1. Made this tonight and it was definitely a “keeper”! A few suggestions… It was a bit salty but could be lessend by using low sodium soy sauce and unsalted cashews. Also, adding the cashews at the end is something I will do next time for added crunch. ( I wasn’t fond of the softer cashews). Finally, I added 1/2 chopped onion, one chopped green pepper and several slice red mini sweet peppers,and a bunch of green onions at the very end. I loved the combo of added veggies!!!

  2. Looks delicious!!! Just wonder if I can use drum stick instead of breast because I find breast is quite dry.

  3. I know you have lots of q s so i will keep it short. I dont fany the breaded bit, can i leave it out and can i use red wine vinegar or white instead of the rice. wine vinegar as i do not keep any.

  4. I made this and it was so good. I added a 1 lb bag of “broccoli stir fry” frozen veg because I wanted something else and was too lazy to chop up broccoli 😀 It was really really good. I do think low-sodium soy sauce is a must, it’s almost too much soy sauce taste for me and I was generous with all other sauce ingredients. I did not double the sauce but I will increase the total sauce amount next time, somehow. I don’t feel like the sweet chili sauce made as much of an addition as I was hoping, but anyway, I LOVE the cornstarch coated and browned chicken. Going to make all my other asian-style recipes this way from now on for SURE. It was ready after only a couple of hours though I did give it about 30 minutes on high to get it started. I was impatient. Thanks a lot this is a great great recipe. I feel like there is a lot of room for variation to personal taste.

  5. We shared this recipe last week and here is our report after we actually made it.
    Our whole family loved this recipe. It’s restaurant quality, or even better since we know what is in it. Here’s our comments about the recipe itself and the dish. 1) The picture shows chopped green onions which doesn’t show on the recipe. We think that would have been a great addition to garnish with and to include in the recipe. 2) There’s enough main dish in the recipe to support about 6 rice servings. You’ll have to remember to prepare the rice to finish cooking about the time the main dish does. 3) This was spicer than we expected. We liked the spice, only 1/4 teaspoon of both black pepper and red pepper flakes, and we will use the same amounts again, but we know some people like to stay away from spicey food, and if that is the case in your home, cut back on the two types of pepper. 4) Ours was redder and less crispy looking than what the picture shows. I don’t know if that makes a difference in the taste or not, but don’t be surprised if your’s looks a bit different than what the picture shows. Several possible explainations why but, It’s still wonderful. 5) We liked the cashews both cooked and as a garnished at the end. We split the cashews and put 1/2 in the main dish and let them cook, and put the other 1/2 as a garnish at the end. Both ways are good and we are going to split them again when we make it next. 6) Recipe didn’t say to cut up the chicken into bite sized pieces, but it should, and do it before you coat the chicken with the cornstarch and pepper mixture. Make a few notes on your copy of this recipe and you’ll have a perfect and delicious meal. Highly recommend this recipe with some clairifications.

  6. This looks great! I love to cook freezer meals and was wondering, do you think I could brown the chicken, and then put it in a ziplock with the sauce until I’m ready to use? Thaw, and then put in the crock pot? Wondering if the breading would get soggy? :/

  7. Definitely needs the sauce doubled. Wish I would have paid attention to comments before making it. If I make it again I would also maybe add a little more brown sugar and ginger.

    1. You totally could! Just brown the outside of the chicken and pour the sauce over the top and bake. If you need to see how I bake some of my chinese dishes, just search “Baked Sweet and Sour Chicken” and the instructions should be the same. 🙂

  8. I’m in the UK, and couldn’t find canola oil in the supermarket. Can I substitute any other oil? Also, are red pepper flakes the same as chilli flakes? Thanks in advance.

      1. Hi Helen! Canola Oil is the same thing as “Rapeseed Oil” in the UK. I heard that American’s were offended by the name and changed it to “Canola”. 🙂 But yeah- veg oil should work too. I’m about to try this out tonight- excited! Hope it worked out well for you! 🙂

      2. BTW- I’m now in the UK too and figuring out how to manage US recipes while here! 🙂

  9. Just a suggestion: I would find these recipes much easier to deal with if you would begin your post of them on Facebook with the name of the recipe. That way, I don’t waste a lot of time trying to figure out what it is. Thanks.

  10. This sounds deliscious. But I must be the only one who does not know what sweet chili sauce is. Can you give me more info about it?

    1. You can also make your own, fairly easily. We had everything in the party to make it. I didn’t want to run to the store, so I made it ahead of time and put it in the fridge. Several recipes available on Google 🙂