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 from 23 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


  • 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.



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


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


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 the chicken exactly as described and I was shocked at how salty it was. While the chicken cooked, I made vegetables to mix in (2 cups sliced carrots, 2 cups sliced zucchini, 1 sliced bell pepper, and 2 green onion tops) with a half-sized batch of the same sauce used in the chicken (sans cashews) in another crockpot. When the veg finished (this took about an hour), I drained them of liquid and combined the drained veg with the chicken and sauce in the first crockpot.

    In short, I like the addition of the veg and the extra 50% sauce, but next time I will cut the soy sauce (in both the chicken and veg sauce) in half and perhaps add more chili.

  2. WITHOUT READING the reviews first, I followed this recipe to a T. I thought the sauce tasted to vinagery, so I added a little more sweet chili sauce. BUT the biggest problem I had was cooking the dish on LOW for 3 hours and then discovering almost all the chicken was hard as rocks!!

    Today, I READ THE REVIEWS AND DISCOVERED I SHOULD HAVE DOUBLED THE SAUCE. Well, at least I know now. LOL All-in-all, the dish was good; I just need to make some changes for next time and, perhaps, cook it maybe just over an hour. After all, when the chicken pieces are browned on both sides before placing it in the crock pot–the chicken is essentially already cooked.

    AND I will add the cashews LATER,

    Thanks for the recipe.

  3. I made this about a week ago for my family without any adaptions. We thought it was delicious! Thanks.

  4. I am confused. Was breading and browning ithe chicken what “took this to a new level” or not doing so that did? Pleas clarify this, as yo comments seem contradictory.
    Also – I see no mention above of “doubling the sauce” — any hints on this?
    VERY excited to try this. I LOVE cashews too!.

    1. Breading and browning the chicken took it to a whole new level. 🙂 It gave the outside a crisp edge just like a restaurant. I have recently adjusted the recipe so that their is more sauce.

  5. We are forever searching for a cashew chicken recipe like at our fav hotel restaurant in Bangkok. I gave this a shot last night. It is nothing like our favourite, but we are in love with this version and will make it regularly. I used 3 T of tomato paste rather than 4 T of ketchup (we never have ketchup in the house). I put in 2 chicken thighs and 5 drumsticks, adding water to the sauce after it had cooked for awhile in the slow cooker. I cooked it about 2 hours and it was fall-off-the bone tender. (I had fried the chicken a bit longer than you suggested.) At first I was thinking it was bad that I had not cubed the chicken. But we found it so delicious just pulled off the bone. What a great recipe! Thanks so much!

  6. My family loves this recipe! I add a can of light coconut milk about 30 minutes before its done and serve with jasmine rice drizzled with sriracha.

  7. I am interested in this recipe for the cashew chicken. I am allergic to tomatoes and most chinese food does not have ketchup or tomatoes of any kind. Can I make this without the ketchup and sweet chili?

  8. Dear Alyssa, since finding this receipe, I have made it three or four times. I am a live alone dad and when my kids come round to visit I make this. We all love it. Thanks for posting.

  9. Made this today for dinner. I doubled the sauce like lots of comments recommended, but otherwise I followed the recipe exactly. It came out looking nothing like the pictures. No breading on the chicken, and a much darker sauce. Both my wife and I couldn’t eat more than a few bites before we were tired of the flavor. Would not make again. :'(

    1. I am sorry it didn’t turn out for you! It is really one of the best things we have had. And receives countless rave reviews from others.

  10. Made and loved this! It did thicken up quite a bit and overcooked, so just keep an eye on it. Next time I’m going to add more sweet chili sauce since I would like a sweeter flavor. Overall, awesome recipe. I love making Chinese food from scratch!

  11. Made this tonight after my wife has asked for it for several weeks. Used Maryland fillets (no bone) to reduce chance of overcooking. Verrrryyy salty, even with a light and not overly salty soy, it needs thinning down. I’ll try once more with a little less soy and top up with water.

  12. If doing this as a make ahead freezer meal, would I just coat the chicken and freeze before browning it? Or should I go ahead and cook it all the way through?

  13. This was delicious. I did use almond flour to coat the chicken and it was fine.- Just took the chicken a little longer to brown.

  14. I made this tonight for my family. My husband liked it the most. My kids thought it was to sour. I followed the instructions and used exactly what the measurements listed. I cut up the chicken though. I warmed up the crockpot first. I cooked mine for 1 hour on high and had no problems. I will say this tasted more like orange chicken. It was very good. Thanks!!

  15. Was wondering if this recipe would work using frozen, breaded popcorn chicken? We are in the process of remodeling our kitchen, so the simpler the better as far as cooking goes.

  16. Hello,
    Wanting to make this for the family I nanny for (just mum and little boy)
    So a lot doesn’t go to waste I was thinking of halving the recipe – would the cook time still be the same or less ??
    Or is it able to be frozen? could I freeze it in individual portions?

    My mum made this for me last week for the first time and I loveddddd it!!! It’s a new fav on our dinner rotations 🙂

  17. 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!!!

  18. 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.

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