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


  • 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.

Read More Posts by Alyssa

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  1. I am loving the sound of this recipe. I am looking for things that can be frozen after they are cooked. Do you think this would work to freeze it?

  2. Can you please tell me if the recipe now shows the doubled quantity of the sauce? If I cook this in the slow cooker for 2 hours, would I be best to put it on high? Thanks in advance.

  3. I really wanted to love this dish, but there was just something about it that didn’t agree with my taste buds. I couldn’t find low sodium soy sauce, so I got the regular kind and watered it down a bit (not a big fan of soy sauce either). Apart from that I followed the recipe, and the end result looked a lot like the pic on the site, very appealing! It was definitely more salty than I prefer, but there was another flavor that didn’t agree with me. I’m not a good enough cook to be able to pin point it, but I wonder if it was a combination of soy and rice vinegar. I have never cooked with vinegar before, and am the type of person who find vinegar flavored chips to be a cruel, cruel prank.. Not very experienced with it, in other words.

    I definitely want to try this dish again to see if I’ll manage to push it in a direction my palate agrees with. I wonder though, would skipping/replacing the vinegar make the soy more dominant, or does the vinegar enhance the soy when the two are combined? Does anyone have recommendations for what I might try to replace the vinegar with?

  4. Ours unfortunately came out way too bitter/sour…I’m guessing because of the vinegar. 🙁 Couldn’t eat it.

  5. Just made this for dinner tonight, loved the flavor but it was way, way ,way too salty. I used low sodium say sauce. Will not make this ever again.

  6. I cooked it for 8 hours since I was working. It turned to a black hard salthy cake. Aweful,
    It never happened with any other crock por recepie

  7. I have made this several times, including today, using skinless bone-in chicken thighs.
    I have also made it with a small boneless pork roast. Each and every time, it is simply
    fabulous! I used cashews as stated the first time, but didn’t think the dish warranted the
    expense, so skipped them the second time around. Still a tasty dish and we didn’t miss
    the nuts at all. Today I’ll use fresh shelled, chopped peanuts. It should be just as good
    as with cashews at a more budget friendly price. This is definitely one of our family’s
    absolute favorites and we look forward to having it again soon. YUM!

  8. This is delicious! I cooked it entirely in a wok and pot (chicken in the wok, sauce thickened in a pot) for a quick late night dinner. It turned out so good! I can’t wait to make it again! Putting the sauce in the pot with a pinch of cornstarch to simmer for a little bit while the chicken cooked produced a nice thick sauce that really stuck to the chicken well.

  9. I had such high hopes for this. I followed the recipe TO THE T! It smelled amazing, I couldn’t WAIT to try it. I’m glad I did before I served it. It had an odd flavor, salty/vinegar with a giant spicy kick at the end… it looked amazing just didn’t taste amazing. I grabbed the chicken chunks out and put the sauce in a separate pan and added more brown sugar, some water, orange juice, and coconut milk. Let that simmer then added it back to the chicken to try and infuse the flavors. I won’t be making this again.

  10. I made this last night and absolutely LOVED it! That said, I wasn’t able to cook it in the crock pot, so I did make it in a wok instead. The sauce was way too salty when I tasted it, but for some reason, letting it caramelize on the (totally unsalted) chicken in the wok for about 5 minutes rounded it all out and it worked perfectly. I also served it with rice that I didn’t add any salt to, just in case, but I wouldn’t worry about it making it again. If anyone wants to try it without the slow cooker, I plan to make it again this way for sure, it was so delicious!

  11. I loved this recipe. Reminds me of kung pal chicken at PF Changs. It was not salty at all and I even salted the chicken. It was not hard to figure out that you should cut the chicken even though you didn’t list it…common sense 🙂 I wish my dish came out more darker like yours and the chicken a little more crispy like PF Changs. And I cooked mine in oil a little longer. Can’t wait to make it again. Thank you.

  12. I made this dish for dinner tonight. I followed the recipe entirely and used 1.5 times the sauce as suggested, cooked for 3.5 hours on low. I used low sodium soy sauce. The chicken stayed whole (in chunks) and was nice and tender without being dry. Having said that, the sauce was extremely salty and the dish bordered on being unedible. I don’t think I’ll be making this again.

  13. Great recipe. I’ve been looking for crock pot recipes and am glad I found your site. Looking forward to trying more of your recipes.

  14. Just want to say…this chicken is DELICIOUS!! The entire family rated it a ten…and that hardly ever happens. 🙂 Thank you for an awesome recipe!

  15. Nowhere does it say to cut the chicken into pieces, yet it looks like the picture is showing pieces of chicken. So confused.

  16. Well I must say, very yummy! I also added some green pepper, carrot, and pineapple chunks and woooohoooo I got the best take out in town!

  17. Really fab recipe, thank you.
    So many options with this too, and its a slice of Asian cooking for those that have never tried 🙂
    You rock! Cheers

  18. Delicious. Although I made a few modifications. Don’t eat ketchup so didn’t want to buy that. Had some other coconut / mango sauce – used that instead. Don’t use Rice vinegar, only apple cider vinegar, so did 3 T of that instead. Didn’t have cornstarch, so used glutino gluten-free bread crumbs with thyme and red chili pepper in the mix. Browned them in coconut oil. Perfect. Added cashews raw at end. Still very salty, so likely next will use beef broth and some other stuff I make up. Kind sorta not the same recipe, but the gist of it was the same and it was quite tasty. Plus the juxtaposition of tender chicken and crunchy cashews makes me happy.

  19. This looks so yummy! My husband LOVES cashews and he’s always wanting me to cook him something with them but I’m not a fan. But this…this looks YUMMY!! And very easy!! I will be making this tomorrow for dinner and I’m sure I will be making it again soon. Can’t wait to try it!

  20. I love making Asian food like this at home and have even gotten good at balancing the flavors. I came across this recipe and was excited that it was tailored for the crockpot. I have never seen ketchup used in an Asian sauce so I was skeptical. I did double the amount of sauce as many comments had suggested. I felt like I was putting in too much ketchup and I wish I had stopped short of the amount it calls for. All I could taste was ketchup! So I doctored it a bit, poured it in, and hoped for the best. But still, the ketchup shined through. The chicken did come out nice and moist which I usually have trouble with when cooking on the stove top. I might give this another try and leave out the ketchup. I’d probably use a little bit of chili garlic paste instead.

  21. My store doesn’t carry Rice wine vinegar. I got rice vinegar… is that the same thing? Or should I have gotten a wine vinegar?

  22. I haven’t tasted it yet, but it smells amazing and looks just perfect! BUT I would add to please add to cut chicken into chunks somewhere in the instructions. I thankfully watched the video that showed large chunked chicken.

  23. This looks awesome!! I just got an Instant Pot and was wondering if anyone has made it this way, and if so what would the directions be? Thanks!!

    1. I’ve been scrolling through the responses looking to see if anyone has used an Instant Pot too. I did make a basalmic chicken dish last night that normally is a 4 hr cook in the slow cooker and cooked it for 5 min more than the poultry setting on the Instant Pot. Turned out great.

  24. Made this – it was delicious – Loved it! Thanks!
    (we always use low sodium soy sauce so that’s what I used – and I added lightly salted cashews at the end because I wanted them crunchy – served with brown rice…so good!)

  25. Really really good. I used chicken thigh meat, and didn’t have rice wine vinegar so substituted it for cider vinegar. All turned out delicious

  26. 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 !!!

  27. 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?

  28. 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

  29. 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!

  30. 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.

  31. 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!

  32. 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 🙁

  33. 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,

  34. 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,

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

    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.

  36. 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.

  37. 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.

  38. 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.

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