This recipe for Slow Cooker Cashew Chicken combines tender pieces of chicken breast with a homemade sweet and sour sauce and crunchy cashews, all cooked with the convenience of your crock pot! It's a great option for busy weeknights or when you're craving this popular Chinese food with no need to go out!
Chinese takeout is a good option when you need a fast meal. But if you’re looking for something a bit healthier, this Chinese chicken recipe has got you covered!
Cashew chicken is a popular Chinese American dish made with tender pieces of chicken, cashews, and a savory sauce. The sauce is usually sweet and sour in flavor and can be thick or thin depending on the ingredients used. This dish is usually served with rice, but you can also enjoy it as a stir fry or with noodles.
Making this meal in the slow cooker is key because it allows the chicken to simmer in the savory sauce and become extra tender. The cashews add texture as well as a nutty flavor that enhances the whole dish!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- It's budget-friendly. You won't be spending money on take-out because you can make this popular Chinese food right in your own kitchen!
- It’s easy. With just a few ingredients and minimal preparation, you can make this slow-cooker cashew chicken without breaking a sweat.
- It’s healthy. This recipe uses fresh ingredients so that you can enjoy all the flavors of Chinese take-out without any of the guilt.
- It’s delicious. The sauce is sweet and sour with a hint of savory flavor from ginger and garlic. Plus, the cashews provide a nutty crunch that adds texture and flavor.
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Chicken Breast - Boneless skinless chicken breast is high in protein and soaks up any sauce well when placed in the slow cooker.
- Red Bell Pepper - Gives the chicken a fresh garden taste along with texture.
- Snow Peas - Give the perfect amount of crunch to the dish.
- Cornstarch - Coats the chicken breast, which helps the sauce stick and also thickens up the cashew sauce.
- Dried Seasonings - A mix of black pepper, crushed red pepper, and ground ginger work together to give the sauce a kick of natural spice.
- Low Sodium Soy Sauce - Adds a salty umami flavor throughout the sauce. Water is added to help thin it out to the perfect consistency for cooking.
- Light Brown Sugar - Adds a deep sweet flavor to the sauce that helps neutralize the spices and saltiness.
- Minced Garlic - Popular in Chinese cooking, fresh garlic adds a mellow and slightly sweet garlic flavor.
- Sweet Chili Sauce - Adds a bit of heat and sweetness to the sauce.
- Cashews - The star of the dish! Salted cashews are popular in Chinese cooking, providing a crunchy texture to balance out the tender chicken.
How To Make Cashew Chicken In The Slow Cooker
Prepare the chicken breast: Remove any excess fat off of the chicken breast and pat it dry with a paper towel. Cut it into 1-inch pieces and add to a freezer bag. Add cornstarch and black pepper, then close the bag. Shake until completely coated. Then, add it to the bottom of the slow cooker.
Add the veggies: Cut red pepper into 1-inch chunks, then add snow peas and red peppers on top of the chicken.
Assemble the sauce: To a medium-sized mixing bowl, add the soy sauce, red pepper, water, brown sugar, rice vinegar, ketchup, sesame oil, ginger, garlic, and sweet chili sauce and whisk until combined. Pour the sauce over the chicken and stir until the chicken breast is completely coated with the sauce.
Slow cook the chicken: Add the lid to the slow cooker and turn the temperature to HIGH for 2½ - 3½ hours or LOW for 4½ - 5½ hours.
Add in cashews: To the chicken and sauce, add cashews thirty minutes before cook time is up. Gently stir and continue to cook. Serve over rice, and enjoy!
- When preparing the chicken, cut the pieces into small bite-sized pieces. This helps the chicken to cook evenly in the slow cooker and also ensures each piece is well coated with the sauce.
- Adjust the amount of red pepper flakes that you use depending on how spicy you’d like your cashew chicken. Start with a teaspoon, then taste and adjust accordingly.
- Add the cashews last as they don’t take long to cook and can easily become mushy if left in the slow cooker for too long.
- If your sauce is too thick, add a small amount of water until it reaches your desired consistency. If your sauce is too thin, add a small amount of cornstarch until it thickens up.
- Add vegetables: Add your favorite vegetables, such as mushrooms, bell peppers, or broccoli.
- Make it vegan: Replace the chicken with tofu and use a plant-based sweet chili sauce to make the recipe vegan friendly.
- Change up the protein: This recipe also works with chicken thighs, pork, or even shrimp!
- Make it gluten-free: Replace the soy sauce with a gluten-free version, such as tamari or coconut aminos, and make sure your cornstarch and other ingredients for the sauce do not contain gluten.
- Add different nuts: Instead of cashews, use almonds or peanuts to change up the flavor.
Storing & Freezing
Storing: Once cooled, you can portion out the slow cooker cashew chicken and store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Freezing: Allow the recipe to cool completely before transferring it to freezer-safe containers or bags. It will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
Reheating: Reheat on the stovetop until heated through or in the microwave for 2-3 minutes. You can also reheat it in the microwave with a small amount of water added to the dish.
Cashew chicken is popularly served over white or fried rice, with steamed vegetables, or in a wrap. It can also be enjoyed on its own!
Yes, it is ok to put raw chicken in the slow cooker. However, make sure all the pieces are cooked through before serving by checking that they have reached an internal temperature of 165°F.
Is Kung Pao chicken the same as cashew chicken?No, these two popular Chinese dishes are not the same. Cashew chicken is made with a sweet and sour sauce and crunchy cashews, while Kung Pao chicken typically has a spicy chili-based sauce.
More Slow-Cooker Chinese Take-Out Recipes
- Crock Pot Sesame Chicken Recipe
- Slow Cooker Orange Chicken
- Slow Cooker Thai Peanut Chicken
- Slow Cooker Mongolian Chicken
- Slow Cooker Teriyaki Beef
- Crock Pot Teriyaki Chicken
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Slow Cooker Cashew Chicken
- 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts (cut into 1-inch pieces)
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- 1 large red bell pepper (cut into 1-inch pieces)
- 1¼ cup snow peas
- 1 tsp black pepper
- ⅓ cup low sodium soy sauce
- ¼ tsp crushed red pepper
- ½ cup water
- 2 tbsp light brown sugar
- 3 tbsp rice vinegar
- 4 tbsp ketchup
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 2 tsp garlic (minced)
- 3 tbsp sweet chili sauce
- 1¼ cups cashews
- Cut chicken into bite-size pieces and add to a 1-gallon freezer bag. Add cornstarch and black pepper, then close the bag. Shake until completely coated. Then, add it to the bottom of the slow cooker.
- Cut red pepper into 1-inch chunks, then add snow peas and red peppers on top of the chicken.
- Add soy sauce, red pepper, water, brown sugar, rice vinegar, ketchup, sesame oil, ginger, garlic, and sweet chili sauce in a medium bowl. Whisk until well combined, then pour over the chicken. Stir until the chicken is coated.
- Cover and cook on high for 2½ - 3½ hours or low for 4½ - 5½ hours. Add cashews to the slow cooker thirty minutes before cook time is up. Gently stir and continue to cook.
- Serve over rice, and enjoy!
- To add a breaded texture to the chicken. Brown the chicken by heating 2 tbsp of canola oil to a skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the chicken for about 2 minutes on each side. (DO NOT COOK CHICKEN ALL THE WAY) Then add the chicken to the slow cooker.
- If you like softer cashews, add them in at the beginning with the veggies.
- A popular addition to this dish is frozen broccoli. To make is so the broccoli is not mushy. Add it in 45 minutes before cook time is up. Gently stir and continue to cook.
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- Baby Corn
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- Red Onion
*All nutrition information provided is automatically calculated and is an estimate and will vary based on ingredients, brands, and changes in cooking methods listed in the recipe. If you need exact numbers on your ingredients, I would recommend calculating them with your prefered nutrition calculator.