Crockpot Orange Chicken
Today’s healthy recipe for sweet, juicy Crockpot Orange Chicken is your easy answer to “What’s for dinner?” Now, can someone pretty please come over and help me choose a color for our kitchen cabinets?
Repainting our late 1980s heavy oak cabinets a clean, creamy white has been a dream of mine since we moved into our home nearly three years ago. We finally decided to make the commitment, headed to the hardware store to pick out our paint, and guess what? There are 85 MILLION shades of “white.” I am positive this number is accurate because we have a paint chip for every single one of them strewn across our kitchen counter.
While we were the paint store, “Alabaster,” “Roman Column,” and “Marshmallow” all seemed unique. Back at home, held up against our countertops and floor? Not so much. On Monday night, I jokingly told Ben that we should toss all of the paint chips into an empty pillowcase, close our eyes, and pick. Three days later, that option is starting to feel viable.
Along with the kitchen cabinets, we’ve been tackling other larger home projects, to the extent that our weekends are starting to feel as busy as weekdays. It’s (mostly) been a lot of fun, but I’ve had less time to cook than usual.
Easy, make-ahead recipes such as this Crockpot Orange Chicken are a complete lifesaver for the days when I have little time to meal prep. The recipe is as simple as pouring everything into the slow cooker, and the results are spectacular.
Orange chicken is a staple on many Chinese takeout menus. It typically consists of chicken that is breaded, deep fried, and tossed in a sticky, sweet orange sauce. While a favorite of many, I’ve found most I’ve tried to be overly sugared and unnecessarily heavy on calories. Today’s Crockpot Orange Chicken is my healthier, lightened-up version. It packs the same sweet, citrusy flavor but is made with wholesome ingredients. It’s also much more economical to make your own orange chicken at home instead of ordering out, which is something I’ve become more mindful of now that we are putting extra pennies (and quarters) into the house.
Your wallet AND your waistline are going to thank you for this Crockpot Orange Chicken!
Almost every other recipe I’ve read for an easy version of homemade orange chicken calls for copious amounts orange marmalade. Don’t get me wrong; I adore orange marmalade. I also know that dumping an entire jar of it into the slow cooker would likely send me into a sugar coma and detract from my goal of making this a healthy orange chicken recipe.
Instead of orange marmalade, this is a recipe for Crockpot Orange Chicken with orange juice. I combined the orange juice in the slow cooker with soy sauce and rice vinegar, a touch of honey, and lots of garlic and ginger. The orange juice mixture makes the chicken flavorful and fall-apart tender, then thickens into that signature sweet and sticky orange chicken sauce, a.k.a. the reason you were likely craving it in the first place.
We have another week to pick our paint color, at which point I will probably have changed my mind at least eight more times. I will, however, be standing firm on my orange chicken preferences. This easy, healthy Crockpot Orange Chicken recipe beats takeout every single time!
Tools I used to make this recipe:
- Programmable slow cooker
- Oversize measuring cup (great for stirring together marinades. No need to dirty another bowl!)
Crockpot Orange Chicken
Skinny Crockpot Orange Chicken. WAY BETTER than takeout! Easy, healthy orange chicken recipe made with orange juice and honey.
Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours (on high); 5 hours (on low)
Total Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes (on high); 5 hours, 30 minutes (on low)
- 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 4 medium breasts)
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup reduced-sugar orange juice
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic (about 2 cloves)
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- Prepared brown rice, for serving
- Sliced green onions, optional for serving
- Sliced or slivered toasted almonds and/or toasted sesame seeds, optional for serving
- Coat the bottom of a 4-quart or larger slow cooker with nonstick spray. Arrange the chicken in the bottom, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- In a medium bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together the orange juice, honey, soy sauce, rice vinegar, garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes. Pour over the chicken. Cover and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours on high or 5 to 6 hours on low, until the chicken registers 165 degrees F and is cooked through. With a slotted spoon, remove the chicken from the slow cooker and let cool slightly. Cut into bite-sized pieces.
- With a mesh sieve, strain the sauce into a bowl or measuring cup. Discard the solids, then return the liquid to the slow cooker. Turn the slow cooker heat to high. Mix the cornstarch with 3 tablespoons water to create a slurry, then stir it into the slow cooker sauce. Cover and cook on high until the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes, stirring it often. Return the chicken pieces to the slow cooker and stir to coat with the sauce. Serve with prepared rice, sprinkled with green onions and toasted almonds or sesame seeds as desired.
- Cooking times can vary widely based on the model and size of your slow cooker. Be sure to check the chicken early, especially if you are using a larger-size slow cooker, to make sure it does not overcook.
Serving Size: 1 (of 4), with 1/2 cup brown rice
- Amount Per Serving:
- Calories: 416 Calories
- Total Fat: 6g
- Saturated Fat: 1g
- Cholesterol: 130mg
- Sodium: 749mg
- Carbohydrates: 43g
- Fiber: 2g
- Sugar: 13g
- Protein: 50g