This Crock Pot Bourbon Chicken is N’Awlin’s meets take out, and it’s going to be one delicious rendez-vous. Tender chicken thighs slow-cooked in a sticky, sweet bourbon sauce made with maple syrup, brown sugar, and ginger, it’s the kind of (big) easy recipe that makes any day feel more extraordinary.

plate of crock pot bourbon chicken served over rice

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What do New Orleans, Chinese takeout, and bourbon all have in common?

The answer is bourbon chicken.

I’ve visited the Big Easy (New Orleans) three times.

One dish I couldn’t get enough of (aside from beignets and Blackened Salmon) was the city’s famous bourbon chicken.

Juicy chicken cooked in a sweet, sticky sauce, bourbon chicken gets its name after Bourbon Street in New Orleans, as well as its not-so-secret boozy ingredient (you’ll also find it in these Bourbon Balls).

slow cooker bourbon chicken and rice on a plate

History of Bourbon Chicken

Who gets credit for being the first to make this dish is greatly contested (my research results were admittedly dubious and conflicting). However, there does at least seem to be a consensus that the dish first appeared at a Chinese restaurant that (at one point in time) was on Bourbon Street. 

While the original recipe may be one of legend, the crock pot bourbon chicken recipe I’m sharing today will make your next family dinner legendary.

a white plate with a serving of crockpot bourbon chicken

5 Star Review

“OMG… this is delicious and soooo easy! Can’t wait for tomorrow and leftovers.”

— Paula —

How to Make Crockpot Bourbon Chicken

New Orleans bourbon chicken is traditionally made in a wok or skillet (like any one of these fantastic stir fry recipes).

This crock pot bourbon chicken deviates from tradition by cutting the prep down to less than 10 minutes and turning it into an easy, effortless slow cooker recipe.

You’ll also notice the absence of ketchup. While adding 1 cup ketchup is traditional in some recipes, I prefer to skip it and use the from-scratch approach below.


The Ingredients

  • Chicken. Tender, succulent boneless skinless chicken thighs are without a doubt my favorite cut of chicken for this simple slow cooker recipe (and this Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken). This recipe calls for 1.5 lbs.

Ingredient Note

I highly recommend using chicken thighs, not chicken breasts in this recipe, as chicken breasts tend to dry out in the crockpot.

If you decide to substitute chicken breasts, watch the cooking time carefully, as you may need less time to avoid overcooking the chicken.

  • Bourbon. No need to buy the pricey stuff. Just make sure you choose a bourbon you would also like to drink. A bourbon with notes of honey, caramel, cinnamon, black pepper, or dried fruit would pair especially well with this dish (as well as this Bourbon Glazed Salmon).

Substitution Tip

If you would like to make crock pot bourbon chicken without bourbon, you may either omit it entirely from the recipe, replace it with chicken broth, or try making bourbon chicken with apple juice.

  • Soy Sauce. Flavors the marinade with a wonderful umami flavor.

Dietary Note

To make this recipe gluten free, opt for tamari over traditional soy sauce.

juicy easy slow cooker bourbon chicken with rice and green onions
  • Apple Cider Vinegar. Lends some much-needed acidity to balance out the sweetness of the sauce and also helps to tenderize the chicken.
  • Ginger + Garlic Cloves. Provides a little zippy kick and Asian flair.
  • Brown Sugar. For sweetness, depth of color, and subtle molasses flavor.
  • Maple Syrup. Compliments and enhances the bourbon flavor (as it does in these Maple Bourbon Bars) while adding additional sticky sweetness to the sauce.

Substitution Tip!

If you are not a fan of maple flavor, you may swap it for 2 tablespoons honey which also pairs well with the bourbon.

  • Cornstarch. Thickens the sauce so it clings to every crevice of the juicy, tender chicken thighs.
  • Green Onions. Finish this saucy chicken recipe with a bit of color and freshness.
  • Rice. A generous scoop of fluffy brown rice is my favorite way to serve crock pot bourbon chicken. However, jasmine rice, quinoa, or even farro would all be excellent options for serving.

Tip!

While this bourbon chicken isn’t spicy, if you’d like a kick, add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes to taste.

The Directions

bourbon chicken sauce ingredients in a measuring cup
  1. Stir together the marinade (sauce) ingredients in a small or medium bowl.
chicken thighs arranged in a baking dish
  1. Place chicken in a shallow baking dish, then pour the mixture over the chicken.
chicken thighs marinating in a sweet bourbon marinade
  1. Marinate, covered, in the fridge for a few hours or overnight for maximum flavor.

TIP!

Looking for a shortcut? While I think the BEST slow cooker bourbon chicken is one that’s marinated, you can opt to skip this step if you’re short on time.

uncooked chicken thighs arranged in a slow cooker for crockpot bourbon chicken
  1. Transfer the chicken and marinade to a slow cooker.
juicy crockpot bourbon chicken thighs in a slow cooker
  1. Cook the bourbon chicken on LOW for 6-7 hours or on HIGH for 2 1/2 – 3 hours. Remove the chicken and then transfer the sauce to a saucepan on the stove top.
  2. Make a slurry with 2 tablespoons water and 2 tablespoons cornstarch. Pour the cornstarch mixture into the pot and heat the sauce to thicken.
  3. Pour sauce over the chicken. Chop the green onion and serve with rice. Season with salt or red pepper flakes to taste. ENJOY!

Storage Tips

  • To Store. Leftover crock pot bourbon chicken may be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  • To Freeze. Store cooked slow cooker bourbon chicken in an airtight, freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge before warming.
  • To Reheat. Warm in the microwave until steaming.
Crock Pot Bourbon Chicken over rice with a fork

What to Serve with Crock Pot Bourbon Chicken

Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe

  • Slow Cooker. This old girl has been my trusted kitchen partner for several years now.
  • Whisk. A small size for incorporating the cornstarch slurry into the bubbling sauce.
  • Shallow Baking Dish. Perfect for marinating meat and baking up casseroles.

The Best Programmable Crockpot

This 6-quart crockpot has easy programmable features, a stone insert that can also be used in the microwave and oven, and an easy locking lid for transporting it.

plate of crock pot bourbon chicken served over rice

Did you make this recipe?

Let me know what you thought!

Leave a rating below in the comments and let me know how you liked the recipe.

Bourbon chicken, I don’t know where you came from, I’m just glad I found you!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Make Bourbon Chicken on the Stovetop?

Yes. In fact, most bourbon chicken recipes are made on the stovetop. Rather than adapting this slow cooker recipe, follow the steps for this Bourbon Chicken on the stovetop instead.

Can I Make Bourbon Chicken in the Oven?

I have not tried this recipe in the oven, however, I suspect it could be done. I would try baking the chicken in the marinade at 350 degrees F, basting it periodically, until cooked through. Note that the sauce would likely need to be thickened on the stove with cornstarch after the chicken is cooked. 

Could I Prepare Bourbon Chicken with Bone-In Chicken Thighs?

I have not made this recipe with bone-in thighs so I, unfortunately, cannot give specific advice on timing. My post on Crock Pot Shredded Chicken may be a good starting point however since it offers tips and instructions for preparing bone-in chicken in the slow cooker.

Can I Make This Recipe with Frozen Chicken?

Frozen chicken cannot be placed directly in the slow cooker, as it will spend too long at an unsafe temperature. If you’d like to use frozen chicken, be sure to thaw it completely first.

plate of crock pot bourbon chicken served over rice

Crock Pot Bourbon Chicken

4.84 from 6 votes
Crock pot bourbon chicken with rice is an easy dump-and-go slow cooker recipe using tender chicken thighs marinated in soy sauce and bourbon.

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 6 hrs 10 mins
Total: 6 hrs 20 mins

Servings: 4 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs trimmed of excess fat*
  • 1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce or tamari for a gluten-free alternative
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup bourbon (You don't need top-shelf—just make sure it's a brand you'd also enjoy drinking. I like Bulleit.)
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 5 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions for serving
  • 2 cups Prepared brown rice for serving

Instructions
 

  • In a small bowl, stir together the soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, bourbon, brown sugar, maple syrup, garlic, ginger, and black pepper.
  • Arrange the chicken in a shallow baking dish, then pour the mixture over the chicken. Cover the dish tightly, transfer to the refrigerator and marinate for as long as time allows (a few hours or overnight).
  • Lightly coat a 4-to-6-quart crockpot with cooking spray and arrange the marinated chicken thighs in the bottom of the slow cooker. Pour the marinade over the top, then cover the crockpot.
  • Cook on LOW for 6-7 hours or on HIGH for 2 1/2 – 3 hours, until tender and cooked through.
  • Remove the chicken from the crock pot to a serving plate and cover to keep warm. Strain the cooking liquid into a small saucepan and place it on the stove.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of water to create a slurry. Heat the saucepan on medium-high, then whisk the slurry into the cooking liquid until evenly combined. Cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce bubbles. Continue cooking and stirring until glossy and thickened, 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat.
  • Pour the sauce over the chicken, then sprinkle with green onions. Serve warm with rice.

Notes

  • SHORTCUT: You may skip marinating the chicken if you are running short on time (or simply forget to do so). The chicken will still turn out delicious just perhaps slightly less tender and flavorful.
  • INGREDIENT NOTE:  I highly recommend using chicken thighs, not chicken breasts in this recipe, as chicken breasts tend to dry out in the crockpot. If you decide to substitute chicken breasts, watch the cooking time carefully, as you may need less time to avoid overcooking the chicken.
  • TO STORE: Leftover crock pot bourbon chicken may be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  • TO FREEZE: Store cooked slow cooker bourbon chicken in an airtight, freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge before warming.
  • TO REHEAT: Warm in the microwave until steaming.

Nutrition

Serving: 1(of 4) with 1/2 cup prepared brown riceCalories: 439kcalCarbohydrates: 45gProtein: 37gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 162mgPotassium: 566mgFiber: 1gSugar: 16gVitamin A: 104IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 59mgIron: 4mg

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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32 Comments

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  1. This recipe sounds great. At present I am not supposed to use alcohol because of a pancreatitis attack
    I am just getting over. Is there a substitute I could use? Love and use your recipes often. Donna

    1. Donna, I think that you would be safe just to omit it or you could swap chicken stock. I hope you enjoy the recipe. I’m so happy to hear that you enjoy my other recipes too! That means a lot :)

  2. hi erin,
    this recipe is one i didn’t even know i was looking for before i “found” it on your blog. :o)
    it brings back such fond memories of our years in the states and the many many wonderful foods sampled. i can scarcely wait to prepare bourbon chicken as a surprise for my husband, however we are currently living in austria where crockpots/slow-cookers are virtually unknown. any suggestions on how i could adapt this recipe for cooking on the stovetop? in the oven? your help would really be appreciated!
    thanks! monica

    1. Hi Monica! I’ve only done this in the slow cooker, but with experimentation, I think you could nail it on the stovetop or oven. You could either cook the chicken on the stovetop, simmering it in the marinade until it’s cooked through or bake it in the dish in the oven with the marinade at 350 degrees, basting it periodically. I’m not sure if the sauce would need to be thickened on the stove with cornstarch after the chicken is cooked (if yes, remove the chicken, then thicken it, then add the chicken back in)—you’d just have to see what the consistency is like once the chicken is cooked. Sorry I can’t give you more specific direction but I hope this at least gets you started!

  3. I had saved this to my Paprika account and was looking for something to do with chicken thighs …OMG… this is delicious and soooo easy! Can’t wait for tomorrow and leftovers. I halved the recipe but forgot what I was doing when I got to the vinegar, so I upped the maple syrup a tad. It was just right. I can always rely on your recipes.5 stars

    1. Paula, this means so much! Thanks so much for your kind words and for taking time to share this review too.

  4. Erin, you’ve become my “go-to” cooking blog. I can’t tell you how many of your wonderful recipes I’ve tried and will try again. Last night was this recipe for Crock-pot Bourbon Chicken. If I could post a pic here I would. (But really, it looks just like yours!) It got raves from my dinner guests and it is definitely going into rotation! Thank you!5 stars

    1. This makes my day!!! Thank you so much for your kind words about my recipes, and I’m glad that this one was such a hit too.

  5. Ok, so I’ve search my cupboards for bourbon with no luck, so I’ve decided to add some cognac ☺️. I look forward to our dinner tonight after my boys’ soccer training. When slow cooker is on , it always feels like someone else cooked dinner …. Thanks Erin for another great recipe ! 

  6. Anyone know if this would be similar to Chao Cajun’s Bourbon Chicken? It’s the only “bourbon chicken” I’ve had and would love to make it at home!

  7. Hi Erin, I have these marinating in the fridge right now for dinner tonight (not sure you’ll see this before I have to start cooking). I’m worried I bought the wrong kind of chicken. I bought chicken thigh filets. Do you think these will be OK on low for about 6 hours or should I do less time?

    1. Hi Christine, if the chicken pieces are smaller, they will likely need less time. I haven’t tried that particular cut myself, so I don’t have a specific time to recommend, but I’d check for doneness before 6 hours!

  8. Tried this or the first time last night and it was delicious! Most of the leftovers went for lunch today! The sauce was perfect!5 stars

  9. I noticed that a lot of your recipes only call for a 5-7 hour slow cook time. I’m usually gone for work for 12 Hours, will I destroy the recipe by letting it cook for so long?

    1. Hi George, the cook times given are a range, but 12 hours will likely overcook the chicken. If your crock pot has an option to switch to Warm after a set cooking time, that can be helpful!

  10. Hi Erin- I want to make this recipe but only have bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs at home. I can cut the skin off, no problem. Any idea how much longer I should cook the chicken?

    1. Hi Annie! I’d suggest checking out my Crock Pot Shredded Chicken post for tips on how long to cook chicken based on your specific chicken type and weight. I hope this helps!

  11. Hi Erin

    We love every recipe of yours that I’ve tried so far; looking forward to this chicken dish as well! Would you be willing to tell me the brand of shallow baking dish in the photo with the chicken, it is so p[retty,is it stoneware? Thanks again for all you do for so many!

  12. This was a big hit! We added some sriracha, but otherwise cooked per your recipe in the crock on high. Very good!5 stars

  13. This recipe is so yummy and so easy! My kids loved it too. I marinated the chicken the night before which made it super easy to cook. Enjoy!!4 stars

  14. Your nutrition listings show potassium but no sodium listing. Is the potassium reading actually the sodium amounts in the recipe ?? This is important to me as my family is on a reduced sodium dietary requirement. TIA

    1. Hi Jeff! I stopped including sodium info because it can vary so much depending upon what products you used, and I found a lot of conflicting info online, so ultimately I didn’t feel comfortable publishing it because sometimes it wasn’t even in the ballpark. If you’d like to calculate it yourself, there are lots of free tools online (myfitnesspal.com is popular). I hope that helps!

    1. I’m sorry to hear the recipe wasn’t to your taste. I know it’s disappointing to try a new recipe and not enjoy it. I (and many other readers) have enjoyed it, so I really wish they would’ve been a hit for you too!