Crock Pot Cashew Chicken
Healthy Crock Pot Cashew Chicken! It’s the stir fry minus the fry. The take-out minus the “please tell me someone else ate my last 17 bites when I wasn’t looking” feeling of regret. The slow cooker chicken recipe for when the decision between turning on your oven to make dinner or keeping it off and dipping raw broccoli and cashews in soy sauce instead is closer to a tie than you imagined possible.
I adapted this Slow Cooker Cashew Chicken with vegetables from my recipe for Thai Cashew Chicken, one of my favorite quick-fix meals.
Like that easy cashew chicken recipe, this Crock Pot Cashew Chicken is super simple to prep, offers every food group in a single meal, and the addictive, sticky sauce will make it a fast fave, even among picky eaters.
As someone who loves her leftovers, I appreciate that this cashew chicken recipe is just as yummy reheated the next day too.
Unlike my original Thai Cashew Chicken, however, this Crock Pot Cashew Chicken is almost entirely hands free. You’ll need to spend a few minutes at the stove—a quick 2 or 3 to brown the chicken, then 3 more to thicken the sauce at the end—but I pinky promise it is worth it!
Crock Pot Cashew Chicken — An Easy, Healthy Slow Cooker Recipe for Real Life
This Crock Pot Cashew Chicken also stands out for its flexibility.
Like all excellent stir fry-ish recipes, you can use it to clean out your refrigerator. If I’m shopping ahead, I’ll make Crock Pot Cashew Chicken with broccoli and red bell peppers, but with a few modifications to the cooktime, you can easily swap almost any other vegetable instead.
If you’d like to make the Slow Cooker Cashew Chicken with harder veggies such as sweet potatoes or carrots, chop them more finely so that they finish in a similar cooking time to the peppers and broccoli. Looking add quicker-cooking vegetable such as asparagus? Stir them in closer to the end. Even veggies as fine as spinach are doable. Mix in a few handfuls at the very end, stopping as soon as the greens wilt.
Flexibility also comes in the form of the crock pot itself. While in a chopsticks vs. chopsticks battle of Thai Cashew Chicken v. Crock Pot Cashew Chicken, I’d probably lean towards the more traditional stovetop Thai stir fry (no matter how careful you are, the slow cooker does steal some of texture and flavor from the veggies), the crock pot offers major benefits that stove top stir fries do not. Namely, you can walk away from them.
This recipes cooks in 2 to 3 hours on low (even in a crock pot, lean chicken can’t be left all day the way fattier cuts of meat can), so if you’ll be away at work, you can prep all the ingredients in the morning or the night before, then pop them into the slow cooker when you get home from work.
Those at home with kids could start the meal towards the end of the school day (or during nap time/Sesame Street time), and it will be ready in time for dinner.
The slow cooker is also an excellent option for making meal time more stress free. With this Crock Pot Cashew Chicken, by the time dinner is ready, I can have the dishes washed, squeeze in an errand, and (assuming I bothered to change out of them in the first place) be back in my yoga pants by the time the recipe is ready.
I chose to make this a slow cooker chicken breasts recipe, but you can easily swap chicken thighs, which is what I use in this Crock Pot Teriyaki Chicken. I haven’t tried this recipe with pork yet, but based on how much we enjoyed this Slow Cooker Pork Stir Fry I suspect that diced pork tenderloin would be tasty too.
A few dietary notes: to make this Crock Pot Cashew Chicken gluten free, be sure to use a gluten free soy sauce or tamari. To make it a slow cooker cashew chicken paleo recipe, use arrowroot starch instead of cornstarch and enjoy it over cauliflower rice. For even more slow cooker meal ideas for all diets, be sure to check out my collection of the Best Crock Pot Recipes too!
Crock Pot Cashew Chicken
FOR THE CASHEW CHICKEN AND VEGETABLES:
- 1 3/4 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs — cut into bite-sized pieces
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch — or substitute arrowroot powder
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
- 3 medium red bell peppers — seeded and cut into bite-sized pieces
- 2 small or 1 very large head of broccoli — cut into florets (about 5 cups florets)
- 1 bunch green onions — about 6 medium, thinly sliced with white and light green parts divided from the dark green parts
- 2/3 cup dry roasted unsalted cashews
- Cooked brown rice or quinoa — for serving
FOR THE SAUCE:
- 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
- 3 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 2 1/2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
- 4 cloves garlic — minced (about 4 teaspoons)
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes — plus additional to taste
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch — mixed with 3 tablespoons water to create a slurry
In a small bowl, toss the chicken pieces with the cornstarch, salt, and pepper. Lightly coat a 6-quart or larger slow cooker with nonstick spray.
Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet or wok over medium high. Once the oil is hot, add the chicken mixture and sauté, breaking the pieces apart, for 2 to 3 minutes, just long enough to lightly brown the outsides. Transfer to the slow cooker. To the slow cooker, add the bell pepper, broccoli, and the white and light green parts of the green onions. Reserve the dark green parts for serving.
In a small bowl or large measuring cup, stir together the sauce ingredients: soy sauce, rice vinegar, honey, ginger, garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes. Reserve the slurry. If you like a spicier sauce, add a few extra pinches of red pepper flakes. Pour the sauce over the chicken and vegetables and stir to coat.
Cover the slow cooker and cook on LOW for 2 to 3 hours, until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are tender. (I do not recommend high heat for this as the chicken can overcook, even if you check it early.)
With a slotted spoon, remove the chicken and vegetables to a large plate or bowl. Strain the sauce into a small saucepan, then place the saucepan over high heat. Whisk in the cornstarch slurry. Let cook on high, stirring constantly, until the sauce is reduced by about half, 3 to 4 minutes. Add back to the slow cooker with the chicken and vegetables. Stir in the cashews. Sprinkle with reserved green onion tops. Enjoy hot with prepared brown rice or quinoa.
- Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Reheat gently in the microwave.
Nutrition InformationAmount per serving (1 (of 6), about 1 1/2 cups chicken and vegetables, with 1/2 cup prepared brown rice) — Calories: 462, Fat: 14g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 64mg, Carbohydrates: 53g, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 18g, Protein: 33g
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