Crockpot Orange Chicken

Orange Chicken made in a slow cooker is your easy answer to “What’s for dinner when I have no time to make it?” This Crockpot Orange Chicken recipe is better than takeout, and it’s one of the best crockpot recipes for a healthy chicken dinner!

Now, can someone pretty please come over and help me choose a color for our kitchen cabinets?

dinner plate of healthier orange chicken, made in a crockpot

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 slow cooker recipe for 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. 

slow cooker full of homemade orange chicken

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 tasted to be overly sugared and unnecessarily heavy on calories.

This Crockpot Orange Chicken recipe is my healthier, lightened-up version. It packs the same sweet, citrusy flavor but is made with wholesome ingredients. It would be delicious served with some healthy fried rice and some of Kristen’s baked vegetable egg rolls.

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. (Another one of my favorite lightened-up takeout favorites: Crock Pot Cashew Chicken!)

Your wallet AND your waistline are going to thank you for making this Orange Chicken recipe!

skinny (healthy) plate of orange chicken made in a slow cooker

Skip the Marmalade for Skinny Orange Chicken

Almost every other recipe I’ve read for an easy version of homemade orange chicken calls for copious amounts of 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.

plate of healthy orange chicken made in a crock pot

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:

plate of Crockpot Orange Chicken
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Crockpot Orange Chicken

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time:
10 mins
Skinny Crockpot Orange Chicken. WAY BETTER than takeout! Easy, healthy orange chicken recipe made with orange juice and honey.

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Recipe Notes

  • 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.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: Crockpot Orange Chicken, Easy Crock Pot Dinner, Healthy Chinese Food Recipe

Nutrition Information

Amount per serving (1 (of 4), with 1/2 cup brown rice) — Calories: 416, Fat: 6g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 130mg, Sodium: 749mg, Carbohydrates: 43g, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 13g, Protein: 50g

Did you try this recipe? I want to see! Follow Well Plated on Instagram, snap a photo, and tag it #wellplated. I love to know what you are making!

titled photo collage - Skinny Crock Pot Orange Chicken

Skinny Crockpot Orange Chicken. WAY BETTER than take out! Easy, healthy orange chicken recipe made with orange juice and honey. #slowcooker #crockpot #chicken #healthyrecipe

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About Erin Clarke

I’m fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food taste incredible. Wearer of plaid, travel enthusiast, and firmly convinced that sweets and veggies both deserve a place at the table. MORE ABOUT ERIN…

27 comments

  1. Picking out paint colors is the worst!! I think you should just pick out of a pillowcase like you said. “Egg shell white” and “Column white” are probably the same thing. ;) This recipe looks absolutely wonderful! Can’t wait to try it out! :)

  2. Thank you for doing this without the orange marmalade. I don’t like it, and should not eat it on a low oxalate diet. Your version looks good, easy, tasty, and best of all, I can have it. 

    Good luck with your kitchen. I was going to paint mine after New Years, but 2 attacks of bronchitis and 1 of walking pneumonia have scotched that-so far. Mine’s yellow, and Home Depot matched the paint exactly, so I’m lucky. No decisions are involved, other than whether to start it or not. 

    • You’re welcome, Kathy! I’d love to know what you think if you give the recipe a try. Good luck on your kitchen as well—I hope the bronchitis and pneumonia are fully behind you and that you’ll be able to start soon!

      • Erin: I tried it today. I thought it turned out really well. I liked that I couldn’t taste the soy sauce. I used fresh oranges,  and since I also don’t like breast meat, I used two chicken leg steaks that I got at my local Vallarta. It was only 1-1/4 pounds of skinless, boneless meat, so I put it in the 1-1/2 qt crock pot with the full sauce recipe, and cooked it on high for 4 hours. It was fall-apart tender and I will put the recipe in my Cook’n recipes. 
        Thanks. This is a very nice recipe, and not a lot of work. 
        Kathy

        • Kathy, thank you so much for taking the time to share your tweaks to the recipe and how it went. I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed it!

  3. What kind of orange juice did you use?  The last time I looked at a reduced sugar orange juice label it had artificial sweeteners in it so I just went with the real stuff and added water ?

    • Marci, I think that it was Minute Maid, but your suggestion of using regular orange juice with a bit of water would work just fine too!

  4. Check “White Dove” by Benjamin Moore. 

  5. Shawnna Griffin Reply

    hey girl- this looks so good! Good luck on picking the color for your cabinets! Have a great weekend!

  6. Melissa "Dahmer" Bistrican Reply

    Hi Erin! Could I use freshly squeezed orange juice? Thanks!

  7. We just did our White Dove by BM and they are gorgeous. It’s also the color trim in my entire house. It’s so crisp.  I really recommend it. 

  8. Could I add onions and broccoli to the slow cooker or should I cook that separately?

    • Hi Emily, I think that would be fine! I’d suggest sautéing the onions first to mellow their flavor, then adding the broccoli about halfway through the cooking time so that it doesn’t get too mushy. I hope you love it!

  9. This recipe was really good. We used chicken thighs and added frozen Asian veggies during the last few minutes of cooking. We topped it with cilantro – delicious! Our 15-month-old loved it, too!

    • I love the addition of the veggies, Kacie! I’m so glad you enjoyed the recipe, and I really appreciate your taking the time to report back!

  10. Made it today but cooking chicken whole makes it impossible to cut into bite size pieces it shreds. Next time I will cut raw chicken into bite sized pieces first lol 

  11. Yummmmmmmmmmy!

  12. If I quadruple the amount of chicken (it’s for a party), should I also quadruple all of the other ingredients?

    • Hi Karen, I haven’t made quite that big of a batch before, but yes, I think you’d want to quadruple the whole recipe. Just make sure your slow cooker is big enough, or make sure to have a second one handy in case it fills up!

  13. For some reason I tried this recipe, even though orange chicken isn’t my favorite and anything with “Skinny” in the title makes me think I’ll put a lot of work into cooking something that won’t have any flavor; however, I had a bunch of frozen chicken breasts that I had to use, so I tried this and doubled the recipe.  It was shockingly tasty for a “skinny” recipe.  My parents liked it too.  I’m making another double batch this weekend because I ran out of my new favorite homemade frozen meals.  Thank you so much for sharing this recipe!!  

    • Elena, I am so pleased you enjoyed this, and I promise that ALL of my recipes are big on flavor (lightening up recipes without losing their flavor is my favorite way to cook!). Thanks so much for sharing this wonderful review!

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