This simple Crockpot Orange Chicken takes the Chinese restaurant favorite and turns it into an easy, hands-off slow cooker meal. Instead of sugary ingredients like orange soda or marmalade, this healthy crock pot recipe uses natural sweeteners and everyday ingredients for that luscious, sticky sauce.
Why You’ll Love This Easy Orange Chicken
- Lightened-Up. Orange chicken (the kind with Panda Express sauce) typically consists of chicken that is breaded, deep fried, and tossed in a sugar-laden orange sauce. Like my Healthy Orange Chicken and classic Orange Chicken recipes, this crockpot orange chicken is a healthier, lightened-up version that still has the sweet, citrusy flavor you love.
- Hands-Free Cooking. Thanks to the slow cooker, this recipe requires very little hands-on cooking. Along with this recipe, I love turning to other Asian-inspired slow cooker dishes like Crock Pot Cashew Chicken, Crock Pot Teriyaki Chicken, and Pineapple Chicken for a delicious meal that requires less time in the kitchen.
- NO Orange Marmalade. Almost every other recipe I’ve read for an easy version of homemade orange chicken calls for copious amounts of orange marmalade. Now, I adore orange marmalade, but it would certainly detract from my goal of making this a healthy orange chicken recipe. Instead, this recipe uses real orange juice.
5 Star Review
“This recipe was such a hit!! It’s hard to make a meal that a baby, toddler, and two adults all like. But this is a winner.”— Sharon —
How to Make Crockpot Orange Chicken
For the Chicken
- Chicken Breasts. Crowd-pleasing, quick-cooking, and packed with protein, chicken breasts are a fabulous choice for recipes like this one. The neutral flavor of the chicken allows the sauce to shine.
- Salt + Pepper. Simple seasonings that help the chicken taste its best.
For the Orange Sauce
- Orange Juice. Nothing like a real orange for some real-deal orange chicken.
- Soy Sauce. The salty counterpoint to the sweetness of the orange.
- Rice Vinegar. For balance and punch.
- Honey. Sticky sweetness, done more naturally.
- Garlic and Ginger. To make the crockpot orange chicken sing and zing!
- Red Pepper Flakes. Add a little or a lot, depending on your preferred spice level.
- Cornstarch. Helps thicken the sauce.
- Add the Chicken to the Slow Cooker. Sprinkle it with salt and pepper.
- Cook. Pour the sauce over the chicken and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours on high or 5 to 6 hours on low. Remove the chicken.
- Strain and Thicken the Sauce. Stir the chicken back into the sauce and add toppings. ENJOY!
- Slow Cooker Orange Chicken Drumsticks. Swap the breasts for chicken drumsticks. Remove the skin from the drumsticks, then place the drumsticks in the slow cooker. Stir to coat with the sauce, then cover and cook until an instant-read thermometer registers 165 degrees F when inserted into the thickest part of the meat without touching bone, 2 to 3 hours on HIGH or 4 hours on LOW. Reduce the sauce as directed.
- Slow Cooker Orange Sesame Chicken. After the sauce is reduced (Step 3), stir 1 teaspoon sesame oil into the sauce. Sprinkle the finished chicken with toasted sesame seeds. (Use your sesame seeds to make Bourbon Chicken or Crock Pot Bourbon Chicken next.)
- Crockpot Orange Chicken Thighs. Swap the boneless, skinless chicken breasts for boneless, skinless chicken thighs. Cook until an instant-read thermometer registers 165 degrees F when inserted into the thickest part of the meat, 2 on HIGH or 4 hours on LOW.
- To Store. Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight storage container for up to 3 days.
- To Reheat. Gently rewarm chicken in a skillet on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in the microwave.
- To Freeze. Freeze leftovers in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
What to Serve with Crockpot Orange Chicken
- Rice. Our #1 choice of side dish! We love stovetop brown rice, Instant Pot Brown Rice, white rice, and quinoa with this chicken recipe.
- Vegetables. Try Air Fryer Broccoli, Roasted Green Beans, or Sautéed Carrots.
- Salad. Asian Cucumber Salad and Asian Cabbage Salad are delicious options.
- Noodles. Both Asian Noodle Salad and Vegetable Lo Mein would be tasty.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Slow Cooker. This one is programmable, which helps deter overcooking.
- Measuring Cup. Great for mixing marinades. No need to dirty another bowl!
- Whisk. This whisk is small, meaning it’s less likely to create a big mess.
Recipe Tips and Tricks
- Use the Chicken You Have. This recipe can easily be adapted to fit a variety of cuts of chicken. You can make this slow cooker orange chicken with chicken breasts, thighs, tenders (like in General Tso Chicken), or even drumsticks (see above for tips). Make sure you adjust the cook time if needed for the different types.
- Add Toppings. Whether you add green onions, almonds, or sesame seeds (or all three!), I urge you to choose at least one. The green onions add a scrumptious freshness and crunch, and the almonds and sesame seeds offer an additional crunch and nuttiness. These toppings really help make your dish taste restaurant-quality!
- Don’t Skip Rice Vinegar. If you don’t have rice vinegar in your pantry, you may be tempted to leave it out. Don’t! Its lightly sweet and mild acidity is unique and perfect for this dish. If you plan to make this recipe (or any of my other stir fries) on a regular basis, it’s worth grabbing one on your next grocery trip.
Crockpot Orange Chicken
- 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°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.
- TO STORE: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight storage container for up to 3 days.
- TO REHEAT: Gently rewarm chicken in a skillet on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in the microwave.
- TO FREEZE: Freeze leftovers in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
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