This Slow Cooker Kung Pao Chicken is perfect for weeknight dinners. Chicken thighs are simmered in a spicy sauce and finished off with crisp sautéed red peppers and crunchy peanuts. Yum!
I teamed up with Minute® Ready to Serve Rice to bring you this post. As always, all opinions are my own.
I absolutely love a good slow cooker recipe. It’s such a good feeling to walk in the door after a long day of work and have dinner ready to greet you. It’s an even better feeling when that meal is as delicious as this Slow Cooker Kung Pao Chicken!
Tidbit of information for you: I’m not a big peanut fan. Is anyone really??? I feel like they are at the bottom of the nut totem pole. For me, almonds will always top that list. (I like mine raw and unseasoned). Followed by cashews, pistachios, and macadamia nuts. However, I do enjoy the topping of peanuts on kung pao chicken. You could also use cashews, but I feel good giving peanuts some love where they deserve it – Here, in peanut butter, and on top of pad thai.
Unfortunately, this isn’t a total dump and go slow cooker recipe. There’s a teensy bit of work involved before and after everything goes into the crockpot – But trust me, it’s not a lot of work, and these tips will really help you get the most out of this slow cooker version of kung pao chicken.
First, we brown the chicken before adding it to the slow cooker. This helps to hold the chicken bits together. If we skipped this step, we would end up with shredded kung pao chicken. Not really what we’re going for here. You can definitely brown the chicken the night before. Then, in the morning, just toss the sauce and chicken together in the slow cooker, turn it on, and you’re good to go.
The other step we can’t sidestep here: Sautéing the red peppers. In order to maintain crisp peppers, I like to quick sauté them at the end, and then add them to the finished kung pao. This really helps to maintain the texture of the dish, and it’s quick! The peppers will be ready in five minutes flat. I like to prepare them while I’m cooking the rice to serve alongside this yummy dish.
On extra rushed nights, I reach for Minute® Ready to Serve Rice. I like that its portion controlled, allowing me to make just a small portion for the two of us. No more leftover rice! Plus, it comes in lots of great new flavors – My recent favorite is the Jasmine Rice which has a fragrant, nutty quality to it.
One final tip: I prefer using chicken thighs as opposed to breasts in my slow cooker recipes as the dark meat tends to retain its moisture better.
What’s your favorite slow cooker recipe? Do you have any slow cooker tips that you’ve picked up along the way? I’d love to hear in the comments below!
Slow Cooker Kung Pao Chicken
- 1 ½ pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1/3 cup water
- 1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce
- 1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger
- 6-10 dried red chili peppers split and seeds removed
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch + 2 tablespoons water
- 1 red bell pepper chopped
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1/3 cup peanuts
- Green onions chopped, for garnish
- Minute® Ready to Serve Rice for serving
Heat the oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Season the chicken cubes with salt and pepper and cook until browned on all sides. Place the browned meat in the slow cooker, along with the dried chili peppers.
Combine water, soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, hoisin sauce, garlic, and ginger in a bowl. Stir until well combined. Pour over the chicken and peppers in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours.
Combine the cornstarch and water. Whisk until smooth. Add this mixture to the chicken at the end of its cooking time, and let warm through for 5-10 minutes. The sauce will thicken.
While the sauce is thickening, sauté the red pepper in oil, until softened, but still crisp. Add the peppers and the peanuts to the slow cooker and stir gently to combine. Garnish with chopped green onions and serve immediately, over rice, if desired.
Wine Pairings for Slow Cooker Kung Pao Chicken:
- Gewurztraminer or an off-dry Riesling would make a good match for this dish. The acidity and residual sugars along with the moderate alcohol content of these wines, help to keep the dominate flavors and spice in balance.
Note: This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Minute® Ready to Serve Rice.