Slow Cooker Kung Pao Chicken is perfect for weeknight dinners. Chicken simmered in a spicy sauce and finished off with crisp sautéed red peppers and crunchy peanuts.
I absolutely love a good slow cooker recipe. It’s such a good feeling to walk in the door after a long day 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, followed by cashews, pistachios, and macadamia nuts. However, I do enjoy peanuts on top of my kung pao chicken. You could also use cashews, but I feel good giving peanuts some love where they actually deserve it – aka in this recipe, 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.
How To Make Slow Cooker 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. If you’re short on time in the morning, 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 skip here is sautéing the red peppers and zucchini. In order to maintain crisp vegetables, 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 veggies will be ready in five minutes flat. I like to prepare them while I’m cooking the rice to serve alongside this yummy dish.
PS – If you have an Instant Pot, have you tried making rice in it? It makes things quick and easy and hands free while you are finishing up this Kung Pao Chicken.
Slow Cooker Kung Pao Recipe
Slow Cooker Kung Pao Chicken
- 1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts (cut into 1-inch cubes)
- 2 Tablespoons vegetable 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 zucchini (cut into 1-inch pieces)
- 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1/3 cup peanuts
- Green onions (chopped, for garnish)
- Rice (for serving)
- Heat oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Season chicken 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 and zucchini in oil, until softened, but still crisp. Add the peppers, zucchini and peanuts to the slow cooker and stir gently to combine. Garnish with chopped green onions and serve immediately, over rice, if desired.
This post was originally published in August 2016. It was updated in February 2019 to update the content and photographs. The recipe remains the same. Enjoy!
If you loved this Slow Cooker Kung Pao Chicken I would appreciate it so much if you would give this recipe a star review! Also, be sure to snap a picture of your finished dish and share it with me onInstagram using the hashtag #platingsandpairings and tagging me @platingsandpairings.
Wine Pairings for 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.
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