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.
Kung Pao Chicken Ingredients
- Chicken thighs or breasts
- Vegetable oil
- Low-sodium soy sauce
- Rice wine vinegar
- Brown sugar
- Hoisin sauce
- Red chili peppers
- Red pepper
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.
How to Store It
- Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, stored in an airtight container. Or, you can freeze it for up to three months. However, I find that it’s best to freeze the chicken without the veggies, as they will become soggy in the freezer.
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.
Did you Make This Crockpot Kung Pao Chicken?
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More slow cooker recipes
- Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup
- Slow Cooker Corned Beef
- Slow Cooker Chicken Broth
- Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken
- Slow Cooker Lamb Curry
- Slow Cooker Carnitas
- Slow Cooker Butter Chicken
- Slow Cooker Bone Broth
More Kung Pao recipes
Slow Cooker Kung Pao Chicken Recipe
- 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!
40 thoughts on “Slow Cooker Kung Pao Chicken (Easy Recipe)”
Um. Yum! Love that this can be done in the slow cooker.
Me too! I wish that everything could be cooked in the crockpot! I’d be a happy girl!
I love a good slow cooker recipe! And I am one of the weird who loves peanuts. A lot.
🙂 No shame in loving peanuts Ali! As long as you love the slow cooker too!
Another delicious recipe! Adding this to my long list to try. 🙂
Fall/Winter always seem like the best times to experiment in the kitchen – It’s a good way to stay warm! Good luck making it through your list and happy eating!
This looks amazing and it seems easy enough for me to handle it! Thank you for idea
Of course Dijana! I hope you give it a try!
Yumm!! I’m not a spicy foods person, but crockpot cooking is right up my alley, and these pictures make me want to try this dish! 🙂
Hi Warren – You could always cut WAY back on the peppers, or omit them completely. Maybe add some sautéed zucchini in there along with the red peppers instead.
Oh man…this looks delicious! I love to use our slow cooker, so I will definitely be trying this one!
I hope you enjoy Melinda! I’m a HUGE fan of the slow cooker too! I’m always on the hunt for new, delicious ways to use it!
Not a big fan of crock pot cooking – everything seems to come out tasting the same. Also, so many recipes are not “dump and go” as you point out. I had to adjust my thinking about the crock pot and relegate it to weekend cooking – when I have the time for the added steps, but still enjoy the convenience of having a meal ready OR cooking something for a crowd/pot luck – it’s good at keeping it warm 🙂 My current favorite recipe is: http://www.workingmom2three.com/2015/08/27/slow-cooker-buffalo-chicken-mac-cheese/
That mac n cheese looks great!
This recipe looks SOOOO good! As a busy mom, the slow cooker is a dear friend. lol! Thanks for sharing 😉
I really, really enjoy using the crockpot any chance I get – Such a timesaver!
Just tried making this today – I was super-excited about it but something seems really off about it 🙁 I think that much rice wine vinegar is also really overpowering the rest of the dish.
I’m sorry that you felt that the flavors were off. The vinegar helps to lend itself to the sweet (brown sugar), salty (soy sauce) and tart (vinegar) combination. If it didn’t suit your taste, please feel free to reduce the vinegar to just a couple of tablespoons.
Uhhh, not so Yumm
Kung Pao is not to taste TOO spicy. Your recipe calls for way to much chili or spice. A little spice is exact, this will more flavor of the other ingredients.
Each person is to TASTE the flavors, NOT feel one overbearing one.
P.M. – I’m sorry you feel that way. Spice is definitely a personal preference. This recipe can be easily adapted if you would prefer less heat in your dish. Cheers!
What is the sodium content of this meal?
Hi Marty – The exact sodium count of this meal will vary on the soy sauce you use – Because that is the only real sodium going into this recipe, you should be able to determine the total sodium content based on that. I hope this helps!
Anyone know when you would add in water chestnuts? Beginning, end of cooking?
Hi Jason – I would add them during step 4. Hope that helps!
I love this kind of cuisine- I am going to try it this week!
Oh yes! You had me at “slow cook”. Our weeks are so busy, it’s nice to have at least one meal a week that I can stick in the crock pot and let it cook on its own. Thx for sharing!
I absolutely love peanuts on top of stir fry, so I’m glad you included them in your recipe (even if peanuts aren’t your favorite nut, haha!).
This looks absolutely delicious. I am in totally agreement about sautéing the vegetables toward the end. There’s nothing like ruining a dish with soggy veggies.
Thank you Jenni!
I’m excited to try this! Can this be adapted to be made in an Instant Pot for a quick meal without the slow cooking ?
Love your recipes!
Hi Neha – I haven’t tried this in the Instant Pot yet, but I think it can be adapted. I would pressure cook the chicken for 5 minutes, then remove the lid and add the veggies. Cook them on saute for a few minutes. If it needs to be thickened further at the end, I would add the cornstarch. Hope that helps!
This looks great! Can’t wait to try. Do you have an instant pot adaptation??
Hi Jen – I haven’t tried this in the Instant Pot yet, but I think it can be adapted. I would pressure cook the chicken for 5 minutes, then remove the lid and add the veggies. Cook them on saute for a few minutes. If it needs to be thickened further at the end, I would add the cornstarch. Hope that helps!
This looks good and pretty easy to make but I keep seeing recipes with peanuts that don’t say what kind of peanuts! So, are these peanuts supposed to be plain and raw or roasted with salt or roasted with no salt? Please let me know! Thanks.
Hi Sally – I use roasted, salted peanuts. Hope that helps!
I want to make this now. But question…when do you cut the chicken in 1 in cubes? Before or after it cooks?
Hi Dee – The raw chicken gets cut up before cooking. Hope that helps!