Slow Cooker Kung Pao Chicken

Side view of plate of kung pao chicken.

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.

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.

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.

Side view of plate of kung pao chicken.

Slow Cooker Kung Pao Chicken

Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: Asian
Keyword: crockpot, kung pao chicken, slow cooker
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 305 kcal
Author: Platings & Pairings

Slow Cooker Kung Pao Chicken is perfect for weeknight dinners. Chicken is simmered in a spicy sauce and finished off with crisp sautéed red peppers and crunchy peanuts.

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Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. 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.

  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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! 

Nutrition Facts
Slow Cooker Kung Pao Chicken
Amount Per Serving
Calories 305 Calories from Fat 171
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 19g 29%
Saturated Fat 8g 40%
Cholesterol 40mg 13%
Sodium 605mg 25%
Potassium 342mg 10%
Total Carbohydrates 19g 6%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Sugars 12g
Protein 13g 26%
Vitamin A 15.3%
Vitamin C 39.6%
Calcium 3.5%
Iron 8.1%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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.

Hand holding plate of slow cooker kung pao chicken.

Looking for more slow cooker recipes? Be sure to try these too: 

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

Hand holding bowl of tortilla soup.

Slow Cooker Glazed Corned Beef & Cabbage

Overhead shot of slow cooker corned beef

Slow Cooker “Better Than Botox” Bone Broth

Jars of slow cooker bone broth with crockpot in background.

Slow Cooker Chipotle Lentil Soup

Slow Cooker Chipotle Lentil Soup is a warm and comforting hearty soup that’s perfect for chilly Fall days! The chipotle peppers give it a bit of heat and a great smoky flavor. | platingsandpairings.com

33 comments

  1. Kristyn

    Um. Yum! Love that this can be done in the slow cooker.

    Reply

    1. Erin

      Me too! I wish that everything could be cooked in the crockpot! I’d be a happy girl!

      Reply

  2. Ali

    I love a good slow cooker recipe! And I am one of the weird who loves peanuts. A lot.

    Reply

    1. Erin

      🙂 No shame in loving peanuts Ali! As long as you love the slow cooker too!

      Reply

  3. Chloe | The Paper Airplane

    Another delicious recipe! Adding this to my long list to try. 🙂

    Reply

    1. Erin

      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!

      Reply

  4. Dijana

    This looks amazing and it seems easy enough for me to handle it! Thank you for idea

    Reply

    1. Erin

      Of course Dijana! I hope you give it a try!

      Reply

  5. Warren

    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! 🙂

    Reply

    1. Erin

      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.

      Reply

  6. Melinda

    Oh man…this looks delicious! I love to use our slow cooker, so I will definitely be trying this one!

    Reply

    1. Erin

      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!

      Reply

  7. Wmom23

    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/

    Reply

    1. Erin

      That mac n cheese looks great!

      Reply

  8. The Little Tourist

    This recipe looks SOOOO good! As a busy mom, the slow cooker is a dear friend. lol! Thanks for sharing 😉

    Reply

    1. Erin

      I really, really enjoy using the crockpot any chance I get – Such a timesaver!

      Reply

  9. Suparna

    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.

    Reply

    1. Erin

      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.

      Reply

  10. P.M.

    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.

    Reply

    1. Erin

      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!

      Reply

  11. MartyM

    What is the sodium content of this meal?

    Reply

    1. Erin

      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!

      Reply

  12. Jason


    Anyone know when you would add in water chestnuts? Beginning, end of cooking?

    Reply

    1. Erin

      Hi Jason – I would add them during step 4. Hope that helps!

      Reply

  13. Alyssa Lytle

    I love this kind of cuisine- I am going to try it this week!

    Reply

  14. Melissa Manos


    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!

    Reply

  15. Catherine @ To & Fro Fam


    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!).

    Reply

  16. Jenni LeBaron


    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.

    Reply

  17. Neha

    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!

    Reply

    1. Erin

      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!

      Reply

  18. Jen B

    This looks great! Can’t wait to try. Do you have an instant pot adaptation??

    Reply

    1. Erin

      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!

      Reply

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