This Slow Cooker Kung Pao Chicken is easy, healthy, and can be gluten-free! This homemade version of a takeout classic is packed with tender chicken, loads of veggies, and a sweet, spicy sauce!
What is kung pao chicken?
Kung pao chicken is a classic Chinese-American takeout dish. It’s a stir fry traditionally made up of chicken, peanuts, and veggies all tossed in a thick, sweet, slightly spicy sauce and usually served over rice!
This recipe is a slow cooker version of classic Kung pao chicken—which means you get to just throw everything in the crockpot and sit back until it’s done!
Tender chicken, thick and sweet sauce, a bit of crunch from the veggies, and salty peanuts? This slow cooker meal is seriously so good!
- Chicken Breast – I use boneless and skinless chicken breast.
- Chicken Broth, Rice Vinegar, and Soy Sauce – the base for a flavorful, tangy, perfectly salty sauce. This combination also acts as a marinade for the chicken to help break it down and add flavor as it cooks in the crockpot.
- Brown Sugar – thickens the sauce and adds a touch of warm sweetness to offset the tang from the vinegar and soy sauce.
- Garlic – gives a subtle nutty flavor to balance out the sweet, tangy ingredients.
- Sriracha – gives the sauce a kick of heat. Omit if you don’t like spice!
- Ground Ginger and Black Pepper – a simple but effective seasoning duo with a little kick of heat.
- Yellow Onion, Red Bell Pepper, Green Bell Pepper, and Celery – the classic fresh, colorful, perfectly crunchy veggie blend to give your kung pao chicken a boost of nutrition.
- Hot Water and Cornstarch – whisked together to form a cornstarch slurry which helps thicken the kung pao sauce.
- Roasted Salted Peanuts, Green Onions, and Cilantro – for topping, if desired!
How to make
This classic Chinese American takeout copycat meal takes just 15 minutes to prep!
- Whisk together chicken broth, rice vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, sriracha, ground ginger, and black pepper. This is your sauce.
- Pour half of the sauce into a greased crockpot then place the chicken on top. Pour on the remaining sauce and onions then cook on HIGH for 2.5-3 hours or on LOW for 5-6 hours.
- Remove the chicken from the crockpot, whisk together water and cornstarch, then stir that into the sauce.
- Place the chicken back into the slow cooker and add in the veggies then cover and cook for an additional 30 minutes on HIGH.
- Once the mixture is done cooking, remove the chicken again, cut it into smaller pieces, then mix it back in with the rest of the ingredients before serving!
Can you use chicken thigh?
Yep! If you prefer chicken thigh, feel free to use that instead of chicken breast. The cook time should stay the same.
Can you use frozen chicken?
No. It’s not recommended to put frozen chicken directly in the crockpot.
To quickly thaw chicken for this recipe, place the frozen chicken breasts into a sealed ziplock bag then fully submerge the bag in a bowl of cool water.
Is slow cooker kung pao chicken gluten-free?
Not quite but it easily can be! To make your kung pao chicken gluten-free simply swap the soy sauce for a gluten-free variety like Tamari or liquid aminos.
As always, be sure that all the ingredients you’re using are certified gluten-free before incorporating them into this recipe!
- Use a different protein. You could swap the chicken breast for chicken thigh, beef, or even tofu!
- Add more veggies. Any stir fry veggies will work! Try broccoli, snow peas, mushrooms, carrots, water chestnuts, etc.
- Make it gluten-free. Simply swap the soy sauce for a gluten-free variety such as Tamari or liquid aminos.
- Use a different grain. The classic is white rice but you can also serve this over brown rice, cauliflower rice, or quinoa!
What to serve with kung pao chicken
You can serve this slow cooker kung pao chicken over a bed of white rice, brown rice, basmati rice, cauliflower rice, or quinoa! You can also serve it alongside a side dish or two!
How to store
Leftover kung pao chicken will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days or in the freezer for 2-3 months.
To reheat, thaw in the fridge if frozen then microwave or warm on the stove or in the oven!
I recommend freezing the sauce/chicken without rice and then making rice when you’re ready to serve again. Rice doesn’t freeze well.
Slow Cooker Kung Pao Chicken
Equipment for this recipe
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1/2 cup rice vinegar
- 1/2 cup soy sauce or gluten free alternative
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 cloves garlic minced or pressed
- 1 tablespoon sriracha more or less to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts 4 (8 oz) breasts
- 1/2 yellow onion finely diced
- 1/2 cup hot water
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1 red bell pepper diced
- 1 green bell pepper diced
- 2 stalks celery finely diced
- roasted salted peanuts green onions and cilantro, for topping
- Grease your crockpot with cooking spray. Whisk together sauce ingredients: broth - pepper. Pour half the sauce into crockpot.
- Place chicken and onion into crockpot. Pour the rest of the sauce over the chicken. Place the lid on and cook on HIGH for 2 1/2 - 3 hours or LOW for 5 - 6 hours.
- Remove chicken from crockpot. Set aside. Whisk together water and cornstarch, then stir into the sauce until well combined.
- Stir the chicken back in and add the veggies. Cover and cook for an additional 30 mins on HIGH.
- Cut chicken, then stir it back into the sauce.
- Top with toppings and serve with cooked brown rice or cauliflower rice!
*Note: Nutrition information is estimated and varies based on products used.