Easy Slow Cooker Orange Chicken is an amazing dinner with tender chicken in better-than-takeout orange chicken sauce. Freezer friendly meal!
Who doesn’t love a delicious twist on easy Asian recipes like Orange Chicken? Whether you stuff it in Burritos, make it healthy with Ground Chicken, or slow cook chicken thighs in the addicting sauce, it’s always an amazing dinner the entire family will love. You’ll definitely be adding this to your go-to Crockpot Recipes for easy dinners.
Table of contents
Sabrina’s Slow Cooker Orange Chicken Recipe
My easy Crockpot Orange Chicken recipe has almost no prep time and you don’t even need to bust out a wok. Instead of orange preserves, this easy recipe uses orange juice, orange zest and honey to get that authentic thick sweet sauce you know and love. The rest of the sauce ingredients are common pantry staples, so you might not even need a trip to the grocery store to make it.
- Orange: To give the sauce that amazing, addicting orange flavor this recipe uses a combination of orange juice and orange zest. Using fresh squeezed juice and zest gives you a punch of bright citrus flavor!
- Sweetener: This sauce is made with a combination of sugar and honey to make it sweet and the honey helps make it thicker.
- Cornstarch: You are going to add cornstarch twice to the sauce to help give it that thick, silky smooth texture. As the sauce cooks with the chicken juices it will really thin out so that’s why you want to add the extra cornstarch slurry at the end to thicken it back up.
- Seasonings: To add more delicious Asian-inspired flavor so you get that real take-out taste, you add soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sesame oil. The garlic adds a tasty aromatic flavor and the red pepper flakes give it that signature slightly spicy kick.
- Chicken Thighs: You want to use boneless chicken for this recipe because the skin and fat will be hard to skim from the sauce. It’s better to use chicken thighs because they stay juiciest in the slow cooker but you could always use chicken breast, just start checking the meat for doneness around 3 – 3 ½ hours because they tend to cook a bit quicker.
Kitchen Tools & Equipment
- Slow Cooker: A 4-6 quart slow cooker will work best for this chicken recipe to keep the meat from crowding too much. For easy clean up, you can use slow cooker liners or spray up the sides lightly with non-stick spray.
- Juicer: Adding fresh orange juice makes this Orange Chicken recipe just taste so much better and the juicer obviously makes this easier. If you don’t have a juicer, a trick to get more juice is to roll the whole orange a few times on the counter.
How to Make
Time needed: 4 hours and 40 minutes.
- Mix the Sauce
Whisk the orange juice, orange zest, sugar, honey, cornstarch, soy sauce, vinegar, oil, mined garlic, and crushed red pepper in the slow cooker.
- Cook the Chicken
Add the chicken to the sauce and toss until well coated. Cover the slow cooker and cook on low for 4 hours.
- Thicken the Sauce
Once the chicken has reached 165 degrees internally, whisk together the cornstarch and water. Stir in the cornstarch slurry and the green onions. Cover and cook another 30 minutes to thicken the sauce.
Can this be made ahead of time?
Yes, Slow Cooker Orange Chicken is a great meal to make ahead of time especially as a freezer meal! Start by prepping the sauce in a mixing bowl. Cut chicken pieces and place in a gallon size freezer bag. Pour orange chicken sauce over chicken and seal bag. Squish a little to mix and coat chicken. Freeze the uncooked meal for up to 3 months. No need to thaw, just plop the frozen chicken sauce in your crock pot, cover, and add an extra hour to cook time.
Slow Cooking Chicken Tips & Tricks
- Make a Crispy Coating
This Slow Cooker Orange Chicken recipe is made without breading so it’s much healthier than the original recipe. If you want a crispy coating like classic orange chicken, you can bread and pan fry the chicken before putting it in the crock pot. It takes about 15 extra minutes and it’s an easy way to make this Slow Cooker Orange Chicken next-level good.
- Add Veggies for a Meal
You can easily turn this main dish into a more complete healthy meal by adding veggies to the crockpot with the chicken. Try vegetables like onion, red peppers, zucchini, cabbage, kale, mushrooms, and carrots. Cut the veggies in large chunks and add leafy greens, like cabbage, 30-45 minutes before adding the cornstarch.
How to Store
Store: Refrigerate Slow Cooker Orange Chicken in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Let it come to room temperature before storing.
Reheat: Reheat the leftovers slowly in a covered saucepan over low so the chicken doesn’t dry out. The sauce will thin out as it heats, but if it is still too thick you can add a splash of broth or two until it’s the right consistency for you.
Freeze: Cool Orange Chicken before storing in a freezer safe container and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw it overnight in the refrigerator and reheat on the stovetop.
How to Serve Orange Chicken
Double Batch: You can easily double the recipe for potlucks and parties, or to meal prep a tasty work lunch for the week. To make doubling the recipe easier, use the slider tool in the recipe card to adjust the serving size and it calculates the amounts for you!
Lunch Bowls: This chicken dinner makes great tasty, healthy lunch bowls too! Layer bowls with Brown Rice (or other healthy grain), Steamed Veggies and the chicken plus an extra drizzle of sauce.
No, this slow cooker chicken recipe is a dump and go meal with no need to brown the meat beforehand. All you need to do is mix the sauce ingredients in the pot, stir in the chicken, and cook for a few hours on low. At the end, you’ll add a cornstarch mixture and cook a little longer for a thicker sauce, then it’s ready to serve.
Usually it’s best to use chicken thighs because the dark meat stays juicier when it’s cooked for a long time. You could also use boneless chicken breast, but you don’t really want to use bone-in chicken in this recipe.
You can keep this Slow Cooker Orange Chicken warm for up to 4 hours in a covered slow cooker, but the sauce will thicken as it sits so keep stirring. Don’t leave it at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
- 3/4 cup orange juice
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 3 cloves garlic , minced
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 pounds skinless chicken thighs , cut into 1 inch chunks
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/2 cup green onions , thinly sliced
- To your slow cooker add the orange juice, orange zest, sugar, honey, cornstarch, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes and whisk well.
- Add in chicken chunks and mix well.
- Cook on low for 4 hours.
- Mix water and cornstarch and add to slow cooker with green onions, stirring in gently.
- Cook on high for 30 minutes.
Chicken: Instead of chicken thighs, you can use boneless chicken breasts cut into small pieces. You could also use boneless pork, thin cut steak (like flank steak), or turkey breast, but for the steak and pork you’ll want to brown it for a couple minutes beforehand.
Sauce: Other flavors you can add to the sauce are BBQ Sauce, orange preserves, teriyaki sauce, grape jelly, onion powder, or sesame oil.
Spicy: Kick up the heat on Slow Cooker Orange Chicken by adding more crushed red pepper or spicy ingredients like chili garlic sauce, sriracha, or Sichuan peppers.