This slow cooker orange chicken recipe is better (and healthier!) than any take-out! Meet the perfect, easy weeknight dinner!
Looking for more weeknight meals? Try this 30 minute instant pot butter chicken!
Orange chicken is one of those guilty, take-out pleasures for me. I’m not gonna lie, there was a time when Panda Express orange chicken was a go-to on nights I was too tired to cook. This recipe is the perfect go between for this unhealthy habit. Not only is it super easy (spoiler alert, the slow cooker does all the work!), but it also is gluten free and dairy free! Say goodbye to sore stomachs and bloating!
Making this slow cooker orange chicken
This orange chicken recipe follows all of my requirements for an easy weeknight dinner. It requires very little prep. And afterwards, you just throw it into the slow cooker, and let it do its thing!
Chicken – Use 2 to 3 pounds of boneless, skinless breasts or thighs. Cut them into bite size pieces.
Cornstarch – About 1/4 a cup of cornstarch will help thicken the liquid in the slow cooker.
Orange juice – Mix in ¾ cup of freshly squeezed orange juice for one of the standout flavors.
Orange zest – One tablespoon along with the orange juice will give the chicken a delicious orange flavor.
Rice wine vinegar – Add 1 tablespoon of rice wine vinegar for a good base for the meal.
Garlic – Mincing two cloves of garlic adds that spicy zing we all love so much.
Oils – You’ll need 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 teaspoon of sesame oil.
Sweeteners – Use 1/4 cup of sugar, 3 tablespoons of honey and 1 tablespoon of low-sodium soy sauce to sweeten up this recipe.
Seasonings – Ground ginger and red pepper flakes are recommended, but you can also season to your own preference.
For this recipe, I do brown my chicken before I put it in the slow cooker. This is just because I find it easier and quicker than cooking the chicken inside the crockpot. I also like the browning/breading that happens when I fry it before. I first mix cornstarch and salt and pepper in a reusable plastic bag or a container. Then I add my sliced raw chicken and toss them in the mix until they are thoroughly coated. Then I fry my chicken on medium-high heat in the olive oil. After the chicken is browned, I add it to the slow cooker pot. Pro tip: Make sure you grease the inside of the slow cooker. You will thank me when you go to wash your pot. Then I mix the rest of the ingredients and pour it over.
You can cook the chicken for 2 hours on low or 1 hour on high. Just make sure the internal temperature of the chicken is 165º. Eat it with a hot bowl of rice and garnish with chopped green onions!
What does orange chicken taste like?
Orange chicken tastes very sweet and sour thanks to the various oils and sweeteners that make up the sauce in the recipe.
What can you serve with orange chicken?
Orange chicken goes well with rice, broccoli, noodles, soups and salads.
Is orange chicken good for you?
Orange chicken contains a ton of nutritious benefits as long as you use fresh and natural ingredients. The citrus within oranges, protein in the chicken and the antioxidants in the oils are all excellent examples of nutritious benefits from orange chicken.
- 2 to 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into bite size pieces
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
For the sauce
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- ¾ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- ¼ cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1. Prepare the slow cooker liner with nonstick cooking spray.
2. In a gallon-sized reusable freezer bag, shake together the cornstarch, salt, and pepper. Add the chicken and toss to coat.
3. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and brown the chicken in batches until browned on both sides. Move the chicken to the slow cooker liner.
4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients. Pour it over the chicken in the slow cooker.
5. Cover the slow cooker and cook for 2 hours on low or 1 hour on high, or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
6. Serve over rice and garnish with sliced green onions. Enjoy!
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 576Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 221mgSodium: 647mgCarbohydrates: 27gFiber: 0gSugar: 20gProtein: 76g
Originally published in May 2021, this post has been updated.