Slow Cooker Orange Chicken makes the perfect easy weeknight meal. Best of all, it’s so simple to whip up in your crock-pot or Instant Pot pressure cooker. Great for Sunday meal prep for work lunch bowls & better than the local Chinese restaurant takeout!
Orange Chicken is a popular Chinese takeout recipe that is well loved around here. It’s a family favorite along with this Kung Pao Chicken, General Tso’s Chicken and Sweet and Sour Chicken, It’s another copy-cat recipe that is so much healthier than PF Changs – and the best part of all? You can make it in your slow cooker or your Instant Pot pressure cooker.
This Slow Cooker Orange Chicken is super simple and easy to whip up.
It’s full of bright citrus flavors with a sweet and savory flavor-packed sauce. Making it at home means you can skip the stop at that local greasy takeout restaurant! Plus, it’s healthier and you get to customize the flavors.
HOW TO MAKE ORANGE CHICKEN
- You’re going to start off with some cubed chicken that you coat in a little bit of cornstarch. For a crispier texture, pan-fry it on the stove for a couple minutes before adding it to the slow cooker. It’s an extra step but makes a HUGE difference!
CAN I SKIP BROWNING THE CHICKEN?
Yes, absolutely. If you want to keep things simple, you can certainly just add the chicken directly to the crock-pot without browning it. I’ve made this Slow Cooker Orange Chicken recipe both ways and they are still lip smacking-ly delicious!
WHAT INGREDIENTS DO YOU MAKE FOR THE ORANGE CHICKEN SAUCE?
The authentic tasting sauce! Oh my goodness! Totally my favorite part of this Slow Cooker Orange Chicken! It’s wonderfully sweet and tangy with bright citrus flavors!
Made with orange juice, soy sauce, sesame oil, some cider vinegar and fresh garlic and ginger. It will make your house smell AMAZING while it simmers away in the slow cooker.
Serve your Slow Cooker Orange Chicken along with some veggies or over a bed of your favorite rice or noodles and you’ve got a complete meal without having to order takeout ❤
Make ahead tips for this Slow Cooker Orange Chicken Recipe
- cube the chicken beforehand and store in a ziptop freezer bag in the fridge
- mix the sauce together the night before and store in a mason jar or an airtight container
Weekly meal prep-tips for your school or work lunch bowls
- Delicious for leftovers or make a batch on Sunday meal prep and pack for your weekly school or work lunch bowls. I love these meal prep containers.
- Serve with your favorite side – Jasmine rice, brown rice, quinoa, cauliflower rice or spiralized vegetables or zoodles
- Add your favorite roasted or stir-fried vegetables to your lunch bowls – I used broccoli and red bell peppers
- For easier weekly meal prep – chop all the vegetables ahead of time and store in an airtight container the night before – I use this lunch container
More lunch bowls:
For a meatless version, the sauce is awesome with extra firm tofu (roasted or raw) and cauliflower. Just toss them into the slow cooker with the sauce and cook everything for an hour less than the directed time.
Slow Cooker Orange Chicken
This Slow Cooker Orange Chicken is simple to whip up with a sweet and tangy citrus sauce and is way easier than take-out! You can even make it in an Instant Pot pressure cooker!
- 1.5 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into 1
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 3-4 tablespoons cooking oil
- 1 cup low sodium chicken broth can substitute with vegetable broth
- 1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce can substitute with gluten free tamari or coconut aminos for paleo-friendly version
- 2/3 cup brown sugar can substitute with coconut sugar
- 1/2 cup orange juice fresh squeezed from 1 large orange
- 2 tablespoons orange zest from 1 large orange
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 teaspoons freshly grated or minced ginger
- 1 teaspoon Sriracha or red pepper chili flakes optional or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
- salt and black pepper to taste
- 1-1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons cold water
- Sesame seeds
- Green onion thinly sliced
For Lunch Bowls:
- cooked rice, quinoa, or noodles
- roasted or stir-fried vegetables
- lunch containers
- In a large zip-top bag, toss in the chicken, cornstarch salt, and black pepper. Shake until well-coated. Set aside.
- Make the sauce In a small bowl, whisk together all the ingredients for the sauce, set aside.
For Slow Cooker Method:
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. (You can skip this stove-top step if you prefer or are in a pinch. Just add chicken directly to slow cooker. Chicken will not have that crispy coating) Cook chicken (in batches) about 2-3 minutes on each side, until lightly browned. (You may have to cook in batches) Transfer chicken into the slow cooker and pour sauce over chicken.
- Cover and cook on LOW for 2.5 - 4 hours or HIGH for 1.5 - 3 hours. (SEE NOTES)
- About 30 minutes before serving, whisk together the cornstarch and water in a small bowl and stir into the slow cooker. Cover and cook on HIGH for another 20-30 minutes or until the sauce has thickened up. (if your slow cooker is not hot enough to thicken the sauce - pour sauce into a pot and heat on the stovetop on high to thicken the sauce or you can just skip the cornstarch slurry instead)
- Sprinkle with sesame seeds, green onions and serve over rice, quinoa or zoodles, if desired.
For Instant Pot Method:
- Turn Instant Pot to SAUTE (skip this step and just cook on MANUAL or PRESSURE COOK (high) for 5 minutes if you are in a pinch or prefer. The chicken won't have that crispy coating.) Allow pan to heat up for a few minutes then add oil. Cook chicken in batches (placing the browned chicken on a paper-towel lined plate) about 3-4 minutes on each side, until lightly browned. Once all the chicken is browned, add back to the Instant Pot and pour sauce over top.
- Close and seal Instant Pot and set the valve to sealing.
- Press MANUAL or PRESSURE COOK (high) and set for 3 minutes. Once the 3 minutes is up and the Instant Pot beeps, allow to naturally release for 15-20 minutes. Open the lid and press the SAUTE button. Combine the cornstarch with water and stir into the Instant Pot. Cook and allow the sauce to bubble and thicken up.
- Sprinkle with sesame seeds, green onions and serve over rice, quinoa or zoodles, if desired
For Meal Prep:
- Prepare your favorite carb (rice, quinoa, cauliflower rice, roasted potatoes, rice noodles) and add to containers. Divide chicken among containers and add your favorite roasted or stir-fried vegetables.
The sauce doubles easily if you need to make a larger batch. ***If your slow cooker runs hot, be sure to check on chicken earlier as it may cook faster than the suggested cooking times. ***This dish can easily be made with cubed extra firm tofu (roasted or unroasted) and cauliflower florets. Just cook for an hour less than you would the chicken. Mine were done cooked on HIGH at an hour and 2 hours on low.