This Slow Cooker Orange Chickenis a delicious homemade version of the classic Chinese take out dish made in the slow cooker, stovetop or Instant Pot making it the perfect easy weeknight meal. Gluten free, Whole30, Paleo, low carb and keto friendly. Great for Sunday meal prep for work lunch bowls & better than the local Chinese restaurant takeout!
Make the sauce:In a small bowl, whisk together all the ingredients for the sauce, set aside.
Sear the chicken (Optional):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! 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)
Add chicken to slow cooker:Transfer chicken to a 6 quart 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).
Optional for thickening the sauce: About 30 minutes before serving, whisk together the tapioca starch (or xanthan gum) 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 starch slurry instead)
Garnish and serve: Sprinkle with sesame seeds, green onions and serve over rice, quinoa or zoodles, if desired.
Turn Instant Pot to SAUTE. Add the oil and allow the Instant Pot to heat up. Sear the 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 everything back to the Instant Pot and pour sauce over top.
Close and seal Instant Pot. Set on MANUAL for 3 minutes, let naturally release for 10 minutes.
Open lid then press the OFF button and then press the SAUTE button.
Combine the xanthan gum (or arrowroot starch for Whole30) with water and stir into the Instant Pot. Allow the sauce to bubble and thicken up.
Sprinkle with sesame seeds, green onions and serve chicken over cauliflower rice, zoodles or Jasmine / brown rice for non Whole30 / Paleo / Keto.
Heat 2-3 tablespoons oil (or enough to lightly coat the bottom of the pan) in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add chicken and pan fry until golden and cooked through, about 3-5 minutes per side.
Transfer to a large platter lined with paper towels. Repeat.
Wash and wipe down the same skillet.
Make the sauce: In a large bowl, whisk together all the sauce ingredients including the starch and water. Pour into the skillet and heat on medium high. Allow to bubble and thicken while whisking and turn off the heat. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Add the cooked chicken to the pan and toss wit the heated orange sauce, coating well. Once hot, transfer to a platter.
Garnish with green onions, sesame seeds and serve immediately with rice or noodles, if desired.
For meal prep:
Prepare your favorite starch (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.