Slow Cooker Orange Chicken with Fresh Asian Slaw
With a sweet and tangy citrus sauce, this Slow Cooker Orange Chicken is the healthier version of your favorite takeout! Enjoy this crockpot orange chicken over a bed of rice, topped with fresh Asian slaw for an easy, healthy weeknight dinner.
Easy & Healthy Orange Chicken Recipe
The cold weather months always have me using our slow cooker more. It’s an essential piece of kitchen equipment when it comes to comfort food. Which brings me to the latest recipe I’ve added to our slow cooker file, this flavorful Slow Cooker Orange Chicken!
The orange sauce is perfectly tang and sweet, a delicious compliment to the tender, juicy shredded chicken. And of course, I didn’t stop there. I created a crisp, Fresh Asian Slaw to top it off. It adds contrast in both flavor and texture…and it’s so pretty!!
What I Love About this Dinner Idea
I love this crockpot orange chicken because I find that most orange chicken dishes at restaurants tend to be cloyingly sweet, and pretty unhealthy with added breading and frying. While tasty, I wanted a version just a little bit healthier.
By preparing this healthy orange chicken in the slow cooker, I can get that wonderfully warm, bright citrus flavor that I love…and it actually tastes like orange! I top it with a simple (and optional) fresh veggie slaw to pack in some extra flavor and vegetable goodness. With or without the Asian slaw, this crockpot orange chicken is the perfect meal solution when the path to your grill is piled high with snow!
This homemade orange chicken is made with a mixture of white and dark chicken meat, lots of orange flavor, and a few classic Asian ingredients.
FOR THE ORANGE CHICKEN:
- Chicken – I use a combination of boneless skinless chicken thighs and chicken breasts. The thighs provide more flavor to the dish while the breasts are a leaner cut.
- Marmalade – Orange marmalade adds a bit of sweetness and the base of the orange flavor.
- Oranges – You’ll juice AND zest oranges, to really pump up that fresh orange flavor.
- Soy sauce – Adds the classic umami flavor that Asian recipes are known for.
- General Tsao Stir Fry Sauce – I get mine at Trader Joe’s. If you can’t find it, you can substitute your own favorite stir fry sauce.
- Olive oil
- Toasted Sesame Oil – I’m a huge fan of sesame oil. It adds beautiful flavor. I often use it to simply saute vegetables.
- Aromatics – Fresh onion, garlic, ginger are sauteed to give layers of flavor to this dish.
- Red pepper flakes – Add a pinch for just a little pop of heat. Or if you love heat, add more!
- Cornstarch – Thickens the sauce.
- For serving – I like to garnish the dish with sliced green onions, sesame seeds, fresh orange slices, and ground black pepper.
FOR THE FRESH ASIAN SLAW:
- Rice wine vinegar – Gives the slaw it’s “zang”.
- Lime juice – Use only freshly squeezed lime juice. This gives a nice tartness.
- Honey – Balances out the tangy vinegar and lime.
- Soy sauce – Adds some umami flavor.
- Sesame oil
- Fresh minced ginger & garlic – Adds lots of flavor to this fresh slaw.
- Fresh vegetables – I like to use a combination of carrots, red bell pepper, and red onion, plus a little bit of minced Fresno chile pepper. You can use any combination of vegetables you’d like.
How to Make Slow Cooker Orange Chicken
While there is some prep, none of it is difficult. This is an easy recipe that slow cooks in the crockpot until you have delicious, tender orange chicken.
- Add the chicken. Place the chicken thighs and breasts in the slow cooker.
- Make the sauce. Combine all of the ingredients except for the cornstarch and half of the orange juice. Pour over the chicken.
- Cook. Cook on low for 4 to 5 hours.
- Shred the chicken. Remove chicken from the slow cooker and shred.
- Thicken the sauce. Transfer the liquid in the slow cooker to a saucepan and bring to a boil. In a bowl, whisk together the remaining orange juice and cornstarch. Add the orange slurry to the boiling liquid. Cook until it thickens. Stir in the remaining orange zest.
- Finish. Return the chicken to the slow cooker then add the thickened sauce. Stir to combine.
How to Make Asian Slaw
This Asian slaw comes together in minutes, and the flavor will deepen the longer it sits.
- Make the dressing. Whisk together all ingredients except for the vegetables.
- Toss and chill. Toss the dressing with the thinly sliced vegetables. Refrigerate for a few hours before serving.
Tips for Success
For juicy, flavorful homemade orange chicken keep these things in mind.
- Make the Asian slaw in advance. The Asian slaw is more flavorful after it’s had a few hours to sit. I recommend preparing it at least a couple hours in advance, to let the flavors mingle. After I put the chicken in the crockpot to cook, I just mix up the slaw and set it in the fridge until it’s time to eat.
- Can I use just chicken breasts? Or just thighs? I like to use both chicken thighs and breasts as the thighs add more flavor while the breast has the leaner meat. Both end up being tender, while the thighs are more juicy and add more depth of flavor. Once they’re shredded and mixed together it’s the perfect combination. However, if you want to just use one or the other, that’s totally fine too.
- Make it spicy. If you prefer your orange chicken with a kick, toss in some additional crushed red pepper or cayenne pepper.
I like to serve this orange chicken over rice with sliced green onions, sesame seeds, and fresh orange wedges for squeezing over the top for one more hit of that fresh orange flavor. And, of course, I add that gorgeous fresh Asian slaw. A couple of grindings of black pepper are lovely too!
If desired, serve this meal with some steamed broccoli or other vegetables of choice, or some blistered peppers.
How to Store & Reheat Leftovers
- How to store Asian slaw. Store the slaw in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. The longer it sits, the vegetables will soften and the flavors will become more concentrated.
- How to store leftover chicken. Leftover orange chicken can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days.
- How to reheat leftovers. Reheat leftover orange chicken in the microwave. Or in a saucepan on the stovetop over low heat, adding additional orange juice if it needs some moisture.
More Slow Cooker Recipes:
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for the orange chicken:
- 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 3 pieces each
- 1 cup orange marmalade
- 3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice, from about 3 large oranges, divided
- zest from 3 large oranges, divided
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 c. Trader Joe's General Tsao Stir Fry Sauce (or substitute hoisin sauce)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 1 cup chopped red onion
- 6 cloves fresh garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- sliced green onions
- sesame seeds
- fresh orange slices
- freshly ground black pepper
for the fresh Asian slaw:
- 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1/8 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 cups thinly sliced fresh vegetables - I like to use a combination of carrots, red bell pepper, and red onion, plus a little bit of minced Fresno chile pepper
- For the orange chicken: Place chicken thighs and breast pieces in the slow cooker.
- In a medium bowl, stir together the marmalade, 1/2 cup of the orange juice, the zest from 2 oranges, soy sauce, stir fry sauce, olive oil, sesame oil, onion, garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes. Pour over the chicken and gently combine to coat the chicken. Cover the slow cooker and cook on low for 4 to 5 hours, stirring a couple times to incorporate.
- Use a tongs or large spoon to remove the chicken pieces from the slow cooker to a cutting board. With two forks, shred the chicken into bite size pieces. The chicken should be very tender.
- Transfer the liquid from the slow cooker into a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Return the shredded chicken to the warm slow cooker. Bring liquid in saucepan to a boil. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 1/4 cup of orange juice with the cornstarch, and then whisk the orange slurry into the boiling liquid. Cook until the liquid reduces a bit and thickens, about 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the remaining orange zest and then pour sauce over the chicken in the slow cooker, stirring to combine.
- Serve orange chicken over rice with sliced green onions, sesame seeds, fresh orange wedges for squeezing over the top, and fresh Asian slaw. A couple grindings of black pepper are lovely, too.
- For the fresh Asian slaw: In a medium bowl, whisk together rice wine vinegar, lime juice, honey, soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, and garlic. Add thinly sliced mix of vegetables and toss to combine.
- This can be made a day ahead of time, stored in the refrigerator, and is actually better when the flavors have a chance to mingle for at least a few hours before eating. I like the contrast of crunchy tangy vegetables in this slaw with the sweet and tender orange chicken. But this slaw is completely optional, and the orange chicken is perfectly wonderful without it.
from a farmgirl’s dabbles
Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 471Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 157mgSodium: 752mgCarbohydrates: 47gFiber: 5gSugar: 31gProtein: 46g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated by Nutritionix. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee accuracy. If your health depends on nutrition information, please calculate again with your own favorite calculator.
This post was originally published in 2014, then updated in 2022.