Better than takeout and better for you, this quick and easy crockpot orange chicken will become a new favorite. A tangy, sweet-yet-savory sauce starring orange preserves, soy sauce, and ginger smothers perfectly tender chicken breasts to make an unforgettable entree.
Easy Crockpot Orange Chicken Recipe
I have been loving this easy slow cooker chicken twist on PF Chang’s orange chicken. It’s got all of the flavor and less of the guilt. Unlike the breaded and fried version you’d get at takeout, this orange chicken is done in the slow cooker, yielding the most tender, magnificently flavorful chicken dish you could imagine. The magic lies in the wowing sauce that the chicken is cooked in, low-and-slow, for hours. It’s made of tangy orange preserves, umami soy sauce, spicy ginger, and garlic. As it cooks, the sweet-savory sauce thickens, becoming wonderfully sticky and, when spooned over the tender chicken, it provides the perfect, flavor-packed glaze.
Easy to make and so flavorful, this healthier orange chicken will surely become a favorite in your recipe lineup. Plus, it only requires 5 minutes of active time in the kitchen. If you don’t have a crock pot, make this similar Mandarin Chicken or these crispy Orange Chicken Bites.
Reasons You’ll Love This Slow Cooker Recipe
This PF Changs-inspired orange chicken will win hearts and taste buds far and wide. Here are some of the things that make it an absolute must-try in my book.
Better than takeout. This recipe is basically a copycat of PF Chang’s orange chicken, except it’s not breaded and fried. So it’s much healthier and just as tasty, if not tastier. And easier on your pocketbook, might I add.
So quick and easy. This recipe only requires a few simple steps and 5 minutes of prep time. Then all you have to do is press a button, walk away, and enjoy your day. Dinner will be ready for you in a few hours.
So much flavor. The tangy sweetness of the orange preserves paired with the soy sauce, the spice of the ginger, and the nuttiness of the toasted sesame seed is just an unreal combination. You’ll be craving seconds before you’ve even finished your first piece.
What You’ll Need
You’ll only need a few simple ingredients to make this slow-cooker orange chicken. Here they are. Be sure to scroll to the recipe card below for precise measurements.
Boneless, skinless chicken breasts: Boneless, skinless thighs will also work. You could even use a different protein if you’d like. Try boneless pork chops or cubed beef stew meat.
Salt and fresh ground pepper
Orange marmalade or preserves: I use low-sugar preserves, and I like preserves that have pulp – it brings a really nice texture to the sauce.
Freshly squeezed orange juice: Let me reiterate. Freshly squeezed, please! The flavor is 100 times better than the bottled stuff.
Low-sodium soy sauce: Liquid aminos would be a fine alternative.
How to Make Orange Chicken in the Crockpot
Here’s a brief overview of how to make this delightful, better-than-takeout orange chicken. For more thorough instructions, please scroll to the recipe card further down the page.
Prepare the crockpot. Grease the crockpot insert with cooking spray.
Brown the chicken (optional). Heat some olive oil in a skillet and sear the chicken for 2 minutes on either side.
Make the sauce. Whisk together the orange preserves, orange juice, soy sauce, garlic and ginger.
Load the crockpot. Place chicken in the crockpot, season with salt and pepper, and pour the sauce over the chicken.
Cook. Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours or on high for 2.5-3 hours.
Toast the sesame seeds. Toast the sesame seeds in a frying pan over medium-high heat until fragrant.
Serve. Transfer the chicken to a plate, spoon the sauce over the chicken, and garnish with sesame seeds.
Tips for Success
Before you tie on your apron, have a quick look at these simple tips and tricks. You’ll be an orange chicken pro in no time.
Brown the chicken. While you can combine all the ingredients in the crockpot and let it do its thing for a few hours, I like to brown the chicken first. It results in a deeper, richer flavor and juicier chicken.
Don’t use frozen chicken. Putting frozen chicken in the slow cooker is never a good idea. The meat will enter temperatures that are not considered food-safe. Thaw your chicken before using it.
Use fresh orange juice. The flavor is just so much better than bottled. It really makes a difference in the finished product.
Size matters. This recipe is meant for a 5-7 quart slow cooker. If your crockpot is larger, scale the recipe up a bit to avoid burning your food. If your crockpot is too small, your chicken might not cook all the way through, so it’s best to scale the recipe down.
Cook on low if you have time. While you can cook crockpot orange chicken on high, I find that this can lead to slightly dryer, less tender chicken. If you have the extra time, use the lowest setting on your slow cooker and cook longer.
What to Serve with Slow Cooker Orange Chicken
This saucy orange chicken loves company. Serve it with your favorite rice dish, over noodles, and/or with a yummy veggie side dish. Here are some ideas for you.
How to Store & Reheat Leftovers
Refrigerator. Allow the chicken to cool to room temperature before sealing it in an airtight container and storing it in the fridge. It will stay good there for up to 4 days.
Freezer. Once the chicken has cooled completely, transfer it to a freezer-safe, airtight container. Seal the container and store it in the freezer for up to 3 months. Allow the chicken to thaw in the fridge before reheating.
To reheat. Arrange the chicken in a single layer in a baking dish. Pour the sauce and a couple of tablespoons of water or chicken broth over the chicken. Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil and bake the chicken at 350˚F for 15 minutes or until heated through.
More Crockpot Chicken Recipes
If you feel like you have a million and one things to do before the day is through (I can relate), crockpot recipes are definitely something to stock up on. Here are some of my go-to’s that you should try.
Prep Time 5 minutesmins
Cook Time 4 hourshrs
Total Time 4 hourshrs5 minutesmins
For the cornstarch slurry, optional
Lightly grease the crock pot insert with cooking spray.
If browning the chicken, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet and brown all chicken pieces, 2 minutes per side.
Place chicken breasts on the bottom of the crock pot in a single layer and season with salt and pepper.
In a mixing bowl, combine orange preserves, orange juice, soy sauce, garlic and ginger; mix until combined.
Pour over the chicken.
Cover and cook on LOW for 4 to 5 hours or on HIGH for 2.5 to 3 hours.
In the meantime, heat the sesame seeds in a frying pan set over medium heat, shaking the pan frequently, cooking just until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Set aside.
Remove the chicken from the slow cooker and transfer to a plate. Set aside.
Whisk the water with the cornstarch in a small mixing bowl until incorporated to make a slurry. Add the cornstarch slurry to the sauce inside the crock pot and whisk until completely combined and thickened. You can also pour the orange sauce out into a small saucepan before adding the slurry.
Spoon the orange sauce over the chicken, garnish with sesame seeds, and serve.
Brown the chicken first. It boosts flavor and juiciness.
Go for fresh orange juice. It gives a superior flavor to the final dish.
Orange marmalade or orange preserves are good options for this recipe. I like to use a low-sugar version whenever possible.
If you don’t have fresh ginger, you can use 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger.
Your slow cooker’s size is key. Aim for 5 to 7 quarts, and adjust the recipe if needed.
If you can, cook on low. It results in more tender chicken.
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