Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken

There’s no need for takeout when you can make this honey garlic chicken at home right in the slow cooker. With a sticky, sweet, addicting sauce (that’s way healthier than the Chinese takeout joint) and pieces of pineapple throughout, this EASY recipe will become a family favorite.

This post was originally published on 5/18/2012. It’s been updated with new text and pictures.
This slow cooker honey garlic chicken recipe will easily become a family favorite with classic "take-out" flavor combinations in a sticky sweet, addicting sauce.

I love a good dump, set and forget slow cooker recipe.

The kabocha squash chili I shared the other day was one of those kind of recipes and this honey garlic chicken is another!

Everyone seems to love these recipes because they’re the perfect solution to busy days while still providing a healthy, homemade dinner for your family.

Even better when they resemble takeout that you can eat with chopsticks, right?

I happen to love that theme too and it shows with recipes like this sweet and spicy mango shrimp, beef and red pepper rice bowls, mango chicken skillet and honey orange sesame chicken in the archives.

My most recent go-to, however, is sweet and sour tofu. We’re having a moment with that recipe lately.

All are the “easy to get on the dinner table recipes” reminiscent of takeout meals.

These honey garlic chicken thighs are high on the favorite list too because you can put everything together in the crockpot hours before dinner and come back from your busy schedule to a tasty dinner ready to go!

A sweet and stick honey garlic ginger sauce coats chicken thighs and pineapple chunks in this easy slow cooker dinner recipe.

THE INGREDIENTS IN THIS SLOW COOKER HONEY GARLIC CHICKEN RECIPE

  • Chicken – I chose boneless skinless chicken thighs for this recipe because I think they add a lot more flavor than chicken breast. There’s no need for the skin when it comes to a slow cooker recipe (save that for a recipe like Coconut Lime Baked Chicken with a nice crispy skin!)
  • Garlic & Ginger – two of the best aromatics that bring serious flavor to this slow cooker recipe.
  • Honey – the sticky sweet base to this recipe that gives it lovely sweetness without the need for any additional sugar.
  • Soy Sauce – the salty balance to the honey for a nice savory, yet sweet taste.
  • Ketchup & Sriracha – maybe it sounds weird to add ketchup to an Asian inspired dish but these two ingredients bring richness, spice and a little bit of acidity to cut the sweet honey and savory soy sauce.
  • Broth/Water – solely used to help thin out the sauce a bit.
  • Pineapple – while completely optional (or substitute another fruit like mango if you’d like), it’s a fun addition to the honey garlic chicken that really makes it feel like a takeout meal at home. 

HOW TO MAKE IT

  1. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper and place them in the bottom of the slow cooker.
  2. Whisk together all the ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl then pour on top of the chicken. Add the pineapple chunks to the slow cooker as well and stir gently.
  3. Cook on low for 3.5 – 4 hours.
  4. Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon to a cutting board and cut into bite sized pieces.
  5. Make the cornstarch slurry (if using) and add to the slow cooker. Stir until thickened.
  6. Return the chicken to the slow cooker and stir it back into the sauce.
  7. Garnish with chopped green onions and sesame seeds. Serve over rice and enjoy!

Honey garlic chicken thighs cooked in the slow cooker are a delicious takeout fakeout dinner recipe.

HOW TO MAKE THE RECIPE GLUTEN-FREE/PALEO

Just be sure to use gluten-free soy sauce (Tamari) or coconut aminos as suggested in the recipe below to make a gluten-free version of this honey garlic chicken.

For paleo, make sure to use the arrowroot powder option instead of cornstarch to thicken the honey garlic sauce as noted in the recipe below.

CHOOSING A DIFFERENT CUT OF CHICKEN

I chose to use boneless skinless chicken thighs for this recipe for a couple reasons:

  • thighs have more flavor than breasts
  • they stay juicy and moist better under longer cooking times

You can use bone-in thighs if that’s what you have on hand but I’d suggest removing the skin from them as it will just become mushy and lend more unneeded fat/grease to the honey garlic sauce as it cooks down.

If you choose to use chicken breasts instead of thighs, cook more towards the 3 hour mark on low heat than 4 hours. I would start checking the chicken around 2 – 2.5 hours to make sure it doesn’t dry out too much.

Chicken tenders would also work for the recipe. Treat them like chicken breasts above and use a shorter cooking time.

Crockpot honey garlic chicken with pineapple in a sticky, sweet and savory sauce.

HOW TO SERVE HONEY GARLIC CHICKEN THIGHS

With that nice thick sweet and sticky sauce, you’ll want to serve the chicken with something to soak it all up!

RICE is one obvious option and super easy to make. You can make a batch of white rice on the stove right before dinner or even whip out one of those microwave minute-ready packets if you’re in a time pinch. 

  • Also try brown rice or even cauliflower rice for a healthier or lower-carb spin to the meal.

VEGETABLES are served with almost every takeout meal so to make this even more resemble your favorite Chinese takeout, consider some simple steamed veggies like broccoli alongside the honey garlic chicken.

  • Other easy vegetable options would be some frozen mixed veggies that you can microwave for a couple minutes, steam-in-bag vegetables that are everywhere now these days or, if you have a few more minutes on hand, roast your favorite vegetable in the oven (asparagus, brussels sprouts, cabbage, green beans, etc.).
  • Alternatively, make some zoodles and pile the honey garlic chicken on top of those for a lower-carb, healthier spin!

MAKE A SALAD out of the dish! I’m not talking about using mixed greens but a base of crunchy coleslaw mix (aka chopped cabbage) and things like shredded carrots, edamame and even some of those crunchy wonton toppers would be a great way to enjoy the chicken as well. This Sweet Honey Dijon Red Cabbage Slaw is good inspiration for something similar.

This recipe for honey garlic chicken thighs made in the slow cooker is a great meal prep recipe for the week.

HOW TO STORE AND FREEZE

Always cool your cooked food to room temperature (especially important with cooked meats) before putting away. 

Store the leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. 

Freeze the recipe in an airtight freezer safe container for later use up to 3 months in the freezer. Thaw in the refrigerator before reheating.

Reheat leftovers either in the microwave or in a sauce pan over medium-low heat. You can add a tablespoon or so of water or broth if needed to thin out the sauce when reheating.

Tasty honey garlic chicken easily made in the slow cooker is better than anything on the Chinese takeout menu.

TIPS & TOOLS TO MAKE THIS RECIPE

If you don’t have a slow cooker and want to be able to make healthy slow cooker recipes like this one, I suggest buying a programmable slow cooker with some basic easy settings. I love mine because it switches to a “keep warm” setting once it’s done cooking. 

You can also use your Instant Pot on the slow cooker setting instead of an actual slow cooker to make this recipe. Then you’ll be able to make all these healthy Instant Pot recipes too!

A note on the cornstarch slurry – if you don’t have time to thicken the sauce at the end or just want to be lazy (I get it, I’ve been there!), this step is optional. The resulting honey garlic sauce will be thinner for sure but all the flavor will still be intact. 

I offer two ways to do this in the recipe card below – either in the slow cooker directly or transferring the sauce to a pot on the stove and thickening there.

I personally prefer the stove top method as the direct heat from the stove is hotter than the slow cooker and the sauce therefore thickens faster (cornstarch needs heat to activate its thickening powers).

Try this easy recipe for slow cooker honey garlic chicken thighs with a sticky sweet and savory sauce and pineapple for an easy dinner served over rice. #slowcookerchicken #honeygarlicchicken #crockpotchicken

If you love making recipes like this in the slow cooker, try some of these too:

Slow Cooker Shredded Mexican Beef Bowls
Slow Cooker BBQ Peach Pulled Chicken
Slow Cooker Balsamic Pulled Pork with Polenta and Avocado Crema
4-ingredient Slow Cooker Pulled Chicken

slow cooker honey garlic chicken

Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 10 minutes

Easy slow cooker honey garlic chicken - a healthy recipe with simple ingredients! Chicken thighs in a sticky, sweet addicting take-out like sauce.

Ingredients

  • 1.5 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into cubes
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, minced
  • 1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce (or coconut aminos)
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1/2 tablespoon sriracha
  • 2 tablespoons chicken broth or water
  • 1 cup frozen cubed pineapple
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch or arrowroot powder + 1 tablespoon water
  • sesame seeds for garnish
  • chopped green onion for garnish

Instructions

  1. Season chicken with salt and pepper.
  2. Combine garlic, ginger, soy sauce, honey, ketchup, sriracha and broth/water in a small bowl and whisk together.
  3. Place chicken in the slow cooker and pour sauce over top.
  4. Cook on low for 3.5-4 hours.
  5. Remove lid and transfer chicken with a slotted spoon to a dish and set aside.
  6. Whisk together the cornstarch (or arrowroot powder) and water in a small bowl. Add to the slow cooker (with it still on) and stir into the sauce until thickened. (*see note)
  7. Once thickened, add the chicken back into the pot, stir to combine then garnish with green onions and sesame seeds.
  8. Serve over rice and enjoy!

Notes

*If mixture isn't thickening, transfer to a small sauce pot and stir over medium heat on the stove-top to thicken. Depending on your slow cooker, there may not be enough heat to activate the cornstarch to thicken.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 493Total Fat: 17gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 208mgSodium: 1726mgCarbohydrates: 44gFiber: 3gSugar: 30gProtein: 47g

This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For the most precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator based on the actual ingredients you used in the recipe.

DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?

Please leave a comment & rating below or share a photo on Instagram and tag @runningtothekitchen

Old photo of this honey garlic ginger chicken recipe for reference:

Honey garlic ginger chicken thighs in the slow cooker with pineapple chunks.

42 Comments

    1. Running to the Kitchen Post author

      Yes, it was beyond disgusting and the best part was the cashier just tried to wipe it off with a dirty rag like it didn’t happen.

      Reply
  1. Ulysses

    The last time we ate chinese at the mall was the Galleria with that super confusing menu that kind of didn’t make any sense…”next…next …next” They always rush you even though there is no one behind you. We sat down ate our lunch and we both probably were wondering the same thing…why did we eat this crap.

    Reply
  2. Meggy

    Found this on Pinterest this morning, and asked my fiance if he’d like it for dinner tonight. His response: that recipe looks so good my mouth is watering. Dinner = done! Thanks for this awesome one, can’t wait to check out some of your others :)

    Reply
  3. Kelly @ No Sugar Sweet Life

    I am sooooooooo making this this weekend! My hubby loves Asian food (he’s half Korean) but I don’t make it very often… seems tedious or unhealthy. But this is neither of those! As for the gross handouts at the mall – I wish I could wear a button that says “I don’t want any of your crap, so DON’T ASK!!!!!!!!!!” I hate getting “assaulted” there. So I usually just say NO before they even open their mouths. I one of those people :)

    Reply
  4. Yana

    I am with you on the long Phase II workouts. I am in week 6, and have to get up at least at 6AM to get to the gym, do the workout, and be at work (to which I have to drive 35 miles on the Bay Area highway 101) at some reasonable time. Good thing my work schedule is flexible, so I can come in later and stay later. But it looks like the later it is in the program, the longer the workouts are, so I am not sure what I am going to do. Getting up at 5:30AM doesn’t seem attractive at all.

    Enjoy the beautiful Wine Country. The weather is gorgeous. Which it usually is the case here in Nor Cal.

    Reply
  5. Margarita

    Oh man, a basic sauce of honey+soysauce+garlic+ginger together makes for a wonderful dish! But, the addition of pineapple and Sriracha too… just delicious! All the ingredients in this dish are right up my alley! I have to plan for crock pot meals too because I want to cook with it when I’m around (totally against the purpose of the crock pot). For some reason, I am afraid it will blow up when I’m not at home and come home to a house blown up into smoke.

    Reply
  6. Julie @ Table for Two

    mmmm this totally reminds me of those chinese places, like you said, but i love that yours is 10 times, maybe 1000 times healthier!! i hope you’re having fun in napa, i can’t wait to hear about it :)

    Reply
  7. Baking Serendipity

    Ugh, mall food. This is a seriously better alternative! I love using my slow cooker in the summer. Usually, we’ll set it up outside on the back patio table…it gets ridiculously hot in the summer (I live in Phoenix) and anything I can do to keep the house cooler when it comes to cooking is necessary!

    Reply
  8. Crystal @ A Lovin' Forkful

    This looks so good! I love everything about it. And I concur on the mall food. Recently my family and I were in the mall and we thought maybe we’d get a slice of pizza at Sbarro, the counter guy coerced us into buying a whole pizza and it was seriously the most disgusting pizza I have ever eaten. And that, in my opinion, is pretty tough to do. We usually have a saying in our house, “Even when pizza is bad, it’s still pretty good”. Not anymore. Don’t even get me started on Panda Express…

    Reply
  9. Heidi @ Food Doodles

    This looks so good! I love the honey, garlic and ginger flavors – mmm! And especially without msg, haha. I know what you mean about using a crockpot when you’re home most of the day anyways. I’d use mine a ton more if I wasn’t at home. I know some people do even though they are at home but it drives me kind of crazy waiting for something that I could cook faster, if that makes any sense.

    Reply
  10. Karen Pugh

    I am so on this gluten-free diet for Celiac disease and I have been scouring blogs and such for new recipes…This will do it, my gluten-free soy sauce and I am good to go…Thanks a bunch! I have been so hungry for Chinese food…

    Reply
  11. Rachel (teacher-chef)

    YUM – I have this in my crock pot right now and it smells so yummy, can’t wait to enjoy it (I love good crock pot meals for the summer that are still fresh tasting but don’t heat up the whole house).

    Happy Summer Eating :-)

    Reply
  12. Kirsten

    Gina,
    I’ve got such a hot kitchen in the summer (and it’s correspondingly real cold right now) that I love slow cooker recipes to keep the temps down.
    Thanks for giving me the link to include in my upcoming Band Fruit Fundraiser Recipe Round Up! It will be published on 12/4/2013!

    Reply
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  15. Laura

    Could you put it in the slow cooker on low and cook for longer? Any recommendations on time?
    Wanted to try this as a make in the morning recipe to be ready when I get home from work?

    Reply
    1. Running to the Kitchen Post author

      Yes, you probably could. I haven’t tried and you might want to add a touch more liquid to make sure it doesn’t get dry, but I’m betting it would work.

      Reply
      1. Laura

        I am new to the whole slow cooker thing, what kind of liquid would I add just water? Or more sauce?

        And how much? Sorry my mum just bought me a slow cooker for my birthday and have never cooked in one before. I am a rookie haha

        Reply
        1. Running to the Kitchen Post author

          Maybe just add about 1/2 cup of chicken broth to the sauce when you make it. I wouldn’t cook it for much longer than 4 hours on low if possible.

          Reply
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  18. Supriya Kutty

    Taste of heaven it was so good I thank you for making this amazing this amazing recipe and sharing it with us. We usually do make chicken but not with such a good blend. I really like the variation Thank you for making this amazing recipe.

    Reply
  19. Jenn

    Gina, you’re a goddess! Thanks for this crazy easy slow cooker garlic chicken recipe – I am going to be living off my slow cooker once Fall hits so I need all the tasty recipes I can get!

    Reply
  20. Chelle Thompson

    I like eat chicken. It is delicious and good for me. Your recipe is easy to follow. I followed the recipe, then I enjoyed a delicious meal. I put many garlic in the recipe. It was fine. I want to double this recipe, is it okay?

    Reply

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