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.
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!
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
- Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper and place them in the bottom of the slow cooker.
- 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.
- Cook on low for 3.5 – 4 hours.
- Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon to a cutting board and cut into bite sized pieces.
- Make the cornstarch slurry (if using) and add to the slow cooker. Stir until thickened.
- Return the chicken to the slow cooker and stir it back into the sauce.
- Garnish with chopped green onions and sesame seeds. Serve over rice and enjoy!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
I love a good sticky sauce so this step is a must for me! You’ll love this maple miso chicken if you’re a sucker for a sticky glaze too.
If you love making recipes like this in the slow cooker, try some of these too:
Prefer seafood for dinner? Try this general tso shrimp recipe. Not a slow cooker meal, but it only takes 10 minutes total to make!
Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken
- 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
- Season chicken with salt and pepper.
- Combine garlic, ginger, soy sauce, honey, ketchup, sriracha and broth/water in a small bowl and whisk together.
- Place chicken and the pineapple in the slow cooker and pour the sauce over top.
- Cook on low for 3.5-4 hours.
- Remove lid and transfer chicken with a slotted spoon to a dish and set aside.
- 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)
- Once thickened, add the chicken back into the pot, stir to combine then garnish with green onions and sesame seeds.
- Serve over rice and enjoy!
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Gina Matsoukas is an AP syndicated writer. She is the founder, photographer and recipe developer of Running to the Kitchen — a food website focused on providing healthy, wholesome recipes using fresh and seasonal ingredients. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets both digital and print, including MSN, Huffington post, Buzzfeed, Women’s Health and Food Network.