Chinese Food Recipes You Can Make in a Crockpot

Chinese food can seem impossible to master with your own two hands, but luckily for you, they don’t need to do all the work. Chinese food is another cuisine the slow cooker can take on, helping to save both your wallet and your waistline. The key to good homemade Chinese food is the right combination of sauces, so once you sufficiently stock your pantry, you’re ready to turn on the slow cooker. Check out these 10 Chinese food dishes that can come out of your slow cooker, and get ready to impress your dinner guests with a Chinese feast that doesn’t come from takeout boxes.

1. Crockpot General Tso’s Chicken

General Tso's Chicken

General Tso’s chicken | iStock.com

First up is a Chinese food favorite from Host the Toast: General Tso’s. When ordering Chinese takeout, an order of General Tso’s is a given, but now you can save your money and make it at home. The key ingredients are chicken breasts, sugar, soy sauce, pineapple juice, garlic, pepper, and dried ginger, and after 10 minutes of prep time, the chicken will cook on low for 4 hours. Aside from occasionally stirring, the slow cooker will do all of the work for you, and you’ll be the one enjoying the fruits of its labor.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons cornstarch, divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • ½ cup unsweetened pineapple juice
  • ⅓ cup distilled or apple cider vinegar
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon dried ginger
  • Green onions, chopped, to top
  • Rice and broccoli, to serve

Directions: In a shallow dish, mix ¾ cup cornstarch, salt, and pepper to combine. Dip chicken in mixture and turn to coat. Transfer to a plate, shaking to remove excess.

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Cook chicken until well browned, about 2 minutes per side. Remove to a plate and set aside.

Add sugar, soy sauce, juice, vinegar, garlic ginger, and cayenne to slow cooker insert and stir well. Add chicken, cover, and cook on low for 4 hours. Check sauce consistency about 20 minutes before serving. If desired, thicken by creating a slurry with remaining cornstarch and a bit of water. Stir into slow cooker and let cook until thickened. Serve over broccoli and rice. Garnish with green onion.

2. Crockpot Chinese Beef and Broccoli

Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry

Beef and broccoli | iStock.com

It’s also a foregone conclusion that you’ll order beef and broccoli when calling your go-to Chinese takeout place, and this recipe from Table for Two shows you how to make it at home. Once again, the slow cooker is enlisted and into it go the ingredients for your sauce and a boneless, beef chuck roast. The beef will marinate and cook in the sauce for 6 hours before you’ll toss in the broccoli florets and serve the good stuff over white rice.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound boneless, beef chuck roast, sliced into thin strips
  • 1 cup beef consomme or beef broth
  • ½ cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • ⅓ cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • Frozen broccoli florets
  • White rice, cooked

Directions: Mix beef consomme, soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, and garlic in the insert of a slow cooker to combine. Add beef and toss to coat. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours.

Remove about 4 tablespoons sauce from cooker and whisk it with the cornstarch to create a slurry. While stirring, pour slurry into slow cooker and mix well to combine. let cook for about 30 minutes, or until thickened. Stir in broccoli and serve over rice.

3. Crockpot Asian Pepper Steak

steak, vegetables, and rice

Asian pepper steak | iStock.com

Asian pepper steak, anyone? The slow cooker can make that dish, too, via a recipe featured on Rachael Ray. You’ll get your iron and red meat fix from this take-out fake-out, and if you’re lucky, you might even have leftovers. The recipe serves 6 to 8, and it takes 10 minutes to prep, and a little more than 6 hours to cook. Turn your slow cooker on before you go to work and get ready to come home to a house that smells mouth-watering.

Ingredients:

  • 3 pounds beef sirloin
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch, for dusting meat
  • 3 cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons ginger, grated
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 3 red bell peppers, sliced
  • 3 yellow bell peppers, sliced
  • 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar
  • ¾ cup soy sauce
  • Ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups rice

For serving

  • 2 cups bean sprouts
  • 1 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 2 limes

Directions: In a large skillet, sear the meat in some olive oil until nice and brown on both sides. Remove the steak to a cutting board and slice the steak into 1-inch thick strips.

Place the sliced steak into the slow cooker bowl, then dust the meat with cornstarch and mix the meat around until there is no more visible cornstarch. Add the remaining ingredients except for the topper ingredients to the crock-pot, then place a lid on top and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6 hours.

When you are ready to serve, get a medium bowl, mix the topper ingredients and place a portion of the mixture on top of each portion of Asian pepper steak.

Serve on top of cooked rice.

4. Slow Cooker Vegetable Lo Mein

chicken, noodles, peanut sauce

Vegetable lo mein | iStock.com

If you want to stray away from meat, try this recipe for slow cooker vegetable lo mein from Life Made Sweeter. It yields the perfect dish that tastes indulgent but helps you get your veggies in, too. It is a lot healthier for you than any other takeout dish could be. Aside from the vegetables, you’ll still get your protein from tofu, and carbs from the lo mein noodles. This recipe will feed two and should be served to someone you’re looking to impress.

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • ½ tablespoon mirin or Chinese cooking wine or dry sherry
  • ½ teaspoon red chili pepper flakes, optional
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 (14-ounce) package extra firm tofu
  • ½ cup matchstick carrots
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup of snow peas, trimmed
  • ½ cup of frozen edamame
  • 2 cups fresh lo mein noodles or cooked spaghetti noodles
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch plus 3 tablespoons cold water
  • Sesame seeds, for garnish, optional

Directions: Coat a slow cooker insert with nonstick cooking spray, then add broth, hoisin, soy sauce, honey, dark soy, sesame oil, mirin, chili flakes, garlic, and ginger. Whisk well to combine. Add tofu, cover, and cook on low for 2 hours or on high for 1 hour, flipping once.

Prepare noodles according to package directions.

Transfer tofu to a cutting board and dice into large cubes. Add back to slow cooker along with all remaining vegetables. Cover and cook for 1 hour on high.

Whisk together all the ingredients for the sauce in the slow cooker. Add minced ginger and garlic. Add entire block of tofu to the bottom of the slow cooker. Cook on low for 1 to 2 hours or high for 1 hour flipping halfway through.

Prepare noodles according to package directions, set aside.

Transfer tofu to flat surface and cut into cubes. Add tofu and remaining vegetables to slow cooker, cover and cook for 1 hour on high. Add noodles about 30 minutes prior to serving. In a small bowl, whisk cornstarch and water. Stir into crockpot and let thicken for about 30 minutes. Stir once more. Serve garnished with sesame seeds.

5. Crockpot Cashew Chicken

Cashew Chicken Stir Fry Vegetables

Cashew chicken | iStock.com

Back to the meat, we come to this recipe for slow cooker cashew chicken from The Recipe Critic. Full of animal protein, healthy fats, and fiber, this dish is an example of a take-out look-alike you can feel good about eating. The breaded chicken and flavorful sauce take the homemade cashew chicken over the top, so instead of relying on takeout or Lean Cuisines, you can pull out your slow cooker and prepare a homemade meal.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • 4 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup cashews

Directions: Add cornstarch and pepper to a large zip-top bag. Add chicken and toss to coat. In a medium skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat.

Cook chicken until well browned on both sides, then transfer to crockpot. Add soy sauce, vinegar, ketchup, chili sauce, sugar, garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes, and cashews. Stir to coat. Cover and cook on low for 3 to 4 hours. Serve.

6. Crockpot Hot and Sour Soup

chinese hot and sour soup, rice noodles

Hot and sour soup | iStock.com

Slow cookers and soups are a perfect match, and this version is featured on Fat Free Vegan Kitchen. As explained by the recipe developer, vegan soups are hard to find at Chinese takeout places, and that’s why, regardless if you’re vegan, you may want to try your hand at a homemade version of the popular Chinese dish: hot and sour soup. It’s easy to make and is low in fat and calories.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (10-ounce) package sliced mushrooms
  • 8 fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and caps sliced
  • 1 (8-ounce) can bamboo shoots, drained and julienned
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (15-ounce) package firm or silken tofu, cubed
  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger, divided
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons vegan chicken-flavored bouillon
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 1 teaspoon chili paste
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • 1½ cups fresh or frozen peas

Directions: If prepping in advance, keep mushrooms, bamboo shoots, garlic, and tofu in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Keep the ginger in a separate container.

Add the mushrooms, bamboo shoots, garlic, tofu, 1 tablespoon of the ginger, water, bouillon, soy sauce, sesame oil, chili paste, and vinegar to a slow cooker. Stir to combine. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.

Just before serving, add the peas and the remaining 1 tablespoon ginger. Stir well. Taste the broth and adjust seasoning. Drizzle a few drops of sesame oil on top of each portion and serve.

7. Slow-Cooker Sesame Chicken

Sesame chicken with rice

Sesame chicken | iStock.com

Another tried-and-true Chinese takeout favorite is sesame chicken, and this recipe from Betty Crocker imparts all the flavors you love with a slightly healthier twist. Instead of frying the chicken and topping it with a glaze, this version cooks whole chicken breasts in a sesame-garlic marinade, then shreds them partway through the cooking process to drench them with delicious flavors. The beauty in this recipe is that aside from a few drops of sesame oil, the rest of the pantry ingredients should be staples in anyone’s kitchen.

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup diced onion
  • ¾ cup honey
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • tablespoons olive oil
  • teaspoon sesame oil
  • to 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • teaspoons cornstarch
  • tablespoons water
  • tablespoon sesame seeds

DirectionsIn small bowl, mix onion, honey, soy sauce, ketchup, oil, sesame oil, and garlic. Set aside.

Place chicken in 4- to 5-quart slow cooker. Pour honey mixture evenly over chicken. Cover; cook on low heat setting 4 hours.

With slotted spoon, remove chicken from slow cooker, leaving sauce in cooker. In small bowl, stir cornstarch into water until dissolved. Pour into slow cooker; stir to combine with sauce. Cover; cook sauce on high heat setting 10 minutes longer or until sauce has thickened.

While sauce is cooking, shred chicken with 2 forks. Return shredded chicken to slow cooker; toss with sauce. Sprinkle with sesame seeds before serving.

8. Crockpot Orange Chicken

chinese sesame chicken

Orange chicken | iStock.com

Takeout food earns a bad reputation for its high fat content, especially when it’s fried and slathered in sauces. However, you can keep all the flavors — and perhaps make it even more fresh — when you make copycat recipes at home. This recipe for orange chicken comes from The Pursuit of Happiness blog, and accomplishes both of those tasks by only lightly pan-frying the chicken and making a sauce from scratch that’s just as good as the restaurant version. As an added bonus, the crockpot cooks the meal for 5 to 6 hours, meaning you’ll have plenty of time to get other tasks finished.

Ingredients:

  • 3 to 4 boneless chicken breasts, chopped into small chunks
  • ⅓ cup flour
  • Olive oil
  • ½ tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • 6 ounces frozen orange juice concentrate (thawed, or throw it in the microwave for 45 seconds)
  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar

Directions: In a medium bowl, combine orange juice, brown sugar, vinegar, salt, and ketchup and stir.

Add flour to a small bowl. Dredge chicken in flour, shaking to remove excess. Heat a bit of olive oil in a skillet. Cook chicken until browned, but not fully cooked. Add to a slow cooker, then add sauce. Stir to coat, cover, and cook for 5 to 6 hours on low or for 2 to 3 hours on high. Serve with white rice and veggies.

9. Slow Cooker Mongolian Beef

Stir fried beef in a plate

Mongolian beef | iStock.com

If beef is more your style when it comes to Chinese food, this Mongolian beef recipe from Allrecipes.com is for you. You’ll start with a flank steak and add soy sauce, fresh ginger, hoisin sauce, brown sugar, and a few other ingredients for a delectable dish, easily make into a meal when it’s served over rice or noodles.

A quick pan fry before adding the steak to the slow cooker will create a crisp crust, providing several textural elements to the meal as well. With minimal prep, you’ll have a restaurant quality dinner in no time.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound flank steak, cut into bite-size pieces
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 3 large green onions, sliced diagonally into ½-inch pieces
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon minced fresh ginger root
  • ½ cup hoisin sauce

DirectionsPlace flank steak and cornstarch into a resealable plastic bag. Shake the bag to evenly coat the flank steak with the cornstarch. Allow to steak rest for 10 minutes.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook and stir steak until evenly browned, 2 to 4 minutes. Place onion, garlic, flank steak, green onions, soy sauce, water, brown sugar, ginger, and hoisin sauce in a slow cooker. Cook on low setting for about 4 hours.

10. Chinese Lemon Chicken

Lemon Chicken in a bowl

Chinese lemon chicken | iStock.com

It might not be the first dish you typically think of when Chinese takeout favorites come to mind, but lemon chicken can be just as delicious as its orangey relative, with a bit more zip. This recipe, from the blog A Year of Slow Cooking, uses lemon concentrate for its citrus flavors, but you could likely add a splash of fresh lemon juice at the end to make it even brighter.

This recipe can also be adapted to be gluten-free, a perk if you or your guests adhere to such a diet. Instead of flour, the blogger simply uses Pamela’s Baking Mix, though any flour substitute you prefer would work. If you’re looking for a bit of a spicy element, the blogger also suggests adding a dash of red pepper flakes to the sauce.

Ingredients:

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
  • ½ cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 ounces frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • ½ tablespoon or so olive oil for browning chicken

Directions: Add flour and salt to a shallow dish and mix to combine. Dredge chicken pieces in flour, shaking to remove excess. Heat a bit of olive oil in a skillet set over medium-high heat. Cook chicken until browned, then transfer to a crockpot.

Mix all remaining ingredients in a medium bowl, then pour into crockpot. Cover and cook for 4 hours on high or 6 to 8 hours on low. Serve over rice, drizzling additional sauce over top.

Nikelle Murphy contributed to this post.

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