Slow-Cooker Honey Sesame Chicken

Update: Like a goose, I left the onions out of the ingredients list and instructions. I have fixed and updated the recipe. My apologies to those who might have printed it before seeing the correction. I imagine it will still taste marvelous made sans onion, but with onions, it sings!

Everybody wants a unicorn recipe. It’s the kind of dish we all secretly hopes exists but despair of actually finding.  You try recipe after recipe after recipe trying to find something, ANYTHING that isn’t a burger (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) or a hot dog (Nothing wrong with that, either, but EGADS, give us some variety, please.) that will make everyone happy. All we want is tasty unicorns.

What would you say if I told you that I have a slow-cooker recipe that requires no more work than chopping an onion and a few garlic cloves and a wee bit of ginger, whisking a few liquids together and pouring it over some boneless skinless chicken thighs in the slow cooker? And then if I were to tell you that you didn’t have to do any pre-browning on that chicken? Wait, then I also said that it was easy on the wallet, too.

But what if I followed all that up by saying that four hours after doing that, you would have a dish that (even out of the slow-cooker) was deep and complex, flavourful and beautiful, and made every single person in my family happy. Would you think I was a liar?

Or would you believe me if I told you this is a unicorn?

Normally something that simple doesn’t yield palatable let alone fabulous. This, however, is fabulous.

Sweet, tangy, spicy, garlicky, gingery with a velvety sauce and tender chicken. It’s just so very good. I first saw this over on my friend Amy’s blog and knew I had to try it. True to Amy’s promise of success, we had no leftovers the first time I made it (and I had doubled her recipe!) And as a testament to the taste of this unicorn, I made it again just under a week later, this time with a few changes that I wanted to try. My husband was on (ANOTHER) business trip, and again, I doubled the amount of meat. And again? No leftovers. I repeat. NO LEFTOVERS. My five sons and I polished off a batch of it that was every bit as large as the batch that my adult male husband helped us consume earlier in the week.


A.) These guys eat a lot. Okay. I’m no slouch. But still… I weep for my food budget.

B.) I may have to triple the recipe next time.

C.) Help.

When I told my husband later that night what we’d eaten for dinner as we caught up over the phone, he said, “Oh man. I missed it? That stinks.”

He had gone out to a restaurant that night and was jealous of our dinner. I call that a score for me.

Let me tell you one more thing, though… I’ve mentioned my picky pants gruesome-twosome anti-veg contingent before, right? They sucked this up like hoovers. They didn’t slow down to realize there were itty bitty minced onions in the dish.

Saddle up this unicorn and believe!


Slow-Cooker Honey Sesame Chicken
Sweet, tangy, spicy, garlicky, gingery: You never expect something that is this simple to make to taste this deep and complex. With a maximum of 10 minutes of hands-on time required to put this together, you will be thrilled and so will the rest of your family! Adapted with big thanks from my dear friend, Amy of Very Culinary
  • 3 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • salt and pepper
  • ¾ cup honey
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • ½ cup minced onion
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced or grated fresh ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • ¾ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch
  • ¼ cup of water
Serve with:
  • Hot cooked rice
  • Sesame seeds
  • Scallions, thinly sliced
  1. Very lightly season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper and place them in the slow cooker.
  2. Whisk the honey, soy sauce, onion, ketchup, canola and sesame oils, ginger, garlic and pepper flakes together in a mixing bowl and pour over the chicken thighs. Cover the slow cooker and cook on low for 4 hours, or until the chicken is tender and cooked through.
  3. Use tongs or a slotted spoon to transfer the chicken to a rimmed plate or bowl and cover lightly with foil, leaving the pan juices in the slow cooker.
  4. Stir the cornstarch into the water with a fork or small whisk until dissolved. Whisk the mixture into the pan juices in the slow cooker. Re-cover the slow-cooker and turn the heat to high. Let it cook and thicken for 15 minutes.
  5. Carefully transfer the chicken back into the slow-cooker. Serve the pieces of chicken over the hot cooked rice, spoon the sauce over the chicken and garnish with sesame seeds and scallions.



  1. Diane says

    “Honey Sesame Chicken”, my first Chinese dish to make… and it was sooo good! Tastes as good as what I’ve eaten out. I just started using a crock pot and I’ve been very pleased with the few dishes I’ve made so far. Glad I stumbled upon this one, hubby said it was a definite “keeper”! Looking forward to trying more of your great dishes. Thanks for sharing. :)

  2. Lisa C. says

    I just made this last night and it was out of this world! My boyfriend couldn’t get enough of it. I served it over homemade pork fried rice and it tasted just like a combination platter from a chinese restaurant. The only thing i was disappointed about was that the sauce never thickened. It was still delicious, though. Thank you so much.

  3. Linda says

    I know this is an old one now, but anything that BOTH my boys like (instead of one or the other) is worth a comment! Delicious and so convenient!

    • says

      I haven’t tested it with chicken breasts, Juliet, but if you scroll through the comments, I think some other folks have to good results! I’m thinking you’d probably want to cut back a smidge on cooking time since chicken breasts dry out more quickly, but that’s just instinct and not experience talking! Please let me know if you try it!

  4. Caroline says

    i work 8-10 hour days without the ability to come home…i need crock pot recipes that can be set before work and ready when i’m home…how can i adjust this recipe?

    • says

      I haven’t tested it in other temps, times, or methods, so I would suggest experimenting with it a bit! Maybe you could try setting it on low and watching its progress on a day you can be home in case something goes wrong?

      • Annylem says

        I need 8-10 hour crockpot recipes too, since I work an 8 hour day. I haven’t tried this recipe yet, but what I do for 4 hour crockpot recipe’s is freeze the meat and put it in the crock to slowly thaw. I plug the crock into an electric timer switch (they’re about $5 at walmart) and set the timer so that it starts up 5 hours later. The meat is just thawed by then and it cooks as expected!

  5. Jenna says

    I skimmed the comments but didn’t see anything about possibly using arrowroot instead of cornstarch since my husband can’t have corn. Think it would produce the same results?

    • says

      Any time you put less in a slow cooker it’s going to use a little less time. I’m not sure how much time you’ll need to knock off of the overall total… just start checking it earlier. It’s hard to have too much of that sauce, so I’d leave that!

  6. Polly says

    Tried the recipe this evening. Some chicken close to raw after 3+ hours on low. I turned it up to high for 2 hours which worked out. Like another reviewer mentioned, the sauce did not thicken. I will try gently boiling it next time. It tasted very good though, over rice with steamed broccoli. I will tweak it a little and will make again.

  7. Heather says

    This was a big hit at my house tonight. As my 2-year old was eating it, we looked over at her and her head was in her bowl and she looks up and goes “Mmmmm, I love this juice Mommy!” I’d say that is a winner!

  8. Karin says

    I have to say, I personally wasn’t over the moon about this one but my kids went crazy for it! My 9 year old picky eater had two helpings (that NEVER happens) and my 15 month old ate almost two whole chicken thighs. They both acted like they hadn’t eaten in a week. My husband and I were slightly baffled. We both thought it was ok but nothing that special. Oh well, at least I know it’s a kid pleaser!

    • says

      Thanks for looking out for me, Agnes, but I can see they gave credit for adapting it from Six Sisters’ Stuff and mine was adapted from my friend at Very Culinary, so I think they’re alright!

  9. Shelly says

    There’s so many comments, I started sifting but gave up. So my question is….is it okay to use a frozen package of thighs? I didn’t use them for what I wanted so I stuck the package in the freezer. Should I thaw first? Will the texture be off since they’re not fresh anymore?

      • Shelly says

        Thank you for your SWIFT reply! I’ll put the chicken in the fridge today and thaw the rest of the way in the morning. I can’t wait to try the recipe and tell everyone about it tomorrow!


    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

    Rate this recipe: