Juicy and tender chunks of chicken and chunky vegetables cooked in an easy homemade sauce make the perfect simple week night meal that the whole family will love. Save yourself some money and cook this Slow Cooker Sweet and Sour Chicken yourself, rather than ordering a takeaway.
This Slow Cooker Sweet and Sour Chicken will quickly become a family favourite. When school starts, our slow cooker is almost constantly on and helps make delicious meals with minimal effort.
Forget the jars of sauce full of additives, it takes less than a minute to make your own sauce, with the perfect balance of sweet and sour.
Add whatever vegetables you like and then let the slow cooker do the work for you and you end up with melt in your mouth chicken. If you are looking for some more healthier alternatives to takeaway, why not try our Pork and Apple Burgers, Soy Sauce Noodles or BBQ Chicken Pizza?
Why you will love it
- Delicious way to cook chicken - Chicken recipes always go down well with my whole family, but we can get bored of eating it the same way. This is an easy way to liven up chicken breasts, and still a recipe that the kids will enjoy.
- Quick and easy - Although slow cooker recipes aren't quick in terms of cooking time, they are quick to prepare. There is no pre-cooking or browning required in this recipe, just dump all the ingredients in and let it cook. Perfect for busy school/work days.
- Takeaway alternative - When we have super busy days, it can be so easy to order a takeaway. Whilst we definitely enjoy that every now and then, when we find it becoming bit too much of a habit, we start making our own versions and this is one of our favourites. Cheaper and healthier than ordering a Chinese takeaway, it just requires a bit of thinking ahead.
- Freezes well - Slow cookers are perfect for batch cooking and then stashing in the freezer. You can easily double this recipe, and then store a few portions for busier times.
- Chicken - We used skinless and boneless chicken breasts cut in to chunks to keep this recipe lean, however you could swap it for boneless and skinless chicken thighs, which would be juicer.
- Carrot - These add a bit of chunky texture to the slow cooker sweet and sour chicken. Make sure you dice them fairly small, because you want them to be cooked at the same time as the softer veg.
- Bell peppers - These add colour and texture to the dish. We used a red and a green bell pepper, however you can use any colour you like. You can cut them in to thin strips or chunks. We wouldn't recommend using frozen peppers, as these can make the whole dish a bit too watery.
- Onion - The base of any good dish. Save yourself some time by using frozen onion, as this won't release as much water as frozen pepper would. You could use diced shallots instead, which have a nice sweet flavour.
- Garlic and ginger - These both add so much flavour to the dish. You can get garlic and ginger paste combined, which would save some time. If you are going to use that, then you would only need to use 2 teaspoons.
- Water - This helps to loosen up the sauce. You could use chicken stock if you wanted to add a little more flavour. Use reduced salt if you are making it for younger children though.
- Vinegar - This is what adds the sourness to the dish. We used apple cider vinegar, as it has such an amazing flavour. You could use a white vinegar instead though.
- Soy sauce - A classic Chinese dish flavour, it adds a nice saltiness to the sauce, and helps to darken it a little, so it isn't super red.
- Passata - This is what gives the sauce the red colour, and also helps to thicken it a little. A lot of recipes will use ketchup or even tomato paste/puree, but we use passata to reduce the sugar and still give the colour.
- Honey - We use honey to sweeten our dish. Just a little, so it is not overpowering. You could always adjust it to make it sweeter or even less sweet.
- Pineapple - Pineapple is a must in sweet and sour, right? We used juice and chunks from a tin. Make sure you get a tin with 100% juice, and not syrup.
- Cornflour - This is what helps to thicken up the sauce at the end. You only need a little, otherwise it will change the colour and flavour.
A full ingredients list with measurements is in the recipe card below.
Step by step
One: In a bowl, mix together the water, vinegar, soy sauce, passata, honey, garlic and ginger.
Two: In the slow cooker bowl, add the chicken, onions, carrots and peppers. Pour the sauce over the chicken. Put the lid on and cook on high for 2.5 hours, or low for 6 hours.
Three: Mix together the pineapple juice and cornflour to make a slurry.
Four: Add the slurry to the slow cooker a little at a time, stirring until all mixed it. Put the lid back on and cook for a further 30 minutes on high or an hour on low, until the chicken is cooked through.
Five: Stir in pineapple chunks and serve.
Homemade sweet and sour sauce
If you have never tried making your own sweet and sour sauce, you really should. Made using ingredients you probably already have in your cupboard, you have yourself a deliciously smooth sauce that you can use for so many recipes, or just as a dip.
For this slow cooker sweet and sour chicken, the sauce cooks in the slow cooker. However, if you wanted to use it for another recipe then follow the instructions in our Easy Sweet and Sour Sauce recipe.
Chicken - We use chicken breast to keep this dish lean, however some people can find chicken breast a little dry when cooked for a long time in the slow cooker. You can swap it for boneless and skinless chicken thighs, which will be much juicer.
Vegetables - We love a dish that we can add some extra vegetables in to, and the slow cooker is perfect for that. Whilst adding different vegetables won't make this a traditional sweet and sour (this recipe is very different from the traditional sweet and sour that originated in China anyway), it's a great way to give it a nutrient boost. Some of our favourite vegetable to add are water chestnuts, baby corn, shiitake mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans and mangetout.
What to serve it with
When it comes to sweet and sour, rice is the perfect side dish. Light and fluffy white rice if you want to keep it simple, or you could try our Turmeric Rice if you wanted something a bit different, or even our Egg Fried Rice.
If rice isn't your thing, then why not serve it up with noodles? The great thing about noodles is there are so many different ones. You could serve it with ramen noodles, udon noodles or soba noodles.
Frequently Asked Questions
This is a protein packed dish that has a homemade sauce and nothing processed added. It is quite high in sugar due to the honey, but it is a low fat dish. Add lots of vegetables on the side to make this more nutrient dense. It is also healthier than ordering a takeaway, so we call that a win.
There are just 329 calories in this dish. That is just for the sweet and sour chicken, without any side dishes. So if you are mindful of calories, then watch the side dishes, as they can really add up.
There really is no rule here, just make sure that the ingredients you are using can fit in your slow cooker. We use a Crock Pot DuraCeramic Slow Cooker and we love it. What I love most about it is that you can put the bowl insert on the hob too. So, you can brown the chicken on the hob, in the slow cooker bowl. I also love that it has a clear lid, as I am so impatient that I want to keep looking and seeing what it is doing. If you don't have a clear lid, then lifting it to see will release lots of the heat and add to the cooking time.
The chicken should be perfectly cooked in the slow cooker after 3 hours on high or 6.5 hours on low. However, we always like to use a food thermometer to check. The cooked temperature of chicken is 75°C/165°F. However, if you don't have a food thermometer, then it is best to use your judgement and stick a knife in it. It shouldn't be pink inside.
This is a great batch cook meal, so make extra and keep it in the freezer for those buy nights. Leftovers can be stored in an air tight container in the fridge for 2 days.
Yes, once you have let it fully cool, you can transfer it in to a freezable container and then it will keep for 3 months. You can also freeze it with the rice.
Make sure to fully defrost this in the fridge overnight and then you can reheat it in a saucepan over a medium heat until piping hot all the way through. You could also reheat it in the microwave.
If you want a thicker sauce, then you could take the lid off and leave it cooking for 30 minutes. We wouldn't recommending any more cornflour, as it would totally change the flavour.
Yes, you can easily double this recipe making it perfect for batch cooking. There is no need to adjust the ingredients, just double them. Just make sure that you have a slow cooker big enough for all the ingredients. You may need to adjust your cooking time a little if your slow cooker is really full.
Yes, this can all be cooked on the hob and it will take around 35-40 minutes. Just make sure that the chicken is cooked through.
If you wanted to make a vegan version of this, then you could swap the chicken for tofu, or just add extra vegetables. We haven't tried this ourselves so we don't know what the results are. If you try it, do let us know the results.
More slow cooker recipes
If you’ve tried this slow cooker sweet and sour chicken, let us know how you got on in the comments below.
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Slow Cooker Sweet and Sour Chicken
- 700 g (1.5 lb) Chicken breast - cut in to chunks
- 1 Carrot - peeled and diced
- 1 Red bell pepper - cut in to large chunks
- 1 Green bell pepper - cut in to large chunks
- 1 Onion - diced
- 2 Garlic clove - crushed
- 30 g (1.06 oz) Fresh ginger - peeled and grated
- 60 ml (0.25 cups) Water
- 100 ml (0.5 cups) Apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoon Soy sauce
- 60 ml (0.25 cups) Passata
- 4 tablespoon Honey
- 4 tablespoon Pineapple juice - reserved from can of pineapple chunks
- 2 tablespoon Cornflour (corn starch)
- 140 g (5 oz) Pineapple chunks
- In a bowl, mix together 60 ml Water, 100 ml Apple cider vinegar, 2 tablespoon Soy sauce, 60 ml Passata, 4 tablespoon Honey, 2 Garlic clove and 30 g Fresh ginger.
- In the slow cooker bowl, add 700 g Chicken breast, 1 Onion, 1 Carrot, 1 Red bell pepper and 1 Green bell pepper.
- Pour the sauce over the chicken and vegetables. Put the lid on and cook on high for 2 and a half hours or low for 6 hours.
- Mix together 4 tablespoon Pineapple juice and 2 tablespoon Cornflour (corn starch) and then add it to the slow cooker a little at a time, stirring until all mixed it.
- Put the lid back on and cook for a further 30 minutes on high or an hour on low, until the chicken is cooked through.
- Stir in 140 g Pineapple chunks and serve.
- If you like a kick of heat to your recipes, you can either mix a little sriracha in to the sweet and sour sauce, or sprinkle some red chilli flakes on before serving.
- If you like your sweet and sour really sweet, then you can swap the passata for ketchup.
- Finish the whole dish off with some fresh coriander, slices of spring onions (scallions) and some sesame seeds.
- When shopping for pineapple chunks, make sure you get a tin with 100% juice, and not syrup, as the juice is added to the dish.
- If you are using chicken thighs, then you could add them whole and then shred the chicken in the sauce once it is cooked.
- You can give this an extra protein boost by adding some quick cook lentils at the same time as the sauce.
- You don't have to thicken the sauce with a cornflour slurry, as it does take away some of the flavour, but you might find it too runny without it.
The nutritional information provided is approximate and is calculated using online tools. Information can vary depending on various factors, but we have endeavoured to be as accurate as possible.