This delicious easy and healthy crockpot cashew chicken is gluten free, dairy free, made with natural sugars, and has a perfect blend of sweet and salty!
Healthy Crockpot Cashew Chicken
I created this recipe about 5 years ago when my hubby told me he was craving a delicious cashew chicken recipe. After perusing Pinterest to see what elements are needed to make a delicious cashew chicken, it was clear that there needed to be some “kitch” improvements as typical cashew chicken can be loaded with refined sugar. While my recipe definitely has sweeter components, the flavours are balanced out perfectly with saltiness and all the added sweetness comes from unrefined sugar sources, natural ketchup sweetened with honey, and coconut palm sugar which is naturally low glycemic.
I decided to put the crockpot to use to make this a crockpot cashew chicken because this time of year, slow cookers always get a lot of use and it’s nice to have healthy, warm, hearty meals prepped in batches to enjoy for dinner and then take for lunch the next couple days. Since we are staying with my parents while we renovate our new home, the whole gang was able to enjoy this recipe and everyone gave it a big thumbs up!
Side note: My dad is pretty picky and eats about as much variety as you could count on one hand so for him to enjoy this recipe was a pretty good sign…I don’t think he’ll read this as I just had to remind him the other day I actually had a blog, not just Facebook…haha!.
The Perfect Cashew Chicken Sauce
This cashew chicken recipe is truly the perfect combination of sweet and salty and it’s the sauce that is the key. I used gluten free soy sauce to keep this dish gluten and wheat free and rice wine vinegar for that perfect tanginess, these two add in the “salty” component. The sweet comes from coconut palm sugar which is a great option for adding natural sweetness to sauces without the refined sugar. Coconut palm sugar has a lower glycemic index than regular white sugar which means it won’t cause a spike in your blood glucose levels (as well as insulin) like regular white sugar does. This is great for those watching their blood sugars and also for anyone who in general wants to avoid refined sugar. I also added in honey-sweetened ketchup for more flavour and a bit more sugar. While you can use regular ketchup, I’d recommend you find one that’s naturally sweetened as regular ketchup is loaded with refined sugars. Typically you can find naturally sweetened ketchups in the organic or natural foods section of a grocery store.
Ginger and garlic were my next add ins to the sauce that perfect boost of flavour. The cashews come in at the end and I leave them whole as they cook with all the other ingredients in the crockpot and become softer but still maintain a decent level of crunch which adds texture to blend with the tender, slow cooked chicken.
Overall, cashew chicken is known to be on the more indulgent side (PF Chang’s Almond Cashew Chicken is a whopping 640 calories per serving…rice NOT included!) so this healthified version of crockpot cashew chicken is a little better on the blood sugars and makes a great filling meal over a small bed of rice or quinoa. It’s quite far from “indulgent” but you wouldn’t know it by the taste!
Have you pulled out your slow-cooker or crockpot yet? This should definitely be one of your first meals you make with it. It’s definitely a crowd pleaser and is seriously so simple to make. Be sure to pin the photo below the recipe to save it for later and of course, share the love!
- 8 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (approx 1kg)
- 2 red bell peppers, diced
- 1 small yellow onion, sliced
- 3 tablespoons tapioca starch or arrowroot flour
- 1 tablespoon olive oil or coconut oil
- Cashew Chicken Sauce:
- ½ cup gluten free soy sauce
- ⅓ cup rice wine vinegar
- ¼ cup water
- ¼-1/2 cup naturally sweetened ketchup*
- ⅓ cup coconut palm sugar
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon minced ginger
- ½ cup whole roasted cashews
- 1 green onion, chopped
- roasted sesame seeds or chopped roasted cashews
- Whisk all the sauce ingredients together in a bowl and set aside.
- Dice chicken breast into small cubes.
- Place the tapioca or arrowroot in a large bowl and add the chicken, toss to thoroughly coat the chicken.
- Heat a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat and add in the olive or coconut oil then brown the chicken slightly.
- Add the lightly browned chicken to the crock pot along with the chopped onion and bell pepper.
- Pour over the sauce and stir everything to combine.
- Put lid on crock pot and cook on low for 3 hours (or on high for 1-2 hours).
- Garnish with chopped green onion and a sprinkle of roasted sesame seeds.
- Serve over rice or quinoa or in lettuce wraps!
Have a lovely Sunday,
Christal // NITK