This Slow Cooker Chinese Three Cup Chicken Recipe is a lighter version of a traditional Chinese braised chicken dish.
I love authentic Chinese food but unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to come by where I live. Most of the restaurants around serve either Asian fusion food or Chinese American food. So, whenever I crave real Chinese food, I make it at home.
Fortunately, most Chinese food is not hard to make in a home kitchen. Although you can’t replicate the high heat stir-fried dishes, braised dishes and steamed dishes can be easily made at home. I made this for my niece from Taiwan recently and she called it “good old home cooking.” I took that as a compliment ;).
This Slow Cooker Chinese “Three Cup” Chicken recipe is a modified version of the original recipe, which literally calls for one cup each of sesame oil, soy sauce and rice wine. I just can’t fathom using that amount of sesame oil or soy sauce in a single dish, so I’ve cut back on both of those ingredients. However, I did use one cup of rice wine since that’s the only liquid in the recipe. This recipe calls for dark soy sauce, which is actually less salty, a little sweeter and thicker than regular soy sauce. To make a gluten-free dark soy sauce substitute, mix a little molasses into gluten-free soy sauce.
Braising can easily be done in a slow cooker, so that’s what I opted for. Of course, you could just cook this on the stove top, which would probably take about 30 minutes.
Slow Cooker Chinese Three Cup Chicken
- 3 pounds chicken I used dark meat; remove skin for less fat
- 1/4 cup sesame oil
- 5 cloves garlic left whole
- 5 slices ginger each the size of a quarter
- 1 scallion cut into 2" pieces
- 1 cup rice wine or sherry
- 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce see notes for gluten-free version
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
Heat sesame oil in a large skillet and add garlic, ginger and scallion; sauté until fragrant, then add chicken pieces. Lightly brown chicken pieces. Transfer everything from skillet to slow cooker. Add rice wine, dark soy sauce and regular soy sauce.
Cook on high for 4 hours.
Store bought dark soy sauce usually contain wheat. To make your own gluten-free dark soy sauce, mix some 1 teaspoon molasses into 2 tablespoons gluten-free soy sauce.
For lower calorie version (298 calories/serving; 5 Freestyle points), substitute 2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast. Cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 6-8 hours.
Sommer @aspicyperspective says
I can’t wait to try this recipe Jeanette! Perfect for a busy mommy day!
Thanks Sommer – this is super easy and I couldn’t agree more – perfect for busy mommy days 😉
Could you recommend a good brand of rice wine for this?
I use a brand called Oriental Mascot. It’s made in Taiwan.
Deanna Segrave-Daly says
I can only imagine how wonderful this smells!
Deanna – this definitely makes your kitchen smell nice and cozy – great for a cool Fall day.
Hi Jeanette– This sounds yummy! My office is having a potluck reflecting each person’s anchestral roots… I think I found my dish!I am the next to last person on earth who doesn’t own a slow cooker–can I make this stoev top or in the oven? Any instructions? Thanks… this looks like a winner!
Hi Nancy – you can definitely make this on top of the stove. Just cook it on medium-low or low (gentle simmer). If you use chicken on the bone, it will take about 30 minutes. I hope your office mates enjoy this – serve it with some steamed rice to sop up the gravy. Let me know how it turns out.
Angie@Angie's Recipes says
I would have never thought of using slow cooker to make 3-cup chicken! You are a genius, Jeanette.
It’s the lazy person’s way of making 3-cup chicken ;).
Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine says
Yum! I bet this smells amazing!
Aggie | Aggie's Kitchen says
Oh I have to try this one, I know my family will love it. Looks so delicious. I am trying to make my slow cooker routine a little more interesting!
Thanks Aggie – hope your family likes this 🙂
Alice @ Hip Foodie Mom says
Jeanette, it’s the same for me with where I live and with Korean food! But I’m thankful because now I know how to cook all of our fave things! I love this Slow Cooker Chinese Chicken Recipe!! Looks delish!
Alice – me too! I’m so glad I like to cook and can make good home cooked Chinese dishes for me and my family 🙂
Sonali- The Foodie Physician says
This looks FANTASTIC!! I have the same problem finding authentic Chinese food in my area, so this would be a wonderful way to bring those flavors into my home.
Michele @ Flavor Mosaic says
I am used to American Chinese food, but this recipe looks incredible. I’ going to have to try it.
I hope you enjoy this Michele!
I made this last night and it was so tender and flavorful. I used boneless, skinless thighs and served with rice, seaweed and edamame. The kids raved. When I told them it was from the same woman who gave us the taco nacho casserole, they said to cook more from your website!
Lena – thanks so much for trying this recipe and for your feedback. So glad your kids loved it and also enjoy the taco nacho casserole 🙂 Happy cooking!
Jeanette, why use that much of wine and I saw some regular stove top recipe which use 1/2 cup of wine, can you kindly explain and also this recipe does not need sugar??
This recipe is based off a traditional Chinese recipe, which typically used equal parts of wine, soy sauce and sesame oil. I cut back on the soy sauce and sesame oil, but you can certainly try this with less wine and use chicken broth to make up the difference in liquid. There is no sugar in the recipe as I was trying to stick to the traditional recipe as much as possible but if you like you can add some to your taste.
How large are your “chicken pieces”? Can I use whole thighs or would you recommend chopping them into smaller pieces?
I used whole thighs.
Hi Jeanette – would it work to brown the garlic/scallion/chicken the night before and then putting this into the crockpot the next morning? I would like to do this fresh during a weekday but always seemed rushed in the morning and would not have time to do this step!
Yes, you can brown the aromatics and chicken the night before. The browning step helps add more flavor to the final dish.