Sweet Chinese hoisin sauce makes a great pairing with chicken. Add in a few other pantry staples like honey, soy sauce, and a big pinch of black pepper, and it has an almost teriyaki-like flavor with no fuss. Cook everything together in a slow cooker, and you end up with tender chicken infused with that irresistible flavor.
How you serve this chicken is up to you — in a rice bowl, on a tangle of noodles, on top of a salad, or wrapped in lettuce leaves are just a few options once your hoisin chicken comes out of the slow cooker. It's really only here to help!
What Is Hoisin Sauce? (And Where Do I Find It?)
Hoisin sauce is a thick, sweet Chinese condiment made from sugar, soybeans, garlic, sesame seeds, chiles, and spices. It can be found alongside the soy sauce in the grocery store, and it adds a nice, rich flavor to the sauce the chicken's cooked in.
Shopping Tip: I prefer the thicker versions sold in jars rather than the more watery versions in bottles. The paste-like versions are more intense in flavor and produce a thicker final sauce in this dish.
To make this dish gluten-free, make sure your hoisin sauce doesn't contain wheat, and use tamari rather than soy sauce.
While the sauce at the end of the cooking time is quite tasty, it is thin. Transferring it to a saucepan and simmering it on the stovetop for just a minute with a cornstarch-and-water slurry is worth the effort; you'll be left with a thicker, more teriyaki-like sauce that can be drizzled over the chicken and whatever you're serving it with.
Our favorite combination for the sliced chicken is rice, sautéed sweet snap peas, and a sprinkle of sesame seeds for nuttiness and crunch, but this chicken would also be right at home shredded and stuffed into soft dinner rolls for an Asian-inspired slider.
Slow-Cooker Hoisin Chicken
1/2 cup hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Steamed rice or lettuce, for serving (optional)
Place the hoisin sauce, soy sauce, honey, ginger, garlic, and pepper in a 4-quart or larger slow cooker and stir to combine. Add the chicken and stir to combine. Cover and cook until the chicken is cooked through and registers an internal temperature of 165°F, 3 to 4 hours on the LOW setting, or 1 1/2 to 2 hours on the HIGH setting.
Transfer the chicken to a serving bowl with a slotted spoon. Pour the sauce into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Meanwhile, stir the cornstarch and water together in a small bowl until the cornstarch is fully dissolved. Add the cornstarch slurry to the simmering sauce and cook until thickened slightly, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat. Serve the chicken with steamed rice or in lettuce leaves as lettuce wraps, with sauce for drizzling.
- Hoisin sauce: This Chinese sauce is a thick, sweet condiment made from sugar, soybeans, garlic, sesame seeds, chiles, and spices. For this recipe, we recommend finding a thick, paste-like hoisin sauce that is sold in a jar, not a bottle. To make this dish gluten-free, look for a hoisin sauce that does not contain wheat.
- Storage: Store the chicken in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 4 months.