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Skip the stovetop and savor the ease of this slow cooker chicken with plums recipe! Tender chicken, sweet juicy plums, and rich flavors come together in perfect harmony to create a comforting, flavorful dinner perfect for hassle-free weeknights and casual weekend meals.

Overhead shot of a neutral colored bowl filled with rice and topped with Slow Cooker Bourbon Plum Chicken, with a pale purple linen, forks, additional bowl of chicken, small bowl of sliced scallions, and wine glasses surrounding the main bowl.

Hi, friends! Today we are putting down those dirty paper menus in your kitchen drawer and making our own take out.

Because why go through the ordeal of ordering in? Especially when you only need 15 minutes of active hands-on preparation time to make your family’s favorite take away right in the comfort of your kitchen! Besides, today’s recipe for plum chicken is a million times better than anything that can be delivered to your door.

Overhead, up-close shot of a neutral colored bowl filled with rice, topped with Slow Cooker Bourbon Plum Chicken and garnished with sliced scallions, sliced jalapeños and fresh micro greens.

About this plum chicken

This crock pot plum chicken is a combination of two popular takeout meals in one. Basically, if bourbon chicken and Chinese chicken in plum sauce had a baby, this epic dish is what would have been created.

Featuring tender, succulent, slow cooked chicken generously coated in a sticky, savory, umami-packed plum sauce kissed with complex bourbon and sweet and sour notes of Chinese plum sauce and Asian aromatics. Piled high on a bed of white rice, sticky rice or noodles and topped with your favorite Chinese garnishes, like sesame seeds and green onions, this recipe for plum chicken is lick-your-fingers-clean type of delicious.

Best part of all, this plum sauce chicken is made with the convenience of the slow cooker or crock pot. Delicious eating has never looked so good (and obtainable), my friends! High five to fake-out take-out.

If you’re looking for more simply delicious Asian chicken dinners, be sure to try these fan-favorite recipes next: Chinese Chicken with Stir Fry Vegetables, Healthy Chicken Stir-Fry, Honey and Garlic Stir Fry with Chicken, Chicken Stir-Fry with Apricot, and this Black Pepper Chicken Recipe.

Why you’ll love this Chinese recipe

  • Beyond Easy – You only need 15 minutes of active prep time in the kitchen, then you can let the slow cooker do all the work.
  • Made with 7 Base Ingredients – Yup, just seven simple ingredients, plus a few pantry staples to create the best plum-y chicken.
  • Budget-Friendly – Stop overpaying for food delivery (food, tax and tip add up) and make it yourself. You can feed the whole family at a fraction of the price. AND you can customize it to YOUR taste. Now that’s winning, friends.
45 degree angle shot of a neutral colored bowl filled with rice and topped with Slow Cooker Bourbon Plum Chicken, with a pale purple linen, lime wedges, additional bowl of chicken, small bowl of sliced scallions, and wine glasses blurred around the main bowl.

Ingredients for plum sauce chicken

Chinese plum chicken is a sweet and tangy takeout favorite that you can now easily make from home with your trusty slow cooker. Here’s everything you need:

  • Garlic – Minced. 
  • Fresh ginger – Minced. 
  • Crushed red pepper flakes – Add more if you desire. 
  • Chinese 5 spice powder – This is a spice mixture consisting of 5 or more spices predominantly used in most Chinese cuisine. You can find it at most grocery stores in the spice aisle or from Asian food stores. 
  • Brown sugar – Packed.
  • Plum sauce – You can find this sauce in the Asian food aisle of most grocery stores. Use a popular brand, such as Lee Kum Kee or VH Plum Sauce. Substitution: Combine 2 tablespoons of Hoisin sauce with 2 tablespoons of honey. 
  • Bourbon – This adds a depth of rich flavors to the chicken plum recipe and tenderizes the chicken slightly by breaking the enzymes in the meat. Substitution: Use apple juice instead if you prefer to cook without alcohol. 
  • Soy sauce – I prefer to use reduced sodium-soy sauce. 
  • Chicken – Use boneless skinless chicken breasts and dice the meat into 1-inch cubes. Substitution: Use boneless skinless chicken thighs instead – perfect if you enjoy dark meat. 
  • Cornstarch – To thicken the Chinese plum sauce. 
  • Water 
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper – To taste.

Recipe variations

  • Extra saucy. Double the chicken plum sauce if you enjoy super saucy chicken!
  • Cooking preparation. If you feel too lazy to cut the chicken, place the whole chicken breast in the slow cooker and increase the cooking time to 30 minutes to 1 hour in step 2 of this chicken plum recipe and before you add the cornstarch and water.  
  • Gluten-free. Use tamari instead of soy sauce in this plum chicken recipe. Check the ingredients list on the plum sauce for any gluten-based products. You may need to use hoisin sauce instead of plum sauce for a strictly gluten-free recipe for plum chicken. 
  • Spicy level. Add extra crushed red pepper flakes if you enjoy a stronger kick of heat.
Overhead shot of a neutral colored bowl filled with rice and topped with Slow Cooker Bourbon Plum Chicken, with a fork inserted into the rice and a pale purple linen and lime wedges tucked in the bottom corners of the shot.

Tips for the best chicken in plum sauce

  1. While the recipe below calls for boneless, skinless chicken breasts, you can absolutely substitute boneless, skinless chicken thighs if you prefer dark meat!
  2. If you want to take the lazy prep route, you can skip cutting the chicken into 1’’ cubes and instead place the entire chicken breast (or thigh) in the slow cooker. Just increase the cooking time by 30 minutes – 1 hour in step #2 before adding the cornstarch and water mixture (step 3), use two forks to shred the chicken (you can do this right in the slow cooker, or you can remove the chicken to a cutting board and add the chicken back to the slow cooker). Then, add the cornstarch mixture and proceed with the recipe as instructed.
  3. You can easily double the sauce in the recipe if you like your chicken super saucy.
  4. All slow cookers vary. If your slow cooker runs on the hot side, be sure to check your chicken earlier, as it may cook faster than the times suggested in the recipe. The opposite goes for your slow cooker if it runs on the cool side, as your chicken may take longer to cook. If you aren’t sure of your slow cookers abilities, be sure to use an instant read thermometer. Chicken is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.

FAQs: frequently asked questions

Below you’ll find the most common questions and answers about making plum sauce chicken. If you have a question you’d like answered, please drop it in the comments section below!

What kind of Chinese Plum Sauce should I use?

Most store-bought brands of Chinese Plum Sauce will work well in this recipe for plum chicken. Popular brands like, Lee Kum Kee or VH Plum Sauce, are readily available in most grocery stores.

Can I substitute the Chinese Plum Sauce with something else?

While the recipe is designed for the sweet and tangy flavor of Chinese Plum Sauce, here are a few alternatives:

  • Hoisin sauce: Hoisin offers a thicker and richer flavor profile. Use a lesser amount compared to plum sauce due to its stronger taste.
  • Teriyaki sauce: Teriyaki offers a sweet and savory profile similar to plum sauce, but with a slightly different overall flavor profile.
  • Sweet and sour sauce: Provides a tangier flavor compared to plum sauce. You might want to consider increasing the amount of brown sugar in the recipe.

What kind of plums can I use for this recipe?

This recipe for chicken with plums uses Chinese plum sauce; however, you are free to add fresh plums if you would like!

Most varieties of plums will work well here, depending on your desired level of sweetness and tartness. Below are a few options to consider:

  • Black plums: Offer a sweet and slightly tart flavor.
  • Red plums: Slightly sweeter than black plums, perfect for those who prefer a more prominent sweetness.
  • Italian prune plums: Naturally sweet and add a richer flavor profile.

The recipe calls for chicken breasts. Can I use thighs instead?

Absolutely! Chicken thighs are a great alternative as they offer more flavor and stay juicier during slow cooking. However, please note, you may need to adjust the cooking time slightly, as chicken thighs take a bit longer to cook through.

Can I thicken the plum sauce in the slow cooker?

Yes! Here are a couple of ways you can thicken this Chinese plums sauce:

  • Cornstarch slurry: Mix a tablespoon of cornstarch with a tablespoon of cold water to create a slurry. Gradually whisk it into the slow cooker on high for a few minutes before serving.
  • Remove and reduce: Carefully remove some of the sauce from the slow cooker and simmer it in a saucepan on the stovetop until it thickens to your desired consistency. Then, return it to the slow cooker with the chicken and plums.

Serving chicken with plum sauce

This plum chicken pairs well with a wide variety of Chinese sides. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Rice: If you’re looking for a carbohydrate side, rice and grains are perfect for absorbing the delicious plum sauce. Think: long grain rice, fried-rice, brown rice, and quinoa.
  • Noodles: Lo mein or chow mein noodles add a classic Asian touch.
  • Stir-fried vegetables: Broccoli, carrots, snap peas, bell peppers, and even brussels sprouts offer a healthy and colorful element to the meal.
  • Cauliflower rice: Broccoli and cauliflower rice are a healthy and low-carb alternative to white rice.

Storing leftovers

Store leftover chicken in plum sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat leftover plum chicken in the microwave, in the oven (covered), or on the stovetop. 

Can I freeze this chicken recipe?

Yes. Store leftover chicken with plum sauce in an airtight container or sealable plastic bag in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw the frozen Chinese dish with plum sauce overnight in the fridge and reheat it to serve with freshly cooked rice, noodles, or veggies.  

Overhead shot of a neutral colored bowl filled with rice and topped with Slow Cooker Bourbon Plum Chicken, with a hand holding the bowl and another hand holding chopsticks picking up a piece of chicken, with a glass of wine and small bowls of sesame seeds and sliced scallions tucked into the upper corners of the shot.

Put down the phone and forget the take-out! Treat yourself right and get this deliciously sweet and sour Slow Cooker Bourbon Plum Chicken in your life, STAT! With only 15 minutes of prep, I pinkie promise it’s worth it!

Until next week, friends, cheers – to fake out take out!

Cheyanne

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More slow cooker Asian chicken dinners!

If you love this plum sauce with chicken recipe, try these yummy chicken dinners made tons of Asian flavor next:

How to make recipe for plum chicken (plus step-by-step video)👇

Overhead, landscape shot of a white bowl filled with rice and topped with Slow Cooker Bourbon Plum Chicken, with a pale purple linen, lime wedges, small bowl of sesame seeds, wine glass and sliced scallions surrounding the bowl.

Chinese Plum Chicken (Slow Cooker Recipe)

4.84 from 6 votes
Total Time: 2 hours 45 minutes
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 4
This Plum Chicken in the slow cooker is a flavorful mash up of Chinese Chicken in Plum Sauce and popular Bourbon Chicken. Featuring tender shredded chicken breasts coated in the most delicious sticky, sweet and sour sauce. BEYOND delicious, yet ridiculously easy to prepare, this chicken plum recipe is sure to be a weeknight dinner winner!

Equipment

  • 1 Slow Cooker or Crock Pot

Ingredients 

  • 3 cloves Garlic – minced
  • ¾ tsp fresh Ginger – minced
  • ½ tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
  • ¼ tsp Chinese 5 Spice Powder
  • ¼ Cup Brown Sugar – packed
  • ½ Cup Plum Sauce (substitute option: 2 TBS Hoisin + 2 TBS Honey)
  • ¼ Cup Bourbon (substitute option: Apple Juice)
  • 2 TBS Reduced Sodium Soy Sauce
  • 1 ½ pounds Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts – diced into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 TBS Cornstarch
  • 2 TBS Water
  • Kosher Salt and Ground Black Pepper – to taste
  • Optional Garnishes: Lime Wedges, Sliced Scallions, Sesame Seeds, Sliced Chilli
  • Optional Serving Suggestions: Rice or Asian Noodles, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Mushrooms, Carrots and/or Sweet Red Peppers

Instructions

  • Make the plum sauce: In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the garlic through the soy sauce.
  • Add to slow cooker: Season the chicken pieces generously with salt and pepper and place them in the slow cooker. Pour the plum sauce over top of the diced chicken.
  • Cook: Cover the slow cooker and cook on LOW for 3 ½ – 4 ½ hours or HIGH for 1 ½ – 2 ½ hours, stirring halfway through. (The chicken will continue to cook in the next step)
  • Thicken the sauce: In a small bowl whisk together the cornstarch with the water. Carefully add the cornstarch mixture (slurry) to the slow cooker and stir well to combine.
  • Cook again: Cover and cook on HIGH for an additional 20-30 minutes, or until the sauce is thickened to your liking.
  • Serve: Spoon plum chicken over rice, noodles or a bed of veggies. Top with optional garnishes and enjoy!

Video

Notes

  1. Chicken: While the recipe calls for boneless, skinless chicken breasts, you can absolutely substitute boneless, skinless chicken thighs if you prefer dark meat!
    • If you want to take the lazy prep route, you can skip cutting the chicken into 1’’ cubes and instead place the entire chicken breast (or thigh) in the slow cooker. Just increase the cooking time by 30 minutes – 1 hour in step #2 before adding the cornstarch and water mixture (step 3), use two forks to shred the chicken (you can do this right in the slow cooker, or you can remove the chicken to a cutting board and add the chicken back to the slow cooker). Then, add the cornstarch mixture and proceed with the recipe as instructed.
  2. Plum Sauce: If you prefer super saucy chicken I recommend doubling the measurements for the plum sauce! 
  3. Slow Cooking: All slow cookers vary. If your slow cooker runs on the hot side, be sure to check your chicken earlier, as it may cook faster than the times suggested in the recipe. The opposite goes for your slow cooker if it runs on the cool side, as your chicken may take longer to cook. If you aren’t sure of your slow cookers abilities, be sure to use an instant read thermometer. Chicken is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.
Nutritional information is an estimate based upon 4 servings. Exact information will depend upon the brands of ingredients and precise measurements used.

Nutrition

Calories: 367kcal    Carbohydrates: 33g    Protein: 37g    Fat: 4g    Saturated Fat: 1g    Cholesterol: 108mg    Sodium: 674mg    Potassium: 769mg    Sugar: 13g    Vitamin A: 65IU    Vitamin C: 2.7mg    Calcium: 29mg    Iron: 1.5mg

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