Put down the takeout menu and grab your crockpot instead – today we’re making delicious Teriyaki Chicken in a slow cooker. Featuring tender shredded chicken in a rich homemade teriyaki sauce with fluffy grains, pineapple chunks, smoky roasted red peppers, creamy avocado and nutty sesame seeds. Easy, delicious and nutritious, this slow cooker chicken teriyaki is a dinner the whole family is sure to love!
Update: This article was originally published in September 2016. I made edits to the post below to include more information about this recipe teriyaki chicken in the slow cooker. Plus, now there’s a step-by-step video showing you how just how easy this chicken recipe is to make at home!
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About this teriyaki chicken in slow cooker
Picture this: tender and juicy slow cooker chicken teriyaki piled high on fluffy quinoa topped with diced pineapple, smoky red pepper, creamy avocado, crunchy cashews, and crisp scallions. Sounds pretty legit, right? These teriyaki bowls are about to add some serious flavor to your dinner table.
And if you aren’t sold on just the pure deliciousness of this Asian chicken, a.) what?!?, and b.) if you’re worried about time, don’t worry, because these bowls could NOT be easier to whip together.
Simply prep your toppings and set them aside, plop some chicken into the slow cooker, and dump on the sauce. Turn the slow cooker on and live your life for 2-3 hours. Do the laundry, mow the yard, have a party in the USA, I dunno, you do you.
Meanwhile, your house will start to smell intoxicating. Come back and shred the chicken, then stir in the cornstarch slurry. Cover and cook for an additional 20-30 minutes, or until the sauce is thickened. Assemble the teriyaki chicken bowls and CHOW DOWN.
Why you’ll love this crockpot teriyaki recipe
Want the low-down on this delicious teriyaki recipe? Here’s the deal. This recipe for slow cooker chicken teriyaki is:
- Ridiculously Easy – You only need about 15 minutes of active prep time in the kitchen, then you can let the crockpot do all the heavy lifting.
- Made With 9 Base Ingredients that you can then jazz up to your heart’s content. Once the chicken is made, feel free to simply serve it over rice, or go nuts and turn it into a bodacious bowl of yummy goodness — I’ll show you how. 😉
- Budget-Friendly. Rather than spending a silly markup amount (plus tax and tip) to get your teriyaki fix from a restaurant, make it at home. You can feed the whole family for what you’d pay for a single entrée portion. I’m no math major, but that seems like a pretty sweet deal to me!
Ingredients for slow cooker chicken teriyaki
You only need a few special ingredients and some pantry staples to make this slow cooker teriyaki chicken. Here’s your list:
- Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts – Among the lightest protein options out there, boneless skinless chicken breasts are the best for shredding.
- Substitution: You’re welcome to use boneless skinless chicken thighs if you prefer dark meat, but the nutrition information will be different. In addition, I don’t suggest trying to shred thighs. Instead, just chop them into bite-sized cubes.
- Garlic & Ginger – These aromatics are the base of any good teriyaki recipe. I suggest using fresh for the brightest flavor, but those frozen Dorot cubes are an excellent stand-in. A slightly less optimal option is using jarred minced garlic and ginger paste from a tube.
- Mirin & Sake – I like to use both types of Japanese rice wine for making my teriyaki sauce. Mirin is sweeter and less alcoholic than sake and isn’t intended as drinking wine. You can often find it in the international section of regular grocery stores. Sake, on the other hand, is definitely intended for drinking, but also gives a lovely flavor to the teriyaki sauce. While you’re welcome to use just one or the other, the combination is what makes my slow-cooked teriyaki chicken extra special.
- Low-Sodium Soy Sauce – I generally find that low-sodium soy sauce is still quite salty. If you only have regular soy sauce on hand, simply dilute it in a 2:1 soy-to-water ratio.
- Substitutions: You’re also welcome to use light soy sauce, Indonesian kecap manis (sweet soy sauce), tamari, coconut aminos, or Bragg’s liquid aminos.
- Honey – For a slightly complex sweetness.
- Substitutions: Feel free to swap in agave nectar, maple syrup, or date syrup if needed.
- Light Brown Sugar – For caramelly sweetness.
- Substitution: You can also use dark brown sugar for a more pronounced molasses flavor. Other options include muscovado sugar or grated piloncillo or jaggery.
- Cornstarch – Perfect for thickening the sauce into a coat-your-spoon consistency.
- Substitution: You can swap in an equal amount of potato starch or use twice as much tapioca starch to make your slurry.
Teriyaki pineapple chicken bowls
To turn your yummy slow-cooked teriyaki chicken into my delightfully colorful teriyaki quinoa bowls, you’ll also need a few extra ingredients — namely, grains and veggies. While you’re welcome to wing it and use whatever you have on hand, these are the garnishes I typically add to mine:
- Cooked Quinoa – I love this slightly nutty, protein-rich grain. Feel free to use white, red, black, or tri-color quinoa depending on what you have.
- Substitutions: You can also swap in other types of grains like steamed white or brown rice.
- Avocado – For creamy richness.
- Roasted Red Pepper – For color, sweetness, and a touch of smoky flavor.
- Pineapple – For irresistible sweetness and acidity. Honestly, the only thing better than teriyaki chicken is teriyaki chicken with pineapple.
- Scallions – For gentle allium flavor and some pretty color in the bowl.
- Substitutions: You can also swap in shallots or pickled red onions.
- Sesame Seeds – For color, flavor, and crunch. Feel free to use white, black, or both!
- Cashews – For sweet nuttiness and crunch.
- Substitution: Chopped roasted peanuts are also lovely here.
- Red Pepper Flakes – Optional, but delicious if you like a little heat like we do. You’re also welcome to swap in sriracha or sambal oelek to get your chili pepper fix in sauce form.
While my family loves this teriyaki chicken crock pot recipe as written, there’s always room for you to make adjustments to fit your dietary needs and preferences. Here are a few of the common variations I get asked about:
- Gluten-Free Teriyaki – Swap in Tamari or coconut aminos for soy sauce.
- Soy-Free Teriyaki – Swap in coconut aminos (GF) or Bragg’s liquid aminos (not GF) for soy sauce.
- Spicy Teriyaki – Add some crushed red pepper flakes to the crockpot while your chicken cooks to add a yummy spicy flavor. You can also always top off your bowls with hot sauces like Sriracha or sambal oelek.
- Corn-Free Teriyaki – If you want a nice thick sauce, but can’t do corn, try swapping in an equal amount of potato starch, or use twice as much tapioca starch instead.
How to make slow cooker teriyaki chicken
Making this slow cooker teriyaki pineapple chicken is a snap. Here’s how it’s done:
- Homemade teriyaki sauce: In a medium bowl or 2-cup glass measure, combine the ingredients for the teriyaki sauce. Use a whisk and stir to thoroughly combine. Set aside.
- Season chicken: Place the chicken breasts on a clean work surface and season both sides generously with salt and pepper. Transfer the chicken breasts to the insert of a slow cooker or crockpot, making sure to arrange the chicken in a single layer.
- Add teriyaki sauce: Pour the teriyaki over the chicken in the crock pot.
- Slow cook: Cover the slow cooker and cook the chicken on LOW for 4 hours, or until the chicken is cooked through.
- Remove chicken: Uncover the crockpot and remove the chicken breasts to a clean work surface. Set aside until cool enough to handle. Then, use two forks to pull the chicken breasts apart into long shreds..
- Meanwhile, thicken the teriyaki sauce: In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch with the water to make a slurry. Pour the cornstarch mixture into the slow cooker and whisk to thoroughly combine.
- Cook sauce: Cover the slow cooker and cook on HIGH for 20-30 minutes, or until the sauce is thick.
- Enjoy: Add the shredded chicken breasts to the teriyaki sauce in the slow cooker. Stir to coat the chicken in the sauce. Enjoy as is or spruce it up my making teriyaki chicken pineapple bowls with brown or white rice, avocado, cashews, green onions and your favorite vegetables.
Expert Tips for the best crock pot chicken teriyaki
- To easily peel a knob of ginger, use a spoon. As an added bonus, this simple technique is safe enough that your kiddos can get in on the kitchen action.
- Rinse your quinoa. If your bag of dried quinoa doesn’t explicitly state that it has been pre-rinsed, you should definitely rinse it thoroughly to remove the bitter-tasting saponins.
- Toast your sesame seeds for the best flavor. Add them to a small, dry skillet over medium heat and swirl them around in the pan. As soon as they start to turn light golden and have a nutty aroma, remove them from heat.
FAQs: teriyaki chicken crock pot recipe
Is teriyaki chicken healthy?
Since “healthy” is a loaded term that means a lot of different things to different people and since I’m not a registered nutrition professional, I don’t really feel qualified to deem it healthy or unhealthy. That said, I’d feel better about eating chicken teriyaki than a piece of fried chicken!
At the end of the day, chicken teriyaki is a good source of both protein and nutrients, however it is high in sugar and sodium. The key to making teriyaki chicken a better-for-you meal is to eat it in moderation and to pair it with healthier, nutrient-dense foods.
This crockpot chicken teriyaki bowl does just that! Pairing it with super-grain quinoa, heart-healthy avocado, and antioxidant-rich red bell pepper is, in my opinion at least, a super nutritious way to eat teriyaki chicken.
Are teriyaki sauce and teriyaki marinade the same thing?
While there are many of the same elements between the sauce and the marinade, the marinade will be much thinner than the completed sauce.
However, if you want to marinate your chicken first, you’re welcome to assemble all the ingredients you add to the slow cooker with your chicken to make a fine marinade!
Is it okay to put raw chicken in a slow cooker?
So long as the slow cooker is on and you’re not just setting raw chicken in there for storage, YES!
Serving teriyaki chicken with pineapple
Chicken teriyaki is a pretty versatile dish and can be served with a number of things.
Some of my favorite vegetables to serve with crockpot teriyaki chicken are:
- Broccoli or broccolini
- Bell Pepper and Onion Saute
- Bok choy
- Roasted Asian Brussels Sprouts
- Sugar snap peas or snow peas
- Sauteed Mushrooms, Marinated Mushrooms, or Oven-Roasted Mushrooms with Onions
- Fried Cabbage or Coleslaw
- Cauliflower or cauliflower rice
- Mango Salad or Mango Salsa for chicken
It also pairs beautifully with steamed or fried rice and most cooked grains.
If you made this teriyaki chicken in the crock pot as directed and you have some sake on hand, it makes for a lovely beverage pairing. 😉
Storing slow cooked teriyaki chicken
- Leftover chicken teriyaki will keep in the refrigerator (in a clean, airtight container) for up to 5 days.
- You can also freeze leftovers for up to 3 months.
- To reheat, allow it to defrost overnight in the fridge, then heat it in a pan on the stovetop or in a bowl in the microwave, adding a splash of water if needed.
Alright, friends! I’m soy happy you stopped by today, and I hope you think this recipe is as teriyaki-iffic (🤦♀️) as we do! Until next time, I’ll be working around the cluck to come up with more yummy recipe ideas for you.
So, until then, cheers!
More slow cooker chicken dinners!
If you love this crock pot teriyaki chicken recipe, try these yummy chicken dinners made entirely in the crockpot or slow cooker:
- Thai Chicken Noodle Soup
- Chinese Chicken Wings
- Beer Chicken
- Sweet Chili Chicken
- Chinese Chicken and Broccoli
More Asian dinner recipes!
Craving a chicken dinner similar to this Japanese chicken? Try these Asian favorites next:
- Chinese Chicken with Stir Fry Vegetables
- Healthy Chicken Stir-Fry
- Steak Stir Fry with Zucchini
- Chinese Beef Stir Fry
- Korean Short Ribs
How to make Slow Cooker Chicken Teriyaki Pineapple Bowls. (Plus, step-by-step video!)👇
Slow Cooker Chicken Teriyaki Quinoa Bowls
- 1 2-cup Glass Measure or Medium Bowl (for teriyaki sauce)
- 1 Slow Cooker or Crock Pot (for slow cooking chicken teriyaki)
- 1 ½ - 2 Pounds Skinless Boneless Chicken Breasts
- Make the teriyaki sauce: In a two-cup glass measure or medium mixing bowl, combine the garlic, ginger, mirin, sake, soy sauce, honey and light brown sugar. Use a whisk and vigorously stir until well combined. Set aside.
- Season the chicken: Place the chicken breasts in the slow cooker or crock pot and season both sides generously with salt and pepper. Next, arrange the chicken breasts into an even, single layer in the bottom of the pot. Add sauce: Pour the teriyaki sauce evenly over the chicken breasts.
- Slow Cook: Cover the crock pot. Cook the chicken on LOW for 6-7 hours or HIGH for 3-4, or until the chicken is tender and cooked through. (Note: Chicken is done when the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit.)
- Shred: Uncover the slow cooker. Use tongs to remove the chicken to a clean work surface. Set aside until cool enough to handle. Then, use two forks to pull apart the chicken breasts into long shreds.
- Make slurry (sauce thickener): In a separate small bowl, whisk the cornstarch with the water. Pour the cornstarch mixture into the slow cooker. Whisk to thoroughly combine.
- Cook sauce: Cover the slow cooker and cook on HIGH for 20-30 minutes or until the teriyaki sauce is thickened to your liking. Taste and adjust the sauce with salt and pepper as necessary.
- To serve: Return the shredded chicken to the crock pot. Stir to thoroughly coat the chicken in teriyaki sauce. Use a large spoon or ladle to portion the teriyaki chicken onto dinner plates. Or serve bowl-style with quinoa or rice, pineapple, avocado, bell peppers and sesame seeds. Enjoy!
- Chicken: I typically use skinless boneless chicken breast in this recipe; however, boneless, skinless chicken thighs work too. You will need to increase the cooking time and cook the chicken until an instant read thermometer registers 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Slow Cooking: For the best flavor and most tender chicken teriyaki, I recommend cooking your chicken breasts on LOW. The slow cooking time is an approximation and will depend upon the type and strength of your crock pot. I recommend using an instant read thermometer to check for doneness if you are unsure.
- Slurry (sauce thickener): This teriyaki uses a slurry (a mixture of cornstarch with water) as a thickener. You can skip this step if you prefer a thinner teriyaki sauce.
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