This slow cooker Chinese Chicken and Broccoli Rice is a deliciously easy and healthy, low-carb version of your favorite sesame chicken takeout! With a perfect balance of sweet and savory flavors, plus a blissfully short 15-minute prep, this saucy sesame chicken broccoli rice recipe is guaranteed to become a family favorite!
Update: This post was originally published in January 2018. I made updates to the post below to include more information about this chicken broccoli recipe.
About this chicken and broccoli rice recipe
Tender, succulent, slow-cooked chicken is tossed in a salty-sweet-umami Asian-inspired sauce packed with notes of toasty sesame, sweet honey and warming ginger.
It’s then piled high on a bed of tender-crisp, nutty broccoli rice, garnished with crisp red bell peppers, creamy avocado, and fresh scallions for a takeout fake-out dinner that’s sure to hit all your flavor centers.
This Chinese chicken and broccoli rice recipe is LOADED with healthy vibes – think fiber, calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, and protein – while still maintaining lick-the-bowl-clean levels of yum. Basically, it’s goodness for the SOUL.
Whether you are looking to eat more veggies or are just looking to infuse your mid-week menu with some seriously tasty Asian-inspired yumminess, this delectable Chinese chicken and broccoli recipe is for you.
Why you’ll love this dinner recipe
Sticky-sweet, savory and loaded with good-for-you ingredients, this crave-worthy crockpot Chinese chicken broccoli dinner needs to grace your table ASAP. Aside from being just as yummy as your favorite Chinese takeout, this recipe for broccoli and chicken is also:
- Quick & Easy – All you need is 15 minutes of active prep time in the kitchen, then your slow cooker does all the rest.
- Made With Just 11 Ingredients – More than half of which are pantry staples.
- Wholesome & Nutritious – This Chinese chicken with broccoli is essentially just lean protein and veggies!
- Perfect For Meal Prep – Feel free to prep the broccoli rice, chicken, and sauce ahead of time. Keep the broccoli rice in one container and the chicken and sauce in another, then refrigerate or freeze until you’re ready to rock.
What is Broccoli Rice?
In case you are new to broccoli rice, it is basically the same exact thing as cauliflower rice, just made with broccoli florets instead of cauliflower. The idea is that you break down the veg into teeny-tiny bits that are about the size of rice grains, then steam or sauté it to perfection before topping it with your favorite ingredients.
Sesame chicken and broccoli is an excellent option for people who are allergic to grains, or those who are experimenting with a keto, paleo, or Whole30 diet. That’s not to say it’s just diet food, either — my family absolutely does NOT do dieting, but they will wolf down this broccoli rice with the enthusiasm of a kid eating Halloween candy. If you like broccoli, you’re gonna dig this Chinese recipe for chicken broccoli.
While you can often find it in the frozen aisle of your grocery store, it’s super easy (and often much cheaper) to prepare at home. If you have a food processor, cut a head of broccoli into florets and pulse them in the food processor until it resembles “rice.”
If you don’t have a food processor, no worries! You can use a box grater and grate the florets. Just make sure you use the large holes on your box grater. Just don’t forget to protect your fingers.
Ingredients for chicken and broccoli rice
As promised, you only need a handful of ingredients plus some pantry staples to get this delectable recipe for chinese chicken and broccoli on the table.
- Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts – Perfectly lean, easy to prep, and great for either cubing or shredding, chicken breasts are my preferred way to go.
- Substitution: You can substitute boneless, skinless chicken thighs if you prefer dark meat. Just note that shredding dark meat isn’t ideal, so either cube it before or after cooking.
- Broccoli – Freshly cut broccoli florets or frozen will work beautifully here!
- Substitution: You are welcome to swap in cauliflower instead. You can also feel free to use regular steamed sticky rice or long grain rice if you prefer.
- Kosher Salt and Ground Black Pepper – Basic seasoning.
Chinese sesame sauce
- Garlic – Fresh is best, but you’re welcome to use either about a teaspoon of minced jarred garlic or about ½ teaspoon of garlic powder if needed.
- Ginger Root – I always have a knob of ginger kicking around in my crisper drawer. Feel free to use tubed or jarred ginger paste or frozen cubes of Dorot ginger if that’s more your speed.
- Substitution: If needed, you are welcome to use about ½-⅓ teaspoon of dried ground ginger instead.
- Honey – For the perfect level of sticky sweetness.
- Substitutions: You are welcome to swap in the liquid sweetener of your choice including maple syrup, agave nectar, or brown rice syrup.
- Soy Sauce – Low sodium soy sauce is still pretty dang salty. If you only have full-sodium on hand, dilute it in a ratio of 1:1 soy to water or simply cut back on the added salt at the end.
- Substitutions: Tamari, coconut aminos, or Bragg’s liquid aminos can all be used here, too.
- Sesame Oil – For delectably toasty flavor.
- Substitutions: Feel free to swap in a heaping teaspoon of tahini if you don’t have any sesame oil on hand. Cold-pressed walnut oil or parilla oil are close second alternatives.
- Rice Wine Vinegar – This light and barely sweet vinegar is a must-have in any well-provisioned kitchen.
- Substitutions: In a pinch, you can swap in white wine vinegar, white balsamic vinegar, or apple cider vinegar.
- Light Brown Sugar – For added sweetness and a hint of molasses.
- Substitutions: You can also use dark brown sugar, jaggery, piloncillo, muscovado sugar, or more of the liquid sweetener of your choice.
- Cornstarch – For thickening the sauce to a perfect, velvety consistency.
- Substitutions: You can also use Wondra flour, potato starch, or arrowroot powder/flour/starch instead.
Variations and Dietary Adaptations
While we love this Chinese broccoli and chicken dinner just the way it’s written, you’re welcome to make any adjustments you need to suit your family’s needs and preferences. Here are some variations to consider:
- Soy-Free – Swap in coconut aminos or Bragg’s liquid aminos for soy sauce.
- Gluten-Free – Use Tamari or coconut aminos instead of soy sauce.
- Grain-Free – If you can’t have either corn or rice products, swap in apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar and use an equal amount of either potato starch or arrowroot starch/flour instead.
- Garlic-Free – Try using a few pinches of asafoetida (a.k.a. hing) in place of garlic. Just note that many commercially available brands are processed with wheat, so read your labels if you have gluten sensitivity.
- Refined Sugar-Free – Swap in agave nectar, maple syrup, or a less-processed sugar variety (e.g. grated jaggery or piloncillo) for brown sugar.
- Optional Add-Ons for Serving – Build a bigger, brighter, and heartier bowl of broccoli chicken goodness by adding your choice of the following:
- Sesame Seeds
- Thinly Sliced Green Onion
- Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
- Diced Red Bell Pepper
- Sliced Avocado
How to make chicken broccoli rice recipe
Making this Chinese recipe for sesame chicken with broccoli at home is super easy thanks to the crockpot and slow cooker! Here’s how you’ll do it:
Make the Sesame Sauce: In a medium bowl whisk together the garlic, ginger, honey, soy sauce, oil, vinegar, and brown sugar. Then set aside.
Cook the chicken: Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper before placing them in the slow cooker. Pour the sauce mixture over the top of the chicken and then cover the slow cooker. Cook on LOW for 3-3 ½ hours, stirring halfway through. (Chicken will continue cooking in next step)
Thicken sauce: In a small bowl, whisk the cornstarch with water. Carefully add the slurry (cornstarch mixture) to the slow cooker and stir well to combine. Cover and cook on HIGH for an additional 20-30 minutes, or until the sauce is thickened.
Meanwhile, make the broccoli rice: Place the broccoli in the food processor and pulse until it resembles the texture of rice.
Cook the broccoli rice: You can cook the riced broccoli a few different ways: pan-frying, microwaving or baking.
Serve: Divide the broccoli rice between serving bowls and top with Chinese sesame chicken. Then, ladle the sauce from the slow cooker all over the broccoli and chicken. Sprinkle the top generously with sesame seeds and serve with your favorite toppings. Enjoy!
Tips for the best broccoli chicken
- The easiest way to peel ginger is with a spoon!
- If you want to make prep even easier, you can skip cutting the chicken into 1’’ cubes and instead place whole chicken breasts (or thighs) in the slow cooker. Just increase the cooking time by 30 minutes – 1 hour (step 2), before adding the cornstarch and water mixture (step 3). Use two forks to shred the chicken in the slow cooker (or on a cutting board, then add the chicken back to the slow cooker). Then, add the cornstarch mixture and proceed with the recipe as instructed.
- You can easily double the sauce in the recipe if you like your chicken super saucy.
- 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. If you aren’t sure of your slow cooker’s abilities, be sure to use an instant read thermometer. Chicken is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.
FAQs: chinese chicken and broccoli
What is the best way to cook broccoli rice?
There are a few different ways to cook broccoli rice: in the microwave, in a skillet, or in the oven.
- Pan-Fry – Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add in the broccoli rice and season generously with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5-10 minutes, or until the “rice” is golden brown and slightly crispy.
- Microwave – Transfer the broccoli rice to a microwave-safe large bowl and season generously with salt and pepper. Cover with a damp paper towel and microwave for 1-2 minutes. Stir, taste and microwave for an additional minute or so, if broccoli is not yet tender.
- Oven Roast – Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Toss the broccoli rice with a tablespoon of olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Transfer the broccoli to a baking sheet and spread it out in a single layer. Bake for 15-20 minutes, stirring once halfway through. Broccoli rice is done when it’s slightly golden and tender.
In the recipe video for this sesame chicken and broccoli I microwaved it for ease and convenience, but I actually prefer the skillet or oven method as it lends the most flavor.
How many carbs are in this recipe for chicken and broccoli without rice?
While the nutritional information below is a computer-generated estimation, I’d imagine it’s relatively close. One serving of this meal will run you 42 carbs, though at least some of that is insoluble fiber.
Can broccoli replace rice?
Heck yeah, it can! At least, it can replace white rice as a side dish for this sesame chicken or other dishes like Chinese Pepper Steak, Beef Stir Fry and Chicken Stir Fry. If you are looking to use it as a replacement in a dish that calls for rice as a binder (e.g. in meatballs), it probably won’t work well.
Serving chicken broccoli rice recipe
This yummy Chinese recipe for chicken broccoli is a perfect dinner anytime of year. I tend to reach for it on busy weeks when I don’t have much time to spend in the kitchen.
I think it does well as a standalone meal, but you’re welcome to bulk it up with a side of stir-fried or steamed veggies if you like!
Storing Chinese recipe for chicken broccoli
- Feel free to prepare the broccoli rice ahead of time by processing or grating it. Store in an airtight container or in a zip-top bag with as much air squeezed out as possible. Feel free to refrigerate it for up to 4 days before cooking, or freeze it for up to 2 months.
- Likewise, you can prepare the chicken and sauce by chopping and mixing the ingredients. Store in an airtight container or in a zip-top bag with as much air squeezed out as possible. Feel free to refrigerate it for up to 2 days before cooking, or freeze it for up to 2 months.
- To prepare the frozen prepped chicken and broccoli rice, defrost overnight in the fridge, then proceed with the recipe as instructed.
- The prepared chicken broccoli rice recipe can be stored in an airtight container or zip-top bag in the fridge for up to 5 days, or frozen for up to 2 months.
- To reheat the prepared meal, defrost overnight in the fridge (if needed). Feel free to use your slow cooker, a pan on the stovetop, or your microwave to reheat as need be.
Alright, friends! I hope you love this easy slow cooker sesame chicken and broccoli recipe as much as we do. I also hope you know that you all broc my world on the daily. Thanks for being part of my little corner of the Interwebs! Until next time, rock out with your brock out! I’ll be working around the cluck to come up with more deliciously tasty, easy recipes to share with you.
More easy Asian chicken dinners!
How to make Chinese Chicken and Broccoli Rice Recipe (Plus, step-by-step video!)👇
Chinese Chicken and Broccoli Rice
- 1 Slow Cooker or Crock Pot (for cooking sesame chicken)
- 1 Small Bowl (for making slurry to thicken sauce
- 1 Food Processor (for making broccoli rice)
- 1 ½ pounds Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts – cut into 1’’ cubes (SEE NOTES)
- 2 Cloves Garlic – minced
- 1 ½ tsp Grated Ginger Root gently packed
- ½ Cup Honey
- 1/3 Cup Low Sodium Soy Sauce
- 1 ½ TBS Sesame Oil
- 1 TBS Rice Wine Vinegar
- 1 TBS Light Brown Sugar
- 4 tsp Cornstarch
- Kosher Salt and Ground Black Pepper to taste
- 2 large Heads Broccoli – roughly chopped into large florets (about 28 ounces)
- Optional for Serving: Sesame Seeds, Thinly Sliced Green Onion, Crushed Red Pepper Flakes, Diced Red Bell Pepper, Sliced Avocado, Micro Greens
- Make the Chinese Sesame Sauce: In a medium bowl whisk together the garlic, ginger, honey, soy sauce, oil, vinegar, and brown sugar.
- Cook the chicken: Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper and place them in the slow cooker. Pour the honey mixture over the top of the chicken. Cover the slow cooker and cook on LOW for 3-3 ½ hours or HIGH for 1 ½ - 2 hours*, stirring halfway through. (Chicken will continue cooking in next step)
- Thicken the sauce: In a small bowl whisk the cornstarch with 1 ½ tablespoons of water to combine. Carefully add the cornstarch mixture to the slow cooker and stir well to combine.Cover and cook on HIGH for an additional 20-30 minutes, or until the sauce is thickened.
- Meanwhile, make the broccoli rice: Place the broccoli in the food processor and pulse until it resembles the texture of rice. (SEE NOTES)
- Cook the broccoli rice:You can cook broccoli rice a few different ways, but for this recipe I prefer to pan-fry it. (SEE NOTES)Pan Frying: Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add in the broccoli rice and season generously with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5-10 minutes, or until the “rice” is golden brown and slightly crispy.
- Serve Chicken with Broccoli Rice: Divide the broccoli rice between bowls and top with honey sesame chicken and ladle with sauce from the slow cooker. Sprinkle generously with sesame seeds and serve with desired additional toppings. Enjoy!
- Chicken Breasts: While I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts in the recipe below, you can 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.
- Sauce: You can easily double the sauce in the recipe if you like your chicken super saucy. (Tip: If you hoover your mouse above the number of servings you can slide the scale.)
- 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.
- Cooking Broccoli Rice: You can cook the broccoli rice however your heart desires! (Cooking on the stove-top gives the most flavor; microwaving is the quickest)
- Microwave: Transfer the broccoli rice to a microwave-safe bowl and season generously with salt and pepper. Cover with a damp paper towel and microwave for 1-2 minutes. Stir, taste and microwave for an additional minute or so, if broccoli is not yet tender.
- Oven Roasting: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss the broccoli rice with a tablespoon of olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Transfer the broccoli to a baking sheet and spread it out in a single layer. Bake for 15-20 minutes, stirring once halfway through. Broccoli rice is done it is slightly golden and tender.
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