These tender slow cooker chicken thighs are super easy to make with a short prep time and everyday ingredients. The honey garlic sauce is absolutely irresistible!
Obsessed with honey garlic flavors? Try these easy skillet Honey Garlic Chicken Breasts or this Instant Pot Honey Garlic Chicken recipe.
Why you'll love it
Is there anything better than homemade honey garlic sauce? It's got bold flavors, and it perfectly coats the melt-in-your mouth tender chicken thighs. This versatile recipe is wonderful over rice, noodles, or even in a sandwich. Asian inspired flavors just bring so much more to the table when it comes to shredded chicken!
This is a family friendly meal that you'll make again and again. There's tons of the mouthwatering sauce that even the pickiest eaters will enjoy. Smother it over veggies, and you're golden. Busy parents will appreciate that it's an incredibly simple to make dump-and-go chicken dinner.
You need only a few pantry staples
- Chicken - boneless chicken thighs are a great choice for slow cooking because they become more tender and don't dry out as easily as chicken breasts do
- Soy sauce - we're using the low sodium variety here
- Honey - this gives a sweet contrast and balance to the savory ingredients
- Ketchup - adds a bit more sweetness and depth. Don't worry, it definitely doesn't give an overwhelming tomato taste at all!
- Garlic - feel free to adjust the garlic quantity to your tastes
- Apple cider vinegar - my not-so-secret ingredient to amp up the flavor
- Ginger - don't skip the fresh ginger! It's essential to this recipe
- Red pepper flakes - optional, but I like giving it a little kick
- Cornstarch - added at the end to thicken the sauce
How to make slow cooker chicken thighs
This is an overview with step-by-step photos. Full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.
Place the chicken thighs in your slow cooker, arranging them so that they're in a fairly even layer. In a bowl, whisk all the sauce ingredients together.
Pour the sauce over the chicken. Cook on high for 3.5 hours, then add in the cornstarch slurry to thicken the sauce up and continue cooking it for another 15 minutes. Shred with two forks and enjoy!
Substitutions and variations
- You can swap the chicken thighs for chicken breasts, but they may not turn out quite as tender since they have less fat and aren't as well-suited for slow cooking. Cooking time may need to be adjusted depending on their size.
- Using bone-in chicken thighs is an option, but I would increase cook time to 4 hours on high. If you use ones that are skin-on, keep in mind the sauce may end up a little too oily.
- If you want to keep the thighs intact and not shred them, that's fine! But the meat will easily fall apart anyway after slow cooking.
Tools you'll need
- I use this Crockpot model.
- Ginger is much easier to grate when it's frozen. I always keep a piece of ginger in my freezer in a ZipLoc and then grate it with my Microplane when needed. That way, you're also never without ginger!
- For the garlic, I simply use a garlic press to crush it. I do this as a shortcut for any recipe that requires minced garlic.
What to serve with honey garlic chicken
- This recipe pairs really well with jasmine rice and chopped scallions. I also garnished the chicken with sesame seeds, but that's totally optional!
- You can also serve it over noodles or with steamed or stir fried vegetables.
- One of my favorite ways to serve shredded chicken is in a bun with some homemade coleslaw.
Leftovers and storage
- Keep any leftovers of this chicken recipe in the fridge for 3-4 days in an airtight container.
- Reheat in a small saucepan over a low heat. Microwaving will work fine as well. I'd make fresh rice or noodles.
- Freezing should be good for up to 3 months with this one. Thaw overnight, or very slowly over a low heat.
Questions about these Crockpot honey garlic chicken thighs? Let me know in the comments below!
Honey Garlic Slow Cooker Chicken Thighs
- 2 pounds chicken thighs boneless skinless
- For serving: chopped scallions, sesame seeds, rice optional, to taste
- 1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1/3 cup ketchup
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger grated
- 1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes optional
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- Add the chicken thighs to your Crockpot (in an even layer).
- Add the sauce ingredients (except for the cornstarch) to a bowl and whisk together until combined.
- Pour the sauce over the chicken and cook on high for 3.5 hours. Low for 6-8 hours will work too.
- Mix the cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of cold water in a small bowl, and then pour it into the slow cooker. Give it a stir. Let it cook (on high) for another 15 minutes or so to ensure the cornstarch has activated and the sauce thickens.
- You can leave the chicken pieces whole or shred them with 2 forks (I do this right in the slow cooker). Serve over rice and with scallions and sesame seeds sprinkled over top if desired.
- This recipe serves 4-6 depending on portion size.
- Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only and should be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Salt & Lavender makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information.
john mc gee says
shame your ratings only go to 5.....i'd give it a 20!!!
Aww thank you!!!
Can you use bone in thighs
See the "substitutions & variations" section of the blog post.
How big of a serving size does the calories account for?
A serving size is 1/6 of the recipe as written. It's calculated automatically from a database of ingredients. You'd have to weigh your own ingredients and/or consult a nutritionist for information beyond that. Enjoy!
can i place some carrots and potatoes in the pot as well?
You could. I am not 100% sure on timing (they could end up a bit under or overcooked) but I think it's worth a shot. Let me know! 🙂
Can I use drumsticks instead, what adjustments would be needed?
Hi! I haven't tested with drumsticks. I would try everything the same. Let me know how it goes!
Glad you liked it! 🙂
Alexis Hagenson says
Would this work without the corn starch thickening step?
Sure, but the sauce won't be as thick.
Thank you for this recipe! I made it as stated and it was good, but I wanted to make it a little more Asian in flavor on this second try. To do so, I doubled the ginger, used rice wine vinegar instead of apple cider, used only a 3 T of catchup and substituted hoisin and salbal oleek for the remainder of that 1/3 cup, and did the same with the soy sauce, substituting ponzo (citrus soy sauce) for the remainder of the 1/3 cup. Yummy!!
Miranda @ Salt & Lavender says
Sounds good to me! Glad you enjoyed it, Annie 🙂
Hi there, I’m going to try this recipe this week (I gave it a 5 star rating even though I haven’t tried it yet because I’ve tried so many of your recipes and not one of them has let me down yet! ❤️). Just wondering, do you have any idea if it’d be ok if I use ground ginger instead of fresh?
Hi Mary! That's so nice of you to say! 🙂 I'm so glad you're enjoying my recipes. So, with ground ginger you'd need to use it very sparingly... it is very strong and can ruin a dish if you add too much (been done, done that). I'd try to use fresh if you possibly can, but a tiny amount (I'm just guessing here since I don't use it very often, but maybe max 1/4 teaspoon?) should be ok in a pinch.
This looks good! I have a small slow cooker, is it okay if a couple of pieces are on top others in the cooker?
Yes... that should be fine. You may want to stir it halfway through/every so often. Hope you enjoy it!
Jen Elliott says
Can this recipe be done in the Instantpot in the same manner?
Hi! What do you mean by the same manner? You mean using the slow cooker function on your IP? You could for sure try that. But pressure cooking is basically the opposite of slow cooking, and I have not tried pressure cooking this particular recipe. I have a similar one that has been tested in the IP here: https://bit.ly/3cEXYRE You could probably tweak this recipe to adapt it for the IP based on that one, but chicken thighs may need a bit longer in the IP to become tender.
Kennie P. Coco says
I used tomato paste with brown sugar. Thinned it a bit. Ketchup had too much salt and was to sweet. But it came out great.
Made this last week and it was amazing 🤩 . I have 6 5 people over ( plus me) and was going to serve it up. However if I double the chicken thighs how would you suggest I work out the cook time ? Thanks
I'm so glad you liked it! I'd say that keeping the cook time the same and perhaps just keeping an eye on it and adding extra if needed would be the way to go here. If it seems like the chicken is cooked but not quite ready to shred/fall-apart tender, for example, give it a bit longer.
The recipe sounds yummy. I don't own a crockpot or slow cooker. Can I make this dish in my Le Creuset pot? I assume the cook time would be greatly reduced.
Hi Di! So, unfortunately, I really don't want to suggest a cook time on the stove for this as it would be purely guessing. You could possibly do it in the oven on 300F (Google tells me that this is equivalent to a slow cooker's "high" setting), but I would be sure to check it to ensure it's not cementing on the bottom of your lovely pot! I do have a similar(ish) stovetop recipe that you could try... you could use chicken thighs if you wanted (I'd sear them for a bit longer): https://bit.ly/2Ztd9dT
Thank you for the quick reply. I saw your other recipe and thought that it was quite similar. I will have to try it this weekend.
P.S. A friend introduced me to your site and I absolutely love how simple and quick (and delicious) most of the recipes are.
Let me know how it goes!! Tell your friend I say "thank you". 🙂
Made this last night and it was great!! Next time I want more Asian flavor. How much more soy sauce do you recommend? Should I add anything else to the sauce?
Hi Jennifer! I'm glad you enjoyed it. I can't really say without testing, but perhaps a splash of fish sauce, a little more ginger, and little more low-sodium soy sauce could do the trick.
Is there anything I can use instead of ketchup?
Hmmm... I haven't tested any alternatives. I think tomato paste might be a bit thick and not sweet enough, but that's the first thing that came to mind, so you could possibly try that if you're in a pinch.
Hi! I'd love to try this, but don't have a slow cooker. What time modifications would you suggest for an Instant Pot? Thanks so much!
Hi Alex! So, that's a bit of a tricky question. I know some IPs have a slow cooker setting, but I haven't tried it myself, and I've heard it isn't the same temperature(s) as Crockpots. You might want to do a little research if you want to try that. I am somewhat hesitant to suggest timing for pressure cooking the recipe since I designed it for slow cooking, and it's a sticky sauce and could possibly result in a burn warning. If you want to experiment, I'd say 8-10 minutes on high pressure, but I want to be clear that I have not tested this, and there's a possibility that there won't be enough liquid for it to work. Let me know if you try, though!
What is the aversion to ketchup? I've made something similar using Heinz Chili Sauce but that is ketchup-based and has HFCS
Really easy and delicious- thank you. I did find it very rich though, and was wondering about suggestions to tone it down slightly?
Hi Karen! I'm glad you enjoyed it. Hmm... I can't really speculate on how to alter the sauce itself without testing, so I'd probably just serve it with something that balances the flavors out. Maybe a zesty Asian-inspired slaw or something like that? Or perhaps add some acid when you serve it like a bit of lemon or lime juice for more freshness?
This was easy and delicious! Followed your suggestion and served over rice with scallions on top. I used 1.3 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs with the recipe's described amount of sauce. Cooked on low for 6 hours. Made the house smell yummy and tasted great! I love that I already had all of the ingredients on hand. Will definitely make again.
I'm so happy you enjoyed it, Annie!! Really appreciate your review. 🙂
Hi Natasha, I have some chicken thighs in the freezer, they’re bite size pieces - can you suggest an adjusted cooking time for me please? Can’t wait to try this
Hi! Hmmm... maybe 1.5-2 hours? You still want the chicken to be fall-apart tender, so that could give it the same texture, hopefully without overcooking it. Just make sure it's fully cooked, of course, whatever timing you happen to choose. Let me know how it goes. I hope you enjoy this recipe! 🙂
Can I use drumsticks instead of thighs and would the ratio remain the same?
Hi! I haven't tested with drumsticks, but I'd keep everything the same and see how it goes, then adjust next time if necessary. Hope you enjoy the recipe, Fletcher!
Dawn Kidd says
Beautiful recipe! Tasted gorgeous. Went down a treat!
Miranda @ Salt & Lavender says
That's fantastic, Dawn! Thanks so much for leaving a review!
bob stavnezer says
why pot 6 cloves of garlic instead actual measurement?
It's pretty common to use garlic cloves as a measurement in recipes. It's a lot less prep work to mince/use a garlic press to crush 6 cloves than to measure out a specific amount after crushing them. With garlic, it's also a pretty flexible ingredient that won't wreck a recipe if you add a little more/less than the recipe author did.