This cashew chicken is paleo and whole30 but not lacking in flavor. You can make this classic Chinese-American dish in your slow cooker or Instant Pot.
Cashew chicken is my go-to when ordering Chinese take-out. I seriously can’t believe it has taken me so long to get a healthy, slow cooker (and now Instant Pot) version up here on the blog. For those of you who saw me make this on social media, thank you for your patience as I make a few tweaks to this recipe. It’s finally at the point where I feel comfortable sharing it.
This is paleo and whole30! Unfortunately it’s not low-carb because of the cashews. And since the recipe is called cashew chicken, it doesn’t make sense to omit them. If cashews aren’t your thing, this probably isn’t the recipe for you.
When to add the cashews? It will depend on if you like your cashews soft or crunch. As with most foods, I like mine soft so I add the cashews at the beginning of cook time with the rest of the ingredients. If you want yours to be on the crunchy side then you will wait until the end to stir them in.
I prefer to use chicken thighs with most recipe when slow cooking because white meat (chicken breasts) tends to overcook and dry-out. If you choose to use boneless, skinless chicken breasts, lower the cook time by an hour or so. I used half of a green bell pepper and half of a red bell pepper. You can use 1 whole green or red. I just did it so it would look colorful for the picture.
I served this over cauliflower rice to keep it whole30 and paleo. If you’re not following one of those lifestyles, you can use white or brown rice. I also stirred in a couple ounces of water chestnuts I found in my pantry.Print
Slow Cooker/Instant Pot Cashew Chicken (Paleo,Whole30)
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Total Time: 3 hours 10 minutes
- Yield: Serves 4 1x
- 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, fat trimmed & cut into pieces
- 1 cup whole roasted, unsalted cashews
1 bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 scallion, thinly sliced for garnish
Optional slurry thickening agent – 2 tablespoons arrowroot starch + 1/4 cup water
- 2 tsp oil (for IP)
- 1/2 cup low-sodium coconut aminos
3 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tablespoon oyster sauce or fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tbsp fresh ginger, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
- Add all ingredients to the slow cooker EXCEPT the slurry thickening agent. Stir to mix well.
- Cook HIGH 2-3 hours, LOW 4-6.
For soft cashews, add them at the beginning of cook time with the rest of the ingredients. For crunchy cashews, stir them into the slow cooker once cook time has completed and the slurry has thickened the sauce.
- Set Instant Pot to the high saute setting. Heat oil. When hot, add chicken and cook until browned, a few minutes.
- In a small bowl, mix together sauce ingredients. Pour into the IP and stir to mix well. Close and seal vent.
- Select manual setting and set time for 5 minutes. Quick-release pressure when cook time is completed.
- In a small bowl, mix together arrowroot slurry. Pour slurry into the Instant Pot and stir to mix well. Turn Instant Pot to WARM setting until gravy has thickened to your liking.
For soft cashews, add them to the Instant Pot when you pour in the sauce. For crunchy cashews, stir them into the Instant Pot once cook time has completed and the slurry has thickened the sauce.
I used a 3.5-quart slow cooker for this recipe.
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