Sweet & Spicy Chicken Thighs with Asian Vegetables (Instant Pot or Slow Cooker)

Sweet and Spicy Chicken Thighs

A little bit sweet, a little bit spicy, and a lot of savory goodness is what you get with our Sweet & Spicy Chicken Thighs with Asian Vegetables. This recipe is easy to make in either the slow cooker or the Instant Pot. 

I tested many versions of this recipe in order to get it right. In my world, that means: 1) it’s easy (as few steps as possible) because the joy of using the Instant Pot or slow cooker is that it makes cooking easier and I hate to defeat that purpose with extra “pre-cooking” steps, 2) it doesn’t taste like a compromise because I used a slow cooker or Instant Pot, and 3) it’s at least a little bit more healthful than what I’d get at a restaurant.

Now, I enjoy eating at restaurants as much as the next gal, but the reality is that the more often we cook at home, the more healthful our diets are overall. It’s a fact. Also, the more we cook food at home, the less money we spend on food (which reminds ME to remind YOU to stock up on boneless chicken thighs for the freezer when you seem them at a good price). But I digress…..

This dish of Sweet & Spicy Chicken Thighs with Asian Vegetables checked all the required boxes for me, and my husband happily ate the numerous versions for days without complaint. Feel free to tailor the veggies to your taste—there are many combinations of frozen Asian or “stir fry” vegetable mixes you could use, just be sure to purchase plain, unseasoned or unsauced vegetables. Also, up the spiciness if this is too tame (just be sure to start on the minimal side—you can always add more spice). Serve this alone or over rice or the gluten-free grain of your choice.

FYI: The timing on the slow cooker version is about 4 hours. Instant Pot version took me around 30 minutes total (your IP may take more or less time to build steam/release steam, etc).

Sweet & Spicy Chicken Thighs with Asian Vegetables

Yield: 4-6


  • 2 Tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Sriracha
  • 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons Tamari or liquid aminos
  • 2 teaspoons grated or finely minced ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 pounds boneless chicken thighs, visible fat trimmed (cut thighs in half if they are large)
  • 3 Tablespoons tapioca starch (or 2-3 Tablespoons corn starch)
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
  • 3 Tablespoons agave nectar or honey
  • 1 (16-20 oz.) bag frozen Asian vegetable blend, thawed
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds, optional garnish


    Instant Pot Directions:
  1. In a medium bowl, stir together the first 7 ingredients (sesame oil through black pepper). Add the chicken thighs to the bowl and toss to coat them with the mixture.
  2. Add 3/4 cup water to the Instant Pot. Add the seasoned chicken (scrape all of the seasoning mixture from the bowl into the pot as well). Cover the pot, lock the lid and be sure the valve is set to "Sealing." Set the Instant Pot to "Poultry" and adjust time to 10 minutes.
  3. When cooking finishes, let the Instant Pot sit for 5 minutes before moving the valve to "Venting." While waiting for the steam to be released, stir together the tapioca starch or corn starch and orange juice in a small bowl or cup.
  4. When the venting process has finished, open the pot, stir in the juice and starch mixture, along with the orange zest, agave nectar and the thawed vegetables. Switch the setting to "Saute" and bring mixture to a boil. Once it boils, stir well and then unplug the Instant Pot and let the mixture sit another 5-10 minutes so the vegetables heat through and the mixture thickens a bit more. Stir before serving and garnish each portion with toasted sesame seeds, if using.
    Slow Cooker Directions:
  1. Stir together first 7 ingredients (sesame oil through black pepper) in the slow cooker crock. Add the chicken thighs to the crock and stir to coat the chicken with the seasoning mixture. Cover and cook 3 hours on LOW.
  2. Change the cooking temperature on the slow cooker to HIGH. Combine the tapioca starch or corn starch with the orange juice; stir the starch mixture into the chicken. Add the orange zest, agave nectar or honey and the thawed Asian vegetables. Cover and cook 1 hour on HIGH, or until the mixture has thickened a bit and vegetables are tender. Stir well before serving and garnish each portion with toasted sesame seeds, if using.

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