Slow Cooker Red-Cooked Chicken


With a deep reddish hue, meat-off-the bone-tender chicken, and deliciously spiced sauce, this Asian dish is an easy favorite.



I love cooking Chinese food. It really is, next to Filipino cuisine, my favorite. Whenever I crave something with Asian flavors that means family dinner will have rice and a Chinese viand. Also, it’s much easier to find ingredients for Chinese recipes nowadays as chances are you are within walking or driving distance from a Chinese store.

However, that is not often the case with my Filipino ingredients although of late many Asian stores now carry some of the basic Filipino must-haves for cooking. For this reason, Asian night means mostly Chinese night.

Red-cooked simply means a slow-braising Chinese technique that imparts a deep reddish-brown hue to the food. Soy sauce, sugar and other spices (usually included in the Chinese Five Spice family) like cinnamon, star anise, cloves are added to lend the meat that deep rich hue and also to give it that unique and delicious taste.

Traditionally, rice wine or dry sherry are also used. For this version, I used balsamic vinegar instead of dry sherry or rice wine as I didn’t have any of the latter when I cooked this. I will provide both options in the recipe below. Of course, the dish is made even easier as it’s done in the slow cooker.

You can certainly braise this on the stove top, just lessen the length of cooking. Also, if you wish to not brown the chicken – ensure that the chicken is skinless otherwise all the fat in the skin will get into your stew. It will be yummy with all that fat but it will be kind of greasy.

Anyway, it is a flavorful dish that you can tweak to your taste buds’ liking. This dish tastes even better the next day so if you can wait then do so. Enjoy with Jasmine rice, of course!



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Slow Cooker Red-Cooked Chicken

By: Manila Spoon

April 10, 2014

With a deep reddish hue, meat-off-the bone-tender chicken and deliciously spiced sauce, this Asian dish is an easy favorite.


  • 1 Tablespoon Sesame Oil
  • 1/3 cup Soy Sauce (replace with Coconut Aminos for Paleo)
  • 1/4 cup Honey
  • 2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar or 1/4 cup Rice wine or dry Sherry*
  • 1/4 cup Water
  • 1/4 cup Oil for frying (Coconut oil for Paleo)
  • 3 lb Chicken pieces (or 1 whole chicken cut-up)
  • 6 Garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 large Onion, sliced into quarters then sliced into halves
  • 1 2-inch piece fresh Ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3 Star Anise
  • 4 whole Cloves
  • 1 3-inch piece Cinnamon stick

*I only used 2 tablespoons vinegar as it’s quite strong but if you’re using rice wine or sherry use the full 1/4 cup. For the paleo diet, use balsamic vinegar.


  1. In a bowl, mix together the sesame oil, soy sauce, honey, balsamic vinegar or dry sherry, and water. Set aside.
  2. Heat the oil to medium-high in a frying pan. Fry the chicken in batches until nicely browned. Set aside.
  3. Leave but 1-2 tablespoons oil in the skillet or frying pan. Adjust the heat to medium. Saute the garlic, onion, ginger, star anise, cloves and cinnamon stick until aromatic.
  4. Place the chicken pieces on the bottom of the slow cooker. Add the spices on top and then pour on the soy sauce mixture.
  5. Cook on high for 3 hours or until chicken is tender.
  6. Serve hot with some jasmine rice on the side and a little drizzle of the yummy sauce on top!

Yield: Serves 4-6
Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cooking Time: 3 Hours
Total Time: 3 Hours and 30 Minutes

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  1. April 11, 2015 / 3:08 am

    This looks absolutely delicious and this is now on my list to do! Thank you!

  2. April 11, 2015 / 3:02 pm

    Now this is chicken that looks like it has a lot of flavor. I have to try this amazing recipe.

  3. April 11, 2015 / 3:32 pm

    This looks fantastic, and we'll be making this soon! The cloves and anise seem like they would add a vibrant extra dimension to the flavor. And even better that it can be done in the slow cooker 🙂

    • April 11, 2015 / 10:53 pm

      The anise and cloves truly add a lot of flavor. Thanks Cyrus.

  4. April 11, 2015 / 4:54 pm

    This looks amazing! I don't have a slow cooker, but I love all of these ingredients and still want to try!

    • April 11, 2015 / 10:54 pm

      This is a good excuse to get a new slow cooker, Kelly. Seriously, I do love my slow cooker and I get so much use out of it and it's very convenient.

    • April 11, 2015 / 10:55 pm

      Thanks, KC. I hope you like it and thanks for the pin. 🙂

  5. April 11, 2015 / 9:36 pm

    This sounds delicious and I love all the flavours.. we use a lot of anise and ginger with our meats so I know that this would be loved in our house.. and the best part it is made in my slow cooker.

    • April 11, 2015 / 10:56 pm

      I love cooking with spices much like you do Marlys, they add so much flavor. Thanks for stopping by.

  6. April 11, 2015 / 11:53 pm

    Wow that looks good! I bet my husband would love it with all those spices! Thanks for the recipe.

  7. April 12, 2015 / 12:57 am

    This sounds delicious, I love Chinese 5 spice, pinning!

  8. April 12, 2015 / 8:46 am

    We love Asian food in our house too, and I love the use of the slow cooker here! Brilliant recipe 🙂

    • April 14, 2015 / 12:25 am

      Thanks Nicole! I don't know what I'll do without my slow cooker. 🙂

  9. April 12, 2015 / 8:59 am

    I love Chinese too and recently I have bought a slow cooker! This is perfect for my pot to use!

  10. April 12, 2015 / 4:02 pm

    How wonderful does that chicken look!! My mouth is watering!!

  11. April 12, 2015 / 4:53 pm

    Abigail, ohhhh this looks so amazingly good. I could eat Asian-style every night of the week (and often do). I just got a slow cooker so will probably try it that way. Running to the market now to get the chicken. 🙂

    • April 14, 2015 / 12:26 am

      Awww, thanks Susan. I sure hope you like it. Made it again last week but this time with pork belly. 🙂

    • April 14, 2015 / 12:29 am

      I am there with you Dannii. I've had my slow cooker for nearly 10 years now and it's still as great as the first day I used it.

    • April 14, 2015 / 12:29 am

      I am now totally in love with this braising technique. Thanks.

  12. April 13, 2015 / 3:51 pm

    Oh my gosh Abby, this chicken looks melt-in-your-mouth delicious. I adore those flavor combinations too. Can't wait to try red-cooked chicken.

    • April 14, 2015 / 12:31 am

      Hope you like it, Libby! The 5 spice family surely makes everything tasty.

  13. April 13, 2015 / 6:19 pm

    This is amazingly good. I would eat this with my fingers and have no shame in licking them after.

    • April 14, 2015 / 12:30 am

      Same here Michelle and am glad you like the recipe. Thanks.

  14. April 17, 2015 / 11:57 am

    I've never had red cooked chicken, but fter seeing this post I decided to make a Plaeo version last night. It was sooo good! I made 8 servings intending to have left overs, but my family of 4 ate it ALL! Thank you for the inspiration 🙂

    • April 18, 2015 / 9:11 pm

      I am so delighted to know that Caroline! Yay! Appreciate the kind feedback as well. 🙂

  15. April 18, 2015 / 5:53 am

    Always enjoy seeing your posts and thanks for sharing with the Say G'day Party! Pinned and hope to see you on Saturday!

    • April 18, 2015 / 9:10 pm

      Thanks Joanne! No worries at all. 🙂

  16. April 21, 2015 / 11:17 pm

    This looks so good! I dont have all the spices though. I have "Chinese 5 spice blend" with star anise, cloves, cinnamon, fennel & black pepper. Could I use that instead? How much? Any other oils I can use besides sesame oil? Thank you!

    • April 22, 2015 / 1:08 am

      Hi Shellie! You can try to use the powdered 5 spice and regular oil but am afraid it won't taste the same. The flavor this chicken gets comes from the individual spices and also from sesame oil. You can use the same amount as noted in the recipe. Nonetheless, if you got to use what you have it's worth a try. It will still be tasty just a little different. Please enjoy and thanks for asking. 🙂

    • April 28, 2015 / 2:15 pm

      Help! What does 2inches of fresh ginger mean? I've looked it up and everything gives measurements in teaspoons or tablespoons!

    • April 28, 2015 / 2:53 pm

      Hi Shellie! It just means that the fresh ginger should be about 2 inches in length before peeling. So just chop off about 2 inches in your ginger root, peel and then chop or slice. That's how I usually measure my fresh ginger or perhaps that's how we do it in some parts of Asia – we tell them how long or big the ginger is. I really hope you enjoy the recipe and do let us know. 🙂

  17. Chantal Dresen
    April 24, 2015 / 8:06 pm

    I made this last week and it was a great succes. It was delicious, everyone loved it.

    • April 28, 2015 / 2:50 pm

      I am so delighted to know that Chantal! Thanks for stopping by and letting us know. 🙂

  18. September 1, 2015 / 8:17 am

    I cooked this meal the other night and all the flavours were amazing. unfortunately I must have missed something or make a mistake because after the required cooking time the slow cooker was full of liquid and the chicken, although tender and moist was nowhere as brown and caramelised as the photo of this recipe. I did make double the recipe which may have been the issue and the chicken pieces were very moist to start with. I have been told by all that I need to add this recipe to my monthly menu but I want to get it right. Any help would be so much appreciated.

    • September 1, 2015 / 3:54 pm

      Hi Stephen, I believe it must have been the doubling of the recipe as chicken when slow cooked usually releases a lot of liquid (or fat) hence there was more sauce than usual. One batch of the recipe yields a dryer (less sauce) version. However, it's not difficult to remedy it – you can either remove all the skin from the chicken pieces before cooking them as most of the fat comes from the skin hence more liquid. Usually, frying the chicken ahead should lessen that as the fat is released when fried. Or, you can simply just reduce the sauce on the stove top and add a little cornstarch or arrowroot so to thicken the sauce. Alternatively, if you don't fry it before hand, a quick fry after cooking should also give it that brownish color – this we often do with our chicken adobo. Hope any of this helps. Thanks.

    • September 6, 2015 / 7:52 am

      Thanks heaps. I'll try frying the chicken longer next time and only make one batch. It was yum all the same but I'm a bit of a perfectionist so what it to look the same as the photo.

  19. January 20, 2016 / 7:36 pm

    I've never actually used start anise except for garnish in a drink! Can't wait to try this!

  20. January 21, 2016 / 12:22 am

    I love slow cooker anything. . this chicken looks amazing!!!

  21. January 21, 2016 / 4:20 am

    LOVING this recipe and so much flavor from cinnamon to the star anise! Dusting off the slow cooker – thanks for the inspiration!

  22. January 21, 2016 / 1:10 pm

    This looks fantastic and that sauce sounds amazing. I love that it's a slow cooker recipe too.

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