Slow Cooker Teriyaki Chicken

By Polly Conner
October 9, 2020

This Slow Cooker Teriyaki Chicken recipe is easy, tasty, freezer-friendly, and made in the crock pot. Shred up those tender chicken thighs and serve it over rice for a delicious, filling dinner. For a dump and go crock pot freezer meal, it doesn’t get much better!

Slow cooker teriyaki chicken on a plate with green onion

Oh man, was this Slow Cooker Chicken Teriyaki good. Yes, I do repeat. This is a GREAT SLOW COOKER RECIPE. I have tried one too many slow cooker recipes that have failed to impress me, but this one is a keeper.

What Ingredients Do I Need to Make Slow Cooker Teriyaki Chicken?

The ingredients are simple. I bet you have most of them at home already! Here is what you’ll need…

Ingredients in slow cooker teriyaki chicken
  • Olive or avocado oil to saute the onions
  • 1/2 onion, diced – We found that this needs to be sauteed in order to be done when the chicken is done. If not, you’ll have crunchy onions!
  • Garlic cloves, minced – Shortcut: 1-2 teaspoons pre-minced garlic
  • Soy sauce Gluten-Free Option: Use coconut aminos or gluten-free Tamari Soy Sauce
  • Honey
  • Brown sugar 
  • Rice wine vinegar 
  • Bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (This is where we get our favorite organic chicken*.) – You can also use boneless, skinless thighs!
  • Cornstarch – To thicken the sauce at the end.

*affiliate link

That’s it! In fact, watch this short video to see how easily Teriyaki Chicken comes together:

How Long Do I Cook Chicken Thighs in the Slow Cooker?

There is a lot of misinformation out there about how long to cook chicken in the slow cooker. After testing hundreds and hundreds of slow cooker recipes for our cookbooks, we have nailed down the perfect cooking times for all the most common cuts of meat. In fact, we created a free, printable slow cooker cooking times chart. You can download it and print it off to have on hand for the future.

When it comes to chicken thighs, we have found it’s always best to cook them on Low and only for 3-4 hours at the very most. While chicken thighs can cook a bit longer than chicken breast, they will definitely start to dry out after that amount of time cooking.

Teriyaki chicken thighs in a slow cooker

Can you freeze Slow Cooker Chicken Teriyaki?

Yes! This recipe makes for an awesome make ahead Crock Pot freezer meal. Here’s how:

To Freeze For Later: Place the raw chicken thighs and all of the marinade ingredients (except for the cornstarch) into a gallon-sized freezer bag. Seal and freeze.

To Prepare From Frozen: Thaw using one of these safe methods and then cook as directed.

Teriyaki Chicken thighs in a freezer bag with marinade

Can I add vegetables to this meal in the slow cooker?

While you can for sure add vegetables to the recipe in the slow cooker, I’d recommend giving them a quick saute on the stove instead and then stirring them in at the very end. That way they stay fresh and crisp. When cooked in the slow cooker, vegetables can get a little soggy.

I also love to serve it over a bed of brown rice.

Teriyaki chicken on a serving platter with vegetables

Can I use other cuts of chicken instead of thighs?

You bet! Just use our cooking times chart to navigate how long to cook the chicken for in the slow cooker.

Print

Slow Cooker Teriyaki Chicken {Freezer Meal}

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 hours
  • Total Time: 5 hours 10 minutes
  • Yield: 6 1x
  • Category: Freezer Meal
  • Method: Slow cooker
  • Cuisine: Japanese

Description

This fast, healthy chicken teriyaki dinner will thoroughly impress your family and friends. The best part – it’s made in the slow cooker, so you have very little work to do!


Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive or avocado oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced (Shortcut: 12 teaspoons pre-minced garlic)
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce (Gluten-Free Option: Use coconut aminos or gluten-free Tamari Soy Sauce)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar 
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar 
  • 2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (This is where we get our favorite organic chicken*.)
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch

*affiliate link


Instructions

Make It Now:

  1. Heat the oil in a small saute pan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Saute the onions for 3-4 minutes, until softened. Add in the garlic and saute for another 30-60 seconds. (Shortcut: Place the onions and oil in a small microwaveable bowl and microwave for 3-4 minutes, until softened. Add in the garlic and microwave for another 30-60 seconds.) Add to the slow cooker.
  2. Add the soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar and honey to the slow cooker and whisk until combined. Nestle the chicken into the bottom and make sure it’s coated in the sauce.
  3. Cover and cook on LOW for 3-4 hours, until internal temperature registers to 165°F.
  4. When chicken is done, remove it from the marinade to a serving platter*. Then, carefully pour the marinade into a medium sauce pan.
  5. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together 3 tablespoons cold water and the cornstarch until the cornstarch is dissolved and no longer lumpy.
  6. Pour the cornstarch mixture into the teriyaki sauce mixture, and whisk to combine. Bring the sauce to a boil over medium-high heat, and let it cook for about 1-2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat.
  7. Pour the sauce over the top of of the chicken until it is well coated. (This won’t take all of the marinade; you will have some remaining). Optional: Using two forks, shred the chicken and serve over rice.

Freeze For Later: Place the raw chicken thighs and all of the marinade ingredients (except for the cornstarch) into a gallon-sized freezer bag. Seal and freeze.

Prepare From Frozen: Thaw using one of these safe methods and then cook as directed in Step 3.

COOKING NOTES:

*If you want the skin on the chicken to be crispy, transfer it to a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Broil the chicken under the broiler for about 3-5 minutes, until crispy. Keep a close eye on it.

Instant Pot Instructions:

  1. Place the sauce ingredients and chicken thighs (not the cornstarch) inside the Instant Pot, being mindful not to stack if possible. 
  2. Lock and seal the lid.
  3. Using the manual function, cook at high pressure for 6 minutes if using boneless chicken thighs (15-20 for frozen) OR 12 minutes for bone-in chicken thighs (17-22 for frozen) and then quick release the pressure. (Check to make sure the chicken is done, which means no more pink inside and/or registers 165°F internally.)
  4. Optional: Preheat the broiler. Place the cooked thighs, skin side up, on a rimmed baking sheet. Broil for a few minutes until the skin is crispy.

Want More Slow Cooker Freezer Meals?

We have an amazon collection of make ahead crock pot meals. Here is a great round up of 25+ Slow Cooker Recipes to get you started!

slow cooker and crock pot Recipes for groups of people

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17 replies
  1. Halima says:

    Hi Ladies

    I have just found your blog and have been going through it like a mad Mommy on a Mission. I literally just schlurpped out loud on this recipe. LOL… It looks amazing.
    You mention it can be frozen before cooking, but can I freeze after cooking as well, and if so would I do with or without the sauce? Thank you so much
    Halima in South Africa

    Reply
    • Polly Conner says:

      Hi Halima! So glad you found us. 🙂 You can totally freeze it after cooking too. It will be a bit more like leftovers in that case. Meaning you will just make the recipe as directed (with the sauce) and freeze it after it’s cooled. The reheating might dry the chicken out a bit but chicken thighs are pretty forgiving so you should be ok.

      Reply
    • Rachel Tiemeyer says:

      That would be best. Otherwise they won’t cook all the way through in the slow cooker. One shortcut is to cook them in the microwave in a covered bowl with a little bit of oil for 4-5 minutes.

      Reply
  2. E. Thompson says:

    This was great! I’m all about a good slow cooker recipe. I like some spice, so I added red pepper flakes and cut some of the brown sugar.

    Reply
  3. Jerusha says:

    I made this for dinner tonight and it was really yummy, the kids loved it too. I used chicken breast because that’s what I had on hand, I cooked it on low for 3 hours. I added a half teaspoon of ground ginger too. I liked the way you boil the marinade at the end because then you can add as much or as little of the teriyaki glaze as you want. Perfect for different tastes. Thanks so much for the recipe.

    Reply
    • Rachel says:

      Good question. You’ll use bone-in, skin-on thighs. You can cook them longer in the slow cooker with the bone-in. I just updated the recipe to make this clearer.

      Reply
  4. Teri says:

    This looks delicious! I love that you make your own teriyaki sauce rather than using the bottled like a lot of recipes I have seen. The rice you served this with looks delicious too. Is it a recipe you can share? Thanks!

    Reply