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Crock Pot Chicken Teriyaki

April 1, 2014

I’ve been looking for more easy-to-make recipes for dinner.  It’s so difficult sometimes when you’re working so much to come home and throw together a meal without slaving away in the kitchen for hours.  What I want to come up with is several different dishes that can quickly and easily be made using the freezer and the crock pot.  By that, I mean being able to prep dishes and have them all ready with all of the ingredients thrown into a freezer bag and frozen until the night before they are to be used.  At which point, you’d take the freezer bag out of the freezer and into the refrigerator to allow the ingredients in the bag to thaw.  In the morning, you’d simply throw the ingredients into the crock pot, set the timer and walk out of the house.  Once you came home, dinner would be pretty much done and you could almost serve it directly from the crock pot to the plate.  Of course, before I go around making all these freezer to crock pot dishes, I need to know that they’ll be good, so we’ve got to test them out and see if they pass the test.

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The first of these potential freezer dishes is crock pot chicken teriyaki.  I’ve seen the idea for this dish floated around a bit on Pinterest and it’s always looked so easy to make that I decided to give it a whirl myself.  First things first, we’ve got to make the teriyaki sauce for the chicken.  This is the sauce that chicken will sit in while it’s cooking away in the crockpot, and then later, the sauce will be cooked on the stove top and turned into teriyaki sauce to top the chicken.  To make the teriyaki sauce, you’ll need: half an onion, garlic, fresh ginger, soy sauce, honey, rice wine vinegar, cracked black pepper and 3 ingredients not shown in this picture: brown sugar, sesame oil, and a little bit of liquid smoke.

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Start by finely dicing half and onion.   You want the onion finely chopped so that it breaks down when in the crockpot.  The recipe I was loosely following called for 2 cloves of garlic.  However, you don’t know me if you think 2 cloves of garlic are nearly enough.  My husband and I love our garlic, so I decided to go with about 6 cloves of garlic finely minced.  The garlic and the onion should be thrown into a small mixing bowl.

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Next comes fresh ginger.  Using fresh ginger makes a huge difference, and when you come home at night after having let the crockpot do it’s thing, its the wonderful aroma of fresh ginger that you’ll really smell when you open up the door.  Peel an arm of fresh ginger and mince it up to about the same size you minced the garlic.  You’ll need a couple of tablespoons of ginger.

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The ginger goes into the same small mixing bowl as the onions and the garlic.  Now it’s time to add in about 2 tablespoons of brown sugar.  I just eyeballed it.  The molasses in the brown sugar really helps to bring the teriyaki sauce together and will be great when you boil it at the end of the cooking process to make your sauce for the chicken.  Add the brown sugar right into the small mixing bowl.

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It’s now time for the liquid ingredients.  Start with 1/2 cup of soy sauce.  Any kind of soy sauce works here.  I only had regular soy sauce on hand, but less sodium soy sauce would work just as fine.  Add the soy sauce into the small mixing bowl.

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Measure out 1/4 cup of rice wine vinegar.  Pour the vinegar into the bowl as well.  Remember, rice wine vinegar is more sweet than it is pungent.  It adds a level of sweetness to the sauce and not the acidity of regular white vinegar.  Add in some fresh cracked black pepper as well.  We love the taste of black pepper, so I added about a tablespoon, but you can go with a teaspoon or half a teaspoon.  Also, if you have sesame oil, add in just a little bit of sesame oil, about a teaspoon.  A little bit goes a long way.  And finally, add in about 2 drops of liquid smoke.  The liquid smoke just adds an aroma of smokiness to the dish and gives it a background note of smoke.

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Finally, add in 1/2 cup of honey.  Honey is an all-natural sweetener for the teriyaki sauce.  Remember, teriyaki is as much salty as it is sweet as it is tangy.  The  honey helps to emulsify the sauce and bring it all together and adds a floral sweetness to it.

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When all of the ingredients are in the small mixing bowl, go ahead and whisk it all together in order to incorporate all of the ingredients.  It may seem like a lot of onions, but don’t worry, the majority of them will disintegrate and break down in the crockpot.  This is the magic sauce that flavors and cooks the chicken and then eventually becomes teriyaki sauce to spoon over the chicken.

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Now it’s time for the crockpot to do all of the work.  In the bottom of the crockpot, lay out 2 chicken breasts in a single layer.  By the way, these slow cooker liners are amazing for crockpot cooking, if you haven’t already discovered them, especially for a dish like this where you’ll be using the leftover sauce to make thick teriyaki sauce.  It’s so easy to lift the bag out of the crockpot, take the leftover sauce and pour it into a saucepan.  Then there’s no mess or fuss with your crockpot.

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The final step is to take the teriyaki marinade that you just created and pour it right over the chicken breasts.  Simple and easy, and now you’re done.  The crock pot does all of the work.  Set the timer on your cock pot to 5 hours on high.  Let the crock pot do it’s thing.  Don’t cheat, don’t peak.  After a few hours, your house will just smell amazing from the marinade sauce as it bubbles away.

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After 5 hours, when you lift the lid off the crockpot, this is what you’re left with.  You’ll see that the minced onions have all but dissolved and those that haven’t have caramelized.  The chicken has a lovely brown color because the marinade has soaked into the chicken meat.  Take the chicken out of the crockpot with a slotted spoon or thongs and transfer it to a bowl.  You’ll notice as you try to pick up the chicken that it pretty much falls apart in the thongs.  After 5 hours of cooking, it is so tender it just falls apart.  That’s when you know you’ve done something good.

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Take 2 forks, and shred the chicken you’ve just removed.  It literally should fall apart as soon as you put a fork through it.  Once it’s all shredded, the chicken is done.  Taste it, isn’t it amazing?  That marinade sauce has really done its magic.

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Now, gather up the sauce that remains in the crockpot and pour it into a saucepan.  Turn the stove on medium-high heat.  You’ll see all the wonderful bits of garlic and onion and ginger that remain from the marinade.  That’s terrific, you want that to bring out more flavor when you make the teriyaki sauce.

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It’s time to make a cornstarch slurry.  Take a 1/4 cup of water, or in my case, I used some vegetable stock that I just made for some added flavor.  Add in 3 tablespoons of cornstarch.

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Swirl the cornstarch into the water, or vegetable stock, and ensure that the cornstarch dissolves completely.  This is a cornstarch slurry that will help thicken up and tighten up the teriyaki sauce.

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Now pour the slurry into the remaining marinade sauce that you have on the stove.   Continue stirring the sauce and bring it to a boil.

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Let the sauce boil on the stove for a couple of minutes.  You’ll see the sauce really start to come together.  It’ll bubble and thicken.

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You’ll see that when you spoon up the sauce it’ll be thick, almost the consistency of honey.  That’s exactly what you’re looking for.  You’ll spoon this sauce over the chicken.

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Now, it’s time to assemble your bowl.  Start with a couple of scoops of rice.  Top the rice with the shredded chicken.  Spoon a couple of tablespoonsful of teriyaki sauce right over the shredded chicken.  Add some sliced green onions and roasted sesame seeds atop the chicken and rice and you’re crockpot chicken teriyaki is ready to serve.

This was such an easy meal to make.  It only took a few minutes of preparation and then a few extra minutes at the end to make the teriyaki sauce.  Other than that, the crockpot does all the work.  And the chicken is so tender and flavorful.  The teriyaki sauce only enhances the flavor.  This is one of the easiest and best tasting dishes I’ve ever made.  No one would believe that you didn’t do all the cooking yourself.  This is definitely going to be a future freezer-to-crockpot meal in our household.  It would be foolish not to keep a couple of pre-made bags of this crock pot teriyaki chicken in the freezer for those nights when you just don’t feel like cooking.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 1, 2014 1:12 pm

    I think I am going to try this. I make a salmon with teriyaki-ginger glaze that sounds really similar to the sauce in this. It’s delish!

  2. Heather Morrow permalink
    April 3, 2014 5:44 am

    Sounds tasty.

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