Slow Cooker 5 Spice Chicken

$9.39 recipe / $0.94 per piece
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.57 from 23 votes
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Ooooh wow, my house smells like a spice market!

While working on a freelance project this week, I came across this Five Spice Chicken cooked in a rice cooker, and it looked so good that I decided that I had to try it out myself, except in a slow cooker because I don’t yet own a rice cooker.

Top view of a bowl of Slow Cooker 5 Spice Chicken over a bed of rice, napkin and cilantro on the side for staging

I fell in love with five spice powder last year when I was writing my cookbook, where I used it to make a quick spice rub for pork chops. It’s a heady combination of anise, cloves, cinnamon, and other spices that have both sweet and savory appeal. You can add it to just about anything for an instant boost of intoxicating flavor. I bought my five spice powder at my regular grocery store in the ethnic food aisle, but I’ve also seen it among more expensive spices in the spice aisle.

I changed up Daily Cooking Quest’s original recipe a bit by adding a little soy sauce and brown sugar to the five spice blend and cooked it for four hours in the slow cooker, which left the meat fall off the bone tender. After the meat spent four hours stewing in the spices, I finished it off with a few minutes under the broiler to get that nice brown crispy skin.

I paired the chicken with my favorite Yellow Jasmine Rice and had a meal fit for a queen! I’m going to be experimenting with a salad to go along with the two this weekend, so stay tuned!

Cooked Slow Cooker 5 Spice Chicken on a baking sheet

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Slow Cooker 5 Spice Chicken

4.57 from 23 votes
This Slow Cooker Chinese 5 Spice Chicken is tender, juicy, and infused with intoxicating flavor. 
Author: Adapted from
Servings 10 1 piece each
Prep 10 minutes
Cook 4 hours 5 minutes
Total 4 hours 15 minutes


  • 2 cloves garlic, minced ($0.16)
  • 2 inches fresh ginger, grated ($0.22)
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil ($0.04)
  • 1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil ($0.26)
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce ($0.20)
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar ($0.06)
  • 2 Tbsp 5 spice powder ($0.60)
  • 4 lbs bone-in skin-on chicken pieces ($7.22)
  • 1 medium onion ($0.36)
  • 2 Tbsp rice wine** ($0.27)


  • To make the spice rub, combine the garlic, ginger, vegetable oil, sesame oil, soy sauce, brown sugar, and 5 spice powder in a small bowl. Stir until combined. (Grate the ginger using a small holed cheese grater, or mince with a knife.)
  • Rub the spice mixture all over the chicken pieces, getting between the skin and meat whenever possible.
  • Dice the onion and place it in the bottom of the slow cooker. Pour the rice wine over the onion, then layer in the chicken pieces. Make sure the chicken pieces are closely packed in the cooker. Cover the slow cooker and cook on high for four hours.
  • After four hours, the chicken will be very soft and tender. Use tongs to carefully remove the chicken from the liquid in the slow cooker and place them on a baking sheet. Adjust your oven rack so that the top of the chicken will be 5 inches from the broiler (the broiler’s heat element is usually on the roof of your oven). Broil the chicken on high for 5 minutes, or until the skin is brown and crispy. Keep a close eye on the chicken while it’s under the broiler because every broiler is slightly different and it can burn quickly.

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**If you don’t have rice wine or can’t find it, you can use a dry white cooking wine or chicken broth in its place.


Serving: 1ServingCalories: 364.43kcalCarbohydrates: 5.64gProtein: 47.95gFat: 16.89gSodium: 769.68mgFiber: 1.08g
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A bowl of Slow Cooker 5 Spice Chicken over a bed of rice, napkin and cilantro on the side for staging

Pictured with Yellow Jasmine Rice.

How to Make 5-Spice Chicken – Step by Step Photos

Five Spice Rub ingredients in bowl with spoon

First make the five spice rub by combining 2 cloves of minced garlic, about 2 inches of fresh ginger (grated on a cheese grater or minced with a knife), 2 Tbsp vegetable oil, 1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil, 2 Tbsp soy sauce, 2 Tbsp of brown sugar, and 2 Tbsp of Chinese five spice powder.

Five Spice and Sesame Oil bottles with bowl in background

For reference, here is the five spice powder that I used and the toasted sesame oil. This really isn’t the best five spice powder, but it works. I found it in the ethnic foods aisle at my local grocery store, but you can sometimes find it among the fancier spices in the spice aisle. Toasted sesame oil has a deep brown color and a VERY strong, toasty aroma. If it’s clear, it’s not toasted.

Package of chicken thighs and package of chicken legs

I used four pounds of chicken pieces, which was 6 drumsticks and four thighs. I could have bought a split chicken and had two breasts, two thighs, two wings, and two drumsticks for the same price, but I preferred the thighs and drumsticks.

Seasoned raw chicken on cutting board

Coat the chicken really well in the spice rub. If the skin is lifting in some parts, try to smear it between the skin and meat.

Diced onion and wine in bottom of slow cooker

Dice one yellow onion and add it to the bottom of the slow cooker. Pour two tablespoons of rice wine over the onions. If you don’t have rice wine, you can use a dry white wine or even a little chicken broth. The liquid helps make a flavorful steam to infuse the chicken.

spice rubbed raw chicken added to slow cooker with onions and wine

Layer the seasoned chicken in the slow cooker, making sure the pieces are tightly packed. Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on high for four hours.

Cooked 5 Spice Chicken in slow cooker (lots of liquid as chicken gives off moisture when cooks)

As they cook, the chicken pieces will give off quite a bit of moisture. The chicken stews in the liquid and becomes super tender and juicy. YUM.

Cooked chicken pieces taken out of slow cooker and placed on baking sheet to broil so that skin gets crispy

But, you don’t want the skin to be soggy, so carefully lift the chicken pieces out of the slow cooker using tongs. Place the chicken pieces on a baking sheet (I used cooling racks on top of the sheet, but it wasn’t really necessary). Adjust your oven rack so that the top of the chicken will be about 5 inches away from the broiler.

Broiling chicken in oven

Set the broiler to high and broil the chicken for about 5 minutes, or until it’s deep brown and a little crispy. Watch the chicken closely, because it’s easy to burn things under the broiler (plus, every broiler is just a bit different).

Broiled 5 Spice Chicken on baking sheet, skin nice and crispy

And then you have gorgeous brown, flavorful, and tender chicken! I ate one right out of the oven… couldn’t wait!

Top view of a bowl of Slow Cooker 5 Spice Chicken over a bed of rice, napkin and cilantro on side for staging

As mentioned earlier, I served this with my Yellow Jasmine Rice. A perfect pair!

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  1. I used this recipe to do slow roasted chicken. Best chicken ever. I like mine a little more well cooked, so I roasted covered on sheet pan at 350 for 1.5 hours, then uncovered and raised temp to 450 for 30 minutes. Delicious.

  2. Honestly was so excited for this but it came out super dry, actually inedible. I wanna try again with a shorter cooking time but it may not be worth it.

  3. Chicken is pretty expensive nowadays, so I got chicken quarters for 38 cents/lb and cut them into smaller pieces at home. They’re a little scary looking but I got over it lol. 

    I think the blandness comments on this recipe are due to needing more salt. 2 tbsp soy sauce isn’t enough for the amount of chicken— I would add a teaspoon or so to the spice rub next time. I ended up boiling about a cup of the leftover broth with some cornstarch and extra salt to make a glaze, and brushed that onto the chicken after broiling. 

    The jasmine rice recipe with this was wonderful, by the way. 

  4. Chicken came out a bit bland as others have mentioned. Any tips on getting more flavor into the chicken?

    1. You could try seasoning the chicken with the spices a few hours or overnight before cooking.

  5. I was really looking forward to this dish however it turned out rather bland.I went with 4 pounds of thigh meat and used chicken broth as the replacement. The rub did not seem like enough for four pounds though I could have made a mistake at some point as well applying it to the chicken?

    It smelled great though.

    Any pointers?

    1. I also found it to be a bit bland despite all the amazing seasonings. After tasting the broiled chicken, I quickly strained about 1 cup of the broth from the crockpot into a pot and reduced it down a bit adding some salt, soy sauce, and a bit of bouillon paste. I thickened it with corn starch and used it as a sauce over the chicken.  It helped a bit but I think next time I’ll season the chicken with salt and pepper and add more soy sauce or even hoisin to the crockpot before adding the chicken. ??

    2. Came out bland even when I doubled the recipe… I love the slow cooking concept but it’s unfortunate that the flavour isn’t there.
      Maybe chicken stock might make it better..??

  6. i just bought a 10 pound bag of leg quarter fryers for $5.50 special, and am using your recipe loosely, but in a pressure cooker. i am just taking the chicken from the cooker, and the smell is AMAZING. it’s incredible. i just want to sit and breathe it. i don’t know if i’ll broil it or just eat it as is. fantastic.

  7. This recipe sounds delish! Wondering if you’ve tried this in the Instant Pot (instead of slow cooker), then broil? How long? I’m thinking 10 minutes though I am doubling the recipe.

    1. I haven’t tried this particular one in the IP, but I do bone-in, skin on chicken in the IP often. I usually just do 30 minutes for thigh-sized pieces. And yes, definitely broil afterwards. :)

  8. Yow-za!
    Just made this tonight for dinner because I realized I had 2 bottles of five spice powder–so glad I did! I’m looking forward to left overs, if there happens to be any.

  9. Hi Beth! Your 5-spice Chicken recipe with jasmine rice sounds delicious and I am making it tonight! I wondered what do you think would be a nice vegetable to accompany this dish? Thanks!

  10. I’m excited to try this recipe!
    Unfortunately we won’t be around in the afternoon, do you think 8 hours on low would work instead? Or should I do more like 6 or 7 hours on low?

  11. I tried your recommendation for oven-braising and it worked extremely well! It took the full two hours. I used the drippings and water to replace the broth and butter in the jasmine rice recipe and that was also very tasty.