Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Healthy Crock Pot Chicken Teriyaki

A lower-sodium, lower-sugar spin on this popular Japanese dish.
My good friend Lauren just moved down the street from us. I am super excited for three main reasons. 1) Our kids are similar ages and have been buddies since birth so we officially have built-in play dates from here to eternity. 2) She loves wine almost as much I do, so now our Mom’s Nights can be conducted in our own backyards without having to drive anywhere. 3) She follows like a zillion blogs and often finds fun food ideas and recipes, which she likes to share. Last week, she sent me a link for Crock Pot Teriyaki Chicken.

She made it for dinner and said it was so good that she was afraid there wouldn’t be any left for her husband and toddler come dinnertime since she was picking at it all afternoon. That sounded like a pretty glowing endorsement, so I decided to take a look and see if I could make it a little healthier.

I decided to use Stevia in the Raw and agave nectar in place of sugar to eliminate some calories and carbs. And because Asian cuisine is notoriously salty, I opted for low-sodium soy sauce. Finally, since I was just cooking for me and the hubs, I cut the recipe by about a third and only used one pound of chicken instead of three. Here’s what I came up with:

Healthy Crock Pot Chicken Teriyaki
Serves 2

4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about a pound), organic preferred
1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon agave nectar
5 packets Stevia in the Raw (or other Stevia product)
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
¼ cup water
3 cloves garlic, minced (I used a garlic press)
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons cold water

Place chicken thighs in Crock Pot. In a medium bowl, combine soy sauce, agave nectar, stevia, vinegar, water, garlic, ginger, and pepper and mix well. Pour the mixture over the chicken and cook on low for approximately 4 hours.  (At the 2-hour mark, I opened the lid and used a pair of tongs to turn over the chicken pieces to ensure even cooking. I also broke them up a little).

When chicken is done cooking, remove from the Crock Pot and set aside to keep warm.  Skim the fat from the cooking liquid and pour teriyaki sauce in a small-to-medium size saucepan. (I used a splatter lid as a strainer.) In a small bowl, combine cornstarch and cold water and still well. Bring teriyaki sauce to a slow boil and slowly stir in cornstarch mixture until desired thickness is achieved, about 3-5 minutes.

Plate chicken and drizzle the teriyaki glaze over the chicken (and brown rice and broccoli if that’s what you are having as side dishes). Serve immediately.  

Cooking Tip:
To rid your hands of strong kitchen odors—think fish, garlic, onions—rub them on stainless steel. The easiest place to do this is usually the sink nozzle. (They also make stainless steel “Rub-Away” bars if you are too classy to wipe your hands all over your plumbing fixtures. I’m not highbrow, but I did receive one of those bars as a wedding gift so I usually use that.) I don’t know why it works, but it does.

The first thing to mention here is that the chicken thighs shrank a lot during cooking, so that whole pound didn’t yield a ton of meat in the end. If you are cooking for more than two people, you might want to increase the amount of thighs to 6-8 (1.5-2 pounds) and add a little more soy sauce and/or water so the meat doesn’t dry out and you have enough cooking liquid left to make the glaze.

That being said, I can totally see why Lauren was eating out of her Crock Pot. It was the perfect combination of sweet and salty. The chicken was very tender and the teriyaki glaze was absolutely DELISH on the rice and broccoli. (This is saying a lot because I’m not a big broccoli fan and I actually cleaned my plate.) It even passed the “Toddler Test.” My two-year-old, who hates just about everything except yogurt and fruit snacks, was hovering around my plate asking for bites. Hallelujah!

Now, you may be wondering why everything I post on this blog turns out so awesome (at least according to me and the hubs.) Believe me, I’ve tried some recipes that left A LOT to be desired. And you won’t find those here. I’m only posting dishes that I like, that my family enjoys, and that turn out great. Maybe one of these days I’ll post some of my failures for a good laugh. But for now, my goal is to only pass along the cream of the crop.

Until next time,


  1. Just put it in the crockpot! I'll let ya know how it turns out.

    1. Seeing as the boys inhaled it in less than 10 minutes, I'd say it's a hit!

    2. I LOVE LOVE LOVE hearing this! Glad the boys gave it a thumbs up! :-) Thanks for the feedback!