Kung Pao Chickpeas (in a Slow Cooker!)

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These Kung Pao Chickpeas are cooked in a flavorful sauce that rivals your favorite take-out restaurant, and they couldn’t be much easier to prepare. Just throw the ingredients in your slow cooker in the morning and it will be ready for you by dinnertime!

kung pao chickpeas over white rice

I love using chickpeas as a substitute for chicken in vegetarian recipes because they’re loaded with filling fiber and plant-based protein. Chickpeas have about 15 grams of protein per cup!

Like other pulses, chickpeas are also a source of complex carbohydrates, which are thought to help balance your blood sugar levels and give you sustained energy.

chickpeas in a slow cooker for a vegetarian main entree

Cooking this dish in a slow cooker allows the chickpeas to marinate in this flavorful Kung Pao sauce, for maximum flavor with minimum effort.

While developing this recipe, I noticed that other recipes for Kung Pao Chicken call for a prepared hoisin sauce and one or more types of chiles. I’ll be honest– those ingredients sound a little too complicated for me, so my goal was to make this version as easy as possible.

easy kung pao sauce over chickpeas in a slow cooker

I hope you’ll enjoy this less-authentic (but still totally delicious) recipe that you can make with ingredients you probably already have in your pantry.

You can can add a handful of peanuts at the end for some added crunch, but I decided to make my recipe nut-free and more allergy friendly.

slow cooker kung pao chickpeas (vegetarian dinner)

Either way, it’s a total crowd-pleaser!

kung pao chickpeas in spoon
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4.81 from 62 votes

Kung Pao Chickpeas (in a Slow Cooker!)

These Kung Pao Chickpeas make an easy vegetarian dinner and taste like your favorite take-out. A great source of plant based protein, the prep work is a breeze!
Course Main Course
Cuisine Chinese
Keyword kung pao chickpeas
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 10 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 120kcal


  • 1/2 red onion , chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper , chopped
  • 3 cups cooked chickpeas (or two 15 oz. cans, rinsed and drained)
  • 1/4 cup tamari (gluten-free soy sauce)
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (the more syrupy, the better)
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (or 2 minced garlic cloves)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (or 2 teaspoons fresh minced ginger)
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 3 green onions , chopped
  • sesame seeds , for garnish
  • Cooked white rice , for serving (or cauliflower rice)


  • Add the red onion, bell pepper, and chickpeas into the bowl of your slow cooker. 
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the tamari, vinegar, maple syrup, garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes, and sesame oil. Pour the sauce into the slow cooker and stir well. 
  • Cover the slow cooker and set it to cook for 3 hours on high heat, or 6 hours on low heat. If you need to cook it longer due to your schedule, I'd recommend adding 2-4 tablespoons of water to the mixture to help prevent the sauce from over-cooking. (If you have a super-nice slow cooker, it might also give you the option to have the cooker start cooking later in the day on a timer.) 
  • Once the cooking is done, give the chickpeas a stir and serve them warm over a bed of white rice (or cauliflower rice) with a sprinkling of green onions and sesame seeds on top. 
  • Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. 



Calories: 120kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 2g | Sodium: 777mg | Potassium: 237mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 790IU | Vitamin C: 27.1mg | Calcium: 44mg | Iron: 1.5mg
Per serving: Calories 120, Carbohydrates: 19, Protein: 8, Fat: 2

Recipe Notes:

  • You can use honey instead of maple syrup in this recipe if you don’t need it to be vegan.
  • If you’re not gluten-free, you can use regular soy sauce if you prefer. (I use full-sodium soy sauce in my recipes, but you can use low-sodium if needed.)

If you try this recipe, let me know what you think in the comments below! I’d also love to hear from you if you make any substitutions. We can all benefit from your experience!

Reader Feedback: What’s your favorite way to serve chickpeas? 

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Can we substitute coconut aminos instead of using Tamari?


    That’s what I used it seemed to work OK


I LOVE this!!! I have gotten to the point with my newborn and Mubarak’s my 3 year old at home that making my regular from scratch suppers might not always be Ann option. I completely caved and bought a bunch of store bought pizzas and meatballs because… if it will save my sanity… short term compromises might have to be made. But I love the idea of this because … it’s cheap and I’m sure it would freezer beautifully. I could even throw in some of my frozen. Cauliflower rice for more veggies… and the sauce… I’m sure you could throw in whatever veg one had in the fridge into i completely going to try this.

Lea Holz

I made this on Sunday for my week’s meal-prep, with plans to take it to work for lunches. I am eating it right now and it is great! I made as is, but substituted Bragg’s Aminos for tamari, using just shy of the amount suggested (I’ve found Bragg’s can be a little stronger than regular soy sauce or tamari). Next time, I will reduce the red pepper flakes, as mine came out with quite a bite – but, it is still great! Thanks for another great recipe 🙂


Hi thanks for the great recipe. Is it possible to include the times for making this in the Instant Pot?

    Megan Gilmore

    I haven’t tried this in the Instant Pot yet, but my best guess would be to cook it for 7 minutes on high pressure with a quick release. Since the beans are already cooked, you’re really just marinating them in the sauce and want the veggies to get tender.

      Jim Turpin

      Can you move this to the top as a note.

    Kym Fisher

    I made this last night in the instapot. Doubled the sauce and added a touch of water also to make sure there was enough liquid. I sautéed the pepper and onion and then put everything in the pot with some frozen broccoli. Cooked on high pressure for 4 minutes with quick pressure release. Came out perfect for my taste!

Linda nelson

Tried this tonight but used a frying pan instead of a slow cooker. Added all ingredients, brought to a boil on high then lowered to a light simmer for an hour………AMAZING, AMAZING, AMAZING!

    Megan Gilmore

    I’m so glad you enjoyed it!


    SO GOOD! I made this for myself and toddler, so I left out the red pepper flakes figuring I could always add some in to a portion for myself if I felt it needed it, but it was great without. I used Braggs coconut aminos, added in kolrahni because I love it and had some, and cooked it on the stovetop per another comments directions. I found it only needed around a half hour on the stovetop.

    My husband, who doesn’t love most vegetables and definitely doesn’t eat chickpeas was curious because of the great smell and took a bite, then filled up his plate with it. I actually made him a different dinner thinking he would not be interested in this dish at all. He said it was good and that he would eat it again. That is a win in my book and I will be making this again!


I’m wondering if this would work as well with other red, pinto, or black beans.


    I am wondering the same thing but personally I think that’ll work – except that the bite of those beans is a bit different. I’m going to try with white beans some time this week.


    I only had one can of chickpeas, so I used a can of white cannelloni beans. Turned out great!


Writing this as the same time Ee are eating this deliciousness. I prepared this on the stove. Used regular soy sauce because that’s what I had. So far from your recipes this is my hubby favorite. It was soo easy to prepare. Thank you so much for another awesome recipe.

    Moniquq Jackson

    May I ask how your process for the stovetop version? I don’t have a slow cooker. Thanks so much!


      I cooked this on the stove as well. I sautéed the onions and peppers for about 10 minutes, then I added in the beans and sauce and simmered for about 30 minutes. Perfect!


Hi, can leftovers be frozen? If yes, any reheating instructions?


Hi! This looks delish! How big is a serving??

Trish nordStrom

This was soooo yummy! I’ve currently been obsessed with your mason jar salads, but this is getting added to the lunch rotation as well! I always love your recipes!


I made this recipe today in my Instant Pot. I did 10 minutes with natural release. It was perfect! The chick peas were tender but not mushy (I used canned). Definitely recommend.


This site is making life as a vegan so much easier.


Want to make this for a potluck at work. Can you recommend any substitutes for the maple syrup?


    Honey would work. I substitute for maple syrup with agave syrup all the time, but use about 1/4 less agave because it is sweeter.

Mallory King

I made this last week and it was delicious! Tasted even better a couple days later as leftovers. Will definitely make again. Very filling also.


So yummy! One of go-to meals! Thanks megan!


Has anyone tried this in an instapot?

    Megan Gilmore

    Yes, 10 minutes at high pressure with a 10 minute natural release works great!


      Did you use canned or dry chickpeas?

        Megan Gilmore

        I used canned for the 10 min cook time. I’ve found that soaked dry chickpeas take at least 30 minutes, and unsoaked dry take closer to 50-60 minutes in the Instant Pot, so you wouldn’t be able to cook anything else with them. (And this sauce has too much sodium for dry beans to become tender– you’d need to cook them in water first, then add them to the sauce.)


      thanks! i will try

Erin L

Hi! Has anyone used something else instead of the sesame oil? I don’t have any on hand and this looks amazing!!


This was delicious. I made one change. Wife does not like chickpeas so used Cannellini.


Have you ever made this recipe in a instapot?

Sheena d.

yum! I was happy to come across this vegetarian recipe and had almost all of the ingredients on hand ( minus the green onion.) I put the crock pot on low for 6 hours and then scooped the chickpeas over leftover quinoa. Easy & tasty, glad it’s a big batch!


I used my slow-cooker for the first time and made this and it was INCREDIBLE! We’ve had the slow-cooker for years after purchasing it on a whim, and this recipe has completely converted us to this method of cooking. I can’t believe I made something so amazing literally in my sleep!


This was great. I made it in my cast iron skillet after reading how one of your other readers did this. Turned out great. I added some chicken and sprinkled a few peanuts on top. I was truly as good as take out!


I was super excited for this one, but it just didn’t work for me. It was super bland and I didn’t care for the texture of the chickpeas.. If it wasn’t for my husband, I would have tossed the rest of the batch. Looking at the recipe, I don’t think I did anything wrong. Anyone make any edits that make it more flavorful?


I have made this 3 times in two weeks! I love it! Thank you so much for this idea!


I am basically obsessed with this recipe. Even my boyfriend, very picky eater, loves when I make this. With brown rice, it is the perfect, super filling combo. Awesome flavors 🙂


This recipe is so good! Even my non-vegan husband raved about it. I also cooked mine in the instant pot and doubled the sauce like someone else recommended. Cooked for 7 minutes and it was perfect!!


Yum yum yum! Just made this recipe on the stove top. Super delicious.


My husband, who is a verified Chick Pea hater, actually loved this! This recipe is definitely a keeper! So delicious..

Sue Rheingans

Very good flavor. I myself need more heat. Sriaccha serves that purpose. Next time I will try adding mushrooms and celery.
So easy to to make in the crock pot.


I made this today and it was very good. I did make a couple of adjustments: I doubled the vegetables and the sauce, added steamed broccoli at the end, and I thickened the sauce with a corn starch sludge right before it was finished cooking. Next time I will use a little less red pepper flakes. It’s a little too spicy for me.


    Thanks for taking the time to share this… I had some similar ideas for next time(especially more sauce), but am not confident enough to make variations. Now I’ll give them a try! 🙂


How do you get 120 calories per serving? I got 154. Is a Serving half a cup?

    Megan Gilmore

    My recipes are calculated by an automatic nutrition calculator, so it adds everything up and divides by the number of servings. So in this case, it’s 1/6 of the recipe, so that would be roughly 1/2 cup worth of chickpeas (probably heaping with the veggies added in). Nutrition calculators online vary a LOT, so I imagine you’d get a different result with every website you use.


Can you used frozen peppers and onions in this recipe

Leigh Morant

Delicious. This was another hit with everyone in the family. I lowered the amount of pepper flakes after reading the reviews. I added a splash of water and did 5 minutes in the instant pot with natural pressure release. Served with jasmine rice, fried piquillo peppers, and sautéed spinach on the side.


Such good flavor. Awesome recipe.


I saw. I made. I love!

The only unfortunate part was that I wasn’t able to have this the first day I made it. I made it for meal prep and served over lemon/garlic cauliflower rice – so good! I didn’t find it spicy (but I like spicy). It is very flavorful and the chickpeas are a great consistency.


Very little. Very delicious. Will definitely make this frequently.

Karen S

I am a bit confused, at the top of the recipes, cooking time is 4 hours. In the directions it says Cook on high for 3 hours, or on low for 6 hours. What time did those who used the crockpot cook the dish?

Many thanks!

    Megan Gilmore

    Sorry, I’m not sure why it says 4 hours– must have been a typo at the top. I cook it for 3 hours on high or 6 hours on low in the slow cooker.


Just made this today! Also added in sriracha ‘cause I like lots of spice and subbed in quinoa for the rice and holy smokes let me tell you about how this recipe is amazing. I will be making it ALL THE TIME. Thank you thank you!


I loved this! I used coconut aminos since I can’t eat soy, and zuchini from my garden instead of peppers since that was all I had. It came out delicious! I’d like to thicken the sauce next time though, at what point in the cooking process could I add a thickener? Thanks!

    Megan Gilmore

    You can add a thickener just before serving. I usually use 1 tablespoon of arrowroot or tapioca dissolved in 2 tablespoons of cold or room temperature water, then add it to the hot chickpea mixture and stir until thick.

Mary Ray

Delicious! Just finished dinner and I’m anxiously awaiting lunch time tomorrow when I can eat leftovers! This will absolutely be in our regular rotation. Thank you!

Ariana Robles Portez

These were full of flavor the balsamic cake through more than I would have liked wasn’t the flavor profilings we hoped for (unlike Kung Pao) but tasty will try modifying ingredients (we used low sodium tamari maybe that was the issue)

Tony reed

Soooo good! This website has such great and EASY vegan Instant Pot recipes. I modified as such: for the veggies, use only the bell pepper plus a stalk of green onion (the entire thing that’s held together by a rubber band), and a can of diced tomatoes. Include some of the pepper seeds to give it a little more kick! And I use low-sodium soy sauce. It’s wonderful!


What is the size of the slow cooker? 4 quarts? 6?

    Megan Gilmore

    Mine is 6 quarts, but this recipe doesn’t fill it up, so you can use a smaller one, too.

Rebecca Stacey

My son said it tasted just like carryout Chinese. 😁 I used an Instant Pot, pressure cooked for 8, natural released for 10, then vented. My family was still putzing around, so it sat on sautee for another 7-8 minutes, which probably helped the sauce thicken. We loved it!

KathY Fraser

Do you think this would work as well in an instant pot?

Elizabeth Fitch

This was easy to make and a refreshing change. I needed it to have more kick. My daughter thought it was fine as it was. Anyway, we’ve put it on our keeper list. 🙂


This has become a regular staple in our house and my kids love it! So tasty and filling!


Thanks for the great recipe!!! I have made it many times now (in the slow cooker!). Used canned chickpeas or soaked – either way it is fabulous!

I am wondering about one thing (a nit, admittedly!): Why the step about whisking ingredients in the second step? Did that, but also just combined everything, mixed it well, and let it do its thing. I cannot taste any difference at all between the two methods.

Seems like an unneeded step (and dish!)

Is there a reason to do this separately and then dump it in anyway? Curious…


I just love this recipe! I make it at least once a month. Easy to make and great for weekday lunches❤️


Great dish! Thanks so much!

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