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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

Kung Pao Chickpeas (in a Slow Cooker!)

4.83 from 70 votes
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!
prep10 mins cook3 hrs total3 hrs 10 mins


  • 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
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: kung pao chickpeas
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? 




Megan Gilmore leaning on her white countertop.

Megan Gilmore

Hi, I’m Megan. A former fast food junkie turned best-selling cookbook author. I create healthy recipes made with simple ingredients to make your life easier.

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  1. Sooooo good – EASY too! Thanks! (I did it in the Instant Pot for 4 minutes after a brief saute of the veg.)

  2. Can I add pre soaked dried chickpeas directly to the crockpot with this recipe. If so, how much extra liquid should I add?