Kung Pao Chickpeas (in a Slow Cooker!)

This post is sponsored by USA Pulses and Pulse Canada

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!

5 from 4 votes
Kung Pao Chickpeas (in a Slow Cooker!)
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
4 hr
Total Time
4 hr 10 mins

STARCH  |  Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Egg-free, Nut-free, Vegan

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
Servings: 6
Calories: 120 kcal
  • 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)
  1. Add the red onion, bell pepper, and chickpeas into the bowl of your slow cooker. 

  2. 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. 

  3. 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.) 

  4. 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. 

  5. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. 

Per serving: Calories 120, Carbohydrates: 19, Protein: 8, Fat: 2

Half-Cup Habit

This vegetarian main course is a great way to make sure you’re reaching your Half-Cup Habit goals. This 4-week challenge encourages readers to add 1/2 cup serving of pulses (beans, lentils, chickpeas, or dry peas) to their diets three times a week. In other words, you simply have to eat 1 1/2 cups of cooked pulses a week. By participating, users will receive free recipes, pulses cooking tips and more.

Click here to join me in taking the Half-Cup Habit today!

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




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Can we substitute coconut aminos instead of using Tamari?


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.

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!


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.


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!


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

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