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 61 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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Hi Megan,
We have cooked this recipe many times in the Instant Pot at 7 mins, per your suggestion, and it works like a charm. So simple and easy. I’m a huge fan of your recipes. This is a family fav and has been a staple as we move towards reducing our meat consumption.
Thanks a ton,


Is there any way to make this without precooking the chickpeas? Not looking to use canned, either. Thanks!


This recipe is the one that got me through the initial struggle of going vegetarian. I make this on Sundays as my weekly lunch meal prep often and it’s so quick and easy yet absolutely delicious!


This is delicious! I made it as prescribed. Next time I think I may increase the liquid by 50% and add cut up tofu.


I tripled sauce and added 3 cans of chickpeas instead of two and add two teaspoons of cornstarch to thicken a little. Was so delicious


I love Asian food. But it is so difficult to find a good place that isn’t greasy or flavorless. And now that I’m basically vegan – it is even tougher. But, this very simple easy meal made with ingredients I already have – awesome. I cannot thank you enough for this yummy and flavorful recipe! It will be in weekly rotation, I’m sure. Or, if I have chickpeas left over when I cook a bag. Thank you!


Made it. Simple and amazing! I put it on the stove. Took about 15 mins!


This is an amazing recipe! I’ve been making this for my partner and I for almost a year already. It’s so easy, so delicious too. I usually double up on the sauce because we love to eat it over rice or noodles. Thank you so much!!!


Whole family loves it!!


Delicious. I’ll make again. A friend suggested I add water chestnuts. I did and I highly recommend doing that! I made extra sauce. I would add less red pepper flakes next time but if someone prefers a medium heat, the recipe amount would be accurate.


I love this recipe! I’ve tried this in the instant pot as well, using Megan’s recipe in her cookbook, but I actually like the slow cooker method better – I find the flavor and texture better, although the instant pot is still great if you need dinner quickly. The last time I made it I added a few carrots for extra veggies and would do that again!


Delicious. Added kale, broccoli and carrots and this was just perfect!

Deb Johnson

no chicken or veggi stock? no water?
I just turned the pot on low with everything in it according to your instructions.
I’ll keep an eye on it but am worried about opening it to stir and letting any moisture out!
(I used dry raw chick peas instead of canned).

    Megan Gilmore

    Canned chickpeas are already cooked, so this recipe really only heats them up with a flavorful sauce. This recipe isn’t written for dry, uncooked chickpeas, so I’d recommend cooking them until tender before you get started.


I have made this recipe several times for my kids. They love it. It is an easy and tasty way to get kids to eat vegetables. Megan, thank you for another yummy recipe that doesn’t taste healthy but is!


Made this in the instant pot at 10 minutes with natural pressure release and it was delicious.


Can you make these in a pressure cooker?

Jess Carvey

omg this was so easy to put together and tastes SO GOOD!!! Will for sure be making this again!!!


Omg this dish is out of this world! The flavor is amazing and the chickpeas retain a nice texture (not mushy). I think next time I’ll use a bit less red pepper flakes as it was on the spicy side for me, but SO SO good!


Greetings from Nova Scotia! I was tempted to increase the sauce ingredients, as the liquid levels looked suspiciously low in the crock pot, but i stuck to the recipe and am glad i did…. it turned out great. which is rare for a veggie slow cooker dish in my experience, ill be sure to look around your website more, thanks!


I made this tonite and it was delicious. I used 2 cans of chickpeas totaling 34oz. I doubled the sauce as I wanted enough for my rice. I didn’t have onion so I used 1tsp onion powder. I left out the red pepper flakes to see if my 4 year old would eat it (alas she’s not quite there yet) and it was still great but I’ll add it in for a little kick next time. I also added some chopped zucchini & broccoli stalks. There was a bit of extra liquid so I mixed it with some cornstarch & it helped thicken a bit. I will definitely make this for my husband and I again! Thanks so much for sharing, Megan.

Bobbi Boyd

Ever since this recipe came out, it has become a family favorite!!! LOVE IT!


We loved this dish! I doubled the sauce recipe, used 1 whole diced onion & several cloves of fresh garlic along with 1/2 jalapeno, 1/2 poblano pepper, diced carrots, broccoli, celery & cauliflower. Served it over rice. We like spicey heat so these additions were perfect for our taste. It was a hit & I’ll be making it repeatedly. TY for another super recipe!

DEbra s

Almost addictive! Great flavor! You don’t even recognize those as chickpeas by flavor or texture. Easy. Can it be done in Instant Pot or does it need the slow cooker to infuse such flavor?

Rita Overcash

Delicious! I used coconut aminos and only 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes. Cooked it on the stovetop covered, needing to add a few tablespoons of water a few time. It was ready for me in about one-half hour.

Maria Z

Would sugar free maple syrup work?

Melody Ley

I plan on making this recipe but I wasn’t sure if you were referring to canned chickpeas when making it or cooking chickpeas from scratch. Does it matter?

    Megan Gilmore

    I used canned chickpeas for this recipe; they definitely need to be cooked before adding them to the slow cooker.

Natasha Nadel

This was so easy and delicious! In fact, I needed it quickly and just made it on the stovetop in a nonstick pan. Didn’t take long at all.


Very tasty. Made this with coconut aminos as we have a soy allergy in the family. It turned out great. I’m about to make this again as it’s so yummy I’m adding it to my dinner rotation.
Thanks for a new delish option.

Marsha Gainey

Really great pantry meal! Used half the red pepper flakes as well as low-sodium soy sauce, but otherwise I stuck to the recipe. Definitely a keeper.

Silvana Gjonej

Can I use dry chickpeas? If yes, how would I adjust the cooking time? Thanks 😊


I used coconut amino,s and I just used the sauce over some veggies with some rice and chicken on the side. It came out really good.

Clarissa O

Hi! My son is dairy free and almost a year old, so we haven’t introduced honey or maple syrup yet. I would love to make this for him! But any ideas on what I could substitute the maple syrup with? Thanks in advance!
P.S.- We’re only dairy free, so any suggestions that are dairy free would be great!

Tish Lambert

Made this twice. Quick & delicious !


I have been making this recipe for the last few years and my whole family loves it (including my meat loving buy not chickpea loving husband). I use coconut aminos instead of Tamari to keep it soy free and leave out the red pepper flakes since my child doesn’t like heat.

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