Spicy Slow Cooker Orange Chicken Drumsticks

By Jess

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There are few classic finger foods as popular as chicken drumsticks. Whether it’s for an appetizer during the football game or for weeknight dinner, this easy recipe will be a hit with the whole family. Enjoy them with a side of sautéed veggies for a well-balanced meal.

Spicy Slow Cooker Orange Chicken Drumsticks- all the deliciousness of orange chicken without the unhealthyness! You need to try this. My friends request this EVERY TIME they come over.

Spicy Slow Cooker Orange Chicken Drumsticks- all the deliciousness of orange chicken without the unhealthyness! You need to try this. My friends request this EVERY TIME they come over.

Orange chicken is not usually prepared with healthy ingredients. The Asian-inspired dish is one of my favorite comfort foods, so I went looking for an alternative method to prepare it. Drumsticks are definitely allowed on the Paleo diet, it was just a matter of finding more nutritious toppings. In this recipe we avoid any kind of sugary sauce loaded with preservatives. Instead, natural ingredients are combined in the slow cooker to make a delicious, sticky, and (most importantly) healthy sauce.

Cooking drumsticks in the slow cooker is a simple and effective way to make them. You could of course use thighs or wings instead of drumsticks, but in my opinion drumsticks are more fun to eat. Although it may seem like a long list of ingredients for the sauce, the flavor turns out rich and citrusy. Once everything is in the slow cooker you can go about your own business for a few hours and forget about it.

orange chicken marinade

Once the chicken is done cooking, there is just one more step. In order to get the thick, sticky sauce, transfer the slow cooker liquid to a small saucepan and simmer it to reduce. Once the sauce has become syrupy, it can be drizzled over the drumsticks.

slow cooker orange chicken

Chicken drumsticks are often enjoyed by many, but are usually coated in an unhealthy sauce or deep-fried. Instead, enjoy a popular finger food with this healthier Paleo-friendly version of classic orange chicken. This recipe is a nice alternative to regular barbecue chicken, instead using a honey-sweetened sauce with orange and garlic. It’s finger-licking, lip-smacking good.


    • 3 lbs. chicken drumsticks
    • Salt and pepper
    • 1/3 cup orange juice
    • 1/4 cup honey
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
    • 1 tbsp coconut aminos
    • 2 tsp orange zest
    • 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
    • 1/2 tbsp Sriracha (add more for additional kick)
    • 1 tsp tomato paste
    • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
    • Green onions, for garnish


  1. Combine all of the ingredients except the chicken in a medium bowl along with half a teaspoon of salt. Whisk to combine.
  2. Season the drumsticks with salt and pepper and place into the slow cooker. Pour the sauce over the chicken and stir to coat. Cover and cook on low heat for 4 hours, or until the chicken is cooked through.
  3. Remove the drumsticks to a plate. Transfer the liquid from the slow cooker to a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes, until syrupy. Pour over the drumsticks to serve. Garnish with green onions and sesame seeds.


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Ask a Question 

  1. Hi Rebecca,

    Re “1 tbsp coconut aminos” mentioned – I have never heard of them, let alone seen them. Is there a substitute? Or can you tell me their purpose in the recipe? How crucial are they, please? I do have coconut oil, but that’s it.

    Many thanks,


    • Coconut aminos are a condiment thatbtastes like soy sauce, but is made with coconut. Health food stores or places like Whole Foods, Sprouts, or Trader Joes has it.

  2. Coconut aminos are a soy free substitute for soy sauce. You can usually find them in the International food section.

  3. I made these for my family last night. Instead of the slow cooker I done them in the oven on a low temp then took out the juice just before done and roasted them for the last 15 mins which gave them a sticky coating, then poured over the reduced juices. This is the yummiest paleo chicken recipe I have cooked so far!! Everyone loved it.
    Thank you for the great recipe

  4. Yummy, hubby and I really enjoyed this. Very tasty w/flavorful ingredients that work together beautifully. Love the zip the Sriracha gives it. Did have to add a bit of arrowroot to help it thicken. I think next time I’ll put the legs under the broiler at the end to make it a bit crispy. Can’t wait. Thank you.

  5. This was excellent! The sauce took a bit but it thickened up perfectly. I took the advice of other reviewers and put my chicken under the broiler to crisp it up for a few minutes. We will definitely be making this again. Thanks for the wonderful recipe.

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