5 Spice Soy Sauce Chicken Drumsticks, a Slow Cooker Recipe


Recipe 5 spice soy sauce chicken

Happy Father’s Day to my Daddy in heaven!

There’s always a little hole in my heart at every holiday, but that hole is the biggest right around Father’s Day when I remember how much I miss my dad who passed away when my oldest was a toddler. He was a loving father, very caring, personable, and worked hard to provide for our family. For many years he had a part-time second job at Hong Sang Market on Grant Ave in San Francisco’s Chinatown where my dad made Chinese “white cut” Chicken (“white cut” is a word for word translation of what a boiled chicken is called in Chinese, bai qie ji) and soy sauce chicken, which is a whole chicken simmered in soy sauce and whole spices. Somehow my dad managed to pick me up from school, teach me how to make soy sauce chicken, and then go to work (he worked swing shift). Talk about squeezing in quality time! If he could teach a little girl a traditional recipe in 30 minutes, this recipe adapted for a slow cooker will be a breeze.

Kid friendly:

My children ate the 5 Spice Soy Sauce Chicken Drumsticks with relish and what they like the most about it is that the chicken is very tender and falls off the bone. When I asked if I should cook it for a shorter amount of time, they protested and said that the tenderness is the best part. If that doesn’t convince you that this dish is a kid friendly dish, a few years ago I made this for some dinner guests and as our friends were leaving, just for fun I asked our friend’s son if he would like to take anything home to enjoy tomorrow. I was expecting that he would like some dessert to take  home but instead he asked for some soy sauce chicken drumsticks! So cute! Be sure to serve this dish over rice with some favorite vegetables, such as sauteed baby bok choy, spinach, or pea sprouts.

Allergy Aware Suggestions:

Chinese 5 Spice: My dad taught me to use cinnamon (1 stick), nutmeg (1-2 pieces), licorice (1-2 pieces of dried licorice stems), star anise (3-4 pieces), cloves (a pinch of whole cloves), and dill seeds (a pinch of whole dill seeds) and a slice of fresh ginger. But I couldn’t be certain that the whole spices that I bought from the Asian market were free from nuts because alongside the bags of dried spices were bags of dried peanuts used for soups and cooking packaged by the same company. I avoided or modified dishes calling for 5 spice until I found out that Spicely, a company that makes spices free of top 8 food allergens, carries a Chinese 5 Spice blend that is so delicious.

Brown sugar slabs: Chinese brown slab sugar are sold in a package that looks like a brick of brown sugar and it’s made from unrefined cane sugar. As I was looking for allergen information (there’s none that I could find), I learned that brown sugar slabs are considered medicinal in Chinese Traditional Medicine! If you don’t have access to brown sugar slabs or don’t feel comfortable using it, it is perfectly fine to use brown sugar instead.

Soy sauce: I use Kikkoman brand and like San-J as well.

Equipment note:

I have purchased many slow cookers before and the one I love the most is one that I won in a contest, an All-Clad Deluxe 7-QT. Slow Cooker. It resolves some of the problems I’ve had with previous slow cookers because it’s just the right size for a family, has a removable insert so that browning and slow cooking can occur in the same pot, and the insert is made of metal, which is non-reactive. When my husband and I were first married, I made a 40 clove garlic chicken in a slow cooker with a ceramic insert and every meal after that reeked of garlic. I even tried just slow cooking water and it tasted like garlic. [This post contains an affiliate link, which supports Nut Free Wok at no additional cost to you, thanks!]


5 Spice Soy Sauce Chicken Drumsticks in a Slow Cooker Recipe

You will need a 6 qt or larger sized slow cooker.
Author Sharon Wong


  • 3-4 stalks green onions
  • 1 piece of ginger approximately thumb sized
  • 6 cloves garlic 1 handful, vary amount depending on your preference
  • 1/2 piece Chinese brown slab sugar pian tang or peen tong or substitute 1 packed tablespoon of brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese 5 Spice blend I recommend Spicely
  • 2-3 trays chicken drumsticks approximately 12-15 pieces
  • 1 cup soy sauce Kikkoman or San-J
  • 1 cup water


  1. Wash and trim green onions, tear in half, add to slow cooker.
  2. Wash, scrape off the ginger's outer layer and slice, add to slow cooker.
  3. Add garlic, brown sugar, and Chinese 5 Spice.
  4. Arrange chicken drumsticks in 1-2 layers and add soy sauce and water.
  5. Cook on High for 4 hours for tender, fall off the bone chicken; If you are in a hurry, the chicken is cooked and safe to eat after 2.5 hours but it won't be as soft and tender.
  6. Depending on the size and shape of your slow cooker, the top layer of chicken might not braise in the sauce, so you can either serve the bottom pieces first OR rearrange the drumsticks about halfway through the cooking time.

Recipe Notes

Alternatively, you can cook this dish in a pot. Assemble in the same order, bring chicken to a boil and simmer for in a large covered pot for 30 minutes or until desired tenderness.


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About Sharon Wong 254 Articles
Welcome to Nut Free Wok, a blog about Allergy Aware Asian Fare. I hope that you will find my food allergy mom experiences helpful and enjoyable to read as I write about recipes, cooking techniques, Asian ingredients, and food allergy related awareness and advocacy issues. My professional experiences include education, teaching, and a little bit of science and computers. Thank you for visiting! ~Sharon Wong, M.Ed.

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