Make Thai Chicken Curry in the Slow Cooker to Spice Up Your Night

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I realize the week before Thanksgiving is not exactly the ideal time to post a Thai chicken curry recipe, not when the majority of American cooks at this very moment are abuzz with all kinds of plans revolving around turkey, mashed potatoes, dinner rolls, and pumpkin pie.

Vertical image of a blue-trimmed white plate with a meat stew next to a pile of white rice, with text on the top and bottom of the image.

But please, forgive me.

I have this habit of assuming all of you out there aren’t so different from me, so maybe this year your Thanksgiving is a little different from others in the past.

You might be celebrating the holiday on a different date, visiting with loved ones in different ways than you might have before, or sharing the meal with a different number of guests or a different menu than you might usually.

Maybe finding yet another Thanksgiving recipe is not the most pressing issue on your mind today, but rather, you’re more focused on what to make for dinner tonight. Or perhaps preparing a whole roast turkey just isn’t going to work for you this year, and you’re seeking an alternative.

I’m still going to be making turkey of some sort for the holiday, but I also know that I still need to eat this week! So I’m happy to share this delicious dish, something easy and quick to prepare that’s super flavorful.

With a few adaptations, you could even use this recipe to use up those roast turkey leftovers, or make it with turkey breast instead of chicken. Yum!

Vertical top-down image of two blue-trimmed white plates that have a pile of white rice next to an orange meat and vegetable stew on a striped towel next to lime wedges.

The truth is, even if I were in charge of serving a big meal next Thursday, that would typically mean remaking a dozen or so of the same dishes my family eats every year: turkey, potatoes, and green beans, maybe a gelatin mold, and some homemade cranberry sauce.

Overall, our Thanksgiving meals are generally pretty predictable. Can you relate?

In this social media-driven world of the latest and greatest, the newest and the best, the predictable can sometimes feel like a bad thing. But in truth, when it comes to the holidays, I’ve found predictable means the stability and security of gathering around the table to do the same thing we’ve done for so many past years.

That’s something I find as comforting as looking through old baby albums, or hearing the sounds of my dad making his coffee in the morning when we’re visiting them at home.

If you are celebrating the holiday this year in a way that looks a little different from the routine of years past, even if you’ll be dining on your own on Thanksgiving Day, I hope you’re able to prepare at least a few dishes that bring you comfort.

I hope you can share some laughter with friends and loved ones, and that you find a way to celebrate family togetherness in a way that feels meaningful, even if you’re far away.

Vertical image of a plate filled with a pile of cooked white rice and a meat and vegetable orange stew on a striped towel.

This curry recipe that I have for you today may be a dish that you’re eager to make now, in advance of the holiday, or one you might put away for later. Maybe it will be the centerpiece of your holiday meal. I’m excited to share it with you, for whenever it might be the perfect fit.

This foolproof dinner is wonderful for busy days, and it’s an excellent meal that you can set and forget, so you have something warm and delicious to come home to if you’re able to turn your slow cooker on just a few hours in advance of meal time.

But mostly, if you’re that particular type of kindred soul that I have in mind as I’m writing this, the one who has tasted and loved a good Thai chicken stew enjoyed with friends – a dish that they thought was oh-so-good, with just the right amount of heat – and if this is something that you find yourself craving regularly while reminiscing about  the slight burn that it left in your throat, you’re going to love this.

At my house, we love eating this meal for dinner and then chowing down on the leftovers again the next day. It has us reaching for our water glasses with smiles on our faces every time we make it.

Quick and simple, with the spicy fire of the curry paste, the kick of fresh ginger, and the cool splash of lime squeezed on top, this has become my go-to Thai slow cooker recipe, Thanksgiving week or not.

Vertical top-down image of a white plate with a side of rice and a meat and veggie orange stew next to it on a striped towel with lime wedges surrounding it.

The only downside I see with this recipe is that you will need Thai curry paste to make it, and I’d hate to force you to make an extra trip to the grocery store. I’ve found it can sometimes be a little expensive, but I hope it won’t be hard to find – and in terms of flavor, it really makes this dish, so please don’t skip it.

You can choose to use red or green, whichever you’re in the mood for. For me, the jarred options have become a pantry staple.

Jars of red or green curry paste are also available from Thai Kitchen in packs of six. You can find them on Amazon.

Also, note that this recipe calls for onions and bell peppers as the vegetables, but you can feel free to substitute them with whatever you have on hand or whatever is fresh and in season. Chopped sweet potatoes, eggplant, tomatoes, and zucchini all make wonderful additions, as do carrots, snow peas, or mushrooms. There are loads of possibilities to try.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends! I hope you know how thankful I am for each of you.

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Horizontal image of a plate filled with a side of white rice and a curry with poultry and vegetables.

Slow Cooker Thai Chicken Curry


  • Author: Shanna Mallon
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 hours
  • Total Time: 2 hours 5 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x

Description

Slow cooker Thai chicken curry is a warm, comforting, and spicy dish that makes for a simple dinner any night of the week.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 13.5-ounce can full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce (or gluten-free tamari)
  • 23 tablespoons Thai red or green chili/curry paste, to taste
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 2 to 3-inch knob fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 2-inch pieces (or turkey)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 lime, quartered
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt + more to taste

Instructions

  1. Combine coconut milk, soy sauce, curry paste, cayenne pepper, ginger, garlic, chicken, onion, and peppers in your slow cooker.
  2. Stir to coat. Add one-quarter of the lime. Reserve the remaining wedges, setting them aside.
  3. Cover and cook mixture on high for 2 hours. Stir in salt to taste. Serve over rice with remaining lime wedges for garnish.
  4. To make this recipe using poultry that has already been cooked, simply omit it from this step and proceed as directed.
  5. Chopped or shredded cooked chicken or turkey can be added in the last 15 minutes or so of cooking instead. Just add it to your slow cooker and stir to combine, then give it enough time to heat up all the way through before serving.

  • Category: Chicken
  • Method: Slow Cooker
  • Cuisine: Thai

Keywords: Thai curry, chicken, bell peppers, onion, chili paste

Cooking By the Numbers…

Step 1 – Prep and Measure Ingredients

Peel and mince a knob of fresh ginger that is about 2 to 3 inches in length.

Peel and mince 3 cloves of garlic, or push them through your garlic press.

Cut the chicken breast into 2-inch pieces. You could also use turkey breast to make this recipe.

Peel and chop one medium yellow onion. For me, this was about one cup chopped.

Horizontal image of prepped ingredients for a vegetable and poultry stew.

Remove the seeds and stems before chopping one red and one green bell pepper. I got 1 little under 1 cup chopped from each pepper.

If you’d prefer to use a different combination of vegetables, aim for about the same total quantity as whatever you are subbing out, and be sure to cut the vegetables uniformly to promote even cooking. Harder vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes should be peeled and then cut small enough to cook through.

Cut a lime into four wedges.

Measure out all of the remaining ingredients as listed on the ingredients list.

Step 2 – Combine in Slow Cooker

Add the coconut milk, soy sauce, curry paste, cayenne pepper, ginger, garlic, chicken, onion, and peppers to your slow cooker.

Horizontal image of a mixture of vegetables, poultry pieces, and orange liquid ingredients in a large bowl.

Stir to combine, and make sure everything is coated well.

Toss a lime wedge into the mixture. Reserve the remaining wedges, setting them aside for later.

Step 3 – Slow Cook

Cover and cook on high for 2 hours.

Horizontal image of a plate filled with a side of white rice and a curry with poultry and vegetables.

Remove the cover and stir in the salt. Taste and season with additional salt, if desired. Remove the lime.

Serve the finished dish over rice, with the remaining fresh lime wedges for garnish.

Make This Recipe Vegetarian, the Easy Way

I have several friends who are vegetarian, so I like to have little workarounds available to adapt my favorite recipes for them whenever I can. It’s nice to be able to serve them something more substantial than chips and dip, after all.

Horizontal top-down image of two blue-trimmed white plates that have a pile of white rice next to an orange meat and vegetable stew on a striped towel next to lime wedges.

This recipe can easily be made vegetarian. Skip the chicken, and add two 15-ounce cans of drained chickpeas instead. Everything else stays the same, and the results are delicious.

For even more curry inspiration, check out the following recipes from Foodal:

Do you like your curry extra spicy or more on the mild side? Tell us in the comments below. And after you try this recipe, be sure to come back to give it a rating and let us know how much you enjoyed it!

Photos by Meghan Yager, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on November 20, 2012. Last updated November 17, 2020. With additional writing and editing by Meghan Yager and Allison Sidhu.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

About Shanna Mallon

Shanna Mallon is a freelance writer who holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her work has been featured in a variety of media outlets, including The Kitchn, Better Homes & Gardens, Taste of Home, Houzz.com, Foodista, Entrepreneur, and Ragan PR. In 2014, she co-authored The Einkorn Cookbook with her husband, Tim. Today, you can find her digging into food topics and celebrating the everyday grace of eating on her blog, Go Eat Your Bread with Joy. Shanna lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with Tim and their two small kids.

34 thoughts on “Make Thai Chicken Curry in the Slow Cooker to Spice Up Your Night”

  1. As we have over a month until our turkey day here in the UK, I’m excited to see something a bit different! And I always find that I crave something spicy the day after a big and heavy meal anyway so this looks perfectly seasonally appropriate to me, not to mention completely delicious.

    I hope you guys have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

    Reply
    • My mom gave us the crockpot last summer, and I’ve used it maybe four times, but, when I make a recipe like this, I scratch my head about why. So easy!

      Reply
  2. Yum! I have some leftover curry paste that I’ve been trying to use up, and this looks like a great recipe to try. I don’t have a crockpot, though, so I might adjust it to cook in a Dutch oven.

    Reply
  3. I’m going to pretend you wrote this just for me. I didn’t grow up here, or ever take a liking to turkey. So any TG celebrations around here involve lots of food but not necessarily everything traditional.
    I have some sweet potatoes that would go great in this.

    Reply
  4. I don’t think I’ve had Thai curry — I usually go for the noodle dishes when it comes to Thai. I’m always looking for a good “throw-in-the-Crockpot-and-leave-for-the-day” meal, though, so I’m trying this one. I’ll probably sub the breasts for thighs, and do you think I can get curry paste at Trader Joe’s? And would it be OK to cook this for 8 hours on low, or is that too much?

    Reply
    • I think the thighs will work beautifully (actually, they make more sense, given that it’s a slow-cooked recipe and slow cooking is so perfect for thighs and, hello, thighs are cheaper!). As far as TJ’s, I really don’t know. Maybe? Would love to hear how both ideas go.

      And as far as eight hours… I would test it out on a day when you’re nearby, if that makes sense. Worst case scenario is the liquid would all cook out? Buuuut, for what it’s worth, I did high for two hours, warm for another hour, turned it off for several, then back on to warm up, before we ever ate.

      Long story short = I’m not sure, but please let me know what happens.

      Reply
  5. if you can find yourself an asian market, the amount and variety of curries (thai, indian etc) will boggle your mind. i think some whole foods and trader joes have them in their international/asian aisles. a really good trick is if you section small amounts in ice cube trays, freeze, then keep covered in the freezer, the paste should keep for a long time and you can just grab a few cubes as you need them.

    Reply
    • There is an AWESOME Asian market here in Nashville that is super clean and slick and close, but I hardly ever remember to stop in. We bought this version at Whole Foods, and I liked that I could check all the ingredients in it. Great tip about freezing some! I doubt ours will last that long since I see this happening again soon, but I’ll def keep that in mind. : )

      Reply
  6. I’m always excited to read about chicken curry plus we’ve been reading turkey and turkey. So, your post is still awesome. 🙂 Love it!

    Reply
  7. I agree with you on the comfort of traditional Thanksgiving standbys. My family has always made the same dishes every year, and once in a while we change something slightly, but all in all, it is the same– and I wouldn’t change that for the world. This looks delicious, also–I have been looking for more meals that sound appealing for the crockpot, and this looks like a great contender! Thank you for sharing with us!

    Reply
  8. Chicken curry is my go-to meal all of the time. Will probably end up having it tonight, too! Putting it in the crock makes things super easy!

    I like having the staples of Turkey day, and then injecting a little bit of spice and flair in a salad or other side.

    Reply
  9. Do you think this is a recipe that could cook on low for 8 hours instead of on high for 2? Should I just make it in the bigger crock pot and let it auto-shut off to the “keep warm” setting? I haven’t quite learned yet how to deal with crock pot recipes that don’t require ALL DAY cooking. 🙂

    Reply
    • Ha, Kim! Good question and, honestly, I don’t know. Jacqui wondered the same thing above, and all I can say is I’d love to hear what happens if you adapt the recipe to an all-day one. Please report back if you try it!

      Reply
  10. This looks much like the curry I make on from the recipe on the curry paste bottle. I don’t see the point of a crockpot recipe that takes 2 hours to cook. The whole point of a crock pot recipe (in my estimation) is that you put it in before going to work and when you come home 8-9 hours later, dinner is ready. So…what good is this when you can make it fresh on the stove in 30 min??

    Reply
    • Hi Susan, Yes, that’s the way the recipe was originally written, and I had no reason to do otherwise… however, several people in the comments here have expressed similar concerns. You’re, of course, welcome to adapt the recipe to your timing needs. Best wishes!

      Reply
  11. Thank you for this receipe. We made this for dinner last night. We ran into some issues but will try again. After 2hrs on high in the crockpot the veggies (we used onion and green/red pepper) were still completely raw. The pepper was OK but raw onion was really overwhelming. We moved everything to the stovetop and cooked until the onion was soft(er). If we do this again we’ll probably cook the veggies ahead of time, and maybe skip the onion or use a lot less as it really took over the dish.

    Reply
    • I’m sorry to hear that, Sara! We didn’t run into those problems when we did it, and no one else who’s tried it has reported something similar, so I don’t know what happened — glad you were able to troubleshoot by moving it to the stove.

      Reply
  12. Trying it with pork & chicken, carrots, corn for veggies. All I have in house. Anything with ginger, garlic and curry is always good. Thanks for the recipe. Bill

    Reply

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