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Chicken/ Hearty Dinners/ Spice

Slow Cooker Chicken Curry

April 10, 2020 (Last Updated: January 16, 2024) by Chris Collins

This Chicken Tikka Masala style curry is made in the slow cooker for extra depth of flavour and ultra tender chicken!

As one of my most loved and most popular recipes, I had to include this in my Debut Cookbook ‘Comfy’!

close up side shot of slow cooker curry in large white bowl with rice and naan bread

EASY Slow Cooker Chicken Curry!

Firstly, and most importantly, you don’t need special or expensive ingredients to whip a made-from-scratch curry. Everything (spices included) is accessible in all supermarkets/grocery stores. Better still, the flavour will rival any restaurant curry.

Why make curry in the Slow Cooker?

Making the curry in the slow cooker not only intensifies the flavour but also tenderises the chicken into mouthwatering goodness. This is an easy and delicious way to feed four and the perfect flavoursome fakeaway.

Now, let’s talk chicken.

close up shot of wooden spoon digging into chicken curry in slow cooker

Chicken Thigh Curry

Using chicken thighs in a curry, especially a slow-cooked curry, is great for 2 reasons:

  1. Thighs are fattier and more flavoursome than breasts.
  2. Thighs are usually more tender than breasts, so they turn out EXTRA tender after a stint in the slow cooker.

Can I use chicken breast instead?

You can, although chicken breast does have more tendencies to dry out, so just be vigilant. In all cases, you’ll need boneless/skinless chicken.

One of the most important steps in this recipe ironically starts in the pan, not the slow cooker. The first step is browning the chicken over high heat. Again, two reasons for this. First is we want to mimic chicken ‘tikka’, which involves lightly charring the chicken for an authentic flavour. The second is we want to lock in the spices as best as we can before slow cooking.

You’re NOT looking to cook the chicken in the first instance, you merely want to brown it for the above reasons. Simply dice chicken (photo 1), coat in half your spice mix (photo 2), fry in veg oil over HIGH heat (photo 3) flip, brown then remove (photo 4).

Top Tip – Ensure you use an oil with a neutral flavour and high smoking point, like vegetable oil. Olive oil isn’t great for high-heat frying.

How to fry chicken thigh for curry - 4 step by step photos

Right, chicken in the slow cooker, in goes butter, onion, garlic and ginger to the pan. Same with the chicken, frying beforehand caramelizes and transforms the flavour of the onion/garlic/ginger. This is an optional step, but I also sometimes like to quickly fry off some tomato puree too for the same reason.

Another reason is that onion is packed with water, and if you don’t fry it off and throw it straight in the slow cooker, you can sometimes end up with a slightly watery curry because the water doesn’t escape in the slow cooker.

Process shots: fry onion in butter (photo 1), fry garlic and ginger (photo 2), add tomato puree (photo 3), fry (photo 4).

How to prepare chicken thigh curry - 4 step by step photos

Slow Cooked Chicken Curry

Whilst the frying steps take away slightly from the whole ‘slow cooker’ kinda deal, I do not recommend skipping them. Because you’re cooking on high heat and not focused on cooking the chicken through it’s a fairly quick step.

How long to slow cook the curry?

I’ve tested around with this a fair bit and found the sweet spot to be either HIGH 3-4hours or LOW 5-6hours. Anything less you don’t quite get the same tenderisation of the chicken, any more and the chicken chunks tend to turn to mush and the sauce reduces too much.

Can this be made on the stove instead?

Of course I recommend the slow cooker, but you can make this on the stove without the slow cooker, of which I have added some notes on in the recipe card below.

How spicy is this curry?

As written, it does come out fairly spicy (I’d say maybe 7/10). I use hot chilli powder, but if you’re at all weary of spice you can switch to mild.

How to make chicken curry in the slow cooker (quick summary)

  1. Add chicken, onion, garlic, ginger & puree to slow cooker with passata, water, leftover spices and sugar.
  2. Give it a good stir, pop lid on and cook.
  3. Allow to cool slightly then add cream.
  4. Stir and serve.

How to make slow cooker chicken curry - 4 step by step photos

Serving Slow Cooker Curry

It’s important to let the curry cool a little before you stir in the cream, just so it doesn’t curdle. Also important the cream is room temp for the same reason. To serve I usually go with the classics (rice, naan/flatbreads etc) with a sprinkle of coriander/cilantro. If you find the curry a little spicy you can also serve with a dollop of yogurt to cool it down!

Alrighty, let’s tuck into this full chicken curry recipe shall we?!

overhead shot of two bowls of curry plated with sides and garnish

How to make Slow Cooker Chicken Curry (Full Recipe & Video)

overhead shot of two bowls of curry plated with sides and garnish

Slow Cooker Chicken Curry

This Chicken Tikka Masala style curry is made in the slow cooker for extra depth of flavour & ultra tender chicken! Slow cooker times either 3-4hours on HIGH or 5-6hours on LOW.
5 from 16 votes
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Servings (click & slide): 4
Course: Dinner / Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours 15 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Calories per serving: 408kcal
Cost per serving: £3.50 / $4


  • Slow Cooker
  • Frying Pan & Wooden Spoon
  • Sharp Knife & Chopping Board
  • Small Bowl (to mix spices)
  • Medium Bowl & Tongs (to combine chicken with spices)

Ingredients (check list):

Chicken Curry

  • 1.2lbs / 600g Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs, sliced into large bite-sized pieces (I typically divide 1 thigh into 4).
  • 2 cups / 500g Tomato Passata (Pureed/Sieved Tomatoes in US)
  • 1/2 cup / 120ml Double/Heavy Cream, at room temp
  • 1/2 cup / 120ml Water
  • 1 medium/large White Onion, finely diced
  • 4 cloves of Garlic, finely diced/minced
  • 2 tbsp Tomato Puree (Tomato Paste in US)
  • 2 tbsp Unsalted Butter
  • 1 tbsp finely diced Ginger
  • 3 tsp Sugar
  • Vegetable Oil, as needed (see notes)

Spice Mix

  • 4 tsp Garam Masala (see notes)
  • 3 tsp Chilli Powder (see notes)
  • 2 tsp EACH: Ground Coriander, Cumin, Paprika, Turmeric
  • 1.5 tsp Salt

To serve

  • Cilantro/Coriander, roughly diced
  • Naan Bread
  • Rice


  • In a small bowl, combine 4 tsp garam masala, 3 tsp chilli powder, 2 tsp ground coriander, cumin, paprika and turmeric and 1.5 tsp salt. In a medium bowl, combine the diced chicken with half the spices (save the rest of the spices for later).
  • Heat up around 1 tbsp veg oil in a pan over high heat. Once it just begins to smoke, space out your chicken (work in 2 batches if needed). Leave to fry until it begins to char, then flip and char the second side. You're not looking to cook the chicken at this point, this is purely to lock in the spices and caramelize the outside (a little char = extra and authentic flavour).
  • Remove chicken from pan and place into slow cooker. Lower heat to medium and add 2 tbsp butter. Add onion and fry until it begins to soften, then add ginger and garlic and fry for a minute or so longer. Scrape everything into the slow cooker.
  • Into the slow cooker pour in passata, water, tomato puree, your remaining spices and sugar. Give it a good stir then pop on the lid and cook on HIGH for 3-4hours or LOW for 5-6hours.
  • Remove the lid and flick the cooker to 'warm'. Allow the curry to cool slightly, or at least stop rapidly bubbling then gently stir in the cream. It's important the cream is at room temp and the curry cools slightly or the cream may curdle. Don't be too vigorous when stirring otherwise the chicken will break apart.
  • Serve with coriander/cilantro, rice and naan!

Quick 1 min demo!


a) Chicken - Chicken thigh is more flavoursome and tender than breast, but you can sub with breast if that's what you have. I'd recommend working to the quicker times (3 hours high or 5 hours low) because breast is more susceptible to overcooking. In both cases, you'll want large bite-sized pieces. Smaller pieces tend to break apart much easier, leaving you with more stringy bits of chicken. Which isn't a huge deal, it's just nicer to have chunks of chicken.
b) Oil - Indian cooking tends to include a lot of oil and butter, so don't skimp out on the oil when frying. Important to use an oil with a neutral flavour and a high smoking point, so I don't recommend olive oil. Can also use ghee (clarified butter).
c) Garam masala - You'll find this in almost all supermarkets/grocery stores in the spice section. It's a key spice so don't sub!
d) Chilli Powder / Spice Level - I typically use 'hot' chilli powder. 3 tsp gives a good kick of spice, but if you're at all wary either start out with 1 tsp and adjust at the end or switch to 'mild' chilli powder. If you've gone overboard with the spice then serve the curry with yoghurt or some form of dairy to tone down the spice.
e) Do I have to fry the chicken/onion before adding to slow cooker? - Frying the chicken not only locks in the spices but also adds a huge amount of flavour (light charring). Because you're cooking on high heat and only focused on charring it doesn't add much time to the process, so highly recommend doing it. Frying the onion/garlic/ginger helps lock in the butter.
f) Can I make this on the stove without a slow cooker? - To make on stove continue to step 2 (remove chicken and place in a bowl). Carry on with step 3 (fry onion/garlic/ginger) and toast the leftover spices for a minute before stirring in the tomato puree. Pour in water and passata, then simmer sauce (preferably with lid on for 10-15mins, stirring occasionally). Pour in cream and sugar, then add back in chicken. Simmer until chicken is cooked through. Thin out with water if needed.
g) Calories - divided by 4 with no sides, using 1 tbsp veg oil to fry.

Your Private Notes:


Nutrition Facts
Slow Cooker Chicken Curry
Amount Per Serving
Calories 408 Calories from Fat 224
% Daily Value*
Fat 24.89g38%
Saturated Fat 11.479g57%
Trans Fat 0.048g
Polyunsaturated Fat 3.985g
Monounsaturated Fat 7.333g
Cholesterol 189mg63%
Sodium 1046mg44%
Potassium 766mg22%
Carbohydrates 14.23g5%
Fiber 1.5g6%
Sugar 8.83g10%
Protein 32.2g64%
Vitamin A 1191IU24%
Vitamin C 89.7mg109%
Calcium 66mg7%
Iron 2.12mg12%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition is based on the absence of salt unless stated as a measurement in the ingredients. Cost is worked out based on ingredients bought from UK supermarkets, then divided by the number of servings. In both instances these values are just for guidance. Please check out my FAQ Page for more info.
Tried this recipe?Show me how you got on by tagging @dontgobaconmyheart_ on IG and #dontgobaconmyheart
Looking for more?You'll find plenty more delicious comfort food like this in my Debut Cookbook 'Comfy'

Want to speed things up? Why not check out my Chicken Curry in a Hurry!

For more easy and delicious curry recipes check out these beauties:

Easy Curry Recipes





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Recipe Rating


  • Reply
    Megan T
    April 21, 2024 at 12:43 pm

    5 stars
    Superb recipe! Everyone loved it. I’m never going to buy Tikka Paste again!

    • Reply
      Chris Collins
      April 21, 2024 at 5:02 pm

      Thanks so much for the review, Megan! C.

  • Reply
    Aine Mcfadden
    January 31, 2024 at 3:09 am

    Did anyone cook on low for 5 or 6 hours? I will be doubling the recipe?

  • Reply
    August 24, 2023 at 2:53 pm

    Tried this for the first time last week and WOW.
    Really easy to make, was all in the slow cooker in about 10-15 minutes and left bubbling all day – The aroma was mouth-watering.
    Tasted wonderful and I have to agree the difference using the chicken thighs instead of breast was amazing, so incredibly moist.
    Stuck this recipe straight in to my favourites and will be easily a Friday night ritual 🙂

    • Reply
      Chris Collins
      August 25, 2023 at 10:51 am

      So happy this went down well, Gerry! A Friday night ritual sounds amazing! Thanks so much for the review 🙂 C.

      • Reply
        Gerry McNally
        October 30, 2023 at 12:33 pm

        5 stars
        Just had to add in that I made this again this weekend but substituted the chicken with lamb and it was also perfect.
        Absolutely love this curry.

        • Reply
          Chris Collins
          October 30, 2023 at 1:45 pm

          Oh amazing! Thanks so much for the update, that’s good to know lamb works as well! C.

  • Reply
    July 9, 2023 at 10:07 pm

    5 stars
    The only tikka recipe I follow 🙂 it’s so easy to make and it’s a big hit with my family! Definitely one of my favourite meals to make and so filling!

    • Reply
      Chris Collins
      July 10, 2023 at 3:06 pm

      Ah thanks so much for the review, Lisa! 🙂 C.

  • Reply
    tara vardy
    March 25, 2023 at 5:29 pm

    So easy to make and absolutely delicious

    • Reply
      Chris Collins
      March 26, 2023 at 1:04 pm

      Thanks Tara! Glad to hear it went down well 🙂 C.

  • Reply
    February 26, 2023 at 4:54 pm

    5 stars
    Hi Chris. I made this last week, a lovely curry thank you. I used shin of beef, cut into smaller pieces because of the cut, it was lovely. Could you swap the cream for coconut milk, perhaps putting it in at the beginning? Many thanks.

    • Reply
      Chris Collins
      March 1, 2023 at 10:42 am

      So glad this went down well! Love the idea of beef too. I haven’t tried subbing coconut milk before, but my instinct is that’ll work just fine and placed at the beginning too. C.

  • Reply
    February 2, 2023 at 2:11 pm

    5 stars
    I made this recipe and it was a hit! Wow, the flavors are amazing!! Thank you for sharing it!

    • Reply
      Chris Collins
      February 4, 2023 at 10:46 am

      That’s so great to hear, Dodie! Thanks so much for the review 🙂 C.

  • Reply
    January 26, 2023 at 6:35 pm

    5 stars
    So easy to make and totally delicious. Big hit with the whole family!

    • Reply
      Chris Collins
      January 26, 2023 at 6:59 pm

      Great to hear, Clarence! Thanks so much for the review 🙂 C.

  • Reply
    December 22, 2022 at 6:03 pm

    Chris, absolute beaut of a recipe.
    You have the flavours nailed done! Kids and Mrs D agreed this is the best home cooked Curry they’ve had… whilst there is a rush of disappointment…
    i agree this recipe is a hidden gem. A cold busting taste exploding work of genius! Thank you

    • Reply
      Chris Collins
      December 23, 2022 at 2:59 am

      Nick, this is so awesome to hear! Thanks so much for the review 🙂 C.

  • Reply
    April 24, 2022 at 4:09 am

    Came across this recipe today and I’ve just finished putting all the ingredients into the slow cooker, which already smells amazing!! I left out the chilli because I’m feeling little ones, but I can’t wait for dinner time!! Im excited after reading all the reviews

    • Reply
      Chris Collins
      April 24, 2022 at 12:00 pm

      Hope this went down well, Summa! 🙂

  • Reply
    December 13, 2020 at 9:03 pm

    5 stars
    Absolutely love this curry it’s delicious and so easy to make. Have done it a few times now but wondering could you swap the chicken for lamb?

    • Reply
      Chris Collins
      December 14, 2020 at 11:07 am

      Glad you like the recipe, Louise! I’ve never actually tried it with lamb, but I don’t see any red flags as to why it wouldn’t work! Do come back and let me know if it goes down well 🙂 Chris.

      • Reply
        December 24, 2020 at 12:51 pm

        5 stars
        It was lovely with lamb thanks again so much for this recipe. I’m working tonight and we’re having curry so I’m making this, think my colleagues will be very happy xxx

        • Reply
          Chris Collins
          December 24, 2020 at 2:59 pm

          Ah that’s awesome to know, I’ll have to give it a go myself now! Sending festive wishes to you and your colleagues, Louise 🙂 x

  • Reply
    November 24, 2020 at 1:14 pm

    5 stars
    Unreal curry. I doubled the ingredients and made this for my housemates for a Sunday curry. Everyone was amazed that it’d all been made from scratch. I’ll definitely be making this again! Thanks again Chris

    • Reply
      Chris Collins
      November 24, 2020 at 2:29 pm

      Love it! Glad it went down well, James 🙂 Thanks for popping back for a review!

  • Reply
    October 18, 2020 at 7:45 pm

    5 stars
    AMAZING recipe! The best curry I tried to cook so far. And my partner LOVED IT too 🙂

    • Reply
      Chris Collins
      October 19, 2020 at 9:49 am

      That’s awesome to hear, Joanna! Glad it went down well with you and your partner 🙂

  • Reply
    Jessica Bock
    April 29, 2020 at 11:47 pm

    I plan on making this tomorrow bc it looks AMAZING. Would this be good to freeze leftovers in case there is too much for us?

    • Reply
      Chris Collins
      April 30, 2020 at 6:14 pm

      Sure! Curries do always taste best fresh (I always find the spices dim down slightly with leftover curries) but certainly still delicious! It should be good for up to 3 months in the freezer – just thaw in the fridge then reheat on the stove until the chicken is piping hot (add an extra splash of water to thin out if needed). Hope you love the recipe! 🙂

  • Reply
    April 19, 2020 at 1:08 am

    5 stars
    Found this on Pinterest and decided to give it a try. I forgot to add the ginger but it still came out really well. I also cut back on the chili powder since I like my curry more mild. I served it with naan and man it was so good. This is a really great curry recipe!

    • Reply
      Chris Collins
      April 19, 2020 at 10:11 am

      That’s great to hear, Katie! So happy it went down well 🙂

  • Reply
    April 10, 2020 at 10:24 pm

    5 stars
    This slow-cooked chicken curry is just the thing you want when you are looking for homemade comfort food. Easy to make and full of flavor.

    • Reply
      Chris Collins
      April 11, 2020 at 10:30 am

      Yup, certainly full of flavour! Thanks, Sharon 🙂

  • Reply
    April 10, 2020 at 10:16 pm

    5 stars
    There is nothing better than a good curry and this one looks fantastic! I love that you used a slow cooker for this recipe. Bet the house smells amazing while it’s cooking.

    • Reply
      Chris Collins
      April 11, 2020 at 10:30 am

      You have no idea how good the house smells

  • Reply
    April 10, 2020 at 10:11 pm

    5 stars
    Anything that I can put in a Crock-Pot is awesome! Love that I can make curry chicken in such an easy way.

    • Reply
      Chris Collins
      April 11, 2020 at 10:29 am

      Thanks, Vicky! So perfect in the slow cooker!

  • Reply
    April 10, 2020 at 9:26 pm

    5 stars
    Oh man, that is one delicious looking chicken curry. And I’m happy you are not holding back with the amount of spices used. 🙂

    • Reply
      Chris Collins
      April 11, 2020 at 10:29 am

      Definitely not holding back on the spices!

  • Reply
    Abigail Raines
    April 10, 2020 at 9:23 pm

    5 stars
    I love making curry at home and I agree that it’s better to make it from scratch as it tastes so much better like this one. This curry dish looks so yummy and I’d eat a ton of rice with this!

    • Reply
      Chris Collins
      April 11, 2020 at 10:28 am

      Thanks so much, Abigail 🙂