Chicken/ Hearty Dinners/ Spice

Slow Cooker Chicken Curry

April 10, 2020 by Chris Collins

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

close up overhead shot of curry in ladle garnished with cilantro

EASY Chicken Curry!

Promise. AND totally made from scratch. No pre-made spice mixes or store bought curry pastes.

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.

Slow Cooker Curry

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.

ladel scooping chicken curry out of slow cooker garnished with cilantro

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 breast.
  2. Thighs are usually more tender than breast, so turn out EXTRA tender after a stint in the slow cooker.

In all cases you’ll need boneless/skinless thighs.

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 far 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 a an oil with a neutral flavour and high smoking point, like vegetable oil. Olive oil is not suitable.

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 completely transforms the flavour of the onion/garlic/ginger. I also like to quickly fry off some tomato puree too for the same reason.

Frying done, slow cooker time!

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.

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

  1. Add chicken, onion, garlic, ginger & puree to 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

There we have it! To serve I usually go with the classics (rice, naan etc) with a sprinkle of coriander/cilantro.

If you’re looking for another delicious curry then check out my Coronation Chicken Curry

For more dinner ideas gives these a ganders too:

Delicious Dinners Using Chicken Thighs

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 10 votes
Print Pin Rate
Servings (click & slide): 4
Course: Dinner / Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours 15 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 25 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 (to combine chicken with spices)

Ingredients (check list):

Chicken Curry

  • 1.2lbs / 600g Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs, diced into bite sized pieces
  • 2 cups / 480ml 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, very finely diced
  • 4 cloves of Garlic, very finely diced/minced
  • 2 tbsp Tomato Puree (Tomato Paste in US)
  • 2 tbsp Unsalted Butter
  • 1 tbsp Ginger, very finely diced
  • 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 your chicken with half the spices. Keep other half 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 each piece and char on 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. Continue frying until it's all softened and beginning to catch colour. Stir in 2 tbsp tomato puree, fry for a minute or so, then scrape everything into the slow cooker.
  • Into the slow cooker pour in passata and water, then add 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 lid and flick the cooker to 'warm'. Allow the curry to cool slightly, or at least stop bubbling then stir in the cream (important cream at room temp and curry cools slightly or the cream may curdle).
  • 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. 
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, do not use 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 - 3 tsp gives a nice kick, but if you're at all weary of spice start out with 1 tsp and add another few pinches at the end if you want a bit more.  If you've gone overboard with the spice then serve the curry with yogurt 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. Same with the onion/garlic/ginger/tomato puree, completely changes the flavour.
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 by with no sides, using 1 tbsp veg oil to fry.


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.
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