Slow Cooker Coconut Curry Chicken Thighs Recipe

Slow cooker meals come in clutch for those days when life just doesn't allow you to lovingly tend to a simmering pot for hours. Simply dump in a few ingredients, hit the dial, and a few hours later, dinner's ready. This recipe for slow cooker coconut curry chicken thighs tastes more than the sum of its parts, thanks to a little help from a flavorful curry paste, and browned chicken thighs. Serve it alongside cooked rice, or stir dry rice into the sauce when there's 30 minutes left on the cook time. 

This recipe comes from recipe developer Taylor Murray, who loves the rich sauce the recipe creates. "I grew up only ever eating dry curry spice blends," Murray says. "My mind was blown the first time I tried a curry made from a paste. The flavor was so rich and nuanced; now, I keep a few different colors of curry paste in my refrigerator at all times."

Gather the ingredients for coconut curry chicken thighs

First, collect all the ingredients. Opt for boneless, skinless chicken thighs, but don't worry if the weight is over or under 2 pounds. You'll also need Thai red curry paste, vegetable oil, yellow onion, garlic, ginger, full-fat coconut milk, chicken broth, brown sugar or coconut sugar, fish sauce, frozen chopped spinach, cilantro, green onions, and lime. "Don't be afraid to use fish sauce," says Murray, "It won't make the curry taste fishy, but adds more depth of flavor, and rich umami taste." You optionally serve this with cooked rice.

Rub thighs with curry paste

Place the chicken thighs in a large bowl, and rub with the curry paste until well-coated. Some types of curry paste can be a bit dry or clumpy, so feel free to add a small amount of water to loosen the paste enough for it to cling to the chicken. Don't worry if all the paste doesn't adhere to the thighs. Murray says, "I like Mae Ploy curry paste. It's super flavorful, and easy to buy on Amazon, or at major grocery stores."

Brown the chicken thighs

Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the coated chicken thighs, and cook until browned, about 2 minutes for each side. Don't worry about cooking the chicken through — it will end up completely cooked when it simmers in the slow cooker. Remove from skillet, and set aside. 

Cook the aromatics

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil into the pan, along with the chopped onions, chopped ginger, and minced garlic. Cook until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes, making sure to scrape up any browned bits that have stuck to the bottom of the pan.

For a true one-pot slow cooker meal, you can add the uncooked chicken, onion, garlic, and ginger straight into the slow cooker. The recipe will still be tasty, but just a bit less flavorful.

Build the curry in the slow cooker

Add the browned chicken thighs, and softened aromatics to the pot, along with the coconut milk, chicken broth, brown sugar, and fish sauce. Make sure everything is submerged in the liquid as much as possible, and cover with the lid.

Cook the thighs on high for 4 hours, or until the chicken is tender, and falls apart easily. Alternatively, you can also cook the thighs on low for 8 hours.

Serve this chicken thigh curry

Just before serving, stir in the frozen spinach. It should only take a minute to thaw in the hot, simmering sauce. Serve the curry thighs with a side of basmati or jasmine rice, optionally. Top with a squeeze of fresh lime juice, some chopped green onion, and sprigs of cilantro.

Slow Cooker Coconut Curry Chicken Thighs Recipe
5 from 28 ratings
The slow cooker is perfect for so many things, including this easy coconut curry chicken thigh recipe.
Prep Time
Cook Time
chicken curry with rice
Total time: 4 hours, 20 minutes
  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1-inch chunk ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 14-ounce can full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar or coconut sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon fish sauce
  • 1 cup frozen chopped spinach
  • ½ cup cilantro sprigs
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 lime, quartered
Optional Ingredients
  • Steamed basmati or jasmine rice, for serving
  1. In a large bowl, rub the chicken thighs with the curry paste.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken thighs, and cook until browned, about 2 minutes on each side. Set aside.
  3. Add the remaining tablespoon oil to the same skillet. Add the onion, garlic, and ginger. Cook until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes, making sure to scrape up any bits of caramelized curry paste from the bottom of the pan.
  4. Transfer the browned chicken and sautéed aromatics to the bowl of the slow cooker. Add the coconut milk, chicken broth, brown sugar, and fish sauce.
  5. Cook on high for 4 hours, or low for 8 hours, until the chicken thighs are tender and falling apart.
  6. Stir the spinach into the slow cooker just before serving.
  7. Transfer the chicken curry to bowls. Garnish with cilantro sprigs, green onions, and lime juice. Serve with steamed rice, if desired.
Calories per Serving 593
Total Fat 38.8 g
Saturated Fat 22.0 g
Trans Fat 0.1 g
Cholesterol 215.7 mg
Total Carbohydrates 13.7 g
Dietary Fiber 1.9 g
Total Sugars 3.7 g
Sodium 394.6 mg
Protein 49.5 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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