Slow cooker chicken, vegetable & lentil curry is a hearty, flavorful, fix-it-and-forget-it meal perfect for cold, wintery evenings. Serve it with naan or artisan bread and a spoonful of yogurt (or traditional raita sauce).
What's better than a warm, hearty, and flavorful chicken, vegetable, and lentil curry full of healthy vegetables, protein, and fats?
Well, that would be one where you throw all the ingredients in a slow cooker, turn it on and forget about it until the incredible smells start wafting through the house.
Or hits you after coming home after a long day of work or errands.
And if that weren't enough, add in the fact that it's a one-dish meal (all the protein and veggies you need are included) so all you need to add is some bread to scoop up all the curry goodness.
This is it, friends, the super flavorful dish of your dreams.
I've tried a lot of slow cooker recipes and for some reason many of them are rather blah.
Maybe it's the long cooking time? I'm not sure because there are others that are full of flavors, which is always what I aim for in one of my recipes.
Well, this lentil curry with chicken, onions, carrots, cauliflower, and spinach DELIVERS.
Though really, how can you go wrong with an Indian curry? I'm in love with curries - the spice, the depth of flavor, and how they make whatever ingredients you use taste amazing.
Slow Cooker Chicken, Vegetable & Lentil Curry
- Vegetables: onions, garlic, carrots, cauliflower, spinach or kale (both the cauliflower and spinach can be from frozen)
- Regular brown lentils
- Boneless chicken breast or thighs
- Chicken broth, canned or frozen homemade
- Seasonings: curry powder, turmeric, cayenne (optional), cinnamon, salt
I keep both hot and mild curry on hand, but we mainly use the hot curry because we like things on the spicy side. Use what you like.
I also added more turmeric to this dish because of all the health benefits - not just for dogs - and I'm trying to add it to whatever dishes I can.
This is what I like best about slow cooker meals: you cut everything up, add it to the bowl, turn it on, and then go about your business.
It's then out of sight, out of mind (for me anyway...).
And then, BAM, and I'm thinking, "what is that wonderful smell? Oh, yeah - dinner!"
It's like someone is cooking it for you and all of a sudden I can't wait for dinner!
There is one note about slow cooking the cauliflower which I also added to the recipe card:
Overcooking can happen with this dish (contrary to things I've read that say you can't overcook slow cooker dishes...). You'll get mushy cauliflower if it's left longer than 4 hours - OR if your appliance cooks faster.
If you know your cooker cooks fast, as some do, then you'll want to check for doneness at the 3 hour mark to be able to add the spinach and cook for another hour.
Bottom line: test for the doneness of the vegetables according to your tastes.
You can serve this with a side of rice or naan and a topping of yogurt (or make an actual raita, which is similar to tzatziki), like a traditional curry, or like I did - more as a stew with a side of artisan bread.
Chicken, Vegetable, Lentil Curry FAQs
Yes! You can defrost the chicken and add it at the same time you add the spinach.
Lentils do not need to be soaked in general and not for this recipe. However, you can do it to cut the cooking time by about half in other recipes.
Lentils are high in protein and fiber and low in fat, which makes them a healthy substitute for meat. They're also packed with folate, iron, phosphorus, potassium and fiber. (source)
Yes, it's easy to do. Omit the chicken (obviously...) and substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth. Cook the same amount or even a bit less - check the tenderness of the cauliflower with the tip of a knife at about the 3 to 3.5 hour mark.
I would also probably add more veggies, doubling the carrots and using the larger amount of spinach.
What others are saying:
"Mmmm, another hit! I turned to your archives when I brought home a giant package of chicken thighs and didn't know what to do with them… I made mine a bit spicier than my family likes, so we just blended in some scoops of plain Greek yogurt to temper it, and they loved it. Love your recipes; thanks!" -Suz
Slow Cooker Chicken, Vegetable & Lentil Curry Recipe
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 cups chopped carrots, about 3 large
- 1 small head cauliflower, cut (or frozen*)
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 pound dried lentils, rinsed (about 1 ¼ cups)
- 2 pounds boneless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces (omit to make meatless)
- 1 ½ tablespoons hot or mild curry powder, or to taste
- 2 teaspoons turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne, to taste - omit if using hot curry
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 4 cups chicken broth, preferably homemade bone broth (use vegetable broth for vegetarian)
- 1 to 2 teaspoons salt, depending on type of broth (unsalted homemade = 2 teaspoons)
- 3 to 4 cups chopped fresh spinach** (or 10oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed)
- optional toppings: chopped parsley, yogurt
- Add all ingredients into the bowl of a 4 to 6 qt. slow cooker in order listed, EXCEPT spinach (and frozen cauliflower, if using - see note below*).
- Cook on High 4 hours (stirring halfway through), and add the spinach at the 3 1/2 hour mark, stirring it in, covering and cooking for the last 30 minutes OR cook on Low for 6-7 hrs (stir halfway through), again adding the spinach in the last 1/2 hour of cooking BUT, turn the cooker up to High for that last 30 minutes (SEE NOTE).
- Serve with a side of rice, naan, or artisan bread and optional toppings.
Other Slow Cooker Dishes to Try:
This recipe has been updated - it was originally published in January of 2015.