Slow Cooker Basil Chicken in Coconut Curry Sauce

Slow cook your way to one of the best chicken curries I’ve ever had! The sauce has coconut milk, jalapeno, and red onion. It’s not too spicy, but has tons of flavor!

Slow Cooker Basil Chicken in Coconut Curry Sauce from The Food Charlatan

We ripped out our carpet this week and are in the middle of getting new (laminate) wood floors. Originally I wanted to put the wood in our kitchen, dining, and family room, because they are all connected.

Slow Cooker Basil Chicken in Coconut Curry Sauce from The Food Charlatan

But then we ripped out the OLD laminate in the kitchen to reveal this awesome linoleum underneath. I love it so much! I think I’m going to keep it and do the new wood everywhere else. What do you think? Isn’t it super cute?

Slow Cooker Basil Chicken in Coconut Curry Sauce from The Food Charlatan

Oh my gosh, calm down, I’M JOKING. I texted this to my brother Nathan earlier today and he politely texted back, “I love the wood! Are you doing linoleum in the kitchen, or wood?”  And then I told him I was joking and he said, “I was very careful how I phrased that.”

This gross linoleum kind of makes me nostalgic though. We had a VERY similar pattern in my kitchen growing up, only ours was, no joke, BRIGHT yellow and orange. Classic. (my parents bought their house in 1980 I think.) Did you grow up with linoleum like this??

Slow Cooker Basil Chicken in Coconut Curry Sauce from The Food Charlatan

Here’s how it’s going. Eric’s parents came all the way from Montana to help us. (And by help us, I mean basically do most of it…we owe you big time!) Also you will notice who won the great Should We Paint Our Fireplace White debate…at least for now.)

Slow Cooker Basil Chicken in Coconut Curry Sauce from The Food Charlatan

Slow Cooker Basil Chicken in Coconut Curry Sauce from The Food Charlatan

This recipe is a classic from the blog that I changed up to go in the slow cooker. It worked out beautifully! The original is here: Basil Chicken in Coconut Curry Sauce. It’s a huge crowd pleaser. The sweetness from the coconut and the earthy tones from the yellow curry balance each other perfectly. But you have to marinate it and stand over the stove for a while, and lately I have been all about the setting-and-forgetting-it. Enter our trusty slow cooker!

Slow Cooker Basil Chicken in Coconut Curry Sauce from The Food Charlatan

Slow Cooker Basil Chicken in Coconut Curry Sauce from The Food Charlatan

See how it’s just falling apart?

This recipe uses bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs that you sear on the stove before slow cooking. By the time they are done cooking, they are falling off the bone, and the caramelized flavor from the searing step has transformed the meat into something simply amazing. You could absolutely use chicken breasts in this recipe, but the meat won’t be quite as flavorful. You just can’t replace that dark meat. Make this soon! Slow cooking ftw!

If you make this curry, snap a photo and share on Instagram using #TheFoodCharlatan! I’d love to see it!

P.S. Here’s a trusty Crock Pot if you don’t have one. And this is the brand of skillet I use.

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Slow Cooker Basil Chicken in Coconut Curry Sauce

Yield: Serves 6-8


  • 6 bone-in skin-on chicken thighs, skin removed* (about 2 and 1/2 pounds)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 2 (13.5 ounce) cans coconut milk (lite coconut milk is great too)
  • 2 tablespoons dried basil leaves
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons yellow curry powder
  • 1/2 or 3/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 jalapenos, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon COLD water
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated or minced
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped


  1. Remove the skin from the chicken using your fingers and a serrated knife. Salt and pepper each thigh.
  2. Heat a large skillet to medium-high heat. Add 1 teaspoon oil (or you can use nonstick spray).
  3. When the oil is hot, add 3 chicken thighs. Don't put them too close together, you want to avoid steaming.
  4. Cook for about 2 minutes, until nicely browned on the bottom. Then flip the chicken over to brown the other side for about 1-2 minutes.
  5. Remove the chicken to a plate.
  6. Repeat searing process with the other 3 chicken thighs. If there is still enough grease in the pan then you don't need to add more oil.
  7. Meanwhile, in a crock pot combine coconut milk, basil, 2 teaspoons salt, 3/4 teaspoon pepper, yellow curry, and chili powder (to taste). Stir to combine.
  8. Add the chopped red onions, garlic, and jalapenos.
  9. Add the browned chicken and stir to combine.
  10. Cook on high for 4-5 hours, or on low for 6-8 hours.
  11. Remove the chicken from the slow cooker and transfer to a plate or cutting board. Let cool for a couple minutes.
  12. Add the ginger to the slow cooker.
  13. In a small bowl, combine cornstarch and 1 tablespoon COLD water. Stir until it's not lumpy. Add this to the crock pot and stir.
  14. Shred the chicken, removing the bones and any tough bits. It should just be falling apart.
  15. Return the meat to the slow cooker and stir. Return the lid and cook for another 10 minutes.
  16. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the cilantro.
  17. Serve with rice, cauliflower rice, or naan.


*I know the photos show that I seared the meat with the skin on. I tried it both ways and liked it better with the skin removed, but only got photos with the skin on.

You can replace the thighs in this recipe with chicken breasts. Use about 1 and 1/2 to 2 pounds. (Chicken breasts are less fatty and won't reduce as much while cooking, so you need less meat to start with.)

Source: the stovetop version is originally from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe, who got it from Better Homes and Gardens.

Here’s the original Basil Chicken in Coconut Curry Sauce:

Basil Chicken in Coconut Curry Sauce from


Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala << This is another old recipe from the blog that I recently adapted for the slow cooker. It’s a classic Indian dish and it tastes sooo good!

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala from The Food Charlatan


6 Ingredient One Pot Vegetable Curry << this cheater recipe is so easy!

6 Ingredient One Pot Vegetable Curry from The Food Charlatan

Teriyaki Chicken Rice Bowls:

Teriyaki Chicken Rice Bowls from The Food Charlatan

Thai Red Chicken with Cherry Tomatoes: this is an oldie but a goodie.

Thai Red Chicken with Cherry Tomatoes from The Food Charlatan

Curry curry curry!!

Thai Red Curry with Vegetables from Cookie and Kate
Slow Cooker Chicken Curry from The Lemon Bowl
Coconut Chicken Thai Curry from Tastes Lovely

This post contains affiliate links.





  1. stephanie says

    yeah, you totally got me with the linoleum comment! i stared at it for a minute going, “is it…cute? …somehow? because…hipsters? or…?” thank glob for scrolling.

    and yes, my parents house growing up had the most ridiculous-but-typical kitchen – all gold appliances, super dark wood cabinets, gold-orange-brown flowered wallpaper, and the floor was also gold-orange-brown patterned laminate. it was really…something.

    anyway, the new wood floors DO look great! it must feel so good to see them going in. and the recipe looks delicious. i just made a red curry with chicken thighs, sweet potatoes, and shallots a couple weeks ago and it was so good. this yellow one is going on the list!

    • says

      Bahahaha!! I’m so glad I’m just tacky enough in general to fool you into thinking that I might have been serious. and “because…hipsters?” lol I’m cracking up over here Stephanie :) :) And yes, do try the curry! I want your sweet potato recipe!

      • stephanie says

        lol, i think i have been spending too much time on apartment therapy where someone always legitimately loves the “before” better.

        sweet potato shallot curry:
        1. brown some boneless skinless chicken thigh chunks in whatever pot you’ll make the curry in & set aside.
        2. in the food processor, grind up the edible bit of a lemongrass stalk, 2 garlic cloves, and a knob of ginger. cook this in some oil in the curry pot with some salt for a few minutes. add a jar of red curry paste (yes i use the whole jar!) and a spoonful of tomato paste, cook for another few minutes. deglaze with 2 c. chicken stock & scrape the pot, let it cook for five minutes, add a can of coconut milk & bring to a boil, then simmer the whole thing for a half hour.
        3. add 2 peeled & diced sweet potatoes. if there’s not enough liquid to cover them, add more chicken stock (or water). keep simmering partially covered for 15mins, then add however many peeled & quartered (lengthwise, don’t remove the root) shallots as you want and cook until done, another 15-20.
        4. add back in the chicken pieces, a thinly sliced red chile, and lime juice & salt to taste. it’s ready when the chicken is cooked through.

        have it over rice with cilantro, basil, bean sprouts, and more limes for squeezing! you can even make it a day or two ahead. :)

  2. Lena says

    Just a quick question! (May be obvious, but sometimes I am so literal) Do you cook all 6 thighs and then put all 6 thighs in the crock pot? And, what’s the recommended size crockpot for this recipe? I have a 4.5 quart.


    PS love your site

    • says

      Hey Lena, great question! Yes I totally forgot to tell you guys to sear the other 3 thighs. I changed the recipe. You sear all 6 thighs and add them. Your 4.5 quart crock pot should be just fine for this recipe! I’m so glad you are loving the blog Lena, thank you! :)

  3. Janice says

    Hahaha- I was thinking,’How can she like that linoleum, it’s so ugly?!’ In my defense, the linoleum colors came with the house, and I hated that kitchen floor for years! Tho I must admit, you could’ve dropped a fair amount of this fabulous looking curry on it and no one would have seen it – camo flooring :)

  4. Sarah says

    I too was trying to see what I was missing on the floor=) You really had me there for a minute hehe. I really like the wood floors! I have (engineered) hardwood in my kitchen and really love them. Very easy to wipe up spills and they are pretty too.

    The recipe looks super yummy…can’t wait to try it.

  5. Sarah says

    Looks delicious! I’ve made curries with coconut milk in my slow cooker before and the coconut milk always curdles – any advice on preventing that in this recipe?

  6. Sarah says

    Haha – I grew up with linoleum that looked like…BRICKS. I’m not joking. Everyone was TOTALLY fooled into thinking it was real brick, I’m sure.

    You reminded me that I should really be using my slow cooker more now that I have an hour to cook dinner before the little wakes up and demands her dinner. I’m going to have to try a (cilantro-free) variation of this recipe! <3

  7. Kelsey says

    Hello! I am really excited to try this recipe. I am a little confused and it may just be me reading this at the end of a work day. I noticed the recipe calls for skin on bone in chicken, but in the directions it says to remove the skin. And the picture on your blog shows the skin on the chicken when you have already seared it and put it in the crockpot. Do I remove the skin or not? Or just remove it on some of the chicken? Again, sorry if this is a silly question!

    • says

      Hey Kelsey! There is a note below the recipe about this. I tried it both ways and preferred it with the skin removed before the searing step. (But I only snapped photos on my first trial, with the skin on.) If you can find bone-in skinless chicken thighs, then just buy that! But I’ve never seen them. Sorry about the confusion! Enjoy!

  8. Sue Cascio says

    HI – just made this and used chicken breasts. The 2.5 – 3 lbs of chicken breasts as a sub for the chicken thighs was too much chicken. I was left with virtually no sauce!! the taste was great, but no sauce to coat the rice. I am going to make the stovetop version (1/2 the recipe) without the chicken so i have something to coat the chicken and rice with. Next time, I would use probably 1/2 the amount of chicken if i am using breasts. But honestly, the taste is great! Thanks

    • says

      Bummer Sue! I will change my recipe notes to reflect that. I’ve never made it with breasts, but I guess it makes sense that they wouldn’t shrink down as much as thighs because they are less fatty. I’m glad it still tasted good even though there was too much chicken! Thanks for your feedback, I really appreciate it!

  9. Erica says

    This looks great! I cant wait to make it! One question – is there a reason that you added the ginger at the end rather than at the same time as the onions and garlic? Is the ginger flavor not as strong that way? Looking forward to this :D

    • says

      Hey Erica! I think you are right, it would mute the flavor of the ginger if you added it with the onions and garlic. I feel like it’s pretty common in Asian cooking to add the ginger toward the end, but I’m not an expert. I’m sure there are lots of ways to do it. I do love a strong ginger flavor so I like adding it at the end. If that’s not your thing try adding it earlier so that it has time to simmer for a while :) Hope you enjoy the recipe!

  10. Allison says

    Do you think it would work to add some veggies to the crock pot, like carrots or mushrooms, to get some more fiber? Would the recipe need adjusting if I did that?

  11. p says

    Made this tonight and man it’s so good! I didn’t need to add the cornstarch because it was thick already. Must be because I used pure creamed coconut with 2 cups of water instead of canned coconut milk. I find you get more flavour that way and there are no additives. Next time I’d add more chicken. Oh and I used lots of fresh basil – not a fan of dried. Thanks for the recipe. Will be making this again SOON! :)

    • says

      Ooh yum! This would be fabulous with fresh basil, I can only imagine! Totally have to try that this summer when my plants are bursting. Love the creamed coconut idea! Perfect! Thanks for your review!

  12. Marie von Emster says

    I can’t wait to make this! I love coconut and curry, but I also love that it can be made in the slow cooker. I recently found out I’m allergic to cow’s milk, so it’s great to be able to add another coconut milk dish to my recipe book.

  13. Heather B says

    Made this today and it was really, really good. Used boneless thighs, lite coconut milk and hot madras curry powder, omitted the ginger. I only added one of the jalapeños to cook and kept the other one out to slice raw as a garnish. My husband isn’t big on curry and he commented twice during dinner that it was really good.

    • says

      I love poblanos! Such great flavor! That’s an awesome idea. And I’m impressed that even the baby liked it! It’s the best when you can find a meal everyone will eat. Thanks for your review Noelle, I will definitely check out your instagram post!

  14. says

    This looks so good! At first I thought “basil chicken, sounds Thai.” But when I got to the yellow curry powder I thought maybe it is more of an Indian curry than Thai. I am excited to try it regardless (especially since I have fresh basil now) but I wonder what are your thoughts about using yellow or green Thai curry paste I place of the powder?

    • says

      Fresh basil! Yum yum. You know Camille, I have to tell you for as much as I love curry I haven’t experienced too much cooking with it. I couldn’t tell you if this would be great with green paste. My instinct is yes. I say try it out! Let us know how it goes!

    • says

      Thanks Jacqueline! I honestly can’t remember which brand I used, but I bought it in the spice aisle at the grocery store. Any of the popular brands will work. I’ve even used curry I’ve found in the cheap-o plastic bags of spices that you can sometimes find with the Latin spices on the Mexican food aisle.

  15. Renee says

    This was super easy and delicious! I used chicken breast (a little more than 1 1/2lbs, 4 breasts). I cut each in half and browned them as the recipe calls for. I left out the jalapenos but followed the rest of the recipe. This is now part of my regular meal rotation. Thank you so much!

    • says

      Hey Renee! Hooray for a successful dinner! Thanks for the info on how many chicken breasts you used, I still haven’t tried it that way so was guessing on amounts. I’m glad it worked out!

  16. Cecilia Teh says

    Hi. This sounds divine. Just needed a clarification on the chili powder. Is that the Mexican chili powder or is it the powdered chili? Thanks so much!

  17. Amber says

    This sounds amazing! Do you think the chicken could be seared and cooled then combined with the rest of the ingredients as a pre-prep freezer meal?

  18. Ashley says

    Tried this out and it was DELISH. I tend to be too hands on in the kitchen, and the hardest part of this dish was leaving it alone for 6-8 hours. You have inspired me to find more slow cooker recipes – although I wont need any tonight because there were plenty of leftovers (regardless that my boyfriend had 3 servings). Thank you so much! No adjustments made to recipe and absolutely will be making again… and the floors look beautiful!

  19. Dana Moss says

    Mine is in the crockpot right now! I’m so excited. Will be serving with cauliflower rice. Thanks for this easy recipe. Can’t wait to try it.

  20. Danielle Del Rosario says

    Just finished this recipe! I used lite coconut milk instead of regular, so my sauce did not come out as creamy-looking as your pictures. But it is still very delicious. I will use regular coconut milk next time to achieve optimal creaminess.

  21. says

    This recipe is SO SO SO good!!! I have used you recipe so many times and have told all my friends and readers about it! Thank you so much for such a tasty recipe that is super easy to make. I am a huge fan of the crockpot! BTW I shared the recipe in my YouTube video today. I talked about it for a sec and everyone was asking so I put your link in the description of my video. Hope it helps! Thanks again! LOVE the recipe! I’m a little obsessed. Can you tell? haha! Thanks!

    • says

      Hey Brittany! I’m so glad you like the recipe! I saw what you said in your comment on your YouTube page about subbing powder for garlic and ginger, I’ll have to try that next time I’m feeling lazy. Thanks for the shout out! I’m off to check out your rice krispies recipe, I don’t have one I like!

  22. Brooke says

    Mine did not turn out as creamy for some reason! Not sure what I did wrong. I cooked on high so maybe I’ll try again on low. Still tastes good though! Just a thinner, darker colored sauce.

    • Tracy says

      Mine wasn’t creamy either and I followed the recipe to a “T.” The flavor was good, could’ve used some heat, though. I added some Siracha sauce to my plateful and it really added some zing. I don’t know how to make this dish creamy though. I thought about adding some yogurt or sour cream to the finished dish. Maybe I’ll try that next time.

    • Meribeth says

      I had the same issue lacking in creaminess :( I am not sure if it was the type of coconut milk I used or some other factor. I cooked mine on low and instead of bone in chicken thighs I used Skinless boneless (My Fiancé picked up the wrong meat lol) but other than that followed the recipe.

  23. Rachel Hamilton says

    I was just wondering if there was something else that could be substituted for the jalapeno in the recipe? I know the seeds carry the heat, but, y’know how food allergies go in getting you when you least expect it.

  24. AMY says

    HI! I had this great curry that my friend made a few months ago and looked around on pinterest to try and find a similar recipe and found this one. Then, I asked my friend if she could send me the link to hers because I just really liked it. Long story short, this was the same recipe from your website. I made a double batch for my family and a friend who just had a baby and we all loved it. Thank you so much!

  25. Amber says

    I made this tonight for dinner and my whole family enjoyed it…even my 4 year old! I am not typically a big fan of curries, but the flavors in this dish were balanced and it was delicious. Thanks for sharing!

  26. Heatherlynn Opitz says

    Hi. I am allergic to coconut everything (except for coconut oil. I know it’s weird, but that’s how it goes for me!). Is there a different option for the coconut milk? I would really like to try this, but can’t use the coconut. Sorry if this is a stupid question. Thanks. If there’s no sub, I’ll just admire from afar!

    • says

      Hey Heather! Hmm. I’m not sure how you could make this without the coconut milk. It just wouldn’t have the same flavor. I would try finding another yellow curry recipe and try adapting it to the crock pot. Good luck!

  27. Jessica says

    I ended up using 8 chicken thighs instead of six, smoked paprika and cayenne to give it more of a kick. And I added cilantro and lime to my rice (thanks Chipotle). This dish is definitely a winner!

  28. Jaquee says

    Ok, this has also been added to our rotation!! I personally feel like having to get out a pan and brown something defeats the whole purpose of a crock pot (SO limited on time! We are lucky if we get a homemade dinner at all!) so I just used my chicken breast since I buy it in bulk and always have it on hand and believe it or not, I couldn’t find bone-in chicken thighs at the store! I just used 3 breasts and had plenty of sauce for the rice. This was SO divine! SO delicious! The only thing for me is it definitely wasn’t spicy enough (I actually de-seeded and removed the membrane of one jalapeno but not the other just to make sure it was spicy- we love spicy!) , which it really needed because the coconut milk taste was so strong – not necessarily a bad thing! It is quite good! But the extra spiciness would have balanced it all out really nicely. Thank you so much for this recipe!

  29. Katherine says

    This was amazing! I made a few changes. I used organic boneless skinless thighs. Omitted the jalapeños and ginger. Used a curry spice blend from Minnesota organic spice co (ahmazing). I also used 1 can organic coconut cream and one can organic coconut milk full fat, the brand that doesn’t use gums. I didn’t add the cornstarch as I felt the consistency was perfect! I note the organic aspect as I find consistency of products make a difference between organic and standard. The picky kids loved it and my husband and I devoured it! Paired it with white rice and roasted cauliflower and salad! Delicious! Thank you! I will add one negative, the browning of chicken was a bit time consuming and messy. Not sure how to master that without a three foot radius being covered in grease! Anyhow, won’t stop me from making it again and again! Oh, made this in a instant pot, on slow cooker vs traditional slow cooker.

    • says

      Hey Katherine, thanks so much for the review! I’m glad you guys liked it. And yeah, browning the chicken isn’t exactly the cleanest of endeavors. I recommend a splatter shield! They really help out with keeping the stove clean.

  30. Leah Zweihorn says

    Hi! I got to your site from Pinterest, and I’m so glad I did!
    This dish was Amazing!
    I halved the sauce and made it with half a chicken, it was perfect.
    I’m so excited to see what else you have on your site!

  31. Katherine says

    Wow. This is absolutely amazing. I cannot rave about it enough. Plus it’s a set and forget recipe?! Could not be more perfect. My family loved it. They called it a gourmet meal :) The perfect balance of flavors. I actually used chicken breasts because we had them on hand, and it was incredible. Thank you so much for posting this!!

  32. Laura says

    Ok, can I ask a dumb question? I have only tried to make curry once and when I opened the can of coconut milk, I found that it had both liquid and solid parts. Do I use both or just the liquid? Thanks!

  33. Shawna says

    Has anyone had issues w/it being too salty? 2t seems high, plus salting the chicken…? Maybe it all turns out okay- making it now.

    • says

      Hey Shawna! From what I remember, I haven’t received any reviews about the salt level being high. But I will be honest, I do love me some salt. Add 1 teaspoon! You can always add more later! Enjoy :)

  34. says

    Hello! I bought all the ingredients for this recipe & i can’t wait to make it.

    But quick question, in reply to #11 in the Instructions section:

    At what point during the cooking process is this done? When it is completely finished or?

  35. Sarah O says

    Do you know if the box coconut milk that is sold as a beverage could be substituted for this canned coconut milk? I ask because it’s significantly cheaper. Thanks!

    • says

      Hey Sarah! I’m not familiar with the product you’re talking about so I can’t say for sure. Next time you’re at the grocery store, look at both of the ingredient lists on each can and see if they are the same. If so then It would probably work! (I doubt they are the same though.)

  36. says

    Well OF FREAKING COURSE this is your recipe. I was just wasting my time on Pinterest and was all drooly (technical term) over this recipe and when I clicked through I was like WELL DUH. It’s amazing because it’s Karen’s. THE END.

    Anywho. Saved this to make this week. I can’t wait!!

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