My first question on here, so please go easy on me.

I have recently got a slow cooker and have been very pleased with the results, but that was using ready-made sachets of cooking mixes.

I am now trying to cook things properly from scratch but I think I'm missing something important.

This is the recipe I have used for chicken curry:-

  • 4 chicken thighs
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 large onions
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 red pepper
  • handful chopped spinach
  • 100g mushrooms
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 250ml chicken stock
  • 3 heaped tsp of curry spice

I put everything in the slow cooker, give it a good stir, and then leave it to cook. It tastes nice, but the sauce is very watery.

I have used the same recipe in a pan and the sauce thickens after I simmer it for about 20 mins.

Do I need to change the recipe to use the slow cooker? Or am I doing something fundamentally wrong?

  • Though not a perfect solution, you could always try adding a fine-grain thickener afterwards if you need to bring the thickness up quick. Corn Starch is good for this. Though this is only if you're going for a curry that is wet, and not trying to make a dry curry.
    – Zibbobz
    Jan 30, 2015 at 16:19
  • For a curry I'd use gram flour rather than corn starch.
    – Racheet
    Feb 23, 2015 at 17:57

5 Answers 5


A slow cooker needs a lot less water for the same recipe than something you simmer in a pan for 20 minutes. The sauce thickens in the pan because a lot of the water evaporates.

In this case, most your water is in the chicken stock. To get all of the flavor, but less moisture, drastically reduce, or even eliminate the stock. You've got plenty of water without it. Use a tsp of chicken base to keep the flavor without the water (recommended: Better Than Bouillon).

That alone will probably solve your problem. If it doesn't, come back to this question and edit it to tell us what you tried and any problems that remain, or ask a new question if the problem is different.

Welcome to Seasoned Advice.

  • 3
    I'd also just leave out the stock. From that list of ingredients, there is more than enough moisture in the onions, peppers, and canned tomatoes to make a sauce come together. You may have excess moisture problems even without the stock.
    – Dan C
    Jan 29, 2015 at 21:20
  • @DanC Thank you for the advice. I was thinking that everything had to be covered in liquid in the slow cooker - is that not the case? The tomatoes alone don't cover up everything else. With the stock added, it's just enough to cover everything. Is the slow cooker too big for the amount I'm cooking?
    – Carl H
    Jan 30, 2015 at 8:19
  • 4
    @CarlHesketh You absolutely do not need to submerge everything. As a matter of fact, if your chicken thighs still have skin, it would be good to have that skin above the level of the liquid. If your slow cooker looks like it's one-third full (at least close to it), it's not too big.
    – Jolenealaska
    Jan 30, 2015 at 8:27
  • @Jolenealaska That's good information, thank you.
    – Carl H
    Jan 30, 2015 at 17:40

One trick I do to keep excess water from dripping into what I have cooking in the slow cooker is.....I take a double thickness of paper towels, lay it on top of the slow cooker and then put the lid on. The paper towel absorbs the dripping beads of water and keeps it from thinning out my recipes. when the paper towel gets quite wet, I replace it with another. This little trick has made a big difference in my end product.


I agree with what several people are saying about evaporation. I also liked what someone said about using "dried" chicken bullion instead of chicken stock. however if you use this method make sure you decrease the salt you add to your dish to compensate for how salty your chicken bouillon is. You will have to play with balancing any additional liquids vs dilution of flavor concentration. Also if you add a few diced potatoes they will break down and become a natural thickener. Curry powder also has some thickening properties, thus you can increase the amount added. I often make "Jamaican Style" curry chicken which is cooked in a large pot on top of stove. The recipe calls for potatoes, very little liquid (just to almost cover chicken), and LOTS of curry powder. lol There are more ingredients of-course but the ones I listed above are the main things that regulate the consistency of the liquid in the finished dish. I have found such dishes to be a lot more flavorful if you can get the liquid to a level where there is just enough for everyone to have some "Gravy" plus a tad extra. Also I like to sear the thighs if I keep the skin on because it helps "Melt off" a lot of the fat and keeps more of the moisture inside the chicken where I want it during cooking.


I know this is an old question, but I really would recommend a frying stage to make this recipe work, in a pan just deep enough to accommodate the spinach, depending how it comes..

  • An initial browning of the chicken, if desired , removed to the slow-cooker
  • Frying the onions out to translucency
  • The addition of spices and garlic to release their flavor into the oil, (care not to burn)
  • Addition of mushrooms to reduce/brown them to taste
  • Now we start to boil, rather than fry... deglaze the pot with spinach and tomatoes: let the spinach collapse and evaporate a lot of its liquid..
  • Add enough stock to make a coating consistency.
  • Combine with the chicken in the slow cooker.

Obviously a few variations according to taste, here, (For example a lot of stews, especially non- European, don't brown meat,) but the object is to avoid having uncooked spices floating around in the liquids from the spinach/mushrooms/tomatoes/stock. Higher, frying temperatures are needed to make the most of some of these ingredients, IMO.


Get chicken from a butcher, not a supermarket, these days the water content in chicken from supermarkets has increased which makes all dishes more watery and bland, even if you eliminate the stock,and the flavour more like stew rather than that of a fragrant curry flavour.

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