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Slow Cooker Chicken Bhuna

Tender pieces of chicken in a thick and intensely flavoured sauce are the signature notes for a Chicken Bhuna. This recipe for Slow Cooker Chicken Bhuna doesn’t disappoint! Full of flavour from tomatoes, chillies and onion coated in a medley of spices; this medium heat curry isn’t just tasty but also amazingly quick to prepare.

Over head view of a Slow Cooker Chicken Bhuna with rice, naan and a decorative candle and spoon.

Bhuna is a dish that we would order frequently when eating out at Indian restaurants. It’s got bags of flavour but it also tends it to be a lighter option as there isn’t fat or cream added to the sauce.

It’s usually a simple base of tomatoes, chillies and onions. I say usually, because rather like a Balti, it’s a dish that is open to some interpretation! There is no specific recipe which is widely followed.

A bhuna is more about encapsulating the key flavours and creating a beautifully spiced sauce that lets the ingredients really shine.

In fact, the recipe here was one of the first we had on Slow Cooker Club and has been a reader favourite for some time!

Close up view of the sauce of Slow Cooker Chicken Bhuna, topped with coriander and a slice of lemon

What ingredients are in a Bhuna?

Like many curries, the name Bhuna doesn’t foretell the ingredients of the dish, rather the method by which it is cooked. Bhuna is Urdu and literally means ‘to be fried’. It’s famous for being served with a sauce of fresh green chillies and onions.

The ingredients for slow cooker chicken bhuna are below. As you can see, the spice mix includes turmeric, garam masala, cumin, and fenugreek with extra zest from fresh ginger, green chillies, garlic and lemon. Delicious!

A photo of the ingredients for a Crockpot Chicken Bhuna.

Green chillies are preferred as they give the sauce a mild sourness which blends perfectly against the tomatoes and spices. Chicken thighs are used as they stay really tender when cooked for longer in the slow cooker.

Why make a Chicken Bhuna in the Slow Cooker?

For starters, it’s really quick to produce a great tasting curry with very little effort. The prep of the ingredients takes little more than ten minutes and the sauce is a simple base of tomatoes. So it couldn’t get much easier!

Secondly, a crockpot chicken bhuna tastes fantastic after cooking for hours allowing the chicken to turn tender and the flavours to infuse. An important process for creating that authentic intensely flavoured sauce!

Side closeup view of a chicken bhuna, with coriander and a slice of lemon

How spicy is Chicken Bhuna?

Bhuna is a medium heat dish, so you want a bit of a kick without numbing your mouth and not being able to taste the rest of the flavours!

In this recipe only fresh chillies provide the heat. As such, it’s a good idea to taste a tiny bit of the chilli raw before starting to cook. This avoids issues with either too much, or not enough spice later on.

If you find that your chillies are not up to the job of bringing fire to the pot, then you can also add in a little ground hot chilli – I would suggest starting with 1 teaspoon.

Steps to making the perfect Slow Cooker Chicken Bhuna

Images of the six steps to make Chicken Bhuna in the crockpot
  1. Start by cutting the chicken thighs into thirds and adding to the pot.
  2. Add sliced onions to the chicken.
  3. Cover everything in the herb and spice mixture.
  4. Add the ginger, garlic, chopped chillies, tomato paste, and finely crumbled stock cube.
  5. Sprinkle over the cornflour and mix everything through well. This will help to create that thick glossy sauce!
  6. Now pour in the wet ingredients- chopped tomato and lemon juice. Stir through once more and cook!

More Hearty Slow Cooker Recipes

If you like the look of this meatloaf recipe, try these other hearty and delicious recipes:

Overhead view of chicken bhuna, a decorative spoon, and a side dish of rice and a naan
Can I keep leftover Chicken Bhuna?

Yes for up to three days in the fridge in an air tight container or three months in the freezer.

What can I serve with Chicken Bhuna?

Chicken Bhuna goes well with freshly cooked basmati rice and naan or roti breads.

Overhead view of Chicken bhuna with naan bread.

Slow Cooker Chicken Bhuna

Slow Cooker Chicken Bhuna is a medium heat curry with a thick and tasty green chilli, tomato and onion sauce
4.97 from 33 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 5 hrs
Total Time 5 hrs 15 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings4 people


  • 500 g (1 lb) chicken thighs cut into thirds
  • 1 large white onion or 2 small white onions
  • 400 g (14 oz) tin chopped tomatoes
  • 100 ml (0.5 cups) water
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 green chillies seeds removed
  • 2 tsp dried or chopped coriander (cilantro)
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1.5 tsp fenugreek ground
  • 1 2cm (1inch) piece of fresh ginger finely chopped
  • 1 chicken stock cube crumbled
  • 2 tbsp corn flour
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt


  • Cut each chicken thigh into 3 pieces and place in the pot, then add the sliced onion.
  • In a bowl mix together the garam masala, tumeric, fenugreek, coriander, salt, and cumin.
  • Add the spice mix, sliced green chillies, garlic, ginger, sugar and tomato paste. Finely crumble the stock cube into the pot and mix everything together well.
  • Sprinkle the cornflour to the pot and stir well.
  • Add the water, lemon juice and chopped tomatoes and mix through.
  • Cook on low for 5 hours or high for 3 hours.



It’s good to taste a small piece before you add them into the recipe to gauge the level of heat that they will produce. If your chillies aren’t spicy and you prefer more heat, then you can include some of the seeds, or some ground chilli powder.


If you don’t have fresh ginger, substitute with ¼ tsp of ground ginger.

Chicken Thighs

Don’t chop them too small. Cutting each thigh into 2-3 pieces usually is about the right size.


Calories: 240kcalCarbohydrates: 20gProtein: 27gFat: 6gSaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 119mgSodium: 1251mgPotassium: 741mgFiber: 4gSugar: 7gVitamin A: 343IUVitamin C: 25mgCalcium: 72mgIron: 4mg
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