Slow Cooker Turkey Curry is a quick and easy way of using up any turkey leftover from your Christmas or Thanksgiving dinner. It combines pre-cooked turkey and a delicious blend of sweet spices all in a light creamy sauce, perfect for all of the family. No waste and plenty of taste!
Slow Cooker Leftover Turkey Curry
More often than not there will be a good amount of turkey left after Christmas or Thanksgiving, which then poses the question of what to do with it? Serve it cold on a buffet, make a pie, eat it in sandwiches? There are many options!
But for an easy and warming meal a curry works brilliantly.
My leftover turkey curry recipe is designed to be quick, simple and delicious! I use a blend of ground spices and coconut milk to make a tasty and aromatic sauce. I add this to the pre-cooked turkey with sautéed onions and peppers and that’s it. Leave it in the slow cooker for a few hours to make another delicious meal.
Why make turkey curry in the slow cooker?
- The preparation time for this curry is around 15 minutes and then it’s just a case of leaving it in the slow cooker. So easy!
- Slow cooking is a great way to bring out delicious flavours in your food. It gives time for the spices, stock and coconut milk in this recipe to really fuse together to make an aromatic sauce.
What You’ll Need
Here are the ingredients to make leftover turkey curry – see the full recipe card for quantities.
Cooked turkey – If you have pre-cooked a whole or turkey crown then strip the turkey of the meat, try not to cut the pieces up too small as larger pieces retain moisture better in the slow cooker, especially as it’s already cooked. Shop bought packets of cooked chicken or turkey also work brilliantly.
Spice blend – A blend of sweet and aromatic spices keep the festive undertone going in this curry; there’s garam masala, ginger, a little cinnamon, turmeric and chilli. Coriander adds further fragrance to the sauce.
Coconut milk – Full fat coconut milk works best in slow cooker sauces, both in terms of texture and taste.
Vegetables – Onion and garlic sautéed in vegetable oil add plenty of flavour to the curry. I also add red and green pepper. Not only do they taste great, but it makes the curry stretch that bit further if you are cooking for more people. Add the peppers raw to retain their crunch.
Stock – A chicken stock cube creates a flavoursome undertone in the sauce. A pinch of salt also enhances the other flavours.
Tomato puree – A few large tablespoons to add a rich tomato base to the sauce. A little sugar balances any acidity, this is optional.
Cornflour – Acts as a thickener to the sauce and helps to stabilise the coconut milk to prevent splitting. Wheat flour can be used as an alternative, although I recommend using a third less as it’s a heavier flour.
How To Make It
Detailed instructions can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of the post!
Here is a step by step guide on how to make slow cooker leftover turkey curry.
- Sauté onions. As the turkey is pre-cooked this recipe has a shorter cooking time so ensure that your onions and garlic are soft and sweet by sautéing them in the pan in some oil first. If you have a sear and stew metal pot slow cooker you can do this step directly in the pot.
- Activate your spices by heating them through with the onions in the pan on the stove. This makes sure that you get the deepest flavour for the curry sauce.
- Chop the turkey. Usually I’d be more specific about the sizes of the chunks (to ensure they retain shape and moisture) however, as the meat is already cooked simply take the pieces and add them to the pot. Cut up any very large pieces.
- Add coriander, the stock cube, sugar, peppers and tomato puree then coat with the flour before stirring well.
- Add the coconut milk, mix and then cook on low for 4 hours.
The best advice I can give you is to keep it simple! After the usual overindulgence of Christmas Day, serving slow cooker leftover turkey curry with rice and a naan bread makes for a fantastic meal.
Some ideas for variations to the recipe are:
Vegetables – Try adding some cauliflower or potatoes (roast potatoes are particularly delicious!). If these have been cooked previously then add them in half way through cooking so they don’t become too soft. Cut the potatoes into cubes of about 3cm square for best results.
Sultanas – If you have any left over from making a Christmas cake or pudding then adding a few tablespoons will add a lovely sweet edge to the curry.
Heat – Increase the heat by adding more chilli or a pinch of cayenne!
Fresh Chicken – You can use fresh raw chicken or turkey instead of cooked with this recipe:
- Cook the raw pieces of meat in a pan first, add them to the slow cooker then cook as per the stated recipe instructions and times.
- Add the raw chicken or turkey into the slow cooker with the other ingredients and cook the whole mixture together for longer – between 5-7 hours on low. Always make sure the meat is hot throughout and the juices run clear. Be aware that breast meat will dry out faster than leg meat due to it’s lower fat content so check it part way through cooking to see how it looks.
Here are some tips to ensure an easy leftover turkey curry:
- Activate spices. Heating the spice blend through in the pan with some oil intensifies the flavours.
- Soften the onions. Due to the shorter cook time in the slow cooker it’s best to sauté the onions and garlic first so they are fully soft and sweet by the time you are ready to serve.
- Keep the meat pieces fairly large to retain moisture. As the meat cooks in the sauce it softens and breaks down naturally.
- Chicken or turkey! Both pre-cooked chicken or turkey will work fantastically well in this recipe.
- Use all of the meat. Don’t just use the breast meat. The meat from the legs, wings and underside of the turkey or chicken are extremely flavoursome. Be sure to remove any bones before cooking.
Leftover turkey or chicken can be stored in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to four days before being made into a leftover turkey curry.
As a general rule it isn’t a good idea to reheat turkey more than once, this is because bacteria thrives in medium temperatures and so allowing the meat to pass through these temperatures multiple times means you are giving bacteria more chances to grow. The NHS website gives more in depth information regarding poultry cooking and storing guidelines.
Yes, providing that the meat was only frozen once, after cooking. See food.gov.uk website for more information.
Low fat coconut milk contains less coconut cream and a higher ratio of water. So the sauce will have a thinner, less silky texture. I would advise adding an extra tablespoon of cornflour to thicken the sauce if intending to use a low fat milk.
Yes, 3 hours on high will be sufficient providing the meat is steaming hot at the end of cooking time. Also bear in mind that slow cookers can have different cook times according to their size and brand. Some may take more time to bring the meat up to the correct temperature so take this time as a guide.
Coconut milk from the carton has undergone more processing in that vitamins, flavourings and stabilisers may have been added and much more of the cream has been filtered out resulting in a thinner liquid. Canned coconut milk or cream is in a more natural state, with fewer ingredients and results in a thicker and richer sauce which is better for cooking.
Slow Cooker Turkey Curry
- 400 g turkey pre-cooked and roughly chopped
- 1 onion white, peeled and sliced
- 1 red pepper de-seeded and thickly sliced
- 1 green pepper de-seeded and thickly sliced
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 400 g coconut milk 1 can of full fat coconut milk
- 4 tbsp tomato puree
- 1 tbsp coriander dried or fresh
- 1½ tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp sweet paprika
- 1 tsp ginger ground ginger or a thumb sized piece of peeled and grated fresh ginger
- 1 tsp hot chilli pepper ground
- ½ tsp cinnamon ground
- ½ tsp smoked paprika ground
- ½ tsp sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 stock cube chicken
- 2½ tbsp cornflour
- 6 tbsp water
- Heat a pan on the stove to a medium heat with the vegetable oil. Fry the sliced onion until translucent (approximately 5 minutes). For best results add 2-3 tablespoons of water whilst frying in order to sweat the onion and prevent any burning.
- Add the spices and minced garlic to the sautéed onions and cook for a further 1-2 minutes stirring throughout. To prevent the mixture sticking to the pan add 2-3 more tablespoons of water.
- Transfer the onions, garlic and spice mix to the slow cooker. Add the tomato puree, sugar, stock cube, salt, chopped turkey and peppers. Sprinkle over the cornflour and stir everything through to ensure it is evenly coated with the flour.
- Pour in the coconut milk and stir through once more. Cook for 4 hours on low.
- Don’t cut the pieces of turkey too small. This will help prevent them becoming dry and breaking down in the sauce during cooking.
- Sautée the onions before adding to the slow cooker to ensure they are soft and sweet.
- Cook the spices first. This will activate their flavour and ensure a rich and aromatic sauce.
- This curry has a mild level of heat from the 1 tsp of ground hot chilli powder. Add 1 tsp extra to increase the heat to a medium level of spice.
- Add the peppers into the slow cooker raw. This will help to retain their texture.
- Ensure that the meat is piping hot throughout before serving. Although the turkey has already been cooked it needs to be fully reheated before serving.