Slow cooker lamb curry is a wonderfully rich and flavourful dish, and this recipe is very easy to prepare. Slow cooking the lamb gives a melt-in-the-mouth result that everybody will love. Set-and-forget, and return to a delicious main dish ready to eat.
Easy slow cooker lamb curry
Slow cooking is the perfect way to prepare rich and delicious meals with minimum fuss. I love coming back home to a gently bubbling slow cooker, filling the kitchen with delicious aromas. Better still, we often come home to several meals ready and waiting, because I make extra for the freezer.
We like to make a generous batch and freeze some. This means we know that we can have a tasty supper in minutes, whenever we need a lift. I love the fact that we know exactly what’s in this curry (unlike takeaway), and have made it exactly the way we like it.
Slow and sumptuous
Curry is the perfect dish for slow cooking. The longer time taken for the dish to cook gives time for flavours to intensify and blend, and for the meat to cook to tender.
I wanted to make a slow cooker lamb curry after developing my slow cooker chicken curry recipe. Lamb is at its best when cooked slowly and the spices have time to develop, so this approach is an all-round winner.
First class railway lamb curry
The stronger flavoured lamb suits a drier, richer, more intense spice mix than chicken and that’s what I have used here. The resulting curry has plenty of rich, coconut gravy and is savoury but not too hot for European tastes.
In fact, this is very much an Anglo-Indian style of curry and similar to the ‘First Class Railway Mutton (or Lamb) Curry’ that was popular on Indian railways in the early 1900s. A traditional mutton curry recipe was made less fiery for foreigners with the addition of coconut milk. A new classic dish was born.
I have used lamb for this slow cooker curry, but it would also be good made with mutton, hogget or goat.
I usually cook for two, but this recipe feeds six, so is perfect both for entertaining and for stocking the freezer. I’m a huge fan of cooking once and eating twice or more!
Why make slow cooker lamb curry
- This recipe is easy – brown off the meat, then throw everything into the slow cooker and forget about it.
- It is delicious – rich intense curry and tender, flavour-filled diced lamb.
- Made in the slow cooker, it is largely hands off. All you need is about 10 minutes to begin with.
- It is adaptable so you can easily adjust the spice level to suit your taste.
- It is perfect for batch cooking. Double it up and fill the freezer.
Slow cooker lamb curry recipe – ingredients
- Diced lamb – This will usually be shoulder or leg. You could also use hogget, mutton or even goat. Make sure the chunks are about the same size, and trim and discard any large lumps of fat.
- Spices – I use a curry powder mix (which gives a great base for most curries that you can build on with other spices), garam masala, chilli flake, cumin, turmeric and paprika for more flavour and colour.
- Cinnamon – Cinnamon and lamb is a classic combination.
Fuss Free Tip
I buy smaller quantities of spices so they’re fresh and vibrant when I use them. Buy little, and buy often.
- Ginger – Fresh ginger is best. I keep it in a box in the freezer. It is easy to grate from frozen.
- Canned tomatoes – These can be chopped or whole. You don’t need to worry about chopping the whole ones, as they will fall to pieces by the end of cooking.
A decent brand is well worth a few extra few pennies. If you are using cheap tomatoes, add a little tomato puree/paste and a spoon of sugar to both enrichen and counteract the acidity of under-ripe tomatoes. If you prefer, you can also passata here, or even a jar of tomato pasta sauce.
- Tomato paste – As with canned tomatoes, I find cheap versions can be a false economy and the benefits from spending a little more are well worth it.
- Coconut milk – A can of regular coconut milk is perfect. You can also use reduced fat coconut milk, or coconut cream with extra water.
I often use coconut milk powder. It works out cheaper than canned coconut milk, saves space in the cupboard and has the huge advantage that you can make as much or little as you like, as thin or thick as you like.
- Chicken or lamb stock – Lamb stock is less widely available than chicken or vegetable. Any of these would work. A cube or stock pot is perfect here. If using a cube, make it up into a thin paste with just a little water.
How to make slow cooker lamb curry – step by step
Before you start, read my step-by-step instructions, with photos, hints and tips so you can to make this perfectly every time.
Scroll down for the recipe card with quantities and more tips at the bottom of the page.
Step One – Peel and finely chop the onion. Put the oil in a frying pan and sauté the onion until it is starting to turn golden. Then put the cooked onions into the slow cooker.
Step Two – Cook the diced lamb in the frying pan, until the outside of each piece is just browned. Cook in batches, removing the cooked pieces and adding more to the pan.
This ensures that each lamb chunk has contact with the pan. If the meat is piled up, it will steam cook rather than fry, which gives less flavour.
Step Three – Return all the meat to the pan, and add the spices, grated ginger and chopped garlic. Then give it a good stir to coat the lamb in the spices, which should be starting to toast and release their aromas.
Fuss Free Tip
You are not fully cooking the lamb or spices at this point. Caramelizing the meat adds some extra flavour (due to the Millard reaction), and cooking the spices in this way is similar to the technique of making a tikka, which is packed with flavour.
Step Four – Add the lamb to the slow cooker together with the tomatoes, coconut milk, stock/broth, butter (this adds a lovely creaminess), cinnamon stick and cracked cardamom pods.
Fuss Free Tip
The easiest way to crack cardamom pods is with the flat of a heavy knife on a chopping board. Place the pods on the board and place the knife flat on top. Hit the top of the knife with the flat of your hand, and the pods will crack open. Or you can squash them with the bottom of the spice jar!
Step Five – Stir well and put the lid on. Cook for half an hour on high, until the curry starts to simmer. You can then continue to cook for a further 5+ hours on high, or turn down to low for 6-7+ hours. Exact timings will depend on your slow cooker – they are all different.
I usually give the curry a stir once or twice during cooking, as my slow cooker has a few hotspots.
I find that a slow cooked lamb dish can be cooked for longer than a chicken dish and still keep all the flavour and texture. The lamb really benefits from slow cooking. Having said that, don’t leave this to cook for a full 10 hour day while you are out at work.
Step Six – Remove the cardamom pods and cinnamon stick. They will float to the top during cooking, so it is easy to scoop them out.
Step Seven – If you prefer a thicker gravy, you can now thicken the curry. This can be done by leaving the lid ajar for the last 30–40 minutes of cooking, so that the sauce reduces. I prefer to use cornflour (cornstarch if you are in the US).
Put 2 heaped teaspoons of cornflour/cornstarch into a small bowl. Take a few spoons of the curry sauce and stir into the cornflour to make a thin paste. Pour this back into the curry and stir thoroughly. The sauce will then start to thicken. If you want to go further, repeat.
Fuss Free Tip
When you use cornflour to thicken a dish, ALWAYS add liquid to the cornflour in a separate bowl to make a paste before you stir it into the sauce. NEVER add dry cornflour to a dish of hot sauce. You will never get the lumps out.
NB The cornflour used in British recipes is the same as American cornstarch and not American corn flour.
- Vary the spicing with your favourite curry powder blend or paste.
- For a creamier curry, try swirling through some double cream at the end. You can also use yoghurt. To do this, add some of the curry sauce to the plain yoghurt, stir well, and then introduce it back into the hot curry.
- You can stretch the dish if you need to by adding a can of drained and rinsed chickpeas or lentils half an hour before the end of cooking time.
- It is really easy to add some extra vegetables into this slow cooker curry recipe. Just chop up and fry anything you would normally fry with the onions. Aubergine is a good match for lamb. Include chunks of raw cauliflower, green beans or root vegetables along with the liquid. You can also add cooked leftover veg half an hour before the end of cooking.
Storage and freezing
This slow cooker recipe for lamb curry is great for batch cooking. Like most casseroles, stews and slow cooked dishes, it is even better reheated the next day.
Allow your curry to cool, and pack into an airtight container (I love the 500ml plastic takeaway trays are they are the perfect size for two, stack well and can go through the dishwasher umpteen times).
You can keep it in the fridge for up to 3 days, or freeze for 3 months. Defrost (from frozen) and reheat in a pan on the stove. Alternatively, heat in the microwave. Just make sure it is really hot before serving.
Hints and Tips
- You can make this slow cooker lamb curry recipe on the stove top or in the oven instead. Use a good heavy casserole dish, with a lid that fits. Cook on a low heat, using a diffuser ring if you need to.
- Do not be tempted to skip the frying stage. It will be OK (ish) but why cook something disappointing when it could be great?
- Fresh spices are better. If you’ve had that jar of curry powder for years, then please throw it and buy fresh.
I use a medium curry powder from the supermarket. It has more bitter flavours like turmeric and fenugreek, balancing the sweeter garam masala. However, this dish is very flexible. You can use your own favourite curry mix.
If you prefer to leave out the coconut milk, use some extra water at the start of cooking. Then stir in some cream or yoghurt at the end. You will still have a lovely, rich curry.
More Curry Recipes
- Leftover Turkey Curry – speedy, easy and perfect for after Thanksgiving or Christmas
- Leftover Lamb Curry – A classic retro British style curry perfect to use up the remains of your roast.
- Slow Cooker Beef Curry – tender fall apart beef in a rich tomato sauce.
- Slow Cooker Chicken Curry – Chunks of succulent chicken in a rich creamy coconut sauce.
- Lamb Rogan Josh – fully flavoured with tender chunks of lamb
- Chicken Biryani – one pot, lightly spiced chicken and rice
- Homemade pilau rice – golden yellow, lightly spiced with butter finish (you can also make Instant Pot pilau rice)
- Raita – the classic refreshing and cooling curry accompaniment, made with yogurt, cucumber and mint.
More Lamb Recipes
We love lamb! Here are some of our favourite recipes.
Easy Slow Cooked Lamb Curry
- 1 large onion (peeled and finely diced)
- 1 tsp vegetable oil
- 600 g lamb
- 1 tbs fresh ginger (finely grated)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tbs curry powder
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp chilli flake (or to taste)
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 6 cardamon pods (cracked)
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1 can tomatoes (regular 440g can)
- 2 tbs tomato paste
- 1 can coconut milk (regular 440g can)
- 1 lamb, chicken or vegetable stock cube / stock pot
- 30 g butter
- 2 tsp cornflour/cornstarch (optional to thicken)
- Peel and finely dice the onion. Add the oil to a frying pan and sauté the onion until it is starting to turn golden. Remove from the pan and add to the slow cooker.1 large onion, 1 tsp vegetable oil
- Cook the diced lamb in the pan, frying gently until the edges are browning. Fry in batches to make sure the meat cooks in contact with the pan.600 g lamb
- Add the spices, grated ginger and chopped garlic. Return all the meat to the pan. Stir to coat the lamb. and continue until the spices are starting to toast, and release their fragrance.1 tbs fresh ginger, 2 cloves garlic, 2 tbs curry powder, 1 tsp garam masala, 1 tsp chilli flake, 1 tsp paprika, 2 tsp cumin
- Add the lamb to the slow cooker together with the tomatoes, tomato puree, coconut milk, stock/broth, butter, cinnamon stick and cracked cardamom pods.1 cinnamon stick, 1 can tomatoes, 2 tbs tomato paste, 1 can coconut milk, 1 lamb, chicken or vegetable stock cube / stock pot, 30 g butter, 6 cardamon pods
- Stir well and put the lid on. Cook for half an hour on high, until the curry starts to simmer. You can then continue to cook for a further 4+ hours on high, or turn down to low for 6+ hours.
- Towards the end of cooking, remove the cinnamon stick and cardamom pods. These will have floated to the top and can be lifted out with a spoon.
- If you prefer a thicker gravy, you can now thicken the curry. You can do this by leaving the lid ajar for the last 30-40 minutes of cooking, to allow the sauce to reduce, or use cornflour. Put 2 heaped teaspoons of cornflour/cornstarch into a small bowl. Then scoop out a few spoons of the curry sauce and stir into the cornflour to make a thin paste. Pour into the curry and stir through.Do not be tempted to add the cornflour directly to the curry. It will clump and you will never get the lumps out.2 tsp cornflour/cornstarch
- You can make this curry recipe on the stove top or in the oven instead. Use a good heavy casserole dish, with a lid that fits properly. Cook on a low heat (using a diffuser ring if necessary).
- Do not be tempted to sling it all in the slow cooker and skip the frying stage. It will be just about OK, but that extra effort makes it so much better.
- Fresh spices are better. If that jar of curry powder has been in the cupboard for years, then please throw it and buy fresh.
- This recipe is 22 Weight Watchers Smart Points per portion