There’s a reason slow cooker recipes are so popular. They’re typically quick, easy to put together, and yield a wholesome dinner without slaving over the stovetop for an hour. And while traditional beef stews are wonderful, it’s also nice to switch up your slow cooker repertoire every now and then. Luckily for us, plenty of chefs have experimented with pretty much every type of cuisine there is, including Thai food.
Known in the United States for using ingredients like curry, lemongrass, and coconut products, many Thai recipes can also be quite spicy. The distinctions depend on the region of Thailand you’re hoping to emulate, according to The Splendid Table. As chef Andy Ricker explains, most of the food we know as Thai food comes from central Thailand, but other regions to the north and south of the country have different flavor profiles — often more spicy or herbaceous than we might otherwise expect.
If you’re looking to expand your palate while still keeping the cooking process simple, give these recipes a try.
1. Crockpot Thai Peanut Chicken
If you’ve always wanted to try cooking Thai food at home, but aren’t sure if you or your family will be up for the challenge, consider starting with this chicken recipe. The ingredients are simple and ones you’re likely comfortable with using (bell peppers and soy sauce are pretty typical pantry ingredients, all things considered). For the combination of Thai flavors, you’ll also add some chunky peanut butter for a slightly sweet and nutty flavor.
This recipe is as easy as it gets, with minimal chopping ahead of time. You’ll cook the chicken for 3 to 4 hours on low, or 6 hours on high. It’s perfect served over rice or noodles, and you can add some extra Thai flair by topping it with chopped peanuts and cilantro — an herb that’s a staple in the cuisine.
For the full recipe, check out the directions from Family Fresh Meals.
2. Thai Red Curry Beef
There are technically three main types of curry: red, yellow, and green. Each one is flavored (and colored) according to various spice and herb mixtures. Red curry pastes (often the form you’ll purchase in the U.S.) tend to be the most versatile, Temple of Thai states. Dried red chili peppers, lemongrass, and fresh turmeric are staple ingredients, and pair well with the seasoning for the beef in this recipe.
This dish also uses coconut milk, an ingredient that’s often used in Thai recipes in the United States. Though coconut milk isn’t a typical ingredient in all regions of Thailand, it is most prevalent in the southern region of the country. The particular recipe includes a whole jalapeño (seeds and all) for a little bit of heat, but you can omit the seeds if you aren’t a huge fan of spicy dishes.
Get the full recipe from Oxmoor House.
3. Slow Cooker Thai Chicken Soup
Chicken soup is good for the soul, and this Thai version will add some kick to boost the variety in your go-to collection of broth-centric meals. You’ll add some red curry paste for spice along with peanut butter for a balance of sweetness. Chicken stock and coconut milk will form the base of the soup.
You won’t have to spend much time in the kitchen for this delicious recipe — simply chop up a few minimal ingredients and toss them into your trusty slow cooker. If you’re making this the centerpiece of your meal, the recipe is enough for 6 servings — perfect for a family meal or one for those who love leftovers.
To make this soup, check out the recipe on Foodie Crush.
4. Crockpot Thai Sweet Chili Ribs
Barbecue ribs are an American favorite, but you can add some international flair when you season a few racks with Thai ingredients. Sriracha, a barbecue rub, and sweet chili sauce are the only ingredients you’ll need to make delicious ribs — in the slow cooker, no less.
While grilling or baking ribs guarantees a crispy crust, it’s possible to get a similar effect in your slow cooker. The mastermind behind the Eat More Food Project has you stand the ribs around the outer edge of the insert, which will form a crust as the ribs cook. You’ll cook the ribs on high for 4 hours, leaving you plenty of time for… well, anything else.
Head to The Eat More Food Project for the recipe.
5. Crockpot Thai Chicken Curry
If your family has graduated from the peanut chicken listed first, move on to this curry recipe. You’ll still add a little peanut butter, but also red curry paste, coconut milk, ginger, and lime juice for an even more flavorful dish. Red pepper flakes aren’t necessary, but will add to the signature heat many Thai dishes are known for.
The blogger at Show Me the Yummy notes fish sauce is stinky stuff — and maybe isn’t something you have in your pantry. However, she highly recommends grabbing a bottle, since it adds depth of flavor. (And no, it won’t ruin the dish or smell like fish sauce when you’re finished.)
See the full recipe at Show Me the Yummy.
6. Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Soup
If there’s one thing you can master in a slow cooker, it’s soup. Try this butternut squash soup from Creme de la Crumb for a unique twist. The slow cooker does the hard work of cooking the squash — all you have to do is dice it and toss it in. Unlike some butternut squash soups, this one incorporates traditional Thai flavors like coconut and fresh lime juice, along with a little curry powder.
However, the show-stopper is the gremolata (a chef’s term for a chopped herb condiment). This Thai version is made with chopped cilantro, peanuts, lime zest, and red pepper flakes for a punch of spice. The recipe takes about 4 hours to cook in the slow cooker, and since the main ingredient is squash, you can eat this guilt-free.
Get the recipe from Creme de la Crumb.
7. Slow Cooker Thai Green Cashew Chicken Curry
Red curry might be the most versatile, but green curry is often thought to be the most popular in Thailand, according to Temple of Thai. This paste often includes lemongrass, green chilies, kaffir lime, coriander root, and basil.
In this recipe, cashews will add to the overall richness of the dish, which is heaped with chicken and vegetables. The bell peppers, onions, carrots, green beans, and chickpeas are also hearty enough that the home chef behind Nutritionist in the Kitch writes you can choose to make a vegetarian version as well. If you include the chicken, the cooking time will be 4 hours in the slow cooker.
Get the recipe from Nutritionist in the Kitch.
8. Crockpot Thai Steak Salad with Peanut-Hoisin Sauce
This dish likely isn’t pure Thai food since hoisin sauce, a sweet and salty sauce known for its garlic flavor, is often used in Chinese food. But that doesn’t mean the Thai flavors in the steak won’t come though in this salad recipe from The Food Charlatan. The beauty of this dish is that you can use a cheaper cut of beef, but the slow cooker and accompanying marinade make it tender and flavorful.
Soy sauce, honey, and garlic are the only things you need to whip together for the sauce, allowing you to save your cooking energy for blending the homemade dressing together. Cabbage, mixed greens, cilantro, peanuts, and mango form the salad base that will be a perfect complement. Add the steak on top, and you’ve got the makings of a satisfying meal.
Head to The Food Charlatan for the recipe.
9. Slow Cooker Thai Yellow Curry
Rounding out the curry flavors is this yellow version, often the rarest type served in Thailand. It’s the closest thing to Indian curry, though, so it won’t be a far reach to serve this dish if your family is more accustomed to Indian flavors. Thai yellow curry is known for its sweet and spicy taste, and tends to be more mellow than the other red and green versions. It’s often used in fish stews, Temple of Thai reports.
If you prefer to eat vegan meals, this is the recipe for you. It’s chock full of vegetables, including potatoes, carrots, onions, peppers, peas, and chickpeas. The secret ingredient is golden raisins, which add some extra sweetness to the dish. The recipe serves 8, and can cook on low for 8 to 10 hours while you’re at work. That’s the definition of dinner made easy.
Get the recipe from Veggie Chick.