Perfect Thai Chicken And Butternut Squash Curry (Stove Top, Slow Cooker Or Pressure Cooker)

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Welcome to your new go-to Thai chicken curry! This easy chicken and butternut squash curry truly deserves the spot it’s had on our dinner table (and in our freezer) for YEARS now. Imagine a cross between a Thai red curry and chicken satay – with hidden veggies – and you get the idea.

This is the best chicken curry recipe ever – creamy, comforting, truly delicious. Make it on the stove top, in the slow cooker, or in the pressure cooker in a little over 30 minutes. Perfect!

A Thai chicken and butternut squash curry with peanuts, coriander and poppadoms, with a spoon in it

Why you’ll love it

I preface my recipe titles with bold words like ‘best’, ‘life-changing’ and ‘perfect’ very sparingly! But when I do, I really mean it, and it’s usually because the recipe has been tested a ridiculous amount of times.

Mr. Scrummy and I have been licking our lips over this for literally YEARS. Turns out butternut squash and chicken are a match made in heaven – especially when made into a tasty Thai satay curry!

In short, this has become one of our family’s go-to recipes. Here’s why.

  • Tweaked over the years, but adapted from this squash coconut curry from the popular food blog Pinch of Yum. Any recipe from this site usually gets my vote!
  • The dreamy, creamy coconut curry chicken sauce is divine. Fan of chicken satay? Read on.
  • It’s quick and easy. You need just 10 minutes to prep everything and 30 minutes’ cook time. The biggest job is chopping the butternut squash.
  • Hidden veggies! The soft butternut squash gets squished into the chicken curry to thicken the delicious sauce. Wilt spinach in too for extra brownie points.
  • It feeds a crowd! It makes 8 medium portions at least, or up to 10 small ones.
  • It’s the perfect freezer meal. Have it for dinner, then freeze the rest.
  • Multiple cooking options. Cook it on the stove-top (my favorite), or in your slow cooker or pressure cooker.

Check out more Scrummy Lane ‘Best’ recipes: the best Greek potatoes (they really are the best, and go with almost anything), the best mee goreng (Indonesian noodles), the best crustless quiche, and these best halloumi fries or similar life-changing fried halloumi bites!

About the ingredients

  • butternut squash, chopped into small(ish) pieces. Feel free to use pumpkin instead.
  • A few simple kitchen cupboard spices [curry powder, chili powder, turmeric]
  • garlic (quite a lot) and ginger
  • chicken thighs, chopped
  • Thai curry paste (try to use an authentic, good quality one)
  • coconut milk, canned tomatoes & peanut butter (I like crunchy peanut butter but whatever you have is fine)
  • honey (adds a touch of sweetness to balance the sharper flavours)

Plus:

  • yummy garnishes: coriander, peanuts & (very optional) lime
  • yummy sides: rice, poppadoms, yoghurt (I don’t like to skip the yoghurt!)

Pro tips: 1. Use the best quality red curry paste you can find. An authentic Thai one is always a safe bet! 2. Chop extra butternut squash and freeze it for next time – if you like already mixed with the spices. 3. Try using ready chopped frozen butternut squash or pumpkin. This makes the recipe even easier!

How to make it

A collage of photos showing how to make a Thai chicken and butternut curry step-by-step

You’re only these 5 simple steps away from chicken butternut squash curry heaven!

(Photo 1) Sprinkle spices (curry, turmeric, chili powder) over chopped butternut squash.

(Photos 2-4) Soften garlic and ginger and brown chicken.

(Photos 5-6) Stir in peanut butter, red curry paste, and honey, then the tomatoes and butternut squash.

(Photos 7-8) Let the curry simmer until the butternut squash is soft (about 30 minutes), then squish most of the butternut squash into the curry. This will thicken it nicely!

(Photos 9-10) Serve!

How to serve it

I recommend serving this butternut chicken curry over rice and scattered with fresh coriander and crushed peanuts. A squeeze of lime is optional, but don’t skip the coriander or peanuts!

I also consider a huge splodge of natural yogurt (I prefer Greek yogurt) and a pile of poppadoms on the side to be obligatory!

Alternatively, serve with naan bread. Mmm!

An overhead view of a Thai chicken and butternut squash curry with peanuts, coriander and poppadoms, with a spoon in it

Slow cooker instructions

To my delight… YES, you can make this Thai chicken satay curry in your slow cooker!

A reader helped me to figure out the best way to adapt this recipe for a slow cooker (thank you, Paula!). It worked perfectly.

  • Follow the stove top cooking instructions up to step 4 in the recipe below (if you have a slow cooker that also sautes, just saute the spices/chicken etc in the bowl of the slow cooker).
  • Reduce the amount of chopped tomatoes to just 1 can.
  • Add a tablespoon of tomato paste/puree to make sure you still get the same hit of tomato-y flavour.
  • If you don’t have a saute function, it’s fine to just throw everything in the pot without any pre-cooking. You’ll still get a delicious curry.
  • Slow cook for 6 to 8 hours on low.
  • Squish some of the pumpkin into the curry as you would if making it on the stove top and… enjoy!

You can use whichever slow cooker you have. Just don’t use a tiny one because this recipe makes quite a lot of curry!

Pressure cooker instructions

These days I often use a multi-cooker to make this. I have a Breville, but the most popular one is the Instant Pot (affiliate link). I either use the slow cooker setting, or the pressure cooker setting, depending on how organised I am that day.

If you’d like to try making this in your pressure cooker, simply follow the slow cooker instructions, but cook on high pressure for 7 minutes. Choose a quick steam release setting (I use auto quick release on my Breville pressure cooker).

Don’t forget to squish the squash into the curry at the end, as with the other cooking methods!

More things to know (FAQs)

Can I use green or yellow curry paste instead?

Yes, definitely! The curry will still look red due to the tomato paste and can of tomatoes, but it may be a slightly duller red. The taste will be just as delicious!

Is it best to make it on the stove-top, in the slow cooker or in the pressure cooker?

I’ve made this chicken butternut curry all three ways. If I’m honest, I prefer it made on the stove-top. However, sometimes I make it in my electric pressure cooker, just because it’s very hands-off this way.

It’s still very delicious made in the pressure cooker or slow cooker, but the chicken falls apart a little more. I also find the flavours slightly more enhanced when made on the stove top. But honestly, make it in the way that’s most convenient for you. It’s a top class meal whichever way you choose to make it!

Can I use pumpkin instead of butternut squash?

Yes! Use about half a small pumpkin. I find different types of squash/pumpkin cook at different rates so just keep checking if the pumpkin is soft before squishing it into the curry a little!

How long does it keep?

This will keep well in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. To reheat, simply microwave on high power for 4-5 minutes until piping hot. Alternatively, reheat gently in a saucepan.

Can I freeze it?

Absolutely! Chicken and butternut squash curry is perfect for freezing. Simply freeze in glass containers for up to 3 months, then defrost and reheat either in a saucepan or a microwave.

I find the recipe makes at least 6 portions. It can even stretch to 7 or 8 portions, especially if you add rice and/or naan bread and poppadoms on the side!

Looking for more butternut squash recipes? Try this baked gnocchi with butternut squash and kale, or this roasted butternut squash and tomato soup.

More delicious curries

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A Thai chicken and butternut squash curry in a blue bowl with peanuts, coriander, poppadoms and a lime wedge, with a spoon
4.94 from 30 votes

Perfect Thai Chicken And Butternut Squash Curry

If you're looking for a go-to chicken curry, this Thai chicken and butternut squash curry just might be it. It's quick and easy to make with just chicken thighs, a few spices and curry paste, coconut milk, peanut butter, tomatoes and butternut squash. Top with plenty of peanuts and you get a delicious cross between a chicken satay curry and a Thai red curry. Choose to make it on the stove top, in the slow cooker, or in your pressure cooker!
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Total: 40 minutes
Servings: 8 (to 10)

Ingredients 
 

  • 1 pound butternut squash, peeled and chopped into smallish cubes
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and chopped finely
  • 2 pounds chicken thighs, chopped into small pieces
  • 14 ounces coconut milk, (1 can)
  • 3 tablespoons peanut butter, crunchy or smooth
  • 3 tablespoons Thai red curry paste, good quality – authentic Thai brands are good
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 28 ounces chopped tomatoes, (2 x 14 ounce / 400 gram cans)

To serve

  • fresh coriander / cilantro, crushed peanuts & natural yogurt, (I use Greek yogurt)
  • rice & poppadoms

Instructions 

  • Toss the butternut squash in a large bowl with the chili powder, curry powder, and turmeric, and set aside.
    1 pound butternut squash, 1 teaspoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon curry powder, ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • Heat up a big drizzle of oil in a large cast iron pan or saucepan, then cook the garlic and ginger together for a couple of minutes. Add the chicken and cook for another two minutes or so or until white.
    6 cloves garlic, 2 inches fresh ginger, 2 pounds chicken thighs
  • Add the coconut milk, then stir in the peanut butter, Thai curry paste and honey. Then add the tomatoes and butternut squash/spices.
    14 ounces coconut milk, 3 tablespoons peanut butter, 3 tablespoons Thai red curry paste, 1 tablespoon honey, 28 ounces chopped tomatoes, 1 pound butternut squash
  • Simmer for about 30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the squash is tender. Squish about half of the squash into the curry to thicken it.
  • Serve over rice, garnished with the coriander and peanuts, and with yoghurt and poppadoms on the side (if you like).
    rice & poppadoms, fresh coriander / cilantro, crushed peanuts & natural yogurt

Video

Notes

Adapted from Pinch of Yum’s 30-minute squash coconut curry

Butternut squash

If you can’t find butternut squash, any kind of pumpkin is fine. I’d use about half a small pumpkin instead of a butternut squash. I find different types of pumpkin/squash cook at slightly different rates, so you may want to shorten/lengthen the cooking time a little accordingly.
I have stated 500 grams in the recipe, but 500 to 700 grams is fine. 
Want to save a little more prep time? Use pre-chopped frozen butternut squash or pumpkin from the store! 

If cooking on the stove top…

Put a lid on the pan for the first half of the cooking time, then take it off for the last half to allow the sauce to thicken up (then the sauce thickens even more when you squish the butternut squash in).

Peanut butter/coconut milk

When adding the coconut milk and peanut butter, I’d recommend pushing the chicken out of the way so that you can easily mix them together in the bottom of the pan.

Spices

This is a fairly spicy dish. You might like to go a little easier on the curry paste (and on the chili powder) the first time you make this curry. I find authentic Thai pastes tend to be the spiciest.
I find 3 level (not heaped) tablespoons of paste to be about right, for a pretty spicy but not set-your-mouth-on-fire-all-day result. Ultimately though it’s down to personal taste. Good luck!

Making this curry in a slow cooker or pressure cooker

To adapt this curry for a slow cooker, simply reduce the tomatoes to just 1 can, then add a tablespoon of concentrated tomato puree/paste. 
Cook for 6 to 8 hours on low, then squish the pumpkin/butternut squash into the curry before serving. 
To make it in a pressure cooker/Instant Pot, follow the slow cooker instructions, but instead of cooking for hours, cook on high pressure for 7 minutes. Use a quick auto release to release the pressure. 

Freezing instructions 

This curry is perfect for freezing. Simply freeze in glass containers for up to 3 months, then defrost and reheat either in a saucepan or a microwave. 

Nutrition

Calories: 445kcal, Carbohydrates: 18g, Protein: 23g, Fat: 33g, Saturated Fat: 15g, Cholesterol: 111mg, Sodium: 271mg, Potassium: 788mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 7g, Vitamin A: 7192IU, Vitamin C: 23mg, Calcium: 91mg, Iron: 4mg
Like this recipe? Rate and comment below!

About Helen Schofield

Don't expect to find anything fussy or complicated here. Just QUICK, EASY & (mostly!) HEALTHY recipes from the Mediterranean and beyond. ENJOY!

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76 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Excellent, Helen! Made half quantity as there are only two of us. Enough for tomorrow night, and a spare serving for a neighbour (aged 95 – I often share with her). Husband has asked if I can out it on rotation.

    1. That is the biggest compliment, Pip – that your husband has asked for it on rotation! I hope your neighbour enjoyed it too. Thank you so much for letting me know!

  2. 5 stars
    I followed the recipe exactly. Really easy. The end result was to die for. Awesome taste, easy prep. Simple and quick. 10 stars👍

    1. Ahh thank you, Larry! I take that as a huge compliment, and I’m so glad you found it easy and enjoyed it so much. This is one of the only recipes that we can pretty much always find in our freezer for when a craving hits. 🙂

  3. Please can I use something other than peanut butter, as we have a peanut allergy.
    Many thanks

    1. Hello Anne-Louise! I’m sorry to hear about that. My son is allergic to tree nuts so I get how annoying it is! To be honest you really don’t need to substitute the pb with anything in this recipe – just leave it out! It’ll still taste absolutely delicious. Add a different nut butter if you like, or sunflower butter, or just skip it altogether. I hope you enjoy it!

  4. This was so good! One of the most satisfying curries I have ever made. I think the addition of peanut butter gives it that special something. Mashing up so wir the butternut squash pieces is also a great idea. Will make it again soon!

    1. Thank you so much for the feedback, Kordula! This has been my favorite curry for years. I’ve tried making others but always come back to this one. I’m so happy you liked it, too! 🙂

  5. 5 stars
    We loved this recipe! I added a little onion to ours also and served it over coconut rice! Everyone had more than one helping and still some to send for lunch! Love it!

    1. Hello Cassandra! (Lovely name!) Thank you so much for the feedback, and of course I’m thrilled that your family seemed to enjoy this as much as we do. It’s still one of our go-to favorite meals after quite a few years of making it. I love that it makes a lot, too! 🙂

  6. 5 stars
    Quoting my husband: can we eat this EVERY night?
    What a wonderful dish. I used more curry paste, because the only brand I can get is not very hot. Other than that, added chopped spinach and some lime juice. I do have a fear of chopping my finger off, so I always pre-steam my squash … Much safer to chop after it’s soft!
    Quoting my husband again: I think you should make this for our next dinner party. Good idea because i can make this ahead and just make the garlic naan (great for sopping up the sauce) right before serving. Add a simple Asian Cole slaw, and wait for the rave reviews. So glad I came across your site. Will definitely be trying more recipes. Thanks!

    1. Hello Marilyn! Thank you so much for taking the time to leave your great feedback. I have made this too many times to count both to throw in the freezer for easy midweek meals and yes, also for easy entertaining! It’s a great make-ahead option, as you say, and you can make it fancier with the garnishes and naan or similar 🙂 I love your idea of adding a fancy slaw, too! Thanks also for passing by and I really do hope you find some more recipes that you enjoy.
      P.S. I can totally relate to your fear of finger chopping! I’ve recently cut my finger quite badly a couple of times while trying to slice frozen bread. Lesson learned, I think!

  7. 5 stars
    Used instapot as hot as hell in kitchen with no a/c!
    Noted no salt in the recipe? I added my own
    The article discusses Thai curry paste but the directions did not call for it. Maybe I missed it
    ( used it anyway)
    But loved the tips and had the best creamy Thai sauce ever!!! Will be using this recipe and trying other veggies !

    1. Hello Dee! The Thai curry paste is in step number 3! I usually add around 3 tablespoons, or a bit more depending on the brand (I find better quality brands are spicier!). So happy it worked out well and you added the paste anyway! Thank you for the feedback and I hope this becomes a family favorite for you like it has for us! 🙂

  8. Hi. What could I use instead of butternut squash or pumpkin as my husband doesn’t like either?