This Thai Slow Cooker Chicken and Wild Rice Soup is a twist on a classic comfort recipe. Tropical, yet cozy, it's made with butternut squash, Thai red curry paste, and coconut milk!
When it comes to Thai food, I am all about curry. There's just something about those sweet/savory/sour/spicy flavors that I can't get enough of. I've used these flavors in Thai curry sweet potato soup, Thai curry naan pizzas, and Instant Pot Thai chicken curry, as well as this soup.
Thai curry wild rice soup is inspired by classic chicken wild rice soup, with a few flavor upgrades. Adding coconut milk and Thai red curry paste gives the soup a tropical flavor profile, while butternut squash, wild rice and chicken thighs maintain the 'cozy' factor.
Reasons you’ll ♡ Thai Slow Cooker Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
- no sautéing means you can get the ingredients into the slow cooker quickly
- it's comforting and cozy, but with a tropical twist
- it's got those characteristic Thai curry flavors: spicy/sweet/savory/sour, which are so good together!
Watch the video below to see how simple it is to put this recipe together. It’s so easy! You can find more of my recipe videos on my YouTube channel.
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What is Thai curry?
Thai curry is a popular dish originating in Thailand made from curry paste, coconut milk, meat or seafood, and vegetables. There are many different types of Thai curry including red, green, Panang and Massaman curry, and the exact method of cooking each varies by chef (1).
Whereas Indian curries are thicker and made with a mixture of tomatoes, onions and dry spices, Thai curry derives its flavor from a mixture of herbs including shallots, lemongrass, garlic, galangal and (of course) Thai chiles (2).
My goal with this recipe is to honor the traditional flavors of Thai red curry, while putting a fun new spin on it with North American ingredients.
- chicken- this soup is made with boneless skinless chicken thighs; you can swap for bone-in chicken breasts (leave the cook time the same), or boneless chicken thighs (reduce the cook time to 4 hours on low)
- Thai red curry paste- find it in the international cuisine section of your grocery store. My favorite brands are Thai Kitchen and Cock brand; Mae Ploy is another good one. You can also swap for green curry paste.
- squash- butternut squash gives this soup a subtle sweetness, but may be swapped for your favorite squash; if you do not enjoy a sweet curry, you can reduce the brown sugar to compensate
- wild rice- I am using a brown wild rice blend; feel free to swap for 100% wild rice if you'd prefer; avoid instant rice, white rice, or any quick cooking rice
- coconut milk- use a full fat coconut milk; this helps to make the soup thicker and more luxurious
Cooking the soup
Scroll to the recipe card for ingredient quantities.
- In the base of a large (5-6 quart) slow cooker, add the chicken thighs, carrots, butternut squash, onions, ginger, curry paste, brown sugar, fish sauce, wild rice and chicken stock.
- Cover and cook on low for 6 hours (or high for 4 hours).
- Stir in the coconut milk and lime juice, and enjoy!
It's just not a Thai curry without fish sauce! While fish sauce definitely does not smell appetizing, it does not make this curry taste 'fishy'. Instead, the fish sauce adds umami and saltiness to the broth, which is absolutely essential to build flavor.
Fish sauce is found in the international foods section of your grocery store, and if you can't find it, you could try swapping for an equal amount of fish sauce (though it won't be 100% the same).
Add coconut milk at the end
Coconut milk is notorious for breaking in the slow cooker; when this happens the smooth, creamy coconut becomes thin and flaky. To avoid this happening, we stir the coconut milk in at the end of the cook time.
I personally enjoy a sweet curry, but I know others do not always love it. If you know that you like a more 'savory' curry, consider omitting the brown sugar. Taste after all ingredients are added, and stir in the brown sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, until it tastes good to your taste buds.
Notes on rice
Use caution when subbing different types of rice in this Thai slow cooker chicken and wild rice soup as they all cook differently. I've used a wild rice blend which includes long grain brown basmati as well, and some of the brown rice gets quite soft towards the end.
If you swap for a blend that uses white rice, it will need a shorter cook time; consider adding it towards the end of the cook time.
Can I cook this in the Instant Pot?
While I have not tried myself, many readers have had success making this in the Instant Pot. Katie J says "I halved the recipe and cooked it in an instant pot on high pressure for 25 minutes, then did a quick release. I mushed up the squash and carrots a little before I stirred in the coconut milk"
*with my own Instant Pot experience, I do think you should expect the vegetables to be extremely soft and the chicken may be very tender with this long of a cook time.
Can I make this vegetarian?
With a few swaps, you can make this vegetarian.
- swap the chicken for your favorite vegetarian protein: chickpeas or tofu may go well in this recipe
- ensure your curry paste does not contain shrimp or seafood (Thai Kitchen does not, but some other brands do)
- swap the fish sauce for vegan fish sauce (in a pinch, you could try using soy sauce)
Reader swaps + suggestions
- curry paste- reader Erin swapped for green curry paste; reader Janis used yellow curry paste
- squash- reader Erin swapped butternut squash for sweet potatoes
- rice- reader Amy omits the rice and serves with rice noodles instead (cooked separately)
- extras- reader Erin added garlic and lemongrass; readers Amy and Janis add extra Thai curry paste, lime juice and fish sauce
- thickening- reader Andrea blended some of the soup to thicken it
Meal Prep + Storage
Thai slow cooker chicken and wild rice soup makes for a great meal prep option. Here are two ways to do it:
Crockpot freezer meal
A crockpot freezer meal is assembled ahead and frozen before cooking. That way on cook day all you need to do is dump the meal into the slow cooker and press the cook button. No measuring!
- Assemble all ingredients except for the coconut milk and lime juice, in a large freezer bag, reusable silicone bag, or meal prep container.
- Squeeze out as much air as possible, and freeze for up to 3 months.
- Thaw completely before cooking as directed in the recipe card.
Find my favorite freezer containers here.
Alternatively, you can cook this meal ahead and portion out. When you're ready, reheat and enjoy your easy meals!
- Cool completely, then portion out into meal prep containers.
- Store in the fridge for up to 4 days.
- Reheat in the microwave until steaming hot. Do not reheat more than once.
Find my favorite meal prep containers here.
More slow cooker soup recipes
- 42 Healthy Slow Cooker Soups & Stews
- Slow Cooker Spanish Chicken Stew
- Slow Cooker Potato Corn Soup
- Crockpot Broccoli Turmeric Soup
- Slow Cooker Black Bean, Sweet Potato Quinoa Stew
- Vegan Slow Cooker Peanut Stew
Slow Cooker Thai Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
- 6 boneless skinless chicken thighs see note 1
- 4 carrots chopped
- 4 cups squash peeled, seeds removed, and cut into 1 inch cubes; see note 2
- 2 onions diced
- 2 tablespoons fresh ginger finely chopped or grated
- 3 tablespoons Thai red curry paste see note 3
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar see note 4
- 3 tablespoons fish sauce
- ⅔ cup brown basmati wild rice blend or 100% wild rice
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 27 oz coconut milk 2 400 mL cans; see note 5
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- Combine all ingredients except the coconut milk in a 6 quart slow cooker (* see note).
- Cook on low for 6 hours or high for 4 hours.
- Stir in the coconut milk and lime juice and cook for 10 or so minutes until completely combined.
- Shred chicken with two forks.
- Serve with lime wedges and cilantro (if desired).
To prep ahead and freeze
- Assemble all ingredients except for the stock and wild rice in a quart-sized freezer bag. Remove as much air as possible. Freeze for up to 3 months.
- Thaw completely and add to the slow cooker with the stock and wild rice. Cook as indicated above.