Pre Cooked Chicken for Curry | How to Make it and Use It

Listen, I get it. Some days you don't want to be stood for ages frizzling and frying. Making an authentic BIR curry should be easy. The good news? It is! Using pre cooked chicken for curry couldn't be simpler, and today I will show you how to make it and use it. A quick curry any night of the week? Easy!

Why Use Pre Cooked Chicken for Curry?

There are plenty of advantages to using pre cooked chicken for a curry. Here are why you might want to consider it: -


Using pre cooked chicken in your curry is super convenient. You've done all of the hard work and prep in advance. Using pre cooked meats is as easy as adding any other ingredient, such as onions or curry powder. You can use it in any curry, from fiery phaal to a creamy korma!

The best bit?

You can also freeze portions of pre cooked chicken. If you are smart about your portion control, and with a little forward thought, you'll be able to make a quick curry any time that you like!


We've all been there. Emptying out the fridge or freezer and throwing away vast quantities of unused meat (why don't they just sell individual chicken breasts?)

Using the techniques below, you will find that this is a great way to use up any leftover chicken breasts that are about to go past their best.

Eating food instead of throwing it away means less shopping and more pennies in your pocket!

It Saves Time

This is for a few reasons.

First, you won't have to go to the supermarket every time you want to whip up a quick madras or Dhansak. That's bound to save you some time.

Secondly, because you've done a whole lot of bulk prep in advance, you won't have to mess about cutting up chicken breasts, browning it, and doing the washing up afterwards!

Furthermore, because the chicken is already cooked, it doesn't need to be cooked again, just heated through, meaning a reduction in cooking time.


Ever noticed how spicy food tastes better the next day after it has been in the fridge? Well, you'll get this effect if you start using pre cooked chicken for curry.

When you refrigerate or freeze food, chemical reactions take place long after the cooking has finished. Think of it a little like a long and slow marinade.

Using precooked chicken, you'll find that your curry takes on a real depth of flavour that you don't get when using fresh chicken breast.

How To Pre Cook Chicken for Curry

Alright, enough chat. Let's get straight down to it. Here is how to pre cook chicken for curry: -

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cooking Time: 40 Minutes

Servings: 8 portions

Precooked Chicken Ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil
  • 1 Chopped Onion
  • 1 Tablespoon Garlic and Ginger Paste
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Simple Spice Mix
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick
  • 1 Star Anise
  • 1 Teaspoon Cumin Seeds… If you haven't got them, check this out
  • 8 Fresh Chicken Breasts Cut into Large Chunks
  • 1 Cup Base Gravy
  • 500ml Chicken Stock


  1. In a large saucepan, heat your oil over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion, garlic and ginger and salt. Cook until soft and slightly golden.
  2. Add the spice mix, cinnamon stick, star anise and cumin seeds. Stir until all of the onions are coated. Fry for around 2 minutes
  3. Add all of the chicken breast chunks and stir until evenly coated with your toasted spice mix. Cook until the chicken breast turns white.
  4. Add your cup of base gravy followed by the stock. Place a lid on the pan and gently simmer for around 35 minutes.
  5. Using a slotted spoon, remove the chicken chunks. They can either be used straight away or placed in the fridge or the freezer for use at a later date (see tips below)

Tips and Tricks

  • The spice blend you use is up to you. I use a simple spice mix, then that way I have a 'blank canvas' when making different types of curry, and the flavour of the meat doesn't influence the taste of the final dish too much. Feel free to add turmeric, chilli or any other Indian spices as you see fit.
  • I tend to portion up my pre cooked chicken breasts. I add about one portion's worth to individual freezer bags. After they are zipped and have cooled slightly, I put them in the freezer.
  • If I am cooking a curry over the next couple of days, I just put the portions I need into the fridge, ready to use.
  • Be sure to save the broth that is left over after you have precooked your chicken! This is a great stock to use in a batch of curry base gravy. Alternatively, pour it into a mug. Indian Chicken soup! Amazing!
  • There are a few ways to defrost frozen pre cooked chicken. I normally wait until a couple of hours before I'm ready to cook and just pop the Ziploc bag in a large bowl of cold water. You should find that it defrosts pretty quickly.
  • Alternatively, you can use a microwave to thaw out your chicken pieces. Unlike with raw chicken, it doesn't go funny after a quick ping in a microwave.
  • If you've had roast chicken the day before, you can also use this in a nice curry. Just follow the quick steps for using it below. It might not taste as authentic, but it still works!


How To Use Pre Cooked Chicken in Curry

Ok, so using the guide above, you've assembled plenty of portions of chicken, ready to throw into your favourite curry. Here's how to do it. Take a quick look here at my ultimate curry from scratch guide to get a general idea about the basic techniques used to cook an authentic BIR curry.

Here's a quick and easy rundown: -

  1. Add oil to a good frying pan
  2. Add your vegetable ingredients such as onions and/or garlic paste and fry until soft.
  3. Add your curry spices
  4. Add tomato puree
  5. Add your pre-cooked chicken
  6. Add your base gravy
  7. Done!

See? I told you it was super simple!

If you were using raw chicken, you'd add it towards the start of the recipe. Because you are using pre-cooked chicken for your curry, you can add it towards the end and just heat it through.

Using Pre Cooked Meat in Curry | FAQ

Still, got a few questions? No worries, it's what I'm here for. Here's the stuff I get asked all the time when it comes to pre-cooked meats.

What is the Secret to a Good Curry?

There are quite a few curry secrets. Here are my top 5 tips to get a great result: -

  • Cook curry quickly over high heat.
  • Make sure that your base gravy is diluted. You want it about the same consistency as skimmed milk.
  • If you have the option, use pre-cooked meat in your curry. That's how the takeaways do it.
  • Don't use too much spice, especially chilli. Trust me, you might regret it.
  • Although it doesn't make for a healthy curry, don't skimp on the oil!

How Do Indian Restaurants Prepare Chicken?

Indian restaurants use precooked chicken for their curries. There may be variations in the spices they use, but they generally stew large batches of meat in a spicy Indian style stock before dividing it into portions.

Imagine how busy your local Indian takeaway gets. Do you think they really have the time to be chopping up and browning chicken breasts every time somebody orders a curry?

Should You Cook Chicken Before Adding it to curry?

Of course, you should! In fact, it makes for a much tastier curry. The meat is more tender and has had a chance to soak up all those lovely spices you stewed it in earlier.

If you are looking to make a curry with raw chicken, you are best browning the chicken at the start of the cooking process. That way, you can ensure it is cooked through as you prepare your curry.

How Do You Add Flavor to Pre-Cooked Chicken?

Adding flavour to pre-cooked chicken is really easy. Because you are effectively stewing and steaming it, there's plenty of time for all of those subtle spices to seep into the meat. Here are my top 5 tips to add flavour to pre-cooked chicken

  • Use plenty of Indian spices. Things like turmeric, cumin, garlic and chilli are all great additions.
  • Don't forget the anise. Cinnamon, star anise, and cloves are all great additions to your stock.
  • 'Dry fry' your spices and then the chicken before adding stock. This releases lots of subtle and spicy flavours.
  • Make sure to add seasoning. A little salt and pepper can take your pre cooked chicken to the next level
  • Be sure to add base gravy along with your stock. You'll be using base gravy when you cook the final curry, so this ensures the chicken compliments it really well.

Precooked Chicken for Curry | Final Thoughts

Making pre cooked chicken for curry is easy. It saves you time, money, and above all, ensures that your curry is as authentic as it gets! Indian restaurants use exactly the method described above in preparing your dishes, so if you want to make your curry as close to the real thing as possible, it makes sense to follow their techniques. What's spice mix do you use when pre-cooking your chicken? Let me know in the comments!

Enjoy Making Curry Yourself?

Hey folks, thanks for reading this article. I hope you found it useful, and that you learned something new allowing you to make your curry extra special. Here are a few things that can really elevate your curry game to the next level. 

These are affiliate links, so if you use them I receive a small commission, but this won't cost you any extra. In all honesty, I use very similar items myself, and wouldn't hesitate to recommend them to my friends.

A Complete Curry Kit: - Literally, everything you'll need to make curry all in one place. Cookware, storage, utensils, even the spices! This is my dedicated guide to getting you up and running all for the price of few takeaways.

Curry pans: - You need one, and one only. A frying pan exactly like this is really easy to use, and is exactly the type that authentic Indian chefs use to make the type of curry that you'll have in your local takeaway. You can see my full reviews of several pans right here...

Spice Storage: - Being organised is half the battle in making great curry. Spices can be notoriously hard to keep tidy. That's why I tend to use a spice rack like this. You can arrange your spices by size, heat, or any way you choose. I've got a detailed review of several Indian spice racks in this guide.

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