Japanese curry is different from Indian curry because it’s something I would call, semi-homemade, not made from scratch. The “curry” is packaged into cubes of curry blocks that’s just added to your pot of meat, vegetables and water; similar to an instant sauce. There are Japanese and Korean food companies that make a variety of these “blocks”  that can be found readily available in many Asian markets.  It has become so common that in my neighborhood you can even find it at the local supermarket.

I usually make a chicken curry using chicken thighs because it can be whipped together in a half hour and the chicken is very tender.  However, once in a while I like to make a beef curry but it requires more time for the stewing meat to soften. So, yesterday I thought, “why not use my crock pot?”.  By crock pot, I mean slow cooker.  With a few minor adjustments, it turned out quite good and passed the family test.  For those who are short on time, I think this could be really helpful.  So, bring out that slow cooker, spend a little time preparing everything in advance and just a half hour before you are ready to eat, add the curry blocks and there you have a hot hearty meal!

Although there are instructions on the packet, please note that for this recipe I have changed the amount of water and ingredients. Using a slow cooker, the vegetables tend produce a lot of liquid, so I have adjusted the amount such that the consistency doesn’t become too runny.

Japanese Beef Curry in a Crock Pot


  • 2 lbs. stewing beef
  • flour/salt/pepper
  • 2 large onions – chopped finely
  • 4 skinny carrots – chopped into bite size pieces
  • 2 medium potatoes – chopped into large bite size pieces
  • 4 to 4 1/4 cups water
  • secret ingredients:  soy sauce, tonkatsu sauce, sake, ketchup, butter, etc.


  • In a bowl, add meat and sprinkle with flour, salt and pepper to coat all sides beef
  • Heat a frying pan and add oil, add beef and brown all sides
  • Set beef aside on a plate.  Add 2 cups of water to the pan and scrape off the beef juices.  Keep this water.
  • Assemble slow cooker:  First add 1/2 of the chopped onions, add carrots and potatoes and then add beef.  Pour the saved 2 cups of water and add the other 1/2 of chopped onions on top.  Optional:  add 3 Tablespoons of sake ( Japanese rice wine)
  • Set the slow cooker and cook for 8-10 hours until beef is tender and falls apart.
  • Add 2 – 2 1/4 cups of boiling water to the slow cooker, then add all the curry blocks and stir until all the blocks are melted.
  • Secret ingredients:  The Japanese like to add a kick and personalize their curry with a variety of ingredients readily available in your pantry.  Here are a few you can try to add:  soy sauce, tonkatsu sauce, ketchup, oyster sauce, steak sauce, sake, instant coffee and chocolate.  I’ve added all except the coffee and chocolate, but my girlfriend who’s tried them says it’s good, and I believe her because she’s a good cook – I will try it one of these days….
  • Last but not least I like to add about 2 tablespoons of butter to give it a smooth  texture and rich flavor.
  • Enjoy with hot rice.

Hope you give this a try and please tell me what you think!


24 thoughts on “Japanese Beef Curry in a Slow Cooker”

  1. I was thinking about doing crock-pot Japanese curry since it is similar in fashion to stew. Your steps seem straightforward enough, but do you think I could just dissolve the curry in maybe a bit of water straight away and then cook the whole ensemble for the 8-10 hours to get the beef falling apart?

  2. Hi Chris,
    I haven’t tried that method. I don’t know why but the Japanese instructions always say to add the curry at the very last minute. Maybe over cooking the curry roux changes the flavor. It doesn’t take long for the curry flavor to meld with the ingredients, so if I were you I’d just add it at the last moment after all the meat has fallen apart.

  3. By the Taisho Era in 1912, Japanese beef curry featured onions, carrots and potatoes and was made in massive quantities to serve the Japanese Army both with ease and nutrition.

  4. Whats the shelf life on the curry blocks? I brought one about three months ago, and I can’t read the label for the use by date.

  5. This recipe is amazing! I was wondering if the flour and cooking method is the same for chicken instead of beef?

  6. @Claiborne, Thanks for your message, made my day! I usually don’t use flour when I make chicken curry. I do use chicken thighs instead of breasts because our family enjoys the flavor and texture more.

  7. Hello Jenny,

    Firstly, I’am very much into Feng shui and live by it. I’m starting a wedding business, making designer brooch bouquets for brides and other accessories. Can you please advice a good business name. Don’t know when to use the words Bridal or Wedding or Brooch or Bouquet in the title. Want it to be completely different from everyone else but easy to remember. What do you think. Also what best colours to use.

    Many thanks

    1. Hi Jacqueline, Sorry for not responding to this earlier. You need to have those words such as Bridal Brooch in your business name or tag line, so people will know exactly what you do. Best colors are related to the business which would be white, gold, silver and pastels.

  8. @Jacqueline, Congratulations on opening your business. It will really help to have the words bride, bridal, or wedding in your name just so people know who you cater to. Or, you can have a tag line to identify your business, such as Forever Flowers, Wedding designs by Jacqueline. But, then it gets long. Think what will work best for you. As for colors, what comes to mind – and what do those colors represent. Pastels are always good for weddings, but today it seems as though anything goes!

  9. Hello Jenny,

    Many thanks early reply and for your congrats! I really appreciate your advice and I have now got a few names up my sleeves and colour scheme to work with.

    I wish you all the best.

    Kind regards


  10. “…not made from scratch. ”

    I have made japenese curry from scratch, and i love doing so..when I found this page, I was wondering if there was a slow cooker version..

    :/ I sadly do not have access to stores that have the curry blocks you speak of..

    I became addicted when I had this urge to try Japanese curry… My boyfriend was going crazy talking to me about it xD
    I had to search ‘japanese curry from scratch’ when I wanted to make it the first time.. (now I’m just addicted!)… I will have to check online to find curry blocks though..

    Bookmarking this in case I do find something around here/online for curry blocks 🙂 (If not I’ll survive making it from scratch)

  11. Hey Jenny! Thank you for sharing this recipe! I really want to try it, however, I was wondering, what size is your crockpot? I just bought a 7 quarts one and I don’t know how to adjust the recipes, this is going to be my first experiment!

  12. Hi Jenny,

    I have never made this dish but am excited to try! I was just wondering how many blocks of the curry need to go into this recipe?

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