Absolutely bursting with layers of flavour, this lighter slow-cooked spicy beef curry is amazing. Less than 500 calories including rice it’s Slimming friendly too!

Overhead image of beef curry in a dark dash on a dark background, topped with coriander, chillies and red onion

I’ve been making this curry for 5 years! It’s one I go back to time and time again because:

  1. It’s so low in calories! Beef curry sounds like it should be laden with calories, but no, it can be a lighter dish – without missing out on taste or replacing the beef with courgette or another similarly ultra-low-calorie depressing alternative.
  2. It’s made in the slow cooker. So when you come home ravenous and are about to ruin that day of being extra good with a mindless fridge raid, this curry will be waiting for you (and smelling amazing).
  3. It can be made ahead and refrigerated or frozen – so you can make a HUGE batch and have happy spicy curry days whenever you feel like it.
  4. It’s fall-apart, tongue-tinglingly and spicily delicious!!
Overhead of slow cooked beef curry in a dish on a dark background with ingredients scattered around

Five years ago when I first published this recipe I wrote:

‘The kids have gone back to school today.  Six weeks of not-enough-sunshine has come to an end, and they marched off to class looking so smart and excited!
I’m now trying to get back to my usual work routine, but it seems so strange writing this with no Phineas and Ferb on in the background.
No kids performing made-up shows.
The cats are sleeping – rather than being dressing in dolls clothes.
No trail of crumbs leading from the fridge to every other room in the house.

I thought I was looking forward to the peace, but I’m not so sure now.
Let’s talk about this slow cooked spicy beef curry before I start blubbing all over my keyboard.’

Oh wow. Whilst I am feeling a little wistful over how little and sweet my kids were 5 years ago, I’m now more than happy to send them off to school. Ha ha

Anyway, let’s talk curry.

What do we need to make this beef curry?

  • A lovely marinade of fat free Greek yogurt, salt, cumin and coriander to flavour and tenderize the hunks of beef.
  • A base of onion, coriander, cumin, cardamom, turmeric, garam masala, black pepper, chillies, garlic and ginger to pack that curry with layers of flavour.
  • Tomato paste, stock, tinned tomatoes and lemon juice – which makes up the liquid that’s used to slowly simmer the beef until tender.
Ingredients for slow cooked lighter beef curry on a wooden table

How to make the slow-cooked spicy beef curry

***full instructions and quantities are in the recipe card below***

Marinade the beef in the Greek yogurt, salt, cumin and coriander for a couple of hours.

4 image collage of marinading beef for beef curry

Seal the beef in a hot frying pan, then add the onion, spices, chillies, garlic and ginger. Stir to coat and let it cook for a few minutes to release that lovely spicy aroma.

Add the tomato paste, stock, chopped tomatoes and lemon juice. Bring to the boil, then transfer to your slow cooker and cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 5-6 hours.

10 image collage showing how to make lighter slow cooked beef curry

Serve over rice with some freshly chopped coriander (cilantro) and finely chopped red onion.

It’s hot, tasty and healthy!

Close up pf slow cooked beef curry with coriander and red onion on top. Torn pitta bread in background.

More lighter meals (around 550 calories or less):

The Video

Watch me show you exactly how to make this delicious beef curry in this video.

YouTube video

Love a low-and-slow cooked curry?

Try these Slow Cooker Curries:

Or these hob or oven-cooked low and slow curries:

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4.69 from 16 votes

Healthier Slow Cooked Spicy Beef Curry

So tasty, this lighter slow-cooked spicy beef curry is amazing. Less than 500 calories including rice it's Slimming friendly too!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours 45 minutes
Total Time: 5 hours
Servings: 6 people
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: British, Indian


Beef and marinade:

  • 1 kg (2.2 lbs) lean braising/casserole steak (cut into small chunks)
  • 150 ml (3/4 cup) fat-free Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp turmeric


  • 10 sprays Frylight spray
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 ½ tbsp ground cumin
  • 6 cardamom pods (sew them onto a piece of thread to keep them together – makes it easier to fish them out later)
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 dried whole chillies
  • 1 fresh red or green chilli (finely chopped)
  • 3 garlic cloves (peeled and minced)
  • 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger (peeled and minced)
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 500 ml (2 cups + 1 tbsp) beef stock (water plus 2 stock cubes or 2 tsp bouillon for gluten-free is fine)
  • 400 g (14 oz) tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

To Serve:

  • 1 small bunch fresh coriander roughly chopped
  • ¼ red onion peeled and finely diced
  • boiled basmati rice (235g cooked/75g dry rice per person)
  • or cauliflower fried rice (for a low carb alternative)


  • Place the beef and marinade ingredients into a medium-sized bowl and mix together until everything is combined. I like to use my hands to massage the yogurt into the beef. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to marinade for 1-2 hours (or overnight).
    1 kg (2.2 lbs) lean braising/casserole steak, 150 ml (3/4 cup) fat-free Greek yogurt, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp coriander, 1 tsp turmeric
  • Place a large frying pan (or the inside of your slow cooker if it can be used on the hob) over a high heat and spray with the frylight. Add in the beef and cook for 5-6 minutes until sealed. You'll probably notice watery liquid coming off the beef and marinade as you cook. Drain off most of it (otherwise you'll just be boiling the beef). It's fine to leave a little in there though.
    10 sprays Frylight spray
  • Once the beef is sealed, add in the onion and turn the heat down to medium. Stir and cook for 4-5 minutes until the onion starts to soften.
    1 large onion
  • Add in the coriander, cumin, cardamom, turmeric, garam masala, black pepper, whole and chopped chillies, garlic, and ginger. Cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring a few times until the spices start to release their aroma.
    2 tbsp ground coriander, 1 1/2 tbsp ground cumin, 6 cardamom pods, 1 tsp turmeric, 2 tsp garam masala, 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, 4 dried whole chillies, 1 fresh red or green chilli, 3 garlic cloves, 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger
  • Stir in the tomato paste, stock, chopped tomatoes, and lemon juice. Bring to a simmer, then transfer to your slow cooked and cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 5-6 hours.
    2 tbsp tomato paste, 500 ml (2 cups + 1 tbsp) beef stock, 400 g (14 oz) tin chopped tomatoes, 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • Once cooked, test and add salt and pepper if required. Serve over rice with some freshly chopped coriander.
    1 small bunch fresh coriander, 1/4 red onion, boiled basmati rice, or cauliflower fried rice


YouTube video


Make some healthy cucumber mint raita:

Grate 1/4 of a cucumber, squeeze out the excess juice and add to 3 tbsp fat-free Greek yogurt, a good pinch of salt and a small handful of chopped mint leaves. Stir and serve.

And how about some chopped tomato and onion salad:

Chop 10 cherry tomatoes into eighths. Chop 1/4 small white onion finely. Mix together with a small handful of chopped, fresh coriander (cilantro).

Can I make it in the oven or on the hob instead?

Yes, you could cook in the oven at 170C/325F for about 2.5 – 3 hours, or on a low heat, on the hob, with the lid on for 2-3 hours.
It’s a good ideas to check on it a couple of times in the last hour or so of cooking to ensure it doesn’t cook dry. If it is looking a little dry, you can add in a good splash of boiling water or hot stock.

Can I make this curry ahead?

Yes! you can make this curry, then cool, cover and refrigerate for up to two days. Reheat in a pan until piping hot throughout.

Can I freeze this beef curry?

Yes, any leftovers of this curry can be cooled, covered and frozen. Then defrost overnight in the refrigerator and reheated in a pan (stirring often) or microwave until piping hot throughout.

What cut of meat is best for beef curry?

  • Chuck steak (braising steak) – comes from the forequarter- Consisting of parts of the neck, shoulder blade, and upper arm.
    • It’s a tough but very flavorful cut of meat. It has a lot of connective tissue, which needs long slow cooking to break down and become tender. Cut into bite-size chunks for this curry.
  • Silverside (bottom round) – comes from the hindquarter – just above the back leg
    • It’s a leaner, inexpensive cut of meat with little marbling. The lack of fat means it doesn’t have as much flavour as chuck steak, but you shouldn’t notice that due to the amount of flavour in the curry sauce and the fact the the beef is marinated before cooking. This cut is good for slow cooking, but must be cooked with plenty of moisture/liquid so doesn’t dry out and become tough.

Can I make this curry gluten free?

Yes! Make sure you use gluten free stock cubes (I like Kallo Gluten free beef stock cubes) and gluten free tomato paste.
Nutritional info is approximate, based on 6 servings of the curry only – without rice (add 274 cals per serving for rice – based on 75g dry/235g cooked rice per person).


Calories: 224kcal | Carbohydrates: 18.5g | Protein: 29.7g | Fat: 3.7g | Saturated Fat: 1.2g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 427mg | Potassium: 234mg | Fiber: 2.2g | Sugar: 6.9g | Vitamin A: 300IU | Vitamin C: 20.6mg | Calcium: 170mg | Iron: 2.5mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

This post was first published on September 2015. Updated January 2020 with new photos, tips and video.

Serving Suggestions:


In order to make this recipe you will need:

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Welcome to Kitchen Sanctuary

Hi, I'm Nicky and I love to cook! I want to share with you my favourite, delicious family friendly recipes. I want to inspire you to create fantastic food for your family every day.

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  1. 5 stars
    Hi Nicky , cooked your Dansak recipe for friends who love this dish and say they judge a curry restaurant on its Dansak . The complements they gave were amazing.They said it tasted how a curry used to taste years ago ,asked for recipe . I even put chopped chillis on the table because my friends husband loves a hotter curry so it’s something I always do , but he said the sauce was so tasty you didn’t need anymore heat !! My husband said best curry too just like a takeaway. Have you done a cook book of curries? You should!! Callie x

  2. 5 stars
    I am the comment-lurker type, but this is the best curry recipe I have found. Make this. You won’t regret it.

    1. Hi Lina, yes, you could leave out the chopped chillies, or replace them with a finely chopped red bell pepper.