Slow Cooker

Martha Stewart's Slow-Cooker Tom Kha Gai

September 13, 2018
28 Ratings
Photo by Stephen Kent Johnson
  • Prep time 5 minutes
  • Cook time 6 hours
  • Serves 6
Author Notes

Reprinted from Martha Stewart’s Slow Cooker. Copyright © 2017 by Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. Photographs copyright © 2017 by Stephen Kent Johnson. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

While this soup can be made on the stovetop in under an hour, it benefits from a longer spell in the slow cooker. The lemongrass and lime leaves infuse more flavor into the broth and the tender, moist chicken thighs. —Food52

Test Kitchen Notes

Featured in: 17 Fall Slow-Cooker Recipes to Curl Up With. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 3 lemongrass stalks, tough outer layers removed
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth, store-bought or homemade
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 (2-inch) piece fresh galangal or ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 6 kaffir lime leaves, halved, or 6 strips lime zest with a vegetable peeler
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 3 Thai bird chiles
  • 1 1/2 pounds pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1/2-inch strips
  • 4 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, thinly sliced
  • 1 can (13.5 ounces) unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 large carrot, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro plus more for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons chopped Thai basil, plus more leaves for garnish
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
  • Chili oil sauce, for serving
  1. Preheat a 4-quart slow cooker.
  2. On a cutting board, using the side of a chef’s knife, lightly smash lemongrass. Combine lemongrass, broth, fish sauce, sugar, galangal, lime leaves, shallot, chiles, chicken, and mushrooms in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on high until chicken is cooked through, about 2 1/2 hours (or on low for 5 hours).
  3. Add coconut milk and carrot, and cook on high 30 minutes longer (or on low for 1 hour). Stir in lime juice, cilantro, basil, and scallion. Top with cilantro and basil, and serve with chili oil sauce.
  4. Tip: Chili oil sauce—a mixture of ground dried chiles, soybean oil, garlic, and sesame oil—is sold in Asian markets and even many supermarkets. It can be used in any recipe that calls for red-pepper flakes.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Marsha Gainey
    Marsha Gainey
  • Sabine Gagnon
    Sabine Gagnon
  • Tim Triffitt
    Tim Triffitt
  • lulieliv
  • Max Erickson
    Max Erickson

21 Reviews

Julia October 1, 2023
Just made this in my insta-pot using the slow cooker setting and it was amazing! I even forgot the chili oil at the end because it smelled so good I was in a hurry to try it :)

I prepped 2 batches putting all the initial slow-cooked ingredients except the chicken broth in a gallon zip lock bag. One in the freezer, one to cook the next day.

I subbed palm sugar and used lime zest and the flavor of our soup was fantastic. So happy I have another batch in the freezer for next time.

My broth was definitely more golden and not as white as the picture shows, but I used my own homemade chicken stock. Perhaps commercial chicken stock will yield a more clear/white end product.
Rjones23 March 8, 2023
My family loves this recipe and I‘ve made it many times. I’m disheartened to see some negative comments, it’s totally on par with a good restaurant Tom Ka Gai. Perhaps people aren’t aware of the different flavor profiles this has, it’s not a chicken soup. I appreciate the recipe! I do add a few shrimp at the end as well as we like to have a lot in the soup. Thanks!
Marsha G. June 2, 2022
Delish! Made lots. Smelled great.
Leila April 12, 2022
I loved this - my partner, not so much. We doubled the peppers and I loved the sour / spicy combo. I'll make this again.. when they're out of town.
Leila April 12, 2022
I will say - the first two hours of it cooking, the crockpot smelled horrible. But things did a swift turn around by hour 4
Patricia M. February 17, 2022
Must have done something wrong, because this was the worst thing I have ever made in nearly 50 years of cooking! First red flag was acrid odor while it was in the crockpot for 5 hours...tasted bitter even with extra sugar and nothing like restaurant tom kha gai. Quite a waste of shitakes...
brushjl February 1, 2022
Great soup. Fabulous aroma and flavor. I used dried shiitakes and think it was a better choice than fresh. Lovely chicken soup during a cold winter.
HRoos October 18, 2021
Has anyone browned the chicken and any of the aromatics before putting it in the slow cooker ?
Peanut52553 October 3, 2021
Loved this. I only had one Red Thai chili so chopped it up fine and included the seeds. Make sure you temper the coconut milk or it will curdle. I also added chopped red pepper at the endangered any other vegetables would work.
JodyC September 19, 2021
Okay, Martha. I still love you. You have 6 kaffir lime leaves in this!!! Excellent!
Sabine G. March 7, 2020
This was excellent! I can't remember the last time I used a slow cooker and this has inspired me to keep going! Super easy preparations. Lots of flavor. Hubs and I loved it. If you are nursing a cold- this is the cure!
Tim T. September 7, 2019
Great flavours. Awesome and simple recipe. I wasn't able to get Shitake mushrooms but substitute them with a mix of mushrooms from the market. I had the soup over ramen noodles. I think next time I will stir through water chestnuts near the end for a about more texture and maybe some fried green onion.
lulieliv April 13, 2019
Do you slice the peppers or put them in whole?
Amy July 30, 2020
Put them in whole. They will flavor the dish but aren't meant to be eaten. Just set them aside if you find one in your bowl. Looking at the date of your post, I realize by now you know this (!) but maybe someone else has the same question when making this recipe.
Max E. March 4, 2019
Loved this and so did our guests! Once you have the ingredients it comes together in a flash.
Sharon February 28, 2019
Wow! I doubled the recipe and shared it with everyone at work. so flavorful and worth the effort to source all of the ingredients. The only change I made was to cook it on the stove (I didn't want to dig out my slow cooker). Next time, I will put the galangal and lemongrass in an herb/muslin bag for easy removal.
Kate April 12, 2019
Can you explain stovetop instructions - heat, timing etc. i don’t have a slow cooker and would like to make this !
FrugalCat December 29, 2018
Extremely awesome flavor. I did make quite a few substitutions (all in the same flavor family)- turbinado sugar, scotch bonnet for the Thai bird chilies, parsley and more cilantro for the Thai Basil, garlic for the shallot. I get shittake mushrooms cheap at my local Asian grocery.
judy October 16, 2021
Thai Basil is in the licorice flavor family. It is one of my favorite flavors, Once I figured this out, I started using ground anise, as Thai Basil is hard to come by, since I am semi invalid. It works wonders. I guess ground fennel might work as well, but a slightly different taste. I love getting Thai basil when I order pho, I eat all that comes to the table for everyone, as I seem to be not only one that really likes it in my circle. But I find find it very difficult to source in the mostly American grocery stores that I shop. ben anise can be difficult to find. but I buy in bulk now, and it keeps. Basil unfortunately spoils quite quickly, and I am the only one that likes it. On the other hand, when I add the anise, my family loves it. Anise makes a world of difference in Chinese and Vietnamese as well. I do not find cilantro a good substitute, but also a great flavor enhancer for Asian profile foods. Maybe my palette is not refined enough.....
Linda D. November 16, 2021
Since Thai basil is hard to come by for me as well, Judy, I added a teaspoon of ground anise in the soup last night, Judy, and it was delicious! We both like anise so I'll add two teaspoons the next time.
Linda D. October 4, 2018
Absolutely delicious! I used 6 strips of the lime zest, three hot peppers I had on hand from the Farmers' Market, 4 cups of Swanson's chicken stock, and dried basil. This is more flavorful than what I have had at Thai restaurants and since it was not much trouble, I am sure I will prepare this again.