The Secret Ingredient in This Japanese Chicken Curry is Fresh, Crisp Apples

Feature image of Japanese chicken curry with fresh apples in a bowl with rice and pickled vegetables
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
8 servings

Japanese curry is sweet and mild, making it a perfect gateway version to introduce children and spice-shy adults to the delicious world of curries. This recipe makes for mouth-watering leftovers, too (though you may need to thin it out a touch with water when reheating as the sauce thickens with time). This Japanese chicken curry is so delicious and a major hit at our house.

Related: Our Top Make-Ahead Chicken Recipes

Many households make this dish using store-bought Japanese curry roux ‘bricks’ which are tasty and convenient. But you will see in this recipe that homemade roux is not difficult to make at all and nicely eschews all the additives in the purchased bricks. What’s great is you can scale up the roux recipe to keep a few portions on hand in the freezer — then defrost and use in the recipe just like you would the store-bought bricks.

Related: 12 Fascinating Food Customs from Around the World

You’ll see this recipe calls for the S&B brand of curry powder, which is a Japanese spice blend containing some of the usual suspects like turmeric, coriander, fenugreek, cumin, chili pepper, ginger, etc. plus mandarin orange peel which is perhaps a little bit different. It can be purchased at Japanese or other well-stocked East Asian supermarkets, as well as online. If you can’t source S&B specifically, substitute with your favourite mild curry powder blend and it will work well. Instant vegetarian kombu dashi powder is another very Japanese ingredient in this recipe. It is made from dried kelp (different from the standard version made with fish). It adds a uniquely Japanese flavour and umami to the curry that I love but is not an absolute must so I have listed it as optional.

Want more comforting dinner recipes? Check out satisfying slow cooker recipes that are perfect for any night of the week.



Curry Roux

Tbsp (42 g) unsalted butter
Tbsp (42 g) all-purpose flour (or sub 1:1 gluten-free flour if needed)
Tbsp S&B curry powder
tsp sweet paprika

Chicken Curry

lbs skinless, boneless chicken thighs cut into 1-inch pieces
tsp kosher salt (2 tsp if using Diamond Crystal brand, 1 tsp if other)
large white onion, sliced thinly (about 2 cups)
large carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
medium Russet potatoes, peeled and cut into ¾-inch cubes (about 4 cups)
cups homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken broth
package (8 g) instant vegetarian kombu dashi granules (optional)
sweet red apple (Gala, Honey Crisp or Fuji), peeled and grated
Tbsp soy sauce or tamari for gluten-free
Tbsp mirin
Tbsp honey, to taste
Neutral high heat oil for cooking

For Serving

Steamed rice
Fukujinzuke (Japanese pickled vegetables such as radish, eggplant, cucumber)


Mise-en-place of ingredients for Japanese chicken and apple curry
Step 1

Season the chicken pieces with salt to taste and set aside.

Step 2

For the curry roux: In a small pot over medium-low heat, melt butter. Whisk in flour and cook for about 15 minutes or until it has turned golden brown (but not very dark brown). Add curry spice and mix well. Cook for 30 seconds more. Remove from heat.

Step 3

For the chicken curry: Heat a large Dutch-oven or heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add oil and brown chicken in 2-3 batches so as not to overcrowd the pot. Set aside.

Step 4

Add a drizzle more oil, then add in the onions, carrots and potatoes. Season with salt to taste and sauté about 10 minutes. Add broth, dashi, grated apple and the reserved chicken.

Japanese chicken curry being cooked
Step 5

Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer. Give it a taste and season with additional salt depending on salt content in your broth and your taste. Cover and let simmer on low for 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender and the grated apple has pretty much dissolved into the sauce. Check occasionally and skim off the scum on the surface and discard.

Step 6

Add in the curry roux, soy sauce and mirin. If the curry roux hardened after cooling, scoop a ladle of sauce into the pot to thin it out enough to scoop. Simmer and stir until curry roux is completely incorporated with no lumps remaining. Taste and add honey as needed (how much honey is needed depends on your spice blend. I like adding 2-3 tablespoons to mellow out the slight bitter edge of the S&B curry powder). Simmer low uncovered for about 10 minutes or until slightly thickened. Serve over steamed rice with a side of Japanese pickles.

Japanese chicken curry with apples cooking on stovetop

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