This chicken stew, generously seasoned with the Ethiopian spice mix berbere, is loaded with tomato and red lentils. Depending on brand, berbere spice blend can be rather spicy. For a less spicy stew, start with 3 tablespoons spice blend rather than 5.

Jim Romanoff
Source: EatingWell Soups Special Issue April 2016


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Wash lentils in cold water in a medium bowl until the water runs clear; drain and spread in an even layer in a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker. Place chicken on top of the lentils.

  • Heat butter and oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the butter has melted, add onions and cook, stirring often, until soft and translucent, 4 to 6 minutes. Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add berbere and cook, stirring, until very fragrant, 2 to 4 minutes. Stir in wine, scraping the onion mixture from the bottom of the pan, then stir in tomatoes with their juice.

  • Add the onion mixture to the slow cooker on top of the chicken, then pour in broth.

  • Cover and cook until the chicken is falling-apart tender, 5 hours on High or 7 to 8 hours on Low. Stir the stew to combine.


Make Ahead Tip: Trim chicken, prep onions, garlic and ginger. Refrigerate separately.

Equipment: 5- to 6-quart slow cooker

The secret to the irresistible flavor of this chicken stew is berbere spice blend (find it in well-stocked supermarkets or at This staple in Ethiopian cooking is a heady mix that usually includes garlic, fenugreek, allspice, red pepper, ginger, chiles, coriander, cinnamon and black pepper. If you can't find it, use a mixture of 4 tablespoons garam masala, 1 tablespoon hot paprika, 1 teaspoon ground fenugreek and 1 teaspoon salt in this recipe.

For easy cleanup, try a slow-cooker liner. These heat-resistant, disposable liners fit neatly inside the insert and help prevent food from sticking to the bottom and sides of your slow cooker.

Nutrition Facts

430.3 calories; protein 38g 76% DV; carbohydrates 35.2g 11% DV; exchange other carbs 2.5; dietary fiber 7g 28% DV; sugars 4.6g; fat 13.9g 21% DV; saturated fat 4.1g 21% DV; cholesterol 98.2mg 33% DV; vitamin a iu 334.8IU 7% DV; vitamin c 13.6mg 23% DV; folate 102.1mcg 26% DV; calcium 68.7mg 7% DV; iron 4.8mg 27% DV; magnesium 59.4mg 21% DV; potassium 724.7mg 20% DV; sodium 665.6mg 27% DV; thiamin 0.6mg 58% DV.

Reviews (35)

Read More Reviews
35 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 13
  • 4 star values: 10
  • 3 star values: 1
  • 2 star values: 8
  • 1 star values: 3
Rating: 5 stars
I made this exactly as written except I made it in the instant pot pressure cooker (25 min) instead of a slow cooker. I used McCormick's berbere spice blend and the 5T was just right; not too spicy. Another reader said she added carrots; I think I'll do that next time great idea! Read More
Rating: 4 stars
Actually I love this recipe except for the spice level. I LOVE spicy food but this was beyond spicy which takes away from the flavor in my opinion. I actually made it again with less berbere spice and added sour cream and it was 5 star in my opinion. Read More
Rating: 5 stars
This is easy and delicious. We use 3 tbsp of Penzey s Berbere. It has plenty of kick at that level while still preserving the individual taste of the components. I also tend to throw more veg in the pot there is always room. Have found the leftovers freeze nicely for a midweek meal or work lunch. Read More
Rating: 5 stars
OMG! This is my very favorite recipe. Tonight I added a quarter teaspoon of clove and it is even more fantastic! I love the spice level but I like my food hot. I did notice that the longer it cooks the milder it gets. Read More
Rating: 4 stars
This was really good. I made my own Berbere mix which was not too spicy so 5 tbsp. would have been fine. I would definitely make it again. Read More
Rating: 4 stars
Holy hell that is spicy!!! It smelled so good but is inedible at this spice level. Was thinking maybe you all meant teaspoons when you said 5 tablespoons?? Will definitely make it again with way less berbere spice because it smells incredible!! UPDATE: I rinsed the lentils and chicken and reheated in a pan adding sour cream. It is still spicy and has flavor but at least I salvaged dinner!! Can't wait to make this again...minus 4Tblsp of spice!! Read More
Rating: 4 stars
Great Recipe - Too Spicy More Veggies After looking at the other reviews I used 1.5 Tbsp of the Berbere spice and was still a bit too spicy (the spice overwhelmed the delicious flavors)! Otherwise a great dish and the chicken turned out perfect after putting in the crock pot for 5 hours on high. Next time I will lower to less than 1 Tbsp of Berbere put the lentils in after a few hours and add more vegetables like carrots and bell peppers. Read More
Rating: 5 stars
Spicy goodness We tried this for the first time last night. Loving spicy foods but unsure of the Berbere strength we compromised on the suggestion and used 4 Tbsp of the Penzy's brand Berbere. It was just right (meaning - very potent nose-running but not tongue-lacerating). For most people this level would be considered very spicy so know your limits. We had to put some salt in each bowl to really bring the flavor out but that little bit did the trick. We also scaled back the chicken to 1.75 lb to focus more on the veggie content but that's the great thing about stews - you can tweak them until your heart's content. The mixture of flavors is superb - the cardamom ginger and cinnamon bring sweetness to complexly balance with the cayenne heat. Pros: Incredible mix of flavors Cons: Needs salt to bring all the flavors out Read More
Rating: 5 stars
One of my family's favorites! Added tumeric saffron diced tomatoes and carrots. Worked up to the 5 tablespoons of bebere eventually!! Read More
Rating: 4 stars
Very healthy and delicious! I used only 3 tablespoons and less than 3 lbs of chicken. it was still spicey but tolerable. It was too much meat for me even at less than 3 lbs. Still I loved it and will make it regularly. Pros: healthy delicious easy to prep Cons: too spicey! Read More
Rating: 5 stars
The smell is out of this world I have not even tasted this dish yet and I couldn't help myself I had to do a review. If this dish tastes as good as it smells I'm sure I will be making it often. I didn't take the time to read the other reviews but a little tip to add to the tip for the ber ber spice. I didn't go to the website that was recommended but i did shop around online for fenugreek because I couldn't find it in stores. Tip for those who can't find fenugreek go to an Indian grocery store. I basically got a lifetime supply for 1.49 when all other vendors I checked were charging from 9.00 all the up to 20.00. I'll update this when I taste. Read More
Rating: 5 stars
So Flavorful! This is one of our all-time favorite new recipes. We had the spices on hand that we purchased from a specialty shop in Vermont. It can easily be ordered online. I doubled the amount of ginger and garlic listed for even more flavor. It was way too spicy for my 5 year old but my husband and I have been eating it for days. Well worth stirring in chopped parsley before serving. It adds a punch of freshness. Pros: Big flavor nutritious spicy Read More
Rating: 1 stars
Way too much berbere I followed this recipe exactly. I'm not familiar with berbere so I used it exactly as indicated. Five tablespoons of it rendered the dish inedible. I'll make the same recipe today but I'll try one tablespoon of berbere. Though I and my family like spicy and even very hot foods the result here tells me something is way off. Perhaps there are different strengths of berbere? Pros: Pleasant aroma easy to prepare Cons: Vastly too much berbere Read More
Rating: 5 stars
Lovely Jubbly CUrry Followed this recipe to the letter but used the berbere substitute tip (Garam masala) instead of the real mccoy. We thought it was a very good recipe nice and spicy dark and a little drier than the usual homemade curries we make which was a thumbs up. Cooked 500g of boneless chicken thighs for about 7.5hrs on low which was fine but the leftovers kinda disappeared when we reheated it a day or so late so maybe 6.5hrs is better for us. Pros: Different to the average homemade curry Cons: Chicken slightly overdone esp. after reheat Read More
Rating: 4 stars
Tastey but HOT It would benefit everyone if Eating Well modified the ingredient list to show 3-5 Tbsp of the Berbere spice (instead of putting it in a note). I made it with 5 Tbsp of Penzey's Berbere and we're eating it over brown rice but it would be too hot for most people. I will make it again- with 3 Tbsp Berbere. I also added a couple of carrots in large pieces. We liked the fact that it was stew-like and the lentils weren't distinguishable. Pros: Easy to make ahead Cons: Be careful with the Berbere spice Read More
Rating: 2 stars
be careful of the berbere my husband made this for us yesterday - he is a wonderful cook so imagine his surprise when we couldn't eat it- the berbere at 5 tbsps is way over the top- it was unedible - thank goodness for chinese take out - i would like him to try it again but in all honesty the recipe would probably be perfect at 1 tsps of the berbere - as one other person commented eating well should definitely caution about this spice Pros: aroma is wonderful Cons: berbere is way too hot at 5 tbsps. Read More
Rating: 4 stars
Delicious Cold-Weather Food I love this recipe. This is the second time I've made it and the aroma as it cooked was out of this world. I made a couple of adjustments this time around. I like a slightly thinner texture so I used just 1 cup of lentils rather than 1.5 cups. I also used the berbere this time (couldn't find it before) and I found 3 T. to be just the right amount. I do think the full 5 T would be overwhelming. Mine was done after 3 hours on high in the crock pot. The chicken just falls apart. I can't wait for leftovers at lunch tomorrow. Read More
Rating: 5 stars
LOVE THIS crock recipe This is a family favorite. The berbere is key we found Zamouri spice berbere to be our favorite. There is a bit of prep before you get it in the crock pot but real food requires real work. And once this dish is done it is ridiculous good!! Serve with naan and enjoy we always do! Read More
Rating: 2 stars
Be Careful with the Berbere Spice If you use Penzey's Berbere spice start with 1 or two teaspoons. It's very hot. I put a tad over 1 tablespoon in and it's rather hot. I like pretty spicy food so I thought I was being conservative. There's not a lot of flavor to the dish outside of the heat. I too would cook the lentils separately. They are total mush after 8 hours. Don't think I would make this again. Pros: Easy to make Cons: Lentils were mushy and dish just tasted of hot spice. Read More
Rating: 2 stars
Use the blender Slow cooker not the method for this. Lentils would have been better cooked separately. Pros: ok taste Cons: Everything got too well cooked togeteher. Read More
Rating: 2 stars
too time consuming for the result I rated the Chicken and Stout Slow Cooker Stew last week and find this recipe similar in the prep time which for me was well over one hour. Add another 1/2 hr for clean up. But the big problem I had was with the spiciness as others have said here. I also used 3 Tbsp of Berbere from the TeenyTinySpice Company and found it WAY too spicey especially for the guests I had over and I like spicey food. Foolishly I did not read the spice can itself before I started which recommended starting with 2 Tbsp of spice for a normal recipe. It would likely have been much better with just the 2 Tbsp. I think EATING WELL should caution about using 5 Tbsp of Berbere. It would totally be inedibile with 5. The 2nd criticism is that the lentils were very mushy and on the plate it did kind of look a mess. I served with salad couscous and naan. (probably one or the other would be best couscous OR naan) All in all unfortunately I did not think this dish was worth the effort. Pros: chicken moist/tender Cons: prep time spiciness mushiness Read More
Rating: 5 stars
This was excellent. I bought the Teeny Tiny spice Co. Berbere off the internet and used 3 TBSP which was about right had medium high chili heat. We had it with Quinoa pear salad but some bread would have been better. Read More
Rating: 2 stars
need to play around with the spice mixture I didn't have berbere spice blend so I used their substitution of garam masala etc. While it was cooking it had a strong cinnamon smell. I thought I would hate the dish but it was ok. I used masoor dal which I believe are split red lentils. I had no problem with the dish coming out like refried beans although the lentils certainly did cook down. I think I'd like this better with less garam masala and maybe some cumin or curry. I thought green peppers would be good too. I used about half as much red onion as they suggested; I think yellow onion would work fine too. I had no red wine so I skipped that. All in all I like the use of red lentils; I would just alter the spices in the future. Pros: chicken and lentil combination is great Cons: too much garam masala Read More
Rating: 5 stars
Served over quinoa as suggested in the magazine. Very good! Spicy but not overpowering. Definitely will make again. Read More
Rating: 4 stars
Easy weekday meal with zing My husband and I are fans of Ethiopian cuisine and I am used to having lentils or chicken but we appreciated them together. We couldn't find berbere in my go to market but they had garam marsala and ground fenugreek so my husband used the recommended blend. We would add a smidgen more heat next time. It really needed injera. Pros: A breeze to prepare very tasty Cons: Berbere is difficult to find in the rural midwest Read More
Rating: 3 stars
Needs tweaking for a slow cooker I couldn't find berbere and used the suggested substitute with garam masala and other spices. The spice level was fine and not too hot. However red lentils cook fully in about 15 minutes. This meant leaving them in a slow cooker for 8 hours turned them into complete mush. The resulting texture resembled chicken in a vat of refried beans. Next time I would leave the lentils out of the slow cooker make them separately and add them for a few minutes at the end. Start them right before you start some couscous to put the stew on and it would probably work fine. Pros: interesting flavor Cons: texture Read More
Rating: 5 stars
Amazing flavor and textures! LOVE! Other reviewers said 5 TBSP is too much my family and I certainly didn't think so. There are so many wonderful flavor components in the berbere if you didn't put as much in I feel the dish would lose it's authentic flavor appeal. Yes it's spicy but if you eat it with naan or injera that mellows the spice. We enjoyed this immensely! Pros: Flavor Easy Read More
Rating: 4 stars
Fast easy delightful! First I thought this was a GREAT combination of my favorite Ethiopian lentils and Doro Wat (without all the butter). I didn't find it a overly spicy (in fact I thought it could have used a little more heat like Doro Wat) and I used the entire 5 Tlbsp. This leads me to believe that berbere spice must vary in its heat level by brand. I would suggest tasting your particular brand of spice before adding it to the recipe and adjusting accordingly. I used red onions because that's what the recipe called for and I happened to have them on hand. I'm not sure why the recipe calls for the red onions and I'm not sure they're necessary. My lentils (I cooked my stew for 9 hours on low because that's how long I was gone) fell apart a little more than I would have liked and that affected the texture. Green or brown lentils might have held up better but the lentils I love at our Ethiopian recipe are also red. Maybe next time I will braise the chicken instead of cooking it in a slow cooker to see if that helps the texture of the lentils. Regardless I WILL be making this again! Yum! Pros: Minimal prep slow cooker recipe amazing flavor Cons: Lentils fell apart more than I would have liked Read More
Rating: 2 stars
There must be a mistake in the printed recipe for this stew I purchased berbere spice blend from our local Whole Foods (made by Seasoned Pioneers). The directions on the package instructed us to use up to 4 tsp for 4 servings. We decided to use 4 tsp and not the 5 tbsp that was specified in the printed recipe. The heat was just about right for my husband and me but a little too spicy for our 11-year old twins. Eating Well editors you owe your readers an apology and a correction. I can't believe that 5 tablespoons is the correct amount and the earlier posts confirm this. Read More
Rating: 5 stars
We loved this dish. It is one of the BEST things I cook. Read More
Rating: 1 stars
So hot nearly inedible and I love hot I scoured the internet for berbere recipes compared many in a chart I made and blended one reducing the hot pepper element as all the recipes seemed to consist of mainly ground red pepper of various description and paprika. The fractional teaspoons of other spices made me think that the option of using garam masala and fenugreek would give the dish a completely different flavor. So I made the berbere using crushed red pepper along with about a dozen other spices. I was really disappointed that after cooking this stew all day that it just tasted of hot pepper. In retrospect I calculated that the berbere recipes will contribute about two teaspoons of red pepper per serving. Perhaps my crushed red was just too hot. Another illustration of the effect of spice pungency on recipes. EW should have provided a tested berbere recipe. Pros: nice use of lentils Cons: ridiculously hot flavors obscured by pepper Read More
Rating: 2 stars
I'm of Ethiopian descent and can tell you that traditionally this dish doesn't have wine in it just water or broth and it's either made with lentils or chicken but mixing them together is a great idea. One major tip to mellow out the berbere spice you have to saute' it with the onions for at least 15 minutes on medium/low heat sturing often. If you make the dish a day or 2 ahead it tastes even better the spice really mellows out and marries well. Pros: good flavor... Cons: not really traditional Read More
Rating: 4 stars
Delicious it is spicy but it was easy and yummy! Read More
Rating: 1 stars
We are used to eating very hot spicey food. This is simply too HOT with 5 Tablespoons of berbere spice. It will need a lot of yogurt and rice to cool this down! Cons: too much spice Read More
Rating: 2 stars
Watch the spice!!!!! We are used to a lot of hot spice in our food having lived in the Middle East and Africa; this is far too hot for any palate and the 5Tablespoons of berbere spice should be cut WAY back. Then it will be very tastey. Pros: Easy to assemble great for crockpot should be tastey...BUT Cons: TOO HOT Read More