Slow Cooker Butter Chicken is a delicious meal that is rich and creamy without adding lots of butter! This healthy Indian-inspired dish is easy to make and perfect for a weeknight dinner in the crockpot. It’s a meal that everyone in your family will love.
Crockpot Butter Chicken
Have you tried Indian food? We have a large Indian population in Metro Detroit with plenty of restaurant options, but you can skip takeout and make this one right at home in the slow cooker!
The creamy sauce is amazing served over a side of white rice with a piece of warm naan to scoop it all up.
What is butter chicken?
Butter chicken is a traditional Indian dish with a creamy, tomato-based sauce. It has become a staple in Indian restaurants and is very well known across the world. Read more about butter chicken’s history here.
This isn’t quite a traditional butter chicken recipe (I’m not qualified!), it is an Americanized version that is made with coconut milk in the slow cooker, which makes it super easy comfort food.
For a less creamy, less sweet version, try a slow cooker chicken curry.
Why you’ll love this slow cooker butter chicken recipe
Packed with Flavor – The combination of warm spices, coconut milk, garlic, ginger, and lime juice pack a huge flavor punch.
Easy Recipe – You do start on the stove top but the crockpot does the heavy lifting.
Family Favorite – The whole family will love this rich, flavorful dish. You’ll want to put it in the regular rotation.
Equipment needed to make crockpot butter chicken
- Large Skillet – A medium to large non-stick pan is perfect for sauteing the onions in this recipe.
- Crock pot – A 6-quart slow cooker is perfect for this dish. I recommend the Hamilton Beach slow cooker.
- Garlic Press
Below is a list of the ingredients you’ll need to gather to make this recipe. Scroll all the way down for the full recipe card.
- ONION – Yellow onion is my go-to. It has great, mild flavor.
- BUTTER – A small amount of butter to saute the butter, garlic, and ginger.
- GARLIC – Freshly minced garlic is preferred, but garlic packed in oil is fine if that’s what you have on hand.
- GINGER – Fresh ginger is mildly peppery and sweet with a spicy smell. You’ll grate it, or you can use ginger paste.
- TOMATO PASTE – Tomato paste is a thick, rich concentrate which comes from cooking tomatoes down & straining out the seeds and peels.
- GARAM MASALA – Garam masala is an Indian spice blend that is different than regular curry powder. It has a stronger, more complex flavor and generally doesn’t include turmeric.
- BROWN SUGAR – A little bit of sugar to balance the spices.
- SALT & PEPPER
- TURMERIC – Turmeric powder has a warm, bitter flavor. It is a staple in currys and also adds to the color.
- COCONUT MILK – Full-fat coconut milk adds creaminess while keeping the dish dairy free. You could substitute with unsweetened soy or almond milk…or heavy cream.
- CHICKEN STOCK – Chicken stock or chicken broth can be used. Low sodium if you prefer.
- LIME JUICE – Freshly squeezed lime juice, you could also use lemon juice if that’s all you have.
- CHICKEN THIGHS – Boneless skinless chicken thighs are tender and juicy which makes them perfect in this dish.
- CILANTRO – Fresh cilantro to sprinkle on top of the chicken after cooking.
How to make slow cooker butter chicken
- STEP ONE: First, saute the onion, garlic, and ginger in a medium skillet, over medium-high heat, for approximately 2 minutes. Pour into the slow cooker.
- STEP TWO: Next, in a medium bowl, stir together the tomato paste, garam masala, brown sugar, salt & pepper, and turmeric. Add in the coconut milk, chicken stock, and lime juice. Whisk together until smooth and then pour into the slow cooker.
- STEP THREE: Finally, add in the chicken and stir everything together. Cover and cook on LOW for 5-6 hours or HIGH for 3-4 hours.
What to serve with Indian Butter Chicken
Butter chicken goes excellent with sides like naan bread, jasmine rice, basmati rice, brown rice, cauliflower rice, or quinoa. You could even serve it with cilantro lime rice.
- If you want to thicken the sauce, in the last 30 minutes of cook time, add a cornstarch slurry to the slow cooker and mix in.
- Substitute the tomato paste for tomato sauce if you want a thinner sauce.
- Replace the coconut milk with heavy cream for an even creamier dish.
- If you want to make it on the stove top, saute the chicken until cooked through and make the cream sauce separately. Once the chicken is cooked, pour it into the sauce and simmer.
How to store leftovers
Keep any leftover chicken in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
Can I freeze it?
Yes, you can freeze cooked butter chicken. Place it in a freezer-safe container or freezer bag and store in the freezer for up to three months.
How to reheat it
From the fridge, leftovers can be warmed in the microwave, or if you have a large portion, you can put it back into the slow cooker until heated through.
From the freezer, move it to the fridge the night before to thaw and then heat the same as above.
Do I have to saute the onions?
No, you don’t have to, but I recommend it. The extra rich flavor and tenderness from cooking the onions before adding them is worth it.
What can I use instead of ginger paste?
Instead of ginger paste, you could use ½ teaspoon of powdered ginger or fresh, grated ginger. Stir it into the bowl with the tomato paste mixture.
Can I use chicken breasts instead of thighs?
Yes, you can absolutely use chicken breasts or a mixture of breasts and tender chicken thighs.
If this is butter chicken, shouldn’t we add more butter?
You can add a couple extra tablespoons of butter with the chicken, but you don’t need to as this recipe gets its richness from the coconut milk – use full fat!
Need another slow cooker chicken recipe? Try these:
Click here for my entire collection of slow cooker recipes.