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Slow Cooker Butter Chicken

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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. 

a ladle scooping butter chicken out of a crockpot.

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.

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.

overhead shot of butter chicken in a black bowl topped with cilantro.

Equipment needed to make crockpot butter chicken

Ingredients for slow cooker butter chicken

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.

overhead shot of labeled ingredients to make butter chicken.

How to make slow cooker butter chicken

  1. 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.  
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
collage of 4 photos showing the process of making butter chicken in the slow cooker.

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.

For vegetables, green beans or roasted carrots would pair nicely.

Possible Substitutions/Additions

  • 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.

a ladle scooping butter chicken from a slow cooker.

FAQs

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:

Slow Cooker Sweet & Sour Chicken

Slow Cooker Cajun Chicken Alfredo

Slow Cooker Chicken Thighs with Potatoes & Carrots

Click here for my entire collection of slow cooker recipes.

closeup of butter chicken in a bowl with a spoon.

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a ladle scooping butter chicken out of a crockpot.

Slow Cooker Butter Chicken

Melissa Williams
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. 
No ratings yet
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 5 hrs
Total Time 5 hrs 15 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 6 servings
Calories 357 kcal

Equipment

Ingredients
  

  • 1 tablespoon salted butter
  • 1 small yellow onion diced
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tablespoons ginger grated
  • 6 ounces tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • 12 ounce full-fat coconut milk
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs cubed
  • cilantro

Instructions
 

  • Place the butter into a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until limp. 
  • Add the garlic and ginger, cooking for another 2 minutes. Pour the mixture into the bottom of the slow cooker.
  • In a separate medium sized bowl, stir together the tomato paste, masala curry powder, brown sugar, salt, pepper, and turmeric.  Stir in the coconut milk, chicken stock, and lime juice.  Whisk until there are no lumps and pour it into the slow cooker.
  • Add the chicken to the slow cooker and stir everything together.
  • Cover and cook on LOW for 5-6 hours or HIGH for 3-4 hours.

Notes

Store leftovers covered in the fridge for 3-4 days.
Leftovers can be frozen for up to 3 months in a freezer-safe container. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1gCalories: 357kcalCarbohydrates: 11gProtein: 33gFat: 21gSaturated Fat: 14gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 149mgSodium: 799mgPotassium: 849mgFiber: 2gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 530IUVitamin C: 9mgCalcium: 44mgIron: 4mg

Nutritional information is an estimate and provided to you as a courtesy. You should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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