Time to add a little flavor to your weeknight dinner routine, Slow Cooker Butter Chicken style! The savory, creamy sauce is richly spiced (but not spicy), the chicken is plump and juicy, and the veggies are sneakily hidden.
This tasty butter chicken is the crockpot version of my Instant Pot Butter Chicken, which is one of the most popular, highest-rated recipes on my website. It has an authentic Indian flavor, but you can find all of the ingredients at an average grocery store, and you’ll need no more than 15 minutes to prep it.
If you’ve never had authentic Indian butter chicken (or Indian food in general!), this Slow Cooker Butter Chicken is a recipe to try. After a few bites, you’ll have the same reaction I did during the month I spent traveling through India: L-O-V-E.
The depth of flavor found in authentic Indian cooking is striking. Every bite reveals nuances, and the more of it you eat, the more you start to crave it. Try my Chicken Tikka Masala for another flavorful Indian recipe!
I could barely get this Slow Cooker Butter Chicken transferred to a container, because I kept sneaking bites of it out of the slow cooker. By the time I’d used a piece of naan bread to wipe the corners of my crockpot clean, dish soap was nearly unnecessary.
This easy crock pot recipe yields a good amount, so if you need butter chicken for a crowd, look no further. It’s also stellar leftover, so you can make it tonight, then enjoy the leftovers for healthy lunches and dinners later in the week.
How to Make Legit Slow Cooker Butter Chicken
This shortcut version of an authentic Indian butter chicken recipe uses everyday ingredients, but it tastes like the BEST butter chicken and reminds me of what we ate in India.
Here’s what you need to make it.
- Chicken. I opted for a slow cooker chicken breast recipe, but you can certainly use this same recipe to make butter chicken thighs if that is what you prefer.
- Cauliflower. WHAAT?? YES! This is my sneaky addition to turn this into a healthy crockpot recipe. The cauli florets mix seamlessly with the pieces of diced chicken. Once they are coated in the creamy butter chicken sauce, you’ll be smitten and thanking yourself for your wholesome meal prowess.
- Ginger, Garlic, and Onion. The backbones of fresh flavor. Don’t skimp here! I promise the mincing is worth it.
Easy Slow Cooker Butter Chicken Sauce
Next we move on to the items that give the butter chicken sauce boss flavor.
Think that in order to make slow cooker butter chicken easy, you need to use premade sauce? Think again!
This simple homemade sauce cooks right in your slow cooker and beats anything you’ll find in a jar.
- Garam Masala and Curry Powder. Each of these are blends of multiple spices and can be found at most grocery stores. Indian food is renowned for packing myriad spices into every recipe. Using spice blends like these two means you get max flavor teaspoon-for-teaspoon, with less effort (and fewer ingredients to buy!).
I know it can be annoying to add a new spice to your collection. BUT once you own them, it will open up an entirely new genre of recipes for you. To get you started, check out these reader favorites: Tofu Tikka Masala, Instant Pot Chicken Tikka Masala, Instant Pot Lentil Curry, Slow Cooker Chicken Curry, and this slow cooker Red Lentil Curry.
- Tomato Sauce. Easy-peasy.
- Tomato Paste. A can of tomato paste is one of the most impactful, inexpensive ways to add mega flavor instantly.
Bonus: This Slow Cooker Butter Chicken recipe uses the WHOLE CAN of tomato paste, so you won’t have an odd orphan amount lurking in your fridge.
- Butter and Half-and-Half. But less than you think! If you’ve ever had Indian butter chicken in a restaurant and wondered why it tasted so decadent, these two ingredients are why. After playing around with different amounts, I found that I could significantly reduce the amount of both, without losing the signature creaminess that makes butter chicken delish.
- Greek Yogurt. My trick addition to make this Slow Cooker Butter Chicken healthy. It packs protein and is ultra creamy.
- Slow Cooker Butter Chicken and Potatoes. Another way to make your slow cooker butter chicken and veggies! Swap all or part of the cauliflower for diced baby potatoes. For even more veggies, stir in peas at the end.
- Vegan Slow Cooker Butter Chicken. Add more cauliflower and a can of chickpeas in place of the chicken. Use coconut milk, vegan butter, and a plain coconut-milk-based yogurt. If you simply prefer the flavor of slow cooker butter chicken with coconut milk, you can always use it for the half-and-half, even if you aren’t vegan.
- Paleo Slow Cooker Butter Chicken (or Whole30 Slow Cooker Butter Chicken). Follow the vegan points above to make the recipe dairy free. You can also use ghee in place of the butter if you like.
- Keto Slow Cooker Butter Chicken. This recipe is fairly keto friendly as written, since cauliflower is low carb. Feel free to make any other modifications you like!
How to Store Leftover Butter Chicken
This recipe is exceptionally leftover friendly!
- Store extra crock pot butter chicken in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 3 months. I like to keep the butter chicken portion separate from any leftover rice.
- To thaw frozen butter chicken: Place the container in the refrigerator and let thaw overnight.
- To reheat: Mix your desired portion of rice and butter chicken. Warm gently in the microwave.
Serving Slow Cooker Butter Chicken
The beauty of Slow Cooker Butter Chicken and Cauliflower is that it gives you every food group in one, so you don’t need an extra side!
- We like to serve our butter chicken over rice or with naan bread.
- If you are looking to make the recipe low carb (or need the butter chicken to be to keto, paleo, etc.), instead of rice, serve it with cauliflower rice. If that feels like cauliflower overload, you can omit the cauliflower from the recipe and use a different vegetable, or swap extra chicken.
Ready to get cooking? I hope you love this Slow Cooker Butter Chicken, and I’d love to hear from you! Let me know what you think of the recipe in the comments section below.
If you love this slow cooker chicken recipe, be sure to check out my full list of healthy crock pot chicken recipes.
Slow Cooker Butter Chicken
- 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts about 4 medium breasts
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1 small yellow onion diced (about 1 cup)
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
- 4 cloves minced garlic about 4 teaspoons
- 1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
- 1 tablespoon garam masala
- 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 (6-ounce) can no salt added tomato paste
- 1 small cauliflower or 1/2 large head, cut into florets (about 4 1/2 cups)
- 1 (14-ounce) can tomato sauce
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into small pieces (use coconut oil to make dairy free)
- 1/2 cup half-and-half or full-fat coconut milk do not use light coconut milk, as it will water down the sauce
- 1/2 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt or non-dairy yogurt to make dairy free
- Prepared brown rice
- Chopped fresh cilantro
- In a nonstick skillet, heat the coconut oil over medium high. Once hot, add the onion and cook until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the ginger, garlic, curry, garam masala, chili powder, salt, and tomato paste. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Transfer the onions to a 6-quart or larger slow cooker. Lay the chicken on top, then the cauliflower florets, and top with tomato sauce. Stir to combine the florets and sauce a bit, leaving the chicken pieces undisturbed underneath. The chicken pieces will seem large and a bit in the way. Just use a spoon to prod the sauce and florets around a bit so things are more evenly coated. Scatter the butter pieces over the top.
- Cover and cook on high for 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours or on low for 4 to 6 hours, until the chicken is cooked through and reaches 165 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer. The cooking time may vary based on your slow cooker, so check early to ensure the chicken does not dry out. When the chicken is done, remove it to a cutting board and let cool slightly.
- At this point, the cauliflower is not likely to be tender. Give the contents of the slow cooker a big stir to coat the florets with the sauce. Recover the slow cooker and cook on HIGH until the florets are completely tender, about 30 minutes to 1 hour more. (If your florets are already tender, you can skip this step.)
- Once the chicken is cool enough to handle safely, cut it into bite-size pieces. Return to the slow cooker with the tender florets. Stir in the half-and-half. Let cool a few minutes, then stir in the Greek yogurt. (Don't stir in the yogurt right away; if the butter chicken is too hot, it will curdle.) Enjoy warm over brown rice, quinoa, or naan, sprinkled with fresh cilantro.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Reheat leftovers gently on the stovetop or in the microwave.
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