Slow Cooker Indian Butter Chicken

The combination of spices plus a hint of citrus make this Slow Cooker Indian Butter Chicken totally delicious and the best!  Easy, simple, tried, and tested recipe made in your crockpot or slow cooker!

The first time I ever got to taste this delicious Indian butter chicken was in Sydney, Australia back in 2004 when my hubby and I were on honeymoon! Perhaps that’s why I never forgot how sumptuous this dish was, it was enjoyed at a very special moment of my life.

Or perhaps because it was crazy good that my palate never wanted me to forget this dish. I knew someday I would recreate it! Today’s that day!

I actually have two versions of butter chicken already in this blog (which proves the point that I totally love this dish!). So you may wonder why the need for a 3rd one?

The combination of spices plus a hint of citrus make this Slow Cooker Indian Butter Chicken totally delicious and the best!  Easy, simple, tried, and tested recipe made in your crockpot or slow cooker!

I thought about just updating my previous slow cooker version (the other one was a stovetop version) but this most recent slow cooker Indian butter chicken ended up distinctly different from the previous one which I also liked. Both are delicious versions of butter chicken but the difference was not minor to justify a mere update so I decided I’ll do a new one.

This present version of slow cooker Indian butter chicken is closer to the taste of what I have eaten in local Indian restaurants in the US while the older version was closer to the one I tasted in Asia. I might even dare say, I think this tastes better than some restaurant version!

WHAT DOES BUTTER CHICKEN TASTE LIKE?

Butter chicken or  Murgh makhani, as it’s known in its vernacular, is a rich, creamy and mildly sweet chicken curry with a butter-flavored base, which cuts the intensity of the spices used in its making. Allegedly, this tasty curry came about my accident when the leftover tandoori chicken was mixed in a tomato gravy, rich in butter.

True or not, am I glad this was discovered!

FOR FULL RECIPE & INSTRUCTIONS and to PRINT, SEE RECIPE CARD BELOW.

WHAT INGREDIENTS DO YOU NEED FOR SLOW COOKER INDIAN BUTTER CHICKEN?

  • Oil – used to saute the onion initially.
  • Onion – use sweet onion instead of the more pungent yellow onion for added sweetness to the dish.
  • Chicken Thighs – use boneless or bone-in but skinless chicken thighs. I prefer to use chicken thighs for this slow cooker Indian butter chicken rather than chicken breasts because they absorb more flavor and comes out moist and tender. A combo of both chicken thighs and breast work great, too. If possible, use air-chilled, zero water content chicken thighs so the flavor is more robust.
  • Butter – no substitute as it won’t taste as good. Use either salted or unsalted as you can always adjust the saltiness to your preference.
  • Salt – adjust to taste at the end of cooking.
  • Ground Cinnamon – adds both flavor and aroma so I add extra of this even though it’s included in the garam masala
  • Curry Powder – the amount of heat this would infuse on the dish depends on how spicy your curry powder is. I use the madras curry which is spicier than your usual regular curry powder. It gives just the right amount of heat without being too spicy. This can be found in your Asian stores.
  • Ground Cumin – just a little bit is used so that it adds extra flavor without overwhelming the other spices.
  • Ground Ginger  – you can replace this with freshly grated ginger if you like a little more spicy bite in your butter chicken.
  • Garam Masala – do not omit as this spiced combo gives the butter chicken it’s unique delicious taste and aroma
  • Brown Sugar – acts as flavor enhancer and balances the overall flavor so it’s just right.
  • Tomato Sauce – adds just the right amount of tartness and also for color.
  • A little Water or low-sodium Chicken Broth – added to dilute the tomato sauce a little.
  • Heavy Cream – gives this slow cooker Indian butter chicken that creamy, rich sauce it is known for. Don’t fancy cream? You may replace it with plain yogurt or even coconut milk.
  • Freshly squeezed Lemon Juice – this livens up the dish and gives it that fresh zesty flavor.
  • Cilantro – for garnish, optional.

HOW DO YOU MAKE SLOW COOKER INDIAN BUTTER CHICKEN?

Mix all the ingredients for the spices in one bowl. This would make it easier to add it all in one go. 

Heat the oil to medium-high. Sauté chopped onion for 3-4 minutes or until it begins to change color and soften. Add the sliced butter, salt, and spices. Give it a quick stir until the spices smell aromatic about 1 minute.  It’s necessary to heat the spices so they release their flavor so don’t omit this step. This step adds to the overall flavor of the dish.

Add the cubed chicken and stir to quickly coat with the spices. Transfer everything to the slow cooker and pour over the tomato sauce and chicken broth or water. Cook on high 4 hours or 6 hours on low.

Once the chicken is tender, add the heavy cream, sugar, and freshly squeezed lemon juice. Continue to cook just until the cream is fully heated through.  Taste and adjust seasoning if desired. Garnish with chopped cilantro. Serve immediately with rice.

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4.5 from 10 votes
Print

Best Slow Cooker Indian Butter Chicken

The combination of spices plus a hint of citrus make this Slow Cooker Indian Butter Chicken totally delicious and the best!  Easy, simple, tried, and tested recipe made in your crockpot or slow cooker!

Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Asian Cuisine, Indian
Keyword best slow cooker indian butter chicken, how to make indian butter chicken in the crockpot, how to make slow cooker indian butter chicken
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Servings 8
Calories 349 kcal
Author Manila Spoon

Ingredients

  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground curry powder
  • 2 tsp ground ginger, or 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 large sweet onion, chopped
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp salt, adjust to taste
  • 2.2 lbs (1 kilo) chicken thighs, skinless and boneless (you may opt to use bone-in too or use half chicken thighs and chicken breasts)
  • ¾ cup tomato sauce
  • ¼ cup water or low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • cilantro, chopped for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. Mix all the listed spices in one bowl. This would make it easier to add it all in one go. 

  2. In a wok or skillet, heat the oil to medium-high. Sauté chopped onion for 3-4 minutes or until it begins to change color and soften. Add the sliced butter, salt, and spices. Give it a quick stir until the spices smell aromatic about 1 minute.  It’s necessary to heat the spices so they release their flavor so don’t omit this step. This step adds to the overall flavor of the dish.

  3. Add the cubed chicken and stir to coat with the spices. Transfer everything to the slow cooker and pour over the tomato sauce and chicken broth or water. Cook on high for 4 hours or 6 hours on low.

  4. Once the chicken is tender, add the heavy cream, sugar, and freshly squeezed lemon juice and stir. Continue to cook just until the cream is fully heated through.  Taste and adjust seasoning if desired. The sauce will thicken as it sits. Garnish with chopped cilantro. Serve immediately with rice.

Nutrition Facts
Best Slow Cooker Indian Butter Chicken
Amount Per Serving
Calories 349 Calories from Fat 216
% Daily Value*
Fat 24g37%
Saturated Fat 12g75%
Trans Fat 1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 8g
Cholesterol 174mg58%
Sodium 588mg26%
Potassium 480mg14%
Carbohydrates 8g3%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 5g6%
Protein 26g52%
Vitamin A 752IU15%
Vitamin C 5mg6%
Calcium 56mg6%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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5 Comments

  1. Jessica Stroup
    February 15, 2022 / 9:10 am

    5 stars
    Easy to make and full of yummy flavor! This was a big hit with the family last night!

  2. Amanda Wren-Grimwood
    February 15, 2022 / 9:11 am

    5 stars
    My family loves curry but we often don’t have time to make it on the hob. This is a perfect idea for busy weekends.

  3. Toni
    February 15, 2022 / 9:18 am

    5 stars
    This is so perfect!! Really worth waiting for!! Yummy!

  4. Tavo
    February 15, 2022 / 9:41 am

    5 stars
    Great recipe! Easy to make and delicious! I’ll surely be making this recipe again!

  5. Katherine
    February 15, 2022 / 9:44 am

    5 stars
    Mmmm what a perfect meal to come back to after it’s finished in the slow cooker! Yum!

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