Perfectly spiced (but not spicy) chicken in a light and creamy sauce, all cooked in the slow cooker until the chicken falls apart and melts in your mouth. Slow Cooker Butter Chicken is an easy weeknight meal and a good way to introduce your family to different herbs and spices. A mild and creamy curry that lets the slow cooker do all the work.
Our slow cooker is probably one of our most used kitchen appliances and on busy days it is the difference between us eating a proper meal and raiding the fridge for whatever is left. Perfect for time saving in the kitchen, although this slow cooker butter chicken takes a little bit of prep, it is totally worth it.
You probably already have all the herbs and spices in your kitchen to make this, and if you don't and you are buying them, then we have lots of other recipes you can make to use them up. Why not try our 10 Minute Chickpea and Spinach Curry or Chicken Rendang?
Why you will love it
- A new way to eat chicken - Chicken is so versatile, but it can get boring eating it the same way all the time, or just having it plain and grilled. This is an easy way to liven it up with some simple spices.
- Mild curry - I think a lot of people are put off curry because of the spiciness, but this one is really mild. It uses spices to flavour it, but it only has a little chilli in it, and that can easily be reduced. This is a great family friendly curry, and a good way to introduce kids to curry.
- Easy - Although this isn't a dump and leave slow cooker dish (try our Slow Cooker Chicken Curry if that is what you are looking for), it isn't a difficult dish to make. The longest part of the prep is letting the chicken marinate in the yogurt and spices, which is definitely worth doing.
- Freezable - We love a batch cook freezable meal, and this is definitely a good one. Keep a couple of portions in the freezer to those days when you don't even have time to put the slow cooker on.
- Chicken - We used chicken breasts to keep this dish nice and lean. However, you could swap them for skinless and boneless chicken thighs. This would change the nutritional information though, but they do tend to be juicier than chicken breasts.
- Yogurt - This is mixed with the chicken and spices to tenderise the chicken. You can leave it overnight, or just for a couple of hours. This step could be skipped, but we find that is does make a difference. We use yogurt so we can use less butter and make this a lighter version than a traditional butter chicken.
- Lemon - This helps to lighten the dish up.
- Spices - We have used garam masala, paprika, chilli and cumin, which are all fairly standard in a spice rack. We used enough chilli to be able to notice it, but it isn't really spicy. Feel free to adjust the spices depending on your preferences.
- Onion - This is the base of the curry. You could use shallots, which would give a sweeter flavour. You could also use frozen diced onion to save some time.
- Garlic and ginger - We freshly crush/grate the garlic and ginger, however you could save time by using frozen garlic and ginger, or even a paste in a tube.
- Tomato puree - This adds some colour and helps to thicken up the sauce, but it doesn't give it an overly tomato flavour.
- Butter - This is what gives butter chicken that indulgent flavour.
- Coconut milk - This helps to make the sauce for the curry and also adds to the creaminess. You could reduce the calories and fat in this and use reduced fat coconut milk, but we find that it makes the sauce too watery, so we use full fat.
A full ingredients list with measurements is in the recipe card below.
Step by step
One: In a large bowl, add the chicken, yogurt, lemon juice, cumin, chilli powder and paprika and mix well. Put in the fridge for a couple of hours, or it can be kept in there overnight.
Two: In a large pan, heat some oil and then add the onion, garlic and ginger and cook on low for 4-5 minutes until softened.
Three: Add the garam masala and tomato paste and stir.
Four: Add the chicken mixture and the coconut milk and stir well.
Five: Transfer it to a slow cooker.
Six: Cook on high for 3 hours or on low for 6 hours. Add the butter 10 minutes before finished and stir.
Think of this as an easy curry base that you can adapt in lots of different ways. We love anything that we can add lots of different vegetables to, and this is exactly one of those recipes. You can give this slow cooker butter chicken a green veggie boost by stirring in some spinach about 15 minutes before serving. You could use kale or chard too.
When cooking the onion, you could add some finely diced bell pepper, mushrooms and courgette too. Peas are also a good addition to this curry and they will add some colour too.
Chunks of cauliflower are also good with this, as they kind of disguise themselves amongst the chicken. Once everything is coated in the sauce, you won't really be able to tell the difference.
If you didn't want to serve this curry with rice, then you could add some cubes of sweet potato or butternut squash directly to the curry to make it more filling. Butternut squash would work well too.
What to serve this with
Curry goes perfectly with rice, which soaks up all that incredible creamy sauce. You could just go with plain basmati rice, or why not try our Turmeric Rice for something a little different? You could swap rice for quinoa for a protein boost.
Soft and fluffy bread is always a good option with curry too, so why not try making our Homemade Flatbreads - they are so simple. And then dip them in some of our homemade cucumber raita. If you want lots of flavour, then try our Peshwari Naan.
We have tried to make some lighter changes to this recipe by going easy on the butter and not adding any cream. However, the coconut milk does make this a fairly high in fat recipe. You can make this curry more nutrient dense by adding some vegetables from the suggested variations above.
There are 356 calories in this curry. That is just for the curry, without any side dishes. So if you are mindful of calories, then watch the side dishes, as they can really add up.
There really is no rule here, just make sure that the ingredients you are using can fit in your slow cooker. We use a Crock Pot DuraCeramic Slow Cooker and we love it. What I love most about it is that you can put the bowl insert on the hob too. So, you can cook the onions on the hob, in the slow cooker bowl. I also love that it has a clear lid, as I am so impatient that I want to keep looking and seeing what it is doing. If you don't have a clear lid, then lifting it to see will release lots of the heat and add to the cooking time.
The chicken should be perfectly cooked in the slow cooker after 3 hours on high or 6 hours on low. However, we always like to use a food thermometer to check. The cooked temperature of chicken is 75°C/165°F. However, if you don't have a food thermometer, then it is best to use your judgement and stick a knife in it. It shouldn't be pink inside.
Yes, this can be prepared in advance. You can coat the chicken in the yogurt mixture and keep that in the fridge overnight and then just put it in the slow cooker when you are ready to put it on.
Yes, this can all be cooked on the hob and it will take around 35-40 minutes. Just make sure that the chicken is cooked through.
If you wanted to make a vegan version of this, then you could swap the chicken for tofu, or just add extra vegetables. You would need to swap the butter and yogurt for plant base versions, however we haven't tried this ourselves so we don't know what the results are. If you try it, do let us know the results.
This curry is full of spice flavour, but it isn't necessarily spicy hot. This particular recipe uses just some garam masala and chilli powder, which can add a good level of heat to the dish. You can adjust the amount to your own taste.
If the dish is still too spicy once you have cooked it, you can cool it down by adding a teaspoon of palm sugar (or brown sugar) or by stirring through a tablespoon of plain yogurt.
This is a great batch cook meal, so make extra and keep it in the freezer for those buy nights. Leftovers can be stored in an air tight container in the fridge for 2 days.
Yes, once you have let the curry fully cool, you can transfer it in to a freezable container and then it will keep for 3 months.
Make sure to fully defrost the curry in the fridge overnight and then you can reheat the curry in a saucepan over a medium heat until piping hot all the way through. You could also reheat it in the microwave.
If you want a thicker sauce, then you could take the lid off and leave it cooking for 30 minutes more.
• You can use light coconut milk instead of full fat in this curry, but you won't get the same creamy flavour.
• Add a little crunch to this curry by serving with some cashew nuts on top.
• This is a really mild curry, making it perfect for serving up to the whole family. However you you can always add a finely diced red chilli to the sauce, or just sprinkle some red chilli flakes.
• You can give this an extra protein boost by adding some quick cook lentils at the same time as the coconut milk.
• An easy way to add a little extra flavour, texture and creaminess is by adding a spoonful of peanut butter (or almond or cashew).
• Add some fresh coriander (cilantro) before serving to lighten it up a little.
More curry recipes
Slow Cooker Butter Chicken
- 600 g chicken breast - chopped
- 200 g natural yogurt
- 0.5 lemon - juice only
- 2 tablespoon garam masala
- 0.5 tablespoon cumin
- 0.5 tablespoon paprika
- 0.5 teaspoon chilli powder
- 1 medium onion - diced
- 3 garlic cloves - crushed
- 30 g fresh ginger - diced
- 1 tablespoon tomato puree
- 30 g butter
- 200 ml coconut milk
- In a large bowl, add the chicken, yoghurt, lemon juice, cumin, chilli powder and paprika and mix well. Put in the fridge for a couple of hours, or it can be kept in there overnight.
- In a large pan, heat some oil and then add the onion, garlic and ginger and cook on low for 4-5 minutes until softened.
- Add the garam masala and tomato paste and stir.
- Add the chicken mixture and the coconut milk and stir well.
- Transfer it to a slow cooker.
- Cook on high for 3 hours or on low for 6 hours. Add the butter 10 minutes before finished and stir.
- You can use light coconut milk instead of full fat in this curry, but you won't get the same creamy flavour.
- Add a little crunch to this curry by serving with some cashew nuts on top.
- This is a really mild curry, making it perfect for serving up to the whole family. However you you can always add a finely diced red chilli to the sauce, or just sprinkle some red chilli flakes.
- You can give this an extra protein boost by adding some quick cook lentils at the same time as the coconut milk.
- An easy way to add a little extra flavour, texture and creaminess is by adding a spoonful of peanut butter (or almond or cashew).
- Add some fresh coriander (cilantro) before serving to lighten it up a little.