Chicken Main Dishes Recipes Slow Cooker

Slow Cooker Butter Chicken [Video]

Slow Cooker Butter Chicken is tender, creamy, and full of flavor. It’s also a dish that will fill your kitchen with an irresistible aroma, making you anticipate dinner for hours on end as it slowly cooks! Also called Murgh Makhani or Indian chicken, it is made with tender, perfectly seasoned chicken and a rich curry sauce made with tomato and cream. This combination is nothing short of mouthwateringly delicious, and it is so easy to make—the slow cooker does all the work. 

Authentic Slow Cooker Butter Chicken has tender white meat drenched in a creamy and flavorful curry sauce. The long and slow cooking time makes all the flavors meld well. This is in addition to the rich combination of spices included in the marinade, make this dish irresistible.

My family and I discovered this dish while visiting India years ago, and we all loved it. Of course, I had to try and make it. And if I do say so myself, the results are even better than the one we tried! The trick to this recipe is the slow cooker. Letting it do all the work for you while you go on your day is awesome, and you get to return to a delicious meal at the end of the day!

I start by marinating my chicken the night before. Just leave it in the fridge to soak up all the flavors. Then, before I leave for the day, I sauté it and put it in the slow cooker with the sauce to cook while I am out. If you need your chicken sooner, you can cook it on high for three to four hours. However, for the best flavor and most tender chicken, I recommend cooking on low for six to seven hours.

Why you will love this recipe

  • It is so easy: Marinate the chicken the night before. Then sauté the chicken and toss it in the pot with the rest of the ingredients before enjoying your day. Then, you can come back to a delicious but easy meal.
  • Authentic flavor: If your goal is to serve an authentic Indian meal, this one you should definitely try.
  • Leftovers taste incredible: Some recipes taste better the next day. This crockpot butter chicken is one of them. Save some for lunch or dinner tomorrow.
  • Make it your way: Although I prefer this dish just the way it is, sometimes I like to mix it up by adding or removing some of the ingredients. For example, when I have people sensitive to spicy foods, I leave out chili powder and garam masala.

What you’ll need to make slow cooker butter chicken

Special items:

  • Slow cooker – Whether you have a slow cooker or crockpot, the directions are the same.
  • Large skillet – For sautéing the chicken. 
  • Wooden spoon – I prefer wooden utensils because they do not scratch the ceramic in my slow cooker.

Ingredients:

  • Chicken – I use skinless boneless chicken thighs because they are easy to prepare, and my family prefers white meat. Whatever meat you use, just cut it into two-inch cubes.
  • Yogurt—Plain Greek yogurt is my preference for this marinade. It adds a nice, mellow acid with a mild, creamy flavor.
  • Ginger – Freshly minced ginger is a bit spicy, but I prefer it to the powdered stuff for its bold flavor.
  • Garlic powder—I put garlic powder in just about everything, and it is perfect for marinating chicken because it is concentrated and will add more garlic taste.
  • Garam masala – My favorite blend is mace, nutmeg, black peppercorns, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, coriander, and cumin. Some blends also have mustard seeds, fennel, and bay leaves. Use what you like.
  • Turmeric – A popular curry spice, turmeric adds an earthy background with hints of pepper, ginger, and sweetness. Some say it tastes similar to mustard. It can also be somewhat bitter if you use too much.
  • Cumin – Although in the garam masala, I add a little extra for the warm, sweet flavor.
  • Red chili powder—If you have never used it, the difference between red chili powder and regular chili powder is that the chiles are soaked in vinegar and water. Red chili powder adds an extra kick of tanginess to anything it touches.
  • Paprika – Gives your marinade a subtly sweet and peppery taste. I like to use smoked paprika for its smoky flavor, but you can also use sweet or regular.
  • Salt—I prefer to use sea salt because it is less processed than regular salt and has a fresher flavor.

For the sauce:

  • Olive oil – I always use extra virgin olive oil because it is light and has a mild flavor. In this recipe, it is used to sauté the chicken.
  • Butter—Because butter is the star of this dish, I only use the highest-quality butter without salt. If your butter has salt, remove it from the sauce ingredients.
  • Onion – Minced and sauteed to add a fresh onion flavor without any bitterness that the powder has.
  • Garlic – Also minced and sauteed, fresh garlic gives your sauce a deep, rich garlic taste.
  • Tomato sauce—Another important ingredient. I prefer to use organic tomatoes to make my own, but you can use your favorite brand.
  • Evaporated milk – Any kind of evaporated milk will do, but the better the quality, the better the flavor.
  • Heavy cream—Do not substitute this ingredient unless you really have to because it gives your sauce the creaminess it needs to taste authentic.
  • Garam masala – My favorite blend is mace, nutmeg, black peppercorns, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, coriander, and cumin. Some blends also have mustard seeds, fennel, and bay leaves. Use what you like.
  • Ginger – Freshly minced ginger is a bit spicy, but I prefer it to the powdered stuff for its bold flavor.
  • Cumin – Although in the garam masala, I add a little extra for the warm, sweet flavor.
  • Red chili powder—If you have never used it, the difference between red and regular chili powder is that the chiles are soaked in vinegar and water. Red chili powder adds an extra kick of tanginess to anything it touches.
  • Paprika – Gives your sauce a subtly sweet and peppery taste. I like to use smoked paprika for its smoky flavor, but you can also use sweet or regular.
  • Salt—I prefer sea salt because it is less processed than regular salt and has a fresher flavor.
  • Black pepper – Grind your own from fresh peppercorns for the best taste.
  • Sugar – I use granulated white sugar for sweetness, but you could use honey or maple syrup.

How to make slow cooker butter chicken?

  1. Marinate the chicken: The night before (or at least 30 minutes before), mix all of the marinade ingredients in a heavy-duty zipper baggie and add chicken. Put it in the fridge to marinate.
  2. Sauté the chicken: When ready to begin, heat a large skillet with oil over medium-high heat. When it is hot, add chicken in batches so you don’t crowd the pan. Cook for about three to five minutes, or until it is brown on each side. Set it aside on a plate and cover with foil.
  3. Make the sauce: Now, add the butter to the pan and let it melt before adding the garlic, onion, and ginger. Continue to stir and cook for two minutes. Add the paprika, sugar, red chili powder, garam masala, and cumin, and cook for another minute.
  4. Transfer to the pot: Next, pour the sauce into your slow cooker and stir in the chicken. Add the evaporated milk and tomato sauce and salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Cook the chicken: Turn your pot to low and cook for six to seven hours or on high for three to four hours. About 30 minutes before the cooking time is up, stir in the heavy cream.
  6. Serve: Finally, serve your butter chicken with whatever side dishes you like.

Expert tip

Finding your own garam masala

Because there are many different garam masala blends, it is good to find your favorite before you cook with it. The most common variety is made with black peppercorns, green and black cardamom, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, and mace. Some other types have fennel seeds, bay leaves, coriander, and chili powder. Others have only pepper, cloves, cumin, cinnamon, and cardamom.

All varieties and blends of garam masala are considered authentic Indian spices, so it is up to you to decide which mixture you prefer. Kosher garam masala has organic pepper, coriander, cumin, cloves, cinnamon, and cardamom. Each spice, such as cardamom and fennel, can be ground into a powder or left as whole seeds or pods.

Biryani masala is another variety of spices made with caraway seeds and anise. Another kind you may see on the market is chaat masala, which has dried mango powder added for a bit of sweet tanginess. You can also make your own, so you only get the spices you like and the right amounts.

Recipe variations and add-ins:

  • Different cuts: Instead of skinless boneless chicken breast, you could also use thighs. Dark meat has a more robust flavor and is always juicy.
  • Different meat: If your butcher does not have fresh organic chicken, you could use a different meat. I have tried pork, turkey. They are all truly delicious in their way.
  • Cheesy butter chicken: Another way to change this recipe is to add some shredded cheese. I have tried cheddar, mozzarella, and parmesan.
  • Make it spicy: Even with the garam masala and chili powder, this dish is not that spicy. If you want to add some heat, add red pepper flakes to the marinade and toss chopped jalapenos into the sauce.

Serving suggestions:

Slow-cooker butter chicken goes great with all sorts of side dishes. Here are some ideas my family loves:

  • To make this a whole meal in one pot, add some baby red potatoes, celery, carrots, and cauliflower.
  • I like to serve my saucy butter chicken on top of some perfect fluffy rice and garlic naan on the side.
  • Any kind of side dish would pair nicely with this dish, but for an Indian theme, try it with chutney, chana masala, naan, or grilled eggplant.
  • Add a light salad on the side, like this strawberry broccoli salad or grilled zucchini salad.
  • To help soak that delicious sauce, serve with some crusty French bread or rolls like my Amish potato dinner rolls.

Frequently asked questions

Why is my slow cooker butter chicken watery?

First, the most common reason for watery butter chicken is too much liquid. That may be the obvious thing, but many people overlook it. Keep an eye on your measuring to make sure the amounts are all correct. Another problem could be that you added the cream and butter too soon. Try waiting for the sauce to cool before adding them. Thicken up your sauce with a bit of cornstarch slurry.

How long do I cook chicken in a slow cooker?

The time to cook chicken in a slow cooker depends on the cut of meat and how large it is. If you are cooking a whole chicken, you may have to let it cook for six hours on low or up to nine hours on high. Chicken breasts can be finished in six or seven hours on low or three to four on high. Chopped chicken, like in this dish, can cook even faster, so make sure you check the internal temp early. Once it reaches 160 degrees F, you can shut off the crockpot, which will continue to cook, reaching 165 degrees F quickly.

How do I make my butter chicken tender?

No chicken should be chewy or rubbery, but it happens sometimes. It can happen if your chicken was not cooked long enough or when it is cooked too long. You have to get it to the correct temperature for eating, which is 165 degrees F, without going over that number. Using the marinade in this recipe should keep your chicken from drying out, especially since you are cooking it low and slow in a creamy sauce.

Why did my butter chicken sauce crack?

Getting the sauce perfect can be difficult if you do not follow the directions carefully. If you overcook it after adding the butter, it will separate. If it simmers too long, the water can evaporate, and the sauce will dry and crack. Another thing to be careful of is to add the yogurt while it is not too hot, or it will curdle. The same goes for the cream. Do not mix the cream in until the last step so it will blend seamlessly. 

How to store:

  • Refrigerate: After cooled to room temperature, put your crockpot butter chicken in a sealed container. It will stay fresh for up to 10 days. 
  • Freezing: If you want to keep it longer, you must freeze it. Once it has cooled, pour it into a freezer-safe container or freezer bag, and it can stay frozen for four to six months. 
  • Defrost: Remove your frozen leftovers from the freezer and put them in the fridge the night before you plan to serve them.
  • Reheating: Heat in a saucepan on the stove for 10 minutes or in the microwave for one or two minutes. 

Recipe tips:

  • To easily remove cardamom pods after cooking, use a needle and thread to tie them together. Then, before serving, lift the thread out to remove all the pods at once.
  • If your chicken is too thin, add some cornstarch slurry and heat it a little longer. You can make a slurry by mixing one tablespoon of cornstarch with one cup of warm water.
  • If it has an acid taste, add another tablespoon of sugar or honey.
  • I usually double the sauce recipe because I like to use it when reheating. It also tastes great on tacos, pasta, and bread.
  • When freezing, put your leftovers in small freezer-safe containers to take out just what you need when you need it.

Slow Cooker Butter Chicken

Slow Cooker Butter Chicken is made with tender, perfectly seasoned chicken and a rich curry sauce made with tomato and cream. This combination is nothing short of mouthwateringly delicious and so easy to make—the slow cooker does all the work. 

  • Prep Time45 MIN
  • Cook Time7H
  • Servings 6 servings

Ingredients

Chicken Marinade:

  • 2 lbs chicken breasts or thighs cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon of salt

Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 5 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 14 oz tomato sauce
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt or to taste
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

Instructions

Chicken Marinade:

  • In a bowl or large ziplock bag, combine chicken pieces with all of the MARINADE ingredients, cover with plastic wrap, and let marinate for 30 minutes or overnight in the fridge.

Saute the Chicken:

  • Place a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add two tablespoons of olive oil.
  • When hot, add chicken pieces in batches, ensuring not to overcrowd the pan. Cook until browned, for about 3-5 minutes per side. Set aside on a plate and cover with foil to keep it warm.
  • Melt the butter. Add the onion, garlic, and ginger, stir, and cook for 2 minutes.
  • Add the aromatics: cumin, garam masala, red chili powder, sugar, and paprika, and cook for 1 minute.
  • Transfer the mixture to the slow cooker. Add the chicken.
  • Add the tomato sauce and evaporated milk. Season with salt and pepper, and stir to combine.

Cook:

  • Cook low for 6 to 7 hours or on high for 3-4 hours.
  • Thirty minutes nearly the end of the cooking time, open the lid and stir in the heavy cream.
  • Serve with rice garnished with cilantro.

Nutrition Facts

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Comments

(51)
Anthony

Anthony

I have been making this meal the last couple years. It’s always been a favorite. Do you think replacing the chicken with stew beef or a chuck would work? Thanks!


Catalina Castravet

Catalina Castravet

Yes, but I would recommend searing the meat first.

Ginger

Ginger

A favorite. We like butter chicken, but taking out or eating out isn't something we can do all the time. Excellent recipe.


Catalina Castravet

Catalina Castravet

thank you, we also love this recipe :)

Jessenia Funk

Jessenia Funk

I'm planning to make this on Sunday and am wondering what vegetable you would serve with this dish? I was thinking maybe a salad or homegrown corn.


Catalina Castravet

Catalina Castravet

I like it with asparagus, or green beans, corn also works great. Okra is another great choice.

Shirley

Shirley

I plan to make this tomorrow and wanted to know what to serve with it. Any suggestions?


Catalina Castravet

Catalina Castravet

Hi! I love serving it with white or brown rice.

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