If you are someone who finds comfort in flavorful and heartwarming curry dishes, today’s recipe, Slow Cooker Indian Chicken Curry, is for you. In addition to being easy to make with just 15-minutes of hands-on time, it is made lighter (compared to the traditional butter chicken recipe) with less butter and no heavy cream (I used coconut milk instead).
If you are a fan of easy chicken recipes and prefer the convenience of put-everything-and-forget-about-it crockpot dishes, you need this recipe in your life. I might be biased, but having been making it for years, I am confident that this is the best crockpot butter chicken recipe on the internet. With just the right amount of spices, it is kid-friendly as well.
If you think traditional Indian food requires a bunch of hard-to-get ingredients and complicated techniques, think again! All of the spices for this crockpot butter chicken recipe are pantry staples and can be found at major grocery stores or online.
Simply gather together coconut milk, Greek yogurt, tomato paste, red curry paste, onion, garlic, jalapeno, ginger, garam masala, paprika, ground turmeric, unsalted butter, salt, pepper, and boneless, skinless chicken breasts.
For the finishing touch, you will need cornstarch, lime juice, fresh cilantro, and sliced almonds.
A few helpful tips for ingredients:
- Coconut Milk: You will need a whole 14-oz can of full-fat coconut milk. This creates a lusciously creamy sauce without heavy cream.
- Greek Yogurt: This is the second component to the creamy portion of this dish and my secret to making this Slow Cooker Butter Chicken recipe healthy. Whole milk yogurt will give you the richest results. Plus, a boost of protein and tang!
- Red Curry Paste: Red curry paste is a mash of red chilies, coriander, shrimp paste, lemongrass, garlic, shallots, and galangal (a Thai version of ginger). This is the most widely available curry paste and adds a world of flavor to this crockpot Indian chicken. Look for it in the global section of grocery stores.
- Garam Masala: A wildly popular, mild, and warm Indian spice blend found throughout many authentic Indian dishes. Store-bought blends are easily available, but I like to make my own for the best flavor. See PRO TIP below for how to make garam masala at home.
- Chicken: Use chicken breasts or chicken thighs without the bone. Cut into 1-inch cubes or ask the butcher to do it for you!
How to cook butter chicken in a slow cooker?
The best part of this Indian style Crockpot butter chicken is that you literally put all the ingredients in your slow cooker and forget about it for the next 6-7 hours.
I usually prepare everything before I go to bed and wake up to the most amazing smell in the world. All I need to do the next day is simmer basmati rice and warm naan in the oven for an Indian-inspired dinner of your dreams.
Here is what you need to do to make it:
- Add creamy and aromatic ingredients to the slow cooker. Place coconut milk, Greek yogurt, tomato paste, red curry paste, onion, garlic, jalapeno pepper, ginger, garam masala, paprika, turmeric, butter, salt, and pepper into your slow cooker. Give it a good mix.
- Add the cubed chicken. Stir to coat.
- Slow Cook: Set the slow cooker on LOW for 6-7 hours or HIGH for 3-4 hours. If you can, feel free to stir it a few times during the cooking. However, it is okay if you can’t.
How to make The Sauce
Once the cooking time is over, you will realize that you are left with quite a bit of liquid. I usually serve the chicken in a bowl over basmati rice and ladle the juices over it.
However, if preferred, you can thicken this Indian curry right before serving.
To thicken the sauce:
- Mix 2 tablespoons of cornstarch with 1/4 cup of the liquid from the butter chicken until it dissolves.
- Pour it back into the slow cooker. Give it a stir and let it rest for 5 minutes.
How to serve:
Right before serving, stir in the lime juice. Garnish with cilantro and almonds.
In my opinion, the greatest way to serve this healthy slow cooker Indian butter chicken is with fluffy white basmati rice and warm naan bread. However, you can also serve it on a bed of cooked quinoa, wild rice, bulgur wheat, or even black rice.
The starchy dish of your choosing soaks up all the juicy goodness of the butter chicken, and the naan bread acts as a utensil to sop up the rest of the spiced masala sauce!
How to store leftovers & Make-ahead instructions:
This easy crockpot butter chicken recipe will keep really well stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days in the fridge.
The flavors actually get better after a day or two, which makes it a wonderful make-ahead recipe, too.
When ready to enjoy, reheat in a saucepan over medium heat or individually in 30-second increments in the microwave until warmed through.
- With Vegetables: Add 2 cups frozen green peas when you add the cornstarch slurry
- Vegan: Use coconut yogurt, vegan butter, vegan red curry paste (Thai Kitchen is a great brand) and sub out the chicken for 2 heads of cauliflower cut into florets. Feel free to add 1 (14.5 oz) can of drained and rinsed chickpeas for added protein.
- Add in a small head of cauliflower: If you want to sneak in some vegetables, add in a small head of cauliflower. Simply, cut it into small florets and add it in the bowl at the beginning with the chicken.
- To make it Paleo, Whole30 and Keto: Use coconut milk yogurt and ghee instead of the butter
Need a new slow cooker?
In the past, several people asked me about my favorite slow cooker so I thought I quickly share my favorite one with you and tell you why.
I use Crock-Pot 6.5-Quart, Programmable Touchscreen Slow Cooker (affiliate link) and I am very pleased with it. First of all, it is easy to clean, reliable, and fairly affordable.
Secondly, I love that you can easily program it. For example, if I were to set it up at night for 6 hours of cooking, but wake up 8 hours later, I can set it to “warm” setting for it to keep my food warm in the last 2 hours. That way if I wanted to serve it right away, I do not have to reheat it.
Other Crockpot Recipes You Might Like:
If you are like this Easy Crockpot Butter Chicken recipe and like slow cooker recipes in general, here are a few other crockpot recipes I recommend trying:
- Slow-Cooker Curried Chicken Breasts
- Slow Cooker Basil Chicken in Curry Sauce – Food Charlatan
- Crockpot Thai Beef Curry
- Slow Cooker Honey Mustard Chicken
- Tomatillo Chicken Soup
- Crockpot Vegetable Beef Soup recipe
- Need more inspiration? Check out all our Slow Cooker Recipes
Slow Cooker Butter Chicken Recipe
For the Slow Cooker Butter Chicken:
- 1 can full-fat coconut milk 14-ounce
- ¾ cup whole milk Greek yogurt
- 1 can tomato paste 6-ounce
- 2 teaspoons red curry paste
- 1 small onion finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 1 jalapeno pepper seeded and chopped
- 1 ½ tablespoons grated fresh ginger
- 2 tablespoons garam marsala
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into small pieces
- 1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 3 pounds skinless and boneless chicken breast pat dried and cut into 1-inch small cubes
For The Butter Chicken Sauce & Garnish:
- 2 tablespoons corn starch
- 2 tablespoons lime juice freshly squeezed
- 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons sliced almonds
To Serve with (Optional)
- Naan bread
- Cooked White rice
- Place coconut milk, Greek yogurt, tomato paste, red curry paste, onion, garlic, jalapeno pepper, ginger, garam marsala, paprika, turmeric, butter, salt and pepper into your slow cooker. Give it a mix.
- Add the chicken and stir to coat.
- Cook in low-heat setting for 6-7 hours* or in high setting for 3-4 hours. If you can, feel free to stir it a few times during the cooking. However, it is okay if you can’t.
- After it is cooked, if you prefer the dish to be thicker, you can thicken the sauce by mixing the corn starch in a bowl with 1/4 cup of the liquid from the butter chicken until it dissolves. Then pour it into the slow cooker. Give it a stir and let it rest for 5 minutes.
- Right before serving, stir in the lime juice.
- Serve with naan bread and white rice and garnish with cilantro and almonds.
- The nutrition values below do not include the calories coming from the bread and rice.
- Mine was cooked at the end of 6 hours.
- If you are short on time you can cook this in high-heat setting for 3-4 hours.
This post was originally published in November 2017. It has been updated with new photos and helpful information with no changes to the originally published recipe in September 2020.