Crockpot Butter Chicken Recipe

While butter chicken may have a name that doesn't sound South Asian, it does, in fact, come from India and was created by immigrants from the area now known as Pakistan. While the dish has been popular since its creation in the middle of the last century, it's become especially trendy in recent years, with food bloggers adapting it to be cooked in appliances such as the Instant Pot. Recipe developer Julianne De Witt favors using a slow cooker herself and says of her spin on this viral recipe, "I like this popular dish because it's easy to put together and for the set-it-and-forget aspect." Not only can crockpot butter chicken be assembled quickly, but De Witt assures us that it's also pretty tasty, "mild but flavorful, rich, and comforting."

And if you're wondering why this butter chicken recipe doesn't contain any of its eponymous ingredient, that's because De Witt prefers not to use it. While the original butter chicken recipe does include butter, De Witt leaves it out, explaining, "Butter is not needed here; heavy cream makes the sauce lovely and velvety."

Collect the ingredients for crockpot butter chicken

De Witt makes this dish with chicken thighs cooked in a sauce of crushed tomatoes and heavy cream. Onion, garlic, ginger, garam masala, paprika, cumin, lemon zest, salt, and pepper give the butter chicken its flavor, while cornstarch serves as a thickener and cilantro makes for a green garnish.

Step 1: Cut up the chicken

Dice chicken into 2-inch pieces.

Step 2: Put the chicken in the slow cooker

Add chicken to crockpot.

Step 3: Add the aromatics and seasonings

Add onion, garlic, ginger, garam masala, paprika, cumin, lemon zest, and salt and pepper to chicken.

Step 4: Stir in the sauce ingredients

Add tomatoes and cream, and stir well to combine.

Step 5: Cook the butter chicken

Cook on low for 4 hours.

Step 6: Mix the cornstarch with water

Add water to a small bowl and whisk in the cornstarch to combine.

Step 7: Thicken the sauce with the cornstarch

Add cornstarch slurry to crockpot and stir well. Cook for 10 more minutes.

Step 8: Garnish and serve

Serve butter chicken with basmati rice, if desired, and garnish with cilantro.

What ingredient swaps can be made in this crockpot butter chicken recipe?

Since butter chicken requires quite a few ingredients, you may want to make a few substitutions. One thing you can change is the chicken itself. De Witt's preference is for chicken thighs, which she finds "richer and more flavorful" than light meat, but she says you're welcome to use breasts if you prefer (or happen to have them in the freezer). One good thing about chicken breasts vs. thighs, De Witt points out, is that "they are a little easier to cut into cubes."

If you would like to take the dairy out of this already butter-free butter chicken, De Witt suggests using coconut milk in place of the cream. One final piece of advice she offers is meant for anyone who's likely to find this dish too mild for their palates. "Toss in a few red chili flakes," she says, noting that this will give the butter chicken "a little spice."

What can I serve with crockpot butter chicken?

Since this chicken dish is pretty saucy, you're probably going to want a starchy side. De Witt tells us that she likes to "serve butter chicken with basmati rice and naan fried in a little ghee" — that way the rice and bread can "soak up all that delicious sauce." She also suggests pairing it with a salad made from tomatoes and onions, which she says won't "compete with the richness of this dish."

Of course, if you want to get experimental, you can do quite a bit more with butter chicken. Both the meat and sauce could be used to top a pizza; to keep with the South Asian culinary theme, naan could serve as the pizza crust while paneer could be used for the cheese. You could also spoon the butter chicken over pasta or potatoes or use it to fill dumplings or samosas. (Any leftover sauce would make a great samosa dip.) Whatever uses you find for your butter chicken, you should plan to finish it up in 4 days, as that's how long it will last in the refrigerator. As a longer-lasting alternative, you could also freeze it.

Crockpot Butter Chicken Recipe
5 from 76 ratings
Add a few ingredients to the slow cooker, and come back a few hours later to a house smelling like heavenly chicken and spices.
Prep Time
10
minutes
Cook Time
4.17
hours
Servings
6
servings
butter chicken in black bowl
Total time: 4 hours, 20 minutes
Ingredients
  • 3 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons salt, plus more for serving
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (14-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 ½ cups heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ cup minced fresh cilantro, for garnish
Optional Ingredients
  • Cooked basmati rice, for serving
Directions
  1. Dice chicken into 2-inch pieces.
  2. Add chicken to crockpot.
  3. Add onion, garlic, ginger, garam masala, paprika, cumin, lemon zest, and salt and pepper to chicken.
  4. Add tomatoes and cream, and stir well to combine.
  5. Cook on low for 4 hours.
  6. Add water to a small bowl and whisk in the cornstarch to combine.
  7. Add cornstarch slurry to crockpot and stir well. Cook for 10 more minutes.
  8. Serve butter chicken with basmati rice, if desired, and garnish with cilantro.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 523
Total Fat 31.3 g
Saturated Fat 16.3 g
Trans Fat 0.8 g
Cholesterol 280.4 mg
Total Carbohydrates 12.2 g
Dietary Fiber 2.3 g
Total Sugars 5.6 g
Sodium 904.8 mg
Protein 48.1 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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