Slow Cooker Butter Chicken [Or Instant Pot!]

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Slow Cooker Butter Chicken has been around for many delicious years. It’s a traditional Indian curry chicken dish that’s loaded with spices.

This crockpot butter chicken recipe is always a hit when I make it. I love serving it with flatbread and a salad, or even some Indian-style lentils. It always makes for a tasty dinner.

A white bowl sits filled with butter chicken. A wooden spoon and cloth napkin lay to the side.

What Is Butter Chicken?

Butter chicken originated in New Delhi, India. It has a rich texture and has a base of chicken, and tomato with plenty of spices, and, of course, butter. Although, in the interest of bringing down the fat content a bit, I’ve substituted some of the butter with yogurt.

What Does Butter Chicken Taste Like?

Butter chicken is a buttery, creamy chicken curry. If you like curry, you’ll enjoy this too.

Will Yogurt Curdle In A Slow Cooker?

Yes. This is why we wait until the dish is finished cooking and has cooled a bit to mix in the yogurt. We will do this with the coconut milk as well.

A close up of a white bowl filled with butter chicken.

Is It Okay To Put Raw Chicken In A Slow Cooker?

Absolutely! It’s frozen chicken that is discouraged due to the length of time that the frozen chicken sits at unsafe food temperatures during slow cooking. But raw chicken is perfectly fine. So if you have frozen chicken, simply thaw it first before placing it into your slow cooker.

Should Chicken Be Totally Covered In Liquid In A Slow Cooker?

Yes, it should. This is the best way to ensure proper cooking temperatures and even cooking.

Optional Additions

If you want to round out the flavor a bit more, you can add any of the following:

  • Chili powder
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Lemon juice
  • Lime juice
  • Fresh cilantro – add to the slow cooker, or use as garnish
  • Potatoes – chop them small and add as much as you like. This is a good idea if you won’t be serving this over rice. It gives the dish some bulk.
An overhead view looking down into a white bowl filled with butter chicken. A wooden spoon and napkin lay to the side.

What To Serve With Slow Cooker Butter Chicken

Here are some suggestions:

  • Lentil dal
  • Naan bread
  • Green salad
  • Rice  – Brown basmati rice would be delicious.
  • Veggies
  • Quinoa
  • Cauliflower rice

About The Ingredients

Red onion – You can also use yellow onion or white onion if that’s what you have on hand.

Carrots – Slice thin.

Fresh ginger root – Or use dry ground ginger.

Oil – I used coconut oil, but use whatever you have on hand.

Garlic cloves – Use large cloves. You can press or mince them.

Boneless skinless chicken thighs – You can also use boneless skinless chicken breasts. Cooked whole and shredded by stirring, or cut the chicken into bite-size pieces. Your choice.

Curry powder

Garam masala

Ground coriander

Red Thai curry paste – Again, the Thai Kitchen brand is great. The ingredients list is clean.

Canned tomato paste – No sugar added

Canned tomato sauce – No sugar added

Granular sweetener – Coconut sugar works best for flavor, but you can also use Sucanat or Monk Fruit. I used brown erythritol because that’s what works best for my blood sugar.

Butter – This can be regular or dairy-free butter. I used Miyokos vegan butter.

Add after cooling for at least 20 minutes

Canned full-fat coconut milk – No sugar added. I love the Thai Kitchen brand (not paid to promote them.) If you prefer dairy, you can use full-fat milk or even heavy cream.

Plain yogurt – This can be regular, Greek, or dairy-free. I used Kite Hill almond yogurt. (Not paid to promote them. It’s just what I used.)

Salt – To taste after cooking.

How To Make Slow Cooker Butter Chicken

Pressing garlic into sautéing vegetables in a skillet on the stove.

In a skillet, sauté the chopped onions, sliced carrots, and minced ginger in the coconut oil. Cook until the onions are translucent.

Pressing garlic into sautéing vegetables in a skillet on the stove.

In the last minute of cooking the veggies, add in the pressed or minced garlic. Set aside.

Chicken thighs laying in the botton of an insert pot.

Place the chicken into your slow cooker or Instant Pot insert.

Spices and sautéd veggies spinkled and poured over chicken in an insert pot.

Sprinkle the spices over the chicken, then pour the sautéd veggies over that.

Tomato sauce, paste and Thai curry paste added to chicken and veggies in an insert pot.

Add the Thai curry paste, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and sweetener. Stir well to combine.

Slices of butter added to mixed chicken and sauce in an insert pot.

Add the butter over the top.

Adding broth to the insert pot. (Only do this if you use an Instant Pot to cook this)

IF YOU ARE USING AN INSTANT POT: add the broth. (Do NOT add this if you use a slow cooker)Slow cooker: Cook on low for 5-7 hours.Instant Pot: Cook on high pressure for 25-30 minutes.Once finished cooking, allow the chicken to cool for 20-30 minutes.

After cooking an cooling, the butter chicken sits in the insert pot with yogurt added.

Add the yogurt.

Adding a can of coconut milk to the insert pot.

Add the coconut milk.

Stiring everything together in an insert pot.

Stir well to combine, and season with salt to taste before or at serving.

A white bowl filled with Butter Chicken. A wooden spoon lays next to the bowl on a white napkin.

Serve with or without rice.

How To Store Leftovers

Store this in an airtight container and keep it in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Freezing

This can be frozen if you freeze it before adding the coconut milk and butter. It doesn’t hold up well if frozen with the coconut milk and yogurt.

Reheating

This is best reheated in the microwave, though you can also reheat this in a pot on the stovetop.

Recipe Supplies

KitchenAid slow cooker sold on Amazon. (Affiliate link)
Ninja Foodi sold on Amazon. (Affiliate link)

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Slow Cooker Butter Chicken Recipe Card + Video

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A white bowl sits filled with butter chicken. A wooden spoon and cloth napkin lay to the side.

Slow Cooker Butter Chicken Recipe

Delicious, buttery, butter chicken that cooks in your slow cooker.
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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 7 hours
Total Time: 7 hours 20 minutes
Servings: 10 servings
Calories: 364kcal
Author: The Gracious Pantry

CLICK TO WATCH THIS RECIPE IN ACTION!

Equipment

  • 1 Slow Cooker (or Instant Pot)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup chopped red onions
  • 1 cup sliced carrots (sliced thin)
  • 1 tbsp. fresh, minced ginger (or 1 tsp. ground ginger)
  • 2 tsp. coconut oil (or any oil you prefer
  • 5 large garlic cloves (pressed or minced)
  • 2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or boneless, skinless chicken breasts)
  • 2 tbsp. curry powder
  • 1 tbsp. garam masala
  • 1 tbsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp. red Thai curry paste
  • 6 oz. tomato paste (no sugar added)
  • 15 oz. can tomato sauce (no sugar added)
  • tbsp. granular sweetener (coconut sugar works best for flavor, but you can also use Sucanat or monk fruit. I used brown erythritol because that's what works best for my blood sugar)
  • ½ cup butter (regular or dairy-free)

Add after cooling for at least 20 minutes

  • 15 oz. can full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 cup plain yogurt (or Greek yogurt, or dairy-free yogurt)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • In a skillet, sauté the chopped onions, sliced carrots, and minced ginger in the coconut oil. Cook until the onions are translucent.
    Onions, carrots and ginger sautéing in a skillet.
  • In the last minute of cooking the veggies, add in the pressed or minced garlic. Set aside.
    Pressing garlic into sautéing vegetables in a skillet on the stove.
  • Place the chicken into your slow cooker or Instant Pot insert.
    Chicken thighs laying in the botton of an insert pot.
  • Sprinkle the spices over the chicken, then pour the sautéd veggies over that.
    Spices and sautéd veggies spinkled and poured over chicken in an insert pot.
  • Add the Thai curry paste, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and sweetener. Stir well to combine.
    Tomato sauce, paste and Thai curry paste added to chicken and veggies in an insert pot.
  • Add the butter over the top.
    Slices of butter added to mixed chicken and sauce in an insert pot.
  • IF YOU ARE USING AN INSTANT POT: add the broth. (Do NOT add this if you use a slow cooker)
    Slow cooker: Cook on low for 5-7 hours.
    Instant Pot: Cook on high pressure for 25-30 minutes.
    Once finished cooking, allow the chicken to cool for 20-30 minutes.
    Adding broth to the insert pot. (Only do this if you use an Instant Pot to cook this)
  • Add the yogurt.
    After cooking an cooling, the butter chicken sits in the insert pot with yogurt added.
  • Add the coconut milk.
    Adding a can of coconut milk to the insert pot.
  • Stir well to combine, and season with salt to taste before or at serving.
    Stiring everything together in an insert pot.
  • Serve with or without rice.
    A white bowl filled with Butter Chicken. A wooden spoon lays next to the bowl on a white napkin.

Notes

Please note that the nutrition data given here is a ballpark figure. Exact data is not possible.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cup (approximately) | Calories: 364kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 17g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 0.4g | Cholesterol: 117mg | Sodium: 529mg | Potassium: 794mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 3196IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 111mg | Iron: 4mg
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