Slow Cooker Butter Chicken

Skip the take-out and try this super easy, lightened-up creamy butter chicken right in the crockpot – it’s less calories and tastes a million times better!

Slow Cooker Butter Chicken - Skip the take-out and try this super easy, lightened-up creamy butter chicken right in the crockpot!

When Jason and I lived in LA, we had Indian take-out at least once a week. It was our regular joint out in Beverly Hills, and I would always pick up two tikka masala bowls on my way home from work. But ever since we relocated out to the Bay Area, we haven’t had our Indian take-out fix in so long. My cravings have taken over for weeks so I finally made this butter chicken right at home, and boy, am I glad I did because the homemade version is so much better, and healthier, than take-out!

Slow Cooker Butter Chicken - Skip the take-out and try this super easy, lightened-up creamy butter chicken right in the crockpot!

Slow Cooker Butter Chicken - Skip the take-out and try this super easy, lightened-up creamy butter chicken right in the crockpot!

Slow Cooker Butter Chicken - Skip the take-out and try this super easy, lightened-up creamy butter chicken right in the crockpot!

Slow Cooker Butter Chicken - Skip the take-out and try this super easy, lightened-up creamy butter chicken right in the crockpot!

If you’ve never had butter chicken, it’s a very popular Indian dish, and can be made mild or spicy to taste. I kept the recipe very mild but the heat seekers can certainly add more chili powder, to taste.

Slow Cooker Butter Chicken - Skip the take-out and try this super easy, lightened-up creamy butter chicken right in the crockpot!

Now this is a super simple crockpot dish. There is a little bit of sauteeing but you’re pretty much throwing all the ingredients into a saucepan before throwing it into the slow cooker. Easy peasy, right? From there, you can let that cook low and slow for 5 hours, leaving you to come home to the most fragrant, most flavorful and creamy butter chicken.

Slow Cooker Butter Chicken - Skip the take-out and try this super easy, lightened-up creamy butter chicken right in the crockpot!

Best of all, it’s lightened up with coconut milk and whole wheat flour, saving you on a ton of calories this spring season!

Slow Cooker Butter Chicken

Prep Time 10 minutes

Cook Time 5 hours, 5 minutes

Total Time 5 hours, 15 minutes

Yield 6 servings

Slow Cooker Butter Chicken

Skip the take-out and try this super easy, lightened-up creamy butter chicken right in the crockpot - it's less calories and tastes a million times better!


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 (14-ounce) can light coconut milk
  • 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, or more, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves


  • Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add garlic and onion, and cook, stirring frequently, until onions have become translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in coconut milk, tomato paste, flour, garam masala, curry powder, chili powder and ginger powder until well combined and slightly thickened, about 1-2 minutes; season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  • Place chicken into a slow cooker. Add sauce mixture and gently toss to combine. Cover and cook on low heat for 5 hours.
  • Serve immediately, garnished with cilantro, if desired.


Adapted from iFOODreal


    • Chung-Ah says

      Garam masala is a spice. I do not recommend substituting this as it is a crucial ingredient in this dish.

    • Terry says

      You can get garam masala in bulk at Whole Foods super inexpensively. It’s probably available in bulk at most, if not all, health food stores. It’s also in the spice aisle at most grocery stores, but it’s more expensive.

    • Tracie says

      Garam masala is actually a blend of spices you may already have. I don’t know proportions – cinnamon, coriander, fennel seed, cumin, black pepper, cardamom, and clove.

  1. Conni says

    Does it matter what size crockpot you use in your recipes? Mine is a large oval, maybe 6 to 8 quarts???
    Your recipes are great!
    Thanks and have a great day,

  2. says

    Were you reading my mind? Doing the same thing today; maybe not so lightened up but after I tried sesame chicken in the crockpot I can’t see why this wouldn’t be equally wonderful. Your photos are lovely and I want it NOW!!

  3. says

    Hmm, looks yummy. I have my own beloved recipe for slow cooker butter chicken and I even make my own garam masala. I don’t make it very often though. We recently (don’t tell) opened a jar of butter chicken sauce to use with leftover chicken and it was pretty good, too, for a shortcut recipe and, of course, it had a higher fat and sodium content than I like to use.

    • Meaghan says

      I wanted to try this recipe originally but plans have changed for the day and I have two jars of butter chicken sauce on hand. Not a fan of all the extra sodium etc but it will save me some time. Did your jarred attempt turn out ok?

  4. Terah says

    Does canned coconut milk have the same taste as the type purchased in the refrigerator or in the box that can be stored on the shelf till opened?

  5. says

    Love the look of this – butter chicken is my fav but I hate not knowing what restaurants/take aways put in their recipes – this is WAY better than take out!
    Add a bit of naan and you have your own indian restaurant at home :)

  6. says

    Since coming to London, butter chicken has been one of my favorites to order at Indian restaurants, and I’ve been worried about what I’m going to do when I crave it back home. Well…here’s the answer! Pinning this, and I know I’m going to be making it, and loving it!

  7. Sadie says

    What is curry powder? I am Indian so I have garam masala, I’m just not sure what the curry powder refers to…turmeric? Thanks. Can’t wait to make this, my hubby loves butter chicken!

    • Chung-Ah says

      Curry powder, which is different from turmeric, is a spice mix of cumin, cardamom, coriander, turmeric, dry mustard and cayenne. It can be found at your local grocery store.

  8. says

    This seems so easy! I love cooking either in the slow cooker or my thermal pot. Just makes things a little less hectic and keeps me less frazzled. LOL. I’ll have to try it with thighs as I find them more flavourful. Lovely idea!

  9. says

    Am making it right now in my crock pot. It smells great. Looking forward to tonight’s dinner. By the way the jalapeño corn dip was a true success yesterday. We had an
    early St. Paddy’s celebration and brough it to my friend’s home last night.
    xxx Carmen

  10. Amy says

    I made this for my family last night my daughter who goes out for Indian food kept saying I am impressed you cooked this. Now I do not have to go out for this. Thanks for posting

      • John Smith says

        I love your recipe, but I have a few questions.

        1. The recipe came out a bit thinner I expected, is there anything I can do to make it thicker?

        2. The chicken tasted a bit dry, is there anything I could do to make it less dry?

        • Chungah says

          You can add a bit of cornstarch (mixed with water) until the desired consistency is reached. You can also reduce cooking time to prevent dryness. Hope that helps!

  11. Katrina Craig says

    I can’t wait to try it out, looks so yummy.

    But, the Bay Area (particularly Fremont) has WONDERFUL indian places!

  12. Jen says

    I made this amazing and delicious dish tonight! The husb approved with a high five! Did add a little bit of a kick by adding a dash of cayenne and red pepper flakes!

  13. Sue M says

    I have this recipe in the crock pot as I write this. When I was putting the sauce together, I wondered if the chili powder you use in the recipe is actually cayenne pepper powder? Or is is the traditional spice labelled “Chili Powder” that is found at the local grocery store? I have some friends from India and they told me “Chili Powder” in India is actually “Cayenne.” I used American Chili Powder, but I wondered which you recommend? Thanks.

  14. Kathryn says


    I would love to make this during the week but don’t have a programmable crock pot. What do you think would happen if I cooked it on low for 8 hours? Would the meat get too tender?


    • Phi says

      Hi. I recommend cutting the chicken a bit larger if you’re cooking longer to prevent it from being too tender and to use lean white meat to hold it’s shape while cooking low and slow. Hope this helps.

    • Chung-Ah says

      Unfortunately, Millie, I cannot really answer this question with certainty as I have not frozen this myself. That being said, I don’t think there is a need to change anything in the recipe to freeze it. I do recommend freezing in individual servings, thawing overnight, and heating over stovetop. Hope that helps!

  15. SummerSandals says

    I have made 3 of your recipes this week and they have all been keepers! When I turned off the slow cooker today I wasn’t impressed with the consistency or flavor of the chicken. Went to yoga and BAM, the chicken absorbed some of the sauce and the consistency is now perfect. Thanks!

  16. Michael says

    Thanks for this recipe! It’s probably my favorite Indian dish. Do you know if there is a measurement difference between curry powder and paste. I prefer paste and usually have it on hand. Also, what would I substitute to make it non lightened-up? Just the flour and coconut milk?

    • Chung-Ah says

      Unfortunately, as I have never used curry paste, I can’t tell you the measurement difference. As for the non lightened up version, yes, you should substitute both the flour and coconut milk milk.

  17. Olga says

    Thanks for the recipe. I did it today and for some reason I did not get a juicy meat. It is tender but did not take in the flavor of the sauce. I followed the recipe and sauce is very yummy but the meat is another story :-(. I am new to slow cooking so want to understand what went wrong. I used cut chicken breast and the slow cooker that I am using is Instant Pot. Any suggestions?


    • Chung-Ah says

      The chicken breast should not be cut or diced into very small pieces – this will leave them to be overcooked.

      • Olga says

        Chung-Ah thanks for your response. I bought a whole chicken breasts and cut them to have a smaller pieces (like on your picture). What part of the chicken are you using?

        • Chung-Ah says

          Olga, I used chicken breast cut into 2-inch pieces. You can alternatively leave them to cook in less time, adjusting as necessary, until the desired texture is reached.

          • Olga says


            I will try it today. I also decided to marinade them a little before cooking in olive oil and onions

  18. Lisa says

    Hi There!

    Is it possible to cook this for longer on low say about 8 hours, as my slow cooker doesn’t have a timer to shut off?


    • Chung-Ah says

      Lisa, you can certainly cook it for longer but I worry that the chicken will be overcooked and result in a tough texture.

  19. Anna says

    Hi from Australia :) had this for dinner, very delicious. I used a mix of chicken thighs & breasts cos i have them in the freezer. Also prepared the sauce the night before and marinade the chicken pieces with it & dump them into the slow cooker the next day. We like our butter chicken sweet so I added some sugar and it was perfect!! Thank you!

  20. says

    I’ve been looking for a butter chicken recipe, thank you!! The only thing is, I don’t have a slow cooker. Do you think it’s possible to make this in a cast iron pot and let it simmer with the closed lid for about an hour? That’s what I usually do with slow cooker recipes.

  21. chris currie says

    I added a Tblsp of salt, 2 Tblsp of chopped Cilantro and 1/4 block of Cream Cheese … and this made all the difference.

    • Chungah says

      Kayla, you can certainly substitute paste but unfortunately, I cannot speak for how much this will change the taste/texture of the overall dish. It is best to use the ingredients listed in the recipe to obtain the best results possible.

    • Chungah says

      I’ve never tried it myself but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work! You may have to adjust cooking time as needed though.

  22. Roselle says

    Just made this right now and we are about to eat it. I didn’t use the slow cooker but had it boil a bit then simmer. Can’t wait to devour it!

  23. Rebecca says

    I’m assuming cornstarch would be ok in place of wheat flour (I’m gluten intolerant)? Wonder if you’ve ever tried it that way or know anyone who has… thanks!

    • Chungah says

      Unfortunately, I have never tried using cornstarch in place of wheat flour. Please use your best judgment for substitutions as I cannot speak for how much this will change the overall taste/texture of the dish.

  24. Jules says

    Looks amazing. When you say chili powder, do you mean the Indian kind or the regular chili powder used in chili/Mexican food?

  25. Tova says

    Hi! Great recipe! Do you think I could use coconut flour instead of whole wheat flour? If so, do you know how much I should use that would be equivalent to the amount in your recipe?

    • Chungah says

      You can certainly substitute coconut flour but I cannot speak for how much this will change the overall taste/texture of the dish. It is always best to use the ingredients listed in the recipe to obtain the best results possible.

  26. says

    Made this tonight with a side of spicy pineapple and an Indian-spiced cauliflower also found on Pinterest. WHOAH! What a great meal! Your chicken recipe has made my entire house smell amazing all day long. Recipe was very easy to put together and THE TASTE is just perfect. Thank you for sharing! It’s a keeper in our home. :-)

  27. Dani says

    I made this recipe last night and even when I added more spice and salt, it just tasted like tomato sauce. I think 1 16oz can of tomato paste is way too much. Maybe go down to half? Or just 2 tbsp? Just a thought

  28. Charise says

    Thw pics are mouth watering. I’m going to try the recipe today. Hopefully I can find the garam masala. There are several types of curry powder, which is best for this recipe?

      • Charise says

        ive made this recipe several times now, always a hit. For those who thought the sauce was bland, taste your sauce before adding it to the chicken. Season to taste. Also, I add crushed scotch bonnet pepper for a kick.

  29. Alexx says

    If you’re gluten free would it be better to substitute coconut flour or almond flour for the whole wheat flour?

  30. Scarlett says

    I love your recipes and have made quite a few of them; however, I wanted to say that it would be REALLY helpful if you would tell us how many chicken breasts instead of how many pounds. I have no idea how many breasts are in 3 lbs. Thanks. :)

    • Chungah says

      Scarlett, the weight of each chicken Breast can vary tremendously so even though I can say 1 chicken breast, you can be using twice as much chicken breast than what the recipe calls for. It its best for me to list them in weight to be as accurate as possible. Additionally, the weight should be listed on your package of chicken for your reference.

  31. Nathalie says

    Hi, I want to try this but only have a small slow cooker, 1.5 Qt….Should I just use less chicken? don’t know if it will all fit :-/

  32. gloria says

    I have all the ingredients except the ginger powder. All I have on hand is Chinese ginger powder. Would that work or should I use fresh grated ginger?
    Looking forward to this over some brown rice!

  33. gloria says

    And just heads up to my fellow ‘novice’ cooks. I would suggest mixing all your dry ingredients together before dumping into the coconut milk. I had a ton of small flower balls floating around the sauce. I couldn’t wisk hard enough to dissolve them. Rather than risk it I put the sauce into my vitamix to smooth it out before putting over the chicken in the crock pot. But that sauce is TO DIE FOR!!! Can’t wait to share it with my husband tonight.

  34. Rupes says

    I just made this, and I’m in heaven! I’ve been using cream or milk in the past, but the consistency and taste were never as good as restaurants. UNTIL NOW! Who knew the secret was coconut milk! This is officially my most favorite butter chicken recipe EVER.

    I also made an excess amount to use to make Paneer Makhani (Which is the vegetarian equivalent) and it worked fantastically. Thank you thank you thank you!!!!

  35. Cindi says

    I love Indian cuisine & this was very delicious. Thanks for sharing it! The second time I made this I tried to make it a spicy version by adding a little extra chili powder. It really wasn’t that much spicer. I used regular Mexican chili powder. What would you recommend to kick it up a bit without sacrificing the amazing flavor of your Butter Chicken?

  36. Amanda says

    I’m going to try this! FYI, garam masala isn’t a spice, it’s a mixture of a bunch of well-known spices. Google how to make your own. :). Also, Butter Chicken never originally had any butter in it. It was created in India by a man who just liked the name. True story!

  37. Hara says

    I am so happy I came across this recipie . I made this three times and it is absolutely amazing. I made my own gram masala mix. I just googled how to mix gram masala and It was very easy and I had all spices handy.
    Tnx for sharing this recipie

  38. Shane Lewis says

    Wanted to let you know that a friend of mine brought this dish into work the other day and I liked it so much I asked her for the recipe. She sent me your link and upon reading the instructions I noticed a small type-o that I thought you’d like to know about. In the Instructions you have “tomato pasta” and not “tomato paste” listed. Not that anyone would make this mistake and suddenly add pasta to this dish instead of tomato paste, lol. I thought you’d like to know regardless. Anyway, looking forward to making this for dinner this week!

  39. Renee Tu says


    I don’t have time to make this in the slow cooker. Do you have any recommendations on doing this recipe on the stove top? I was thinking that I could cook up the sauce first and then put the chicken pieces in, cover and let cook/simmer on the stove (medium low) for 2 to 2.5 hours?

    Let me know your thoughts!

    • Chungah says

      Please understand that it is very difficult to give exact conversion information to translate a slow cooker recipe to be made on the stovetop without further recipe testing. I recommend using your best judgement to convert this recipe be made without a slow cooker.

    • Chungah says

      Unfortunately, without further recipe testing, I cannot say for sure how this will turn out if the flour is omitted. Please use your best judgment to use the appropriate substitutions to fit your dietary restrictions.

  40. Merly says

    I love the simplicity of the recipe. Esp with 2 kids to feed & the tediousness of trying to figure out what new dishes I can create to interest them at every meal! But, I have a question….Cover and cook on low heat for 5 hours? 5 hours on simmer? Is that a typo?

    • Chungah says

      Merly, the recipe is correct. It is best to cook on low heat using a slow cooker. There is no simmer option for a Crock-Pot.

  41. Cheryl says

    Hi, Could you tell me what brand of chili powder you use? Is this chili powder like you would add to Tex-Mex chili, or chili powder you would find at an Indian grocery store? I have the latter, and I think it’s just ground up chilis, but I’m not really sure –it’s very different than McCormick’s chili powder though.

    Thanks for your post!!

    • Chungah says

      It is best to use something like McCormick’s chili powder, not something that you would purchase at an Indian grocery store.

  42. Lauren says

    Hi! I will definitely be trying this recipe this week! Question for you: are you using american chili powder or Indian chili powder? I know american chili powder has more spices rather than being mostly ground chilis in the Indian version. Thanks for taking the time to help me out 😉

  43. Claudia says


    I was thinking of adding mushrooms or frozen peas to this recipe. Do you have a recommendation as to what point to add them in?

    Thank you!

  44. Eleni says

    Made this and although it smelled great I gotta say it was super bland. My husband and I both love Indian food but this was very under seasoned. We tossed the left overs and hubby asked that I don’t make it again. That being said, I’ve never had butter chicken so maybe the mild flavor s how it’s supposed to taste. I’ll stick to my aloo gobhi next time

    • Chungah says

      I’m sorry that this recipe did not turn out the way you had imagined. I only post recipes that have been successfully tested in my own kitchen, and as you can see from the comments here, many of these readers have had great outcomes in the final dish as well.

      So I must ask – did you follow the recipe exactly as written without any substitutions?

  45. Nika says

    Dude. DUDE. I will never make butter chicken any other way. I love this recipe, it made me fall in love with my slow cooker all over again. We’re eloping and getting hitched this weekend.

  46. Ashlyn says

    This recipe is a staple in my house. So much flavour and so easy to make. I have made with both carton coconut milk, and canned. Canned always turns out better. I use Indian chili spice, so I cut back on the amount quite a bit. This recipe is amazing. Thank you so much for sharing :)

  47. Marisa says

    It’s freezing here in FL (no seriously, like 32 lol) so this should warm us all right up. Do you think some chopped red and green peppers would be alright to throw in at the end?

  48. Hanna says

    Ever since I discovered your website, I’ve been madly cooking from your recipes. Just LOVE them. And finding this one for the slow cooker? Well that another love story all it’s own.
    I made this for dinner last night… didn’t have chilli powder but substituted some cayenne and it worked just fine !!! I had it in for 4 hrs and it was just right. Great texture for the meat and the sauce pulled together nicely with the addition of the flour ! Thanks you, Chungah for all the super ideas!!! Cheers

  49. Carrie says

    I’ve made this once and loved it! I’m just curious what your thoughts on for freezing this once its cooked?I’m cooking for one ATM,and don’t exactly want to halve the recipe

    • Chungah says

      Unfortunately, I cannot answer this with certainty as I have never tried freezing this myself – there were no leftovers left to freeze! Please use your best judgment for freezing and reheating.

  50. Anjali H. says

    Hello from Canada! I made this recipe today, and my apartment is smelling wonderful! The consistency of the sauce really is butter chicken! Thank you for this easy recipe, great for students like me. :) Can’t wait to try out your other recipes!

    – A

  51. Taryn says

    Hi, thanks for the recipe! I made it last night because it looks SO incredible! It turned out looking just as amazing as your photos, but unfortunately it was rather tasteless :(. As far as I can tell I followed your recipe exactly… To me it seems like there should have been double the spices. Any suggestions for my second attempt?

    • Chungah says

      I’m sorry that this recipe did not turn out the way you had imagined. I only post recipes that have been successfully tested in my own kitchen, and as you can see from the comments here, many of these readers have had great outcomes in the final dish as well. But I understand that we all have different taste preferences. That being said, please feel free to add or double the spices as needed to suit your preferences.

  52. Kim says

    I love authentic Indian food. I have a friend who makes this for me. So I have been looking for a great recipe. When I started this recipe it smelled exactly like butter chicken. But when I tasted it, it was bland. Sorry! But I reheated it, I put the chicken which already had the sauce on it and put the left over rice and I added the seasoning again. It was great. I will make this again but double all the seasoning. Maybe I like it really strong but wow it tasted great with lots of seasoning.

  53. Jennifer S says

    I tried this dish last night with my newly bought slow cooker and everything worked out great!!! The taste was very good and I even threw some tofu in there so that there was a mix of chicken and tofu. I am very satisfied! Thanks for posting this one!

  54. Jamie says

    I’ve had this recipe pinned for a while and found it when I ran into a bit of a dinner emergency tonight- I had nothing planned and no protein defrosted. I followed your recipe exactly, sauteing the onion and garlic and mixing the other ingredients, but left out the four and used whole, frozen boneless/ skinless chicken breast in my PRESSURE COOKER! I cooked at pressure for 12 minutes, then released the pressure right away. It was AMAZING. You totally saved dinner and I went from no clue to serving the meal in less than an hour. Really, really good- thanks so much for the idea!

  55. Maria says

    This recipe was a real winner at my house. I made it for my family tonight and my kids loved it. They all wanted the leftover butter chicken in their lunches the next day.

    Can’t wait to try other recipes from your site!

  56. Corey G says

    The sauce was excellent for this dish, but I found the chicken very dry. I cooked this just as the recipe stated in a cuisinart slow cooker. Does the chicken typically turn out dry for you? I would make this again, but on the stove top.

    • Chungah says

      Corey, I worry that your chicken may have been diced too small, which may have resulted in a dry texture.

  57. Kellsey says

    I was excited to try this recipe, but the resulting dish was bland. I followed the recipe exactly and it smelled delicious, but we were disappointed by the lack of flavor in the sauce and the dry chicken.

    • Chungah says

      Kellsey, I’m sorry that this recipe did not turn out the way you had imagined. I only post recipes that have been successfully tested in my own kitchen, and as you can see from the comments here, many of these readers have had great outcomes in the final dish as well. I really hope you get to try this dish again, adjusting the spices as needed to suit your taste preferences.

  58. Ellie says

    This is probably a silly question but about how many breasts is 3 lbs? I only cook for 2 right now, and I need to know by how much to cut the recipe down so that we’re not eating leftovers for two weeks.

  59. Ellie says

    Oh my GOD! This recipe was absolutely perfect. Boyfriend told me that I absolutely have to make it again, and I definitely agree!!! My hand slipped when I was making the sauce and I poured quite a bit of salt in but honestly, it didn’t even ruin it. This was one of the best slow cooker recipes I’ve had in a while.

  60. Carol says

    I made this but as I didn’t have any chili or ginger I left it out, it does need a kick of some sort but without it It was a bit too much tomatoey (if that’s a real word) Although 3 out of 6 of us really enjoyed the not so spicy affect.
    Thank you for sharing.

    • Chungah says

      Nutritional information is provided only for select and new recipes at this time. However, if it is not available for a specific recipe, it is best that you use free online resources at your discretion (you can Google “nutritional calculator”) to obtain such information.

  61. Meredith S. says

    Chungah, this is the third recipe of yours I tried and the third I loved! I’ve never made any Indian-inspired dishes before, so I was a bit nervous. I did add about 1/4 tsp of red pepper flake, but otherwise thought the seasoning was spot-on. Thanks for all the great recipes!

  62. J Braun says

    I have some chicken already cooked, could I just make the sauce and skip the slow cooker part? Or does it have to simmer for 5hrs for those spices and sauce to really be good?

    • Chungah says

      J Braun, this sauce is specifically made to be cooked low and slow in a slow cooker to really help the flavors come together.

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