Slow Cooker Butter Chicken

Hi Pinterest Pinners!  This is one of my most popular recipes and for good reason, it's delicious!  I've updated the photos in this post, as well as some measurements and methods.  I've also added a FAQ at the bottom of the post.  If you are interested in more fantastic Indian curries, try my Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala and Vindaloo Korma.  

Original post September 23, 2008.  Photos updated April 3, 2013.  

My husband and I are obsessed with Indian Food, and over a year ago we went to our fellow foodie friends place for dinner where they served us this Butter Chicken with homemade Naan bread that was cooked in their wood stove. It was INCREDIBLE. I have never before had a better butter chicken. I'm serious, not even at an authentic Indian Restaurant. It's THAT GOOD.

I made it this weekend for some friends who happen to frequent an absolutely incredible Indian restaurant in their city...I was hoping to knock their socks off, and I'm happy to report I did just that. Try it, you'll love it!

Recipe by Lisa Kremer

Serves 4

1 lb boneless chicken thighs cut into bite-sized pieces
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp oil

15 green cardamom pods (strung together with a needle and thread or put in a cheesecloth.  Can also substitute 2 tsp ground cardamom)
2 tsp curry powder
1 tbsp curry paste (I like Patak’s mild curry paste)
1 tsp cayenne powder (optional. It’s really hot if you add this)
2 tsp tandoori masala
1 tsp garam masala
1 400 ml can coconut milk
1 cup plain yogurt
1 5.5 fl oz can of tomato paste
Salt to taste

In a large frying pan on medium high heat, add the oil and butter.  Stir fry chicken, onion and garlic until the chicken has some color and the onion is translucent. Then pour entire contents of pan into crock pot. Then add the rest of your ingredients.  Mix gently and cook on high heat 4-6 hours or low heat 6-8 hours.  Serve with basmati rice and warm naan bread.

Click here for printable version of Slow Cooker Butter Chicken.


After all the comments from readers, here's some clarifications for you:

  • If you live in Canada you can find the spices at Superstore in the International Foods aisle.
  • I have also used Patak's Hot Curry Paste and it makes this dish have a good kick to it. When serving company (or kids) I stick with Mild.
  • When looking for curry paste make sure you are getting a mild or hot Indian curry paste and not a Thai curry paste.  If you curry paste is labelled yellow, green or red that's Thai and you've got the wrong one. 
  • You can substitute 2 tsp of ground cardamom for the whole cardamom pods.
  • If you can't find tandoori masala (which is a dry mix of spices), readers often substitute tandoori paste with good results.
  • If you are having trouble finding garam masala, google 'garam masala recipe' and make your own.  You can do the same for tandoori masala.  It's just a mixture of spices and you can easily make it yourself.
  • If doubling the recipe, double all the ingredients except for the spices.  Only use 1 1/2 times the spices.
  • You can substitute cream for the coconut milk.  If you do that, do not stir it in until the end.
  • Once cooked the curry freezes well.
  • I've never tried putting all the ingredients into the crockpot without sauteing first, but readers have with good success.  You can totally do it, sauteing just adds more flavor.
  • I've made this recipe vegetarian by leaving out the chicken and instead sauteing a couple sweet potatoes diced into 1/2 inch pieces. Add that to the crock pot along with a can of drained chickpeas.  As far as using paneer, I'm sorry I've haven't tried it yet.  
  • I've also made this vegan by using the same method above, but then also using a vegan butter in place of regular and leaving out the yogurt.  It's totally fine, you won't miss the yogurt.
  • If you want to make this on the stove instead of the slow cooker or you are short on time, check out my Butter Chicken adapted for the stove top.