Slow-Cooker Butter Chicken

slow cooker butter chicken in a bowl over white rice with naan and fresh cilantro
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This butter chicken—chicken simmered in a velvety, tomato-tinged, Indian-spiced cream sauce—is a cozy autumn dish that is made easy with the help of your slow-cooker. 

What Is Butter Chicken? 

Indian butter chicken—or, murgh makhani—is a recipe that is far from set in stone. Supposedly it was created in a restaurant in Delhi by a cook in search for a use for leftover tandoori chicken. He simmered the spiced chicken pieces in a creamy, tomato curry sauce with a little butter and thus, butter chicken was born. Or at least, so the story goes. India’s most popular culinary export (second only to chicken tikka masala) butter chicken recipes come in many shapes and forms. But, they all result in a comforting pot full of tender, juicy chicken swimming in a tomato-red, mild, creamy curry-like sauce just begging to be served with a steaming bowl of basmati rice and warm naan. 

Some Indian butter chicken recipes get their creaminess from whole milk yogurt, but we’ve opted to cut right to the chase and use a combination of heavy cream and butter. And instead of a pre-cooking marinate in the spiced yogurt sauce, our easy butter chicken recipe lets your trusty slow-cooker to all of the heavy lifting.

slow cooker butter chicken over rice with cilantro and naan

Spices, Tomatoes and Heavy Cream—What’s Not to Love?

Just glancing through the ingredients in our slow-cooker butter chicken recipe is enough to make stomachs rumble. The list looks long, but remember! Your slow-cooker is going to do all of the work. Once you’ve gathered your ingredients, your work is mostly done: 

  • Chicken stock
  • Tomato paste 
  • Fresh lemon juice 
  • Garlic & onion
  • Fresh grated ginger 
  • Spices! Cinnamon, cumin, garam masala, turmeric—plus salt, of course—liven up our slow cooker chicken curry  
  • Butter—it’s butter chicken, after all.  
  • Boneless, skinless chicken breast. You’ll need your chicken breast cut into 2” cubes, which is something you can ask your butcher to do for you, and save yourself even more time.  
  • Heavy cream—for the silkiest butter chicken sauce you’ve ever tasted. 
  • Sugar—just a pinch. A spoonful of sugar helps to counter the acidity of the tomato in this dish and ties it all together in a magical way.  

How to Make Butter Chicken in a Slow-Cooker:  

Slow-cookers have a reputation—a nice one, we think—as a homey kind of kitchen tool. Something your mom used, or even your Grandma. They’re a fast, easy way to get dinner on the table—you can do a little prep in the morning and come home to a house that smells like you’ve been cooking all day (which you kind of have). We’d like to suggest, though, that you don’t think of this butter chicken as just a fast way to feed your family. Rich and decadent, it’s also company-worthy. It doesn’t get easier than this dead easy Crock-Pot chicken recipe, proving that you don’t have to slave away all day to impress your friends. Here’s how to make it: 

  1. Combine tomato paste, lemon juice, garlic, ginger, and spices. Put the chicken pieces and the spiced tomato paste into your slow-cooker with onion, sugar and butter. 
  2. Cook! Wondering how long to cook chicken in a Crock-Pot? We’re so glad you asked, because actually—you have options! If you’re going to be around the house all day, you can cook this butter chicken for 4 hours on high, or 8 hours on low if you’re planning to be out all day.
  3. When the chicken is done, open the lid and take in all the gorgeously fragrant steam. Then stir in the heavy cream. 
  4. Spoon that creamy chicken curry over hot basmati rice, along with fresh cilantro to garnish and warm naan on the side. 
slow cooker butter chicken being scooped out of a crock pot with a wooden spoon

Tools You’ll Need: 

slow cooker butter chicken over white rice in a ceramic bowl served with naan and fresh cilantro

Other Crock-Pot Chicken Recipes To Try: 

Seriously, is there anything it can’t do?

Crock-Pot Chicken Saves The Day (Doesn’t It Always?)

We’re so excited to share our best slow-cooker chicken curry recipe with you. Having a recipe like this in your back pocket for when the days get too busy can be a life-saver. Snap a photo of your finished butter chicken and tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproperso we can see how yours turned out! Happy eating!

Slow-Cooker Butter Chicken

Serves 8


3/4 cup chicken stock
1 6 oz can tomato paste
2 tbsp lemon juice
4 garlic cloves
2 tbsp grated ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp turmeric
4 tbsp butter
1/4 cup grated yellow onion (one small onions)
3 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into 2" cubes
1 cup heavy cream
2 tsp sugar


  1. In a small bowl combine chicken stock, tomato paste, lemon juice, garlic, ginger, cinnamon, salt, cumin, turmeric and garam masala. Toss chicken along with prepared tomato sauce in a slow cooker. Add in grated onion, sugar and butter and lightly stir. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours.
  2. Once cooked stir in heavy cream and serve over rice, along with fresh cilantro and warm naan.

Note: To make this recipe dairy-free, sub butter for coconut oil and heavy cream for coconut milk.