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Slow-Cooker Butter Chicken

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.


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

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.
tomato past and spices mixed together with a whisk to make slow cooker butter chicken
raw chicken in a slow cooker topped with tomato past and spice mixture along with grated onions
raw chicken mixed together with tomato paste and spices topped with butter in a slow cooker
slow cooker butter chicken in a crock pot before being cooked
cooked slow cooker butter chicken with heavy cream being poured out of a measuring cup
slow cooker butter chicken in a crock pot

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
  • Prep Time:  10 min
  • Cook Time:  4 hrs
  • Calories: 348


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


Slow Cooker

  1. In a base of your slow cooker mix together the chicken stock, tomato paste, lemon juice, garlic, ginger, cinnamon, salt, cumin, turmeric and garam masala until fully combined. Add in the chicken, 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.

Instant Pot

  1. Set instant pot to saute mode. Add butter along with onions and stir until onions are softened, about 4 minutes. Add in garlic, ginger, lemon juice, tomato paste, cinnamon, saltcumin, garam masala and turmeric. Stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add in only 1/2 cup of broth along with chicken and stir until combine.
  2. Seal instant pot with lid, making sure the pressure valve is closed. Manually set to pressure cook for 5 minutes. Allow to slow release naturally for 20 minutes, then release the remaining pressure if any is left.
  3. Remove lid and stir in sugar and heavy cream. Serve over rice along with fresh cilantro and warm naan.

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

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories348
  • Protein50 g
  • Carbohydrates9 g
  • Total Fat13 g
  • Dietary Fiber1 g
  • Cholesterol19 mg
  • sodium214 mg
  • Total Sugars4 g

Slow-Cooker Butter Chicken

Questions & Reviews

Join the discussion below.

  • Emalee

    What would you recommend adding make it spicy?

    You could try cayenne or red pepper flakes. We haven't personally used those in this recipe before.

  • Kat

    So, what if I slow cook it on low overnight? Would it still come out good? (I need it ready early in the morning)

    That will be fine, you probably don't need to cook it more than 6 hours on low if you have a crockpot where you can set the timer we'd recommend using that function. Hope you enjoy Kat!

  • Brandon Arrigo

    Do you think a 7QT slowcooker would be too big for this recipe? The one in your pictures look like a 1.5QT to 3QT. I love your stovetop version of this but want to try this version since it uses chicken broth. Which version do you guys prefer best?

    Both are great! We think you'll be fine with the large slow cooker.

  • Cindy Cleveland

    Is the chicken raw when you put it into the slow cooker or do you need to cook it first?

    It is raw, hope you enjoy Cindy!

  • Gabes

    I feel silly to ask, but would i just double the amount of everything to cook for more people?

    Yes. Although I have never tested it. You might need to cook longer with a double batch.

  • Erica

    Yeah I’ll definitely make this again! Not my first time making butter chicken but I’m not sure I’ve made it in a crockpot before. But it worked perfectly!

    Thanks Erica, so happy you loved it!

  • Cindy Stevenson

    I was impressed by this recipe. I've made butter chicken many times in the past and didn't figure a slow cooker version would be the same, but it came out great. I used the cream (as I had some) and found the seasonings to be mild yet balanced. Will try the yogurt next time as this is what has been in most recipes I have tried and I'm curious about the taste difference. My daughter also loved it, but husband isn't a fan of chicken breast so he didn't care for it so much. I'm going to try it next time with thighs and see how that goes over as the flavour was so nice.

    Thanks Cindy, glad you enjoyed it.

  • Georgia J

    Absolutely delicious recipe. I love that it calls for spices I already had on hand and was so easy to do in the slow cooker. I have tried several other Butter Chicken recipes and this one was both easier and tastier than others I have made. Thank you!!

    Thank you so much Georgia! We are so glad you are so happy with the recipe!

  • Ashley Jo

    This is my tried and true favorite recipe for butter chicken that I’ve ever come across-and believe me, I’ve tried several!! My fiancé and I usually only have enough leftovers for his lunch the next day so I double the recipe for just the two of us, but we’re obsessed. It’s often requested in our home 💚 thanks so much for sharing this gem!

    Thank you for letting us know! I am so glad.

  • Frank

    Delicious! Just had this tonight. Will definitely make again. Even our 2 year old enjoyed it. Thank you!

    Yay! Happy you all enjoyed it Frank! Pleasing a toddler is quite the accomplishment!