Slow Cooker Butter Chicken – This paleo take on butter chicken is so easy and delicious it’s become one of the all-time most popular recipes on this site! We love letting the slow cooker do most of the work. Scroll down for the recipe and a how-to video!
Photos updated December 2016. Original post published October, 2014.
I love playing with some of our old favorite recipes and updating them. Sometimes, I’m just sorting out removing the dairy or gluten, others I want to make a bit more child-friendly, and some I’m just cleaning up a bit. This recipe for Butter Chicken happens to fall into all three categories.
I used our old recipe and made a few substitutions –I’ve used coconut milk + lime juice in place of the half and half and made the sauce more velvety by changing out the diced tomatoes for tomato paste. I’ve kept our same spice blend, and simplified the entire recipe by making it slow cooker friendly.
Right now, I’m in love with my slow cooker. Since we’ve been in and out for doctor’s appointments and extra therapies, our schedule has been a bit more hectic than usual, and I love the simplicity of having my meal ready when we walk in the door. I can prep when I have time, then set it and forget it till I’m cobbling together a few side dishes or a salad to tie things together. It’s the best. The. Best.
This Butter Chicken has saved our bacon in the last month–we’ve made it 3 times, which almost never happens. The first time, we proclaimed it the best butter chicken we’ve ever eaten and were both so sad when it was gone. The second time, it was to make up for how quickly we finished it the first time. And the third, well, I made it to use as a freezer meal on a day when we had an easy dinner planned. It held up beautifully in the freezer fully cooked. I freezed it in a quart-sized freezer bag laid flat in the freezer till solid. Stored this way, it will thaw in 15-30 minutes in a pan or bowl of warm water, and you can pour it into a saucepan to heat up while you make a side dish and cut up some fruit.
I love it paired with green beans (confession: I mix the green beans and butter chicken together and eat it that way). If you’re not in the middle of a Whole30, it’s fabulous on a little rice, or you can always whip up some cauliflower rice.
It’s warm and filling. The flavor is rich and savory without being overpowering, and it’s not so scary to little ones as a bright yellow curry. It’s a great intro to Indian flavors and it’s bound to become a family favorite.
Notes on the Recipe:
Can I just “dump and go?” Yes! If you are short on time, you can absolutely pour all the sauce ingredients into the crock of your slow cooker, give it a whisk, then add the chicken. I prefer starting the sauce on the stovetop as shown because the onions are more meltingly tender and the sauce is less likely to have any lumps, but LOTS (hundreds) of readers have successfully made this a dump-and-go recipe.
Not sure you want to buy cardamom? It’s one of my favorite spices. It’s great in this Warm Spiced Granola, our Chai Spice Banana Smoothie, Vanilla Spice Pear Sauce, or Gingerbread Waffles. I’m sure once you taste it, you’ll find all sorts of good uses.
Need a slow cooker? If you’re in the market, we love this one. It’s programmable, and will automatically switch the heat to the WARM setting when it’s done. You can even use a programmable thermometer so that the heat switches to warm as soon as it’s reached the right internal temperature (which means NEVER overcooking your meat). It also comes with clips to keep the lid in place (which means no sloshing if you’re carting it to a friend’s house or potluck). Target and Amazon usually carry the best price and both will qualify for free shipping.
Some run hot! I’ve had a few readers in the last two years (just 2-3) tell me their sauce burned a bit toward the end of the cook time. If you’re nervous, I suggest keeping an eye on it toward the end, or try using the LOW setting instead of the HIGH setting.
Like this recipe? You might also like:
- Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Chili
- Slow Cooker Thai Chicken and Butternut Squash Soup
- Slow Cooker Paleo Beef Stew
- 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast or chicken thighs
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 tsp coconut oil
- 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1 tsp fresh ginger, finely minced
- 1 tsp coriander
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp cardamom
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
- 1 (14oz) can coconut milk (full fat, please)
- 1 (6oz) can tomato paste
- juice of 1 lime
- ¼c Cilantro, or to taste
- In a medium saute pan, heat coconut oil over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent and fairly tender. Add garlic, ginger, spices, and salt. Cook 1 minute longer, till all the spices are fragrant and amazing. Stir in coconut milk and tomato paste and stir until well combined.
- Add chicken to the slow cooker. Pour sauce over everything.
- Cook on high heat for 3-4 hours or on low heat for 6-8 hours.
- Shred or dice chicken into the sauce, squeeze in lime juice, top with cilantro, and serve with your favorite vegetable, rice, or naan.