Slow Cooker Butter Chicken – This paleo butter chicken recipe is so easy and delicious, it’s become one of the all-time most popular recipes on this site! You’ll want to slurp the sauce with a spoon. (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Paleo, Whole30)
Photos + post updated January 2021. Original post published October 2014.
Since they’re related to (and living with) a food blogger, my family is constantly eating a stream of new recipes. Some are winners that make it to the site, others are misses that send me back to the drawing board. Since we try to cut down on as much waste as possible, we eat almost everything I make for the blog. (Even most of the failures. Some failures just aren’t edible.) So it’s not super often that we repeat meals.
But some recipes are so good, they make it into the regular rotation and never leave. This Slow Cooker Paleo Butter chicken is one of those recipes. I first made this wayyy back in 2014 (when Milo was just 1!), and we’ve been making it on a regular basis ever since.
In the years since I first published this Slow Cooker Butter Chicken recipe, it’s become one of the most popular recipes on my site, has been featured around the internet, and was even been published in a magazine. I GET IT! It’s easy, it’s crazy delicious, and I wouldn’t be surprised if you licked your plate clean (been there!).
The sauce is velvety smooth (even without the traditional butter!), and it’s got a gorgeous flavor you’ll dream about after. Here’s what you need to get started…
HERE’S WHAT GOES INTO OUR SLOW COOKER BUTTER CHICKEN RECIPE:
CHICKEN BREAST OR CHICKEN THIGHS. You can make our paleo butter chicken with either boneless, skinless chicken breast or chicken thighs. Chicken breast is my go-to, though thighs can be less expensive and can stay even more moist (even with the longer cooking time).
ONION + GARLIC + GINGER. This trio of aromatics adds TONS of flavor to our butter chicken sauce and sets the stage for all the layers of flavor we’ll build in. I love using frozen garlic + frozen ginger. The flavor is identical to fresh and there aren’t any additives! Next up, we have…
WARM SPICES + SEASONINGS. The next layer of flavor comes from warm spices like cumin, cardamom, and coriander, along with some salt and a little cayenne (or not! It’s up to you!). The flavor and aroma is mouthwatering, and the cayenne gives *juuust* a little heat without making this super spicy. (Prefer it spicy? Add more!)
TOMATO PASTE + CANNED COCONUT MILK. Tomato paste makes this sauce velvety smooth and stirs into the coconut milk like a dream. I beg, plead, and implore you to use full-fat coconut milk for this paleo butter chicken recipe! It gives the sauce such delicious texture (especially since we’re not using butter), and helps carry the flavors. You can even use coconut cream if you like, but I don’t recommend light coconut milk or refrigerated coconut milk for this recipe.
A FEW FRESH FINISHES. Lastly, you’ll brighten up the dish by adding a squeeze of fresh lime juice and some fresh cilantro. It makes it look gorgeous and keeps the chicken cozy without feeling heavy.
WHAT TO SERVE WITH PALEO BUTTER CHICKEN:
RICE OR CAULIFLOWER RICE. I looove having something to soak up all that lovely sauce from the paleo butter chicken. Depending on your dietary needs, you can serve this with cauliflower rice or white rice. I love it either way! (Note: for Whole30 be sure you use cauliflower rice.)
GREEN VEGGIES. Green veggies are a natural side dish pairing with our Slow Cooker Butter Chicken and we’ve made all kinds over the years. Simply cooked broccoli (steamed or roasted), some green beans, asparagus, zucchini… it’s all good! Pick your favorite and go to town!
THAI CUCUMBER SALAD. We’re blurring lines cuisine-wise here, but one of my recent faves is to serve my Slow Cooker Paleo Butter Chicken with my Thai Cucumber Salad. The cool, crisp, refreshing flavors of the salad are a delightful pairing with the warm, creamy, rich sauce of the butter chicken.
FRESH PINEAPPLE OR MANGO. Or, you can cool off your mouth with some cold fruit. Pineapple and mango are lovely, though you can certainly use whatever is in season or looks good at the market!
FAQ + TIPS & TRICKS FOR THE BEST SLOW COOKER BUTTER CHICKEN:
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 to smooth it out, 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 paleo butter chicken as dump-and-go recipe. You do you!
NEED A SLOW COOKER? If you’re in the market, we have two that we love. (#foodblogger). First up is this one. It’s programmable, and will automatically switch the heat to the WARM setting when it’s done. You can even use the included 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 a lid clip to keep the lid in place (which means no sloshing if you’re carting it to a friend’s house or potluck). Our other fave is this one (our exact color isn’t sold anymore, but it’s a similar model). It’s inexpensive, easy to use, and looks cute, too!
IS BUTTER CHICKEN SPICY? It can be, but isn’t always. You can control the heat here by adding more or less cayenne pepper. The amount I suggest starting with (1/4 tsp.) will add some warmth and mild heat, but I wouldn’t say it’s super spicy.
FYI: SOME SLOW COOKERS RUN HOT! I’ve had a few readers in the last few 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.
LOOKING FOR MORE HEALTHY SLOW COOKER RECIPES? You might also like…
- Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Chili (Paleo + Whole30)
- Slow Cooker Chicken Curry (Paleo + Whole30)
- Slow Cooker Thai Chicken and Butternut Squash Soup
- Slow Cooker Paleo Beef Stew (Paleo + Whole30)
- Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala (Paleo + Whole30)
- Slow Cooker Pumpkin Taco Soup (Paleo + Whole30)
SHOP OUR FAVORITE TOOLS + INGREDIENTS FOR MAKING BUTTER CHICKEN: