Slow Cooker Indian Butter Chicken

This Slow Cooker Indian Butter Chicken gets a healthy makeover in this quick and easy slow cooker recipe packed with warm spices like garam masala, cumin and fenugreek.

Liz squeezing lime on indian butter chicken

In this Post: Everything you need for Slow Cooker Indian Butter Chicken

Some of my favorite days are where dinner is prepped or cooking away in the slow cooker before lunch. There’s just something about making dinner so early that it makes me feel so accomplished. Is it just me or do you feel this way, too?

indian butter chicken closeup

Whether it’s a quick prep on a weekday morning before school or if I spend some extra time smashing intoxicating spices from around the world with my mortar and pestle on a weekend, having this dish in the crockpot all day is simply the best.

Liz cutting cauliflower

When it comes to healthy eating on a budget, I always recommend stretching more expensive ingredients (i.e. organic chicken breasts) with inexpensive, filling vegetables like broccoli, kale or, in this case, cauliflower.

indian butter chicken plated

Curries, soups, pastas and stir-fries are ideal for this because you can really stretch a pound of meat to feed a crowd.

How to Make Indian Butter Chicken

adding spices to slow cooker

I personally think it makes a big difference grinding the spices myself. Plus, I just really enjoy it. If that’s not your thing, you can absolutely get these spices already ground at the store.

whisking indian butter chicken in crock pot

Whisking the yogurt, coconut milk, and spices together before adding the chicken and cauliflower helps ensure the flavors are even.

cubing chicken

I like to cube my chicken raw before adding to the slow cooker, but you can add them whole and cut or shred later.

adding ingredients for indian butter chicken to slow cooker

Now for the best part of a slow cooker meal – set it and forget it! You can easily freeze and save for later or set your crockpot on low for 8 hours. Stir in your green peas (or any other green veggie will do) right before serving so they don’t get mushy.

indian butter chicken vertical hero

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Indian Butter Chicken?

Chicken Makhani (aka Indian Butter Chicken) is a classic Indian dish developed in the 1950s by restaurant owners in India. They combined tomato gravy, rich in butter and cream, with leftover tandoori chicken.

Is Indian Butter Chicken spicy?

It can be. You can adjust the level of heat by reducing or increasing the amount of cayenne.

How is Indian Butter Chicken healthy?

I lightened this recipe from the original quite a bit by substituting ingredients like light coconut milk, plain yogurt, cauliflower and peas.

Can I substitute Indian chili powder?

Cayenne and Indian chili powder are pretty similar, and cayenne is more readily available. If you have Indian chili powder already, however, then I recommend using that instead of cayenne. It’ll add a more smoky flavor than just the cayenne can provide, making it taste more like tandoori chicken.

What if I don’t have all those spices?

That’s okay – you can skip a few and still get a super flavorful dish. A little curry powder goes a long way.

indian butter chicken vertical hero

Warm, aromatic, slightly spicy and totally satisfying, this healthier Slow Cooker Indian Butter Chicken with Cauliflower is ideal for busy weeknights. To save even more time during the dinner rush, we love using Trader Joe’s frozen brown rice but you could even skip the rice and pick up some naan bread at the store.

Liz eating indian butter chicken

Your fork is waiting.

indian butter chicken vertical hero

Slow Cooker Indian Butter Chicken

4.75 stars average
This Slow Cooker Indian Butter Chicken gets a healthy makeover in this quick and easy slow cooker recipe packed with warm spices like garam masala, cumin and fenugreek.
PREP: 15 minutes
COOK: 4 hours
TOTAL: 4 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 4



  • 1 pound chicken breasts (cubed)
  • 1 in head cauliflower (cut florets)
  • 15 ounce can coconut milk (light)
  • 1 cup whole milk plain yogurt
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil (melted)
  • 2 tablespoons ginger root (minced)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon red curry paste
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 5 green cardamom pods
  • 1 cup green peas (fresh or frozen)
  • prepared brown rice (cucumber raita and fresh cilantro – to serve)


  • Place cubed chicken and cauliflower florets in the bottom of your slow cooker.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together next 12 ingredients (coconut milk through cayenne.)
  • Lastly, using a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder, crush together the cumin seeds, fenugreek and cardamom pods. Add to the yogurt mixture and whisk to combine.
  • Pour spiced yogurt mixture into the slow cooker and stir until chicken and cauliflower is evenly coated.
  • Heat on Low for 8 hours or High for 4 hours.
  • Five minutes before you’re ready to serve, stir in green peas. Serve over brown rice with cucumber raita and fresh cilantro if you wish.


Don’t worry if you’re missing a spice or two. A little curry powder goes a long way!


Calories: 358kcalCarbohydrates: 22.9gProtein: 32.2gFat: 18gSaturated Fat: 12.8gPolyunsaturated Fat: 5.2gCholesterol: 69mgSodium: 1225mgFiber: 7.2gSugar: 9.7g

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46 thoughts on “Slow Cooker Indian Butter Chicken”

  1. Katie | Healthy Seasonal Recipes

    We loved this Liz! My younger daughter (age 12) was worried it was too hot. I reassured her it wasn’t (I didn’t use the cayenne) and she ended up eating her entire portion. It was a win all around and I loved all the veggies! Thank you for the great recipe and inspiration for an easy dinner.

  2. We make this wonderful recipe all the time – it’s a family favourite and even the 3-year-old loves it! (We cut down on the cayenne if he’s joining us – though he’s getting a taste for really spicy food now.)

    We make a couple of customisations: slice 4 cloves of garlic and fry in a little coconut/vegetable oil for 30 seconds till just coloured – throw those in with the cauliflower & chicken. With the whole spices (cumin, cardamom pods & fenugreek), dry-fry those for a few seconds till aromatic before pestle & mortaring, and finally, stir in a handful of finely chopped coriander (cilantro) with the peas at the end. Utterly delicious!

  3. April Van den Hoven

    I love indian food but a mild version how can I cut down on the spices in this recipe but still have that authentic indian taste.One of my favorites is Mango chicken which we buy regularly.

  4. I was wondering if the rice is included in the nutrition fact you have listed or if they are for the chicken and cauliflower alone. Looks delicious, thank you!

  5. This sounds great! Quick question: I have all of the spices, but they’re already in powder form. I know freshly ground is better, but I’d prefer not to purchase the seeds/pods and don’t own a mortar & pestle yet. How much of the 3 spices do you recommend when using ground (like how much do you estimate those amounts of seeds/pods produce when ground)? Thanks!

    1. Hi Becky – you can use the back of a dessertspoon on a chopping board instead of a pestle and mortar! Simply spread the seeds out on the chopping board and press down on to the spoon, so that the “dome” of the spoon is crushing the seeds. Move it around a bit and keep moving the seeds into the middle. Takes about 30 seconds!

  6. This sounds delicious. I also find it interesting that you have combined Thai curry paste with Indian curry powder. I usually think of them in terms of being totally separate and never the twain shall meet. I will have to do this on the stove top, as I don’t have a slow cooker, but I’m looking forward to having my culinary horizons expanded.

  7. I just tried butter chicken for first time! But at home not at a restaurant lol. We all loved it. I LOVE that you added cauliflower to this! My kids love cauliflower and this is a genius way to stretch the chicken. I’m so making this.

  8. Last weekend I made butter chicken for the first time and it was sooooo good. We were inhaling it with naan. However, this lighter version provides that I can make it much more frequently! Love the cauliflower addition too!

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