Slow Cooker Indian Butter Chicken - Manila Spoon (2023)

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The combination of spices and hints of citrus make this Slow Cooker Indian Butter Chicken totally delicious and the best! Simple, easy, tried and tested recipe made in your crockpot or slow cooker!

Slow Cooker Indian Butter Chicken - Manila Spoon (1)

The first time I had the pleasure of trying this delicious Indian butter chicken was in Sydney, Australia in 2004 when my husband and I were on our honeymoon! Perhaps that's why I never forgot how lush this dish was, it was enjoyed at a very special moment in my life.

Slow Cooker Indian Butter Chicken - Manila Spoon (2)

Or maybe because it was insanely good that my palate never wanted me to forget this dish. I knew I would recreate it one day! Today is that day!

In fact, I already have two versions of butter chicken on this blog (which proves that I absolutely love this dish!). You may be wondering why you need a third?

Slow Cooker Indian Butter Chicken - Manila Spoon (3)

I was considering simply updating my previous slow cooker version (the other was a stovetop version), but this latest Indian slow cooker butter chicken was quite different from the previous one, which I also liked. Both are delicious versions of butter chicken, but the difference wasn't small enough to justify a mere update, so I decided to make a new one.

Slow Cooker Indian Butter Chicken - Manila Spoon (4)

This current version of the Indian slow cooker butter chicken is closer in flavor to what I've had at local Indian restaurants in the US, while the older version was closer to what I've tried in Asia. In fact, I daresay I think it tastes better than some restaurant versions!


Butter Chicken, or Murgh Makhani as it's popularly known, is a rich, creamy and slightly sweet chicken curry with a butter flavored base that reduces the intensity of the spices used in its preparation. Supposedly this delicious curry came about through my accident mixing leftover tandoori chicken into a buttery tomato sauce.

True or not, I'm glad this was discovered!

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  • oil– used to initially sauté the onion.
  • Onion- Use sweet onions instead of the spicier yellow onions to add extra sweetness to the dish.
  • chicken thighs– Use boneless or bone-in but skinless chicken thighs. I prefer to use chicken thighs for this slow cooker Indian butter chicken rather than chicken breasts because they absorb more flavor and come out moist and tender. A combination of chicken thighs and breast also works great. If possible, use air-chilled chicken thighs with no water content so that the flavor is stronger.
  • Butter– no substitute as it doesn’t taste that good. Use either salted or unsalted as you can always adjust the saltiness to your liking.
  • Salt– Adjust to taste at the end of cooking.
  • Cinammon– adds both flavor and aroma, so I add a little more even though it's in the garam masala
  • Curry Pulver– The amount of heat this would transfer to the dish depends on how spicy your curry powder is. I use the madras curry which is spicier than your usual regular curry powder. It gives just the right amount of warmth without being too spicy. You can find these in your Asian branches.
  • Ground cumin- Only a small amount is used so it adds extra flavor without overpowering the other spices.
  • Ground Ginger– You can substitute this with freshly grated ginger if you like a bit of a spicier bite in your butter chicken.
  • Garam Masala– don’t leave them out, as this combination of spices gives butter chicken its unique delicious flavor and aroma
  • Brown sugar– acts as a flavor enhancer, balancing the overall flavor to be just right.
  • Tomato sauce- adds just the right amount of acidity and also for color.
  • Some water or low-sodium chicken broth– added to thin the tomato sauce a bit.
  • whipped cream– gives this slow cooker Indian butter chicken the creamy, rich sauce it's known for. Don't feel like cream? You can replace it with plain yogurt or even coconut milk.
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice– this spices up the dish and gives it a fresh, savory taste.
  • Cilantro– for garnish, optional.
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Mix all the ingredients for the spices in a bowl. This would make it easier to add everything at once.

Heat the oil on medium to high. Sauté the chopped onion for 3-4 minutes or until it starts to change color and soften. Add the sliced ​​butter, salt and spices. Stir briefly until spices are fragrant, about 1 minute. It's necessary to heat the spices in order for them to release their flavor, so don't skip this step. This step adds to the overall flavor of the dish.

Add the diced chicken and stir to quickly coat with the spices. Transfer everything to the slow cooker and pour the tomato sauce and chicken broth or water over it. Cook 4 hours on high or 6 hours on low.

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Once the chicken is tender, add the heavy cream, sugar, and freshly squeezed lemon juice. Continue cooking until the cream is completely warmed through. Taste and season to taste. Garnish with chopped coriander. Serve immediately with rice.

Slow Cooker Indian Butter Chicken - Manila Spoon (7)

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Best Indian Butter Chicken in the Slow Cooker

The combination of spices and hints of citrus make this Slow Cooker Indian Butter Chicken totally delicious and the best! Simple, easy, tried and tested recipe made in your crockpot or slow cooker!

CourseDinner, main course

kitchenAsian cuisine, Indian

keywordBest slow cooker indian butter chicken, how to make crockpot indian butter chicken, how to make slow cooker indian butter chicken

preparation time 10 Protocol

cooking time 4 Std.

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portions 8

calories 349 kcal

Author Manila Spoon


  • 2TLCinammon
  • 2TLground curry powder
  • 2TLground ginger,or 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 2TLgaram masala
  • 1TLground cumin
  • 1tablespoonoil
  • 1big sweet onion,hacked
  • 4tablespoonButter
  • 1TLSalt,adjust to taste
  • 2.2lb(1 kilo) chicken thighs,skinless and boneless (you can also opt to use on the bone or use half chicken thighs and chicken breasts)
  • ¾TaxesTomato sauce
  • ¼TaxesWater or low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1Taxeswhipped cream
  • 1tablespoonBrown sugar
  • 1tablespoonfreshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Cilantro,chopped for garnish (optional)


  1. Mix all listed spices in a bowl. This would make it easier to add everything at once.

  2. In a wok or frying pan, heat the oil on medium-high. Sauté the chopped onion for 3-4 minutes or until it starts to change color and soften. Add the sliced ​​butter, salt and spices. Stir briefly until spices are fragrant, about 1 minute. It's necessary to heat the spices in order for them to release their flavor, so don't skip this step. This step adds to the overall flavor of the dish.

  3. Add the diced chicken and stir to coat with the spices. Transfer everything to the slow cooker and pour the tomato sauce and chicken broth or water over it. Cook 4 hours on high or 6 hours on low.

  4. Once the chicken is tender, add the cream, sugar and freshly squeezed lemon juice and stir. Continue cooking until the cream is completely warmed through. Taste and season to taste. The sauce will thicken as it sits. Garnish with chopped coriander. Serve immediately with rice.

nutritional information

Best Indian Butter Chicken in the Slow Cooker

amount per serving

calories349Calories from fat 216

% Daily Value*


Saturated Fat 12g75%

Trans fat 1g

Polyunsaturated Fat 2g

Monounsaturated Fat 8g




carbohydrates8 gr3%

Phases 2g8%

sugar 5 gr6%

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Vitamin A752 IEfifteen%

Vitamin C5mg6%

calcium56 mg6%


*Percent Daily Values ​​are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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What is Indian butter sauce made of? ›

Makhani sauce was born from the first Butter Chicken made in a small sweet shop, eventually renamed to the first Moti Mahal by businessman called Kundan Lal Gujral. He sought to revive drying skewers of tandoori chicken and created a basic sauce with tomatoes, butter, cream and some Indian spices.

Why is it called Indian butter chicken? ›

What is Indian butter chicken? Butter chicken, or murgh makhani, known in India, originates from Punjab. The story goes that a Punjabi chef living in New Delhi was experimenting with butter-fried chicken and came up with something so delicious he decided to give it a name: murgh makhani, or buttery chicken.

What does Indian butter chicken taste like? ›

Butter chicken tastes mildly sweet and has a rich creamy flavor. Chicken tikka masala has a slightly spicier and earthy taste. Both dishes use chicken, tomato paste (some versions use other tomato-based sauces such as passata), garam masala, yogurt, ginger, and more.

What is the difference between butter chicken and butter chicken curry? ›

Butter chicken tends to be creamier and sweeter than chicken curry, with heavier spices. On the other hand, Tikka masala tends to focus more on heat and spice. The two dishes often use similar ingredients: tomatoes, onions, garlic, ginger, and different types of chilies—but they're not quite interchangeable.

Is Indian butter chicken the same as tikka masala? ›

The remarkably similar dishes differ in just one way — butter chicken (murgh makani) is a creamy blend of tomato sauce and spices while tikka masala has a creamy tomato gravy and onion sauce. “They almost look the same but there is a subtle difference in taste and flavor,” says Kafle.

Why is butter chicken so tasty? ›

The reason why Butter chicken is such a delightful dish is because of, obviously, butter. The splendid blend of cream sauce, butter, spiced up tomatoes, and an array of Indian spices melts in your mouth instantly. If you're a chicken lover, this is a must-try dish for you.

Is butter chicken Indian or Pakistani? ›

Butter chicken originated from Northern India in 1948. Created by Kundan Lal Gujral, you may notice that Butter Chicken (known as murgh makhani — chicken with butter), is similar to British tikka masala. Prepared in a buttery gravy with the addition of cream gives the curry sauce a silky smooth rich texture.

Is butter chicken healthy? ›

Butter chicken is high in fat and protein and thus a keto-friendly recipe. It is low in carbs and ideal for those who are on the keto diet. You may have to skip on the side of rice and Naan.

What is butter chicken called in English? ›

It is a type of curry made from chicken with a spiced tomato and butter (makhan) sauce. Its sauce is known for its rich texture.
Butter chicken
Alternative namesChicken makhani, murgh makhani
Associated national cuisineIndian
Created byKundan Lal Gujral and Kundan Lal Jaggi
Main ingredientsButter, tomatoes, chicken
5 more rows

Why is butter chicken so sweet? ›

Unlike most Indian curries where the preparation of the base starts with a blend of onion and a ginger garlic paste cooked in oil, butter chicken uses tomato as a base and is cooked in butter, giving it a slightly sweet flavor. Cashews and almonds add to the sweetness and richness of the dish.

What is the most popular Indian chicken dish? ›

Probably the best known of all Indian dishes, butter chicken, also known as murgh makhani, is a staple dish at most Indian restaurants.

What Indian dish is similar to butter chicken? ›

Think Beyond Butter Chicken And Try These 5 Delicious Chicken Curries At Home
  • Amritsari Murgh Makhani. We are starting the list with a classic that is sure to make your mouth water with just its fragrance. ...
  • Andhra Style Chicken Curry. ...
  • Chicken Rogan Josh. ...
  • Malabar Chicken Curry. ...
  • Chettinad Kozhi (Chicken) Curry.
24 Nov 2021

Is chicken masala the same as butter chicken? ›

While the difference between butter chicken vs tikka masala might not be apparent at first, their flavor profiles are their main give-away. Butter chicken tends to be exceptionally rich and creamy, while chicken tikka masala has an unmistakable tomato intensity. Either way, they're both delicious!

Can we use ghee instead of butter in butter chicken? ›

Cook's note: Ghee is clarified butter. You could use butter instead. The longer you marinate the chicken, the more intense the flavour will be.

Which tastes better tikka masala or butter chicken? ›

These are both very similar Indian dishes. If you enjoy a creamy curry that doesn't have an intense flavor, then butter chicken is your best option. For a stronger tomato hit with a little less creaminess, go for chicken tikka.

What is Indian butter called? ›

ghee, also spelled ghi, Hindi ghī, Sanskrit ghrṭa, clarified butter, a staple food on the Indian subcontinent. As a cooking oil, ghee is the most widely used food in India, apart from wheat and rice.

What gives tikka masala its flavor? ›

Tikka Masala gets its trademark flavors from the yogurt based marinade, then chargrilled and covered in a tomato based curry sauce.

How do you get the tangy taste out of butter chicken? ›

If your dish tastes too sour try to add sweetness—think sugar, honey (it's healthy!), cream or even caramelized onions. You can also dilute the dish (same as you would with a dish with too much salt). As a last resort, add a pinch of baking soda to make the dish more alkaline.

Is butter chicken junk food? ›

Since butter chicken is an unhealthy junk food, replace it with tandoori chicken which will satisfy your taste buds while keeping a check on your health.

What is butter chicken sauce made of? ›

Water, Tomato, Cream, Unsalted butter, Vegetable oil, Sugar, Modified corn starch, Concentrated tomato purée, Spices, Dried onion, Ginger, Garlic, Salt, Lactic acid (acidulant), Paprika extract, Citric acid (acidulant), Dried fenugreek leaf. Contains: Milk.

Why do they call butter chicken butter chicken? ›

Back in those days, the unsold leftovers couldn't be stored in a fridge. Gujral didn't want to be wasteful, so he experimented with dried chunks of chicken, added tomatoes, butter, and some masalas to the gravy and thus, gave birth to the famous butter chicken.

Is chicken Makhni the same as butter chicken? ›

Butter Chicken, also known as chicken makhani or traditionally as murgh makhani, is an Indian curry made with a base of a spiced tomato gravy with plenty of butter (makhan) and marinated chicken that's typically cooked in a tandoor.

Does butter chicken make you lose weight? ›

But I hate the calories that come with each serving. From oodles of cream to dollops of ghee, everything that makes butter chicken a drool-worthy treat–also makes it an enemy of weight loss.

What is the healthiest way to eat chicken? ›

The Winner: Poaching

"The healthiest way to cook chicken is to poach it," Lewis explains, "because you aren't introducing any other ingredient to the chicken other than the water it is boiled in." Similar to the way you'd poach an egg, all you'll need is the chicken you're using and some hot water.

Is Indian butter chicken high in calories? ›

A typical butter chicken recipe can have about 600 calories and more than 30 grams of fat per serving. But this dish makeover cuts it down to 248 calories and 7 grams of total fat. This popular Indian-restaurant favourite is a crowd-pleaser but full of fat and calories thanks to oil, butter and cream.

What is butter sauce made of? ›

a sauce made of melted butter, often diluted with water, sometimes thickened with flour or egg yolk, or both, and seasoned with lemon juice.

What are the 3 sauces at Indian restaurants? ›

The three sauces at Indian restaurants most commonly served are a green sauce, brown sauce and a red sauce. In order these are, mint cilantro chutney, tamarind chutney and garlic chutney.

What is the Indian butter? ›

Ghee is a type of clarified butter, originating from India. It is commonly used in India for cooking, as a traditional medicine, and for religious rituals.

What is the white sauce at Indian restaurants? ›

Indian Raita

Raita is a basic Indian yogurt-based condiment that's served as a palate-cleanser with spicy or heavy foods.

What makes butter sauce thick? ›

This is done by making a roux, an equal mixture of melted butter and flour. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat, then whisk in the flour and cook until it's golden brown and smells nutty. The roux can then be added to your sauce and whisked to combine.

Why do chefs use butter? ›

Butter is the cornerstone of classical cooking: the first food to hit the pan and, more often than not, the final flourish, used to finish off dishes or as a base for sauces. It's a vehicle for flavour but it's also delicious in its own right.

How do you keep a butter sauce from breaking? ›

The first step to preventing a sauce from breaking is to be sure you're cooking at the right temperature. Most sauces shouldn't be cooked over high heat. A simmer is usually enough, and a lower temperature will give you more control over how fast the sauce cooks. This helps you get the consistency just right.

What does 65 mean on an Indian menu? ›

Some food experts say it is chicken 65 because 65 small pieces of chicken were used to prepare the food. While others also claim that there are 65 ingredients used in the dish to make it spicy. There is another story that a 65–days–old chicken was used to prepare it.

What is the secret ingredient in Indian food? ›

Meet Hing: The Secret-Weapon Spice Of Indian Cuisine : The Salt Uncooked, the Indian spice hing may smell of sulfur and onions to some. But add a dash to your food, and magical things happen.

What should beginners order at Indian restaurant? ›

Great Dishes for Beginners—What Should I Order?
  • Samosas are tasty and filling appetizers.
  • Chicken Tikka Masala is a great beginner's dish.
  • Indian chai or milk tea.
  • Chicken biryani.
  • Raita is a great choice to cool your stomach after spicy food.
  • Family style is the most authentic way to eat Indian food.
14 Oct 2022

Why do Indians use ghee instead of butter? ›

But its history — real and legendary — is long. Ghee originated in India, where the heat was not conducive to storing butter for long periods. But when that butter was clarified — heated until the water evaporates and the milk solids separate away — the product had a long shelf life.

What makes Indian food creamy? ›

The most common way of making curries or gravies creamy and rich, is to add heavy cream or full cream to them. The second secret to making gravies for dishes like shahi paneer, shahi murgh masala etc. is the thickeners that are added along with the cream. This includes corn starch or maida (refined flour).

What is the secret of Indian curry? ›

Build a deep flavour

The three core ingredients of almost any Indian curry are garlic, onion and ginger. There are a few styles of curries that don't use garlic to ensure subtle flavour isn't overwhelmed, but it's a good rule of thumb that those three ingredients are likely to be included.

What is the yellow stuff in Indian food? ›

Turmeric, also known as the “Golden Spice of India” is a root that is easily identified by its golden colour. It is a warm and slightly bitter spice that belongs to the ginger family. It's bright yellow colour, also known as “Indian saffron” is commonly used in curries and found in most Asian dishes.


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