If you’re looking for a family dinner recipe that will have everyone coming back for seconds, let me introduce you to Slow Cooker Butter Chicken. This variation of a hearty Indian dish will impress you with its incredible flavors and the ease of cooking.
Out of all the slow cooker chicken recipes I’ve tried, I have to say that Slow Cooker Butter Chicken is my absolute favorite. It’s so simple to put together in the morning (or even the night before), and it turns out delicious every single time. This dish has become a staple in our household because everyone loves it! In fact, I often make a double batch, and the leftovers disappear for lunch the next day.
All About Butter Chicken
Butter chicken is a delightful combination of a creamy tomato-based sauce and tender chicken bites, infused with garlic, onion, and the spices commonly found in Indian curries like turmeric and ginger. And of course, let’s not forget the butter! With its mild curry flavors, this dish is perfect for anyone who hasn’t tried Indian cuisine before.
This dish originated in Delhi, Northern India, and there are various stories about who created the first butter chicken recipe. Legend has it that it was initially made in a Delhi restaurant as a way to repurpose leftovers for a large group of unexpected visitors. Isn’t it fascinating how many amazing recipes come about from such humble beginnings?
According to Condé Nast Traveller, “Delhi is the undisputed land of butter chicken,” but its popularity has spread worldwide. You might find it listed on menus as “murgh makhani,” the traditional Hindi name for butter chicken, which is recognized globally. However, depending on the region or recipe influences, you may encounter slight variations in the range of spices used.
Essential Ingredients For Slow Cooker Butter Chicken
As you start exploring recipes inspired by traditional Indian flavors and spices, you’ll always have the necessary ingredients on hand to create new variations and discover new family favorites.
For this slow cooker butter chicken, you’ll need:
- Chicken: Use boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into bite-sized pieces. Alternatively, you can use boneless, skinless chicken thighs for equally delicious results.
- Seasonings: This dish is not spicy, making it perfect for a family dinner. Combine curry powder, salt, turmeric, and ground ginger.
- Onion: Dice about half of a yellow onion for a touch of sweetness and fragrance.
- Garlic: You can use jarred minced garlic for convenience.
- Red curry paste: This is a staple ingredient that brings Indian-inspired flavors to your cooking.
- Coconut milk: A can of coconut milk adds a rich creaminess to the sauce.
- Tomato paste: A can of tomato paste will thicken the sauce and provide a slight acidity.
- Butter: The quintessential ingredient in butter chicken!
Towards the end of cooking, you’ll also need:
- Heavy cream: This adds a luxurious touch to the recipe.
- Basmati Rice: Basmati rice is the traditional accompaniment to butter chicken, but you can also use another type of long-grain rice if you prefer.
If you prefer some extra spice, you can add cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes. For a vegetarian version, you can substitute the chicken with chickpeas. And if you want to make this dish dairy-free, simply omit the heavy cream and butter (it will still be delicious!).
How To Make Butter Chicken In The Slow Cooker
Start by dicing the yellow onion and slicing the chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces, approximately 1-inch cubes. Then, add all the ingredients (except the heavy cream and rice) to the slow cooker. Stir thoroughly to coat every piece of chicken with the sauce.
Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 6-8 hours.
After the chicken is cooked, stir in the heavy cream and replace the lid to let it heat through while you prepare the rice.
Cook the basmati rice according to the package instructions (or check out an easy Instant Pot method). Serve a plate of rice topped with creamy butter chicken, and if desired, add a side of naan bread.
What To Serve With Butter Chicken
While many have tried to serve butter chicken in innovative ways, the classic combination seems to be the most popular. You’ll often find butter chicken paired with fluffy basmati rice and naan bread on the side to soak up the delicious sauce.
With most Indian dishes, a tangy or acidic flavor is a great complement to the rich spices of the curries and sauces. You can try serving a side salad with a vinaigrette dressing or a fresh vegetable side like Cucumber Tomato Salad with Mozzarella.
For a touch of sweetness to contrast with the tomato-y butter sauce, you can add Slow Cooker Carrots with Herbed Honey Butter Sauce or roasted cauliflower as a healthy side option.
Storing and Reheating
Slow Cooker Butter Chicken is perfect for meal prep and makes amazing leftovers. I love dishes that can be stored and served the next day, just as delicious as when they were first made. If you enjoy packing your lunches, you can easily portion out the rice and chicken to prepare several servings in advance.
Store your leftovers in the fridge for up to 3 days. You can also divide the chicken into individual servings and freeze them for up to 3 months.
Did you know that you can also freeze cooked rice for up to 3 months? This lesser-known kitchen trick can help you prepare in advance even more. Simply seal individual servings in freezer-safe bags or containers, removing as much air as possible.
When reheating, allow frozen foods to defrost in the fridge first. Then, warm them up in the microwave or in a skillet or saucepan on the stove.
Slow Cooker Butter Chicken FAQs
Can I use chicken thighs instead of breasts?
Yes, boneless, skinless chicken thighs are a great substitute for chicken breasts in this recipe.
Why is my butter chicken not thick enough?
If the sauce for the chicken is not thick enough, it may be due to excess water content from the chicken. You can thicken the sauce with a cornstarch slurry (2 tablespoons of cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of water).
What is a substitute for cream in butter chicken?
If you’d like to swap the heavy cream for something else, you can use half and half. Alternatively, if you prefer a dairy-free version, simply omit the cream and butter.
Can I prepare this dish ahead of time?
Absolutely! This recipe is versatile and can be prepped ahead as a freezer meal. Alternatively, you can cook it and freeze individual portions to reheat later. You can also combine all the ingredients (except the cream and rice) and store them in the fridge for up to 24 hours before cooking. It’s a perfect dish for meal prepping!
More Slow Cooker Chicken Recipes
If you enjoy cooking with your slow cooker, here are a few more delicious chicken recipes to try:
- Slow Cooker Red Curry Almond Chicken
- Slow Cooker Mongolian Chicken
- Slow Cooker Chicken Pineapple Teriyaki Bowls
- Easy Marry Me Chicken Recipe In The Slow Cooker
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