Lightened Up Crockpot Indian Butter Chicken

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Slow Cooker Butter Chicken with a healthy twist is a simple way to enjoy Indian-inspired cuisine right in your own kitchen. Come home from work and travel around the world for dinner when you make this one of your favorite go-to crock pot recipes!

Lightened Up Indian Butter Chicken Crockpot Recipe image with title

Disclosure: This post is sponsored, through a partnership with The Great Courses and originally published on April 18. 2017. As always, all opinions are my own.

Every once in awhile the house goes silent. When you have two boys, any period of time with little or no noise is always suspicious. One time this happened, I looked around and found them in the basement, eyes glued to the TV. This is unusual because they are really good about asking when they can watch a show.

But were they watching cartoons? Nope. Kids shows? Not this time.

They were watching a documentary. It’s actually not uncommon to find my kids watching nature shows or history shows or DIY shows or, my personal favorite, cooking shows.

I love to connect my passion for food with my sons’ passion for learning. Sharing an international dish and telling them about where it is from gets them excited about trying something new.

That’s why I cooked up this tasty slow cooker Indian butter chicken for dinner. I love making Indian food at home because I can control the level of spices, like in these Tandoori Chicken Legs. Plus I can make it healthier too!

plate of healthy slow cooker butter chicken over rice

What is Butter Chicken?

Indian butter chicken is a dish that originated in India and consists of chicken cooked in a tomato, butter, and cream sauce.

Traditionally the chicken is marinated and cooked in a tandoor oven. Then it is simmered in a tomato-based sauce that is flavored with curry that can include spices such as garam masala, cardamom, pepper, cumin, and more. Butter and occasionally cream are then added to this rich sauce.

How do you make healthy butter chicken?

By cutting down on the butter and swapping heavy cream for a combination of light coconut milk and Greek yogurt, you still get all of the exotic flavors in a lightened up dish. With the flavors of the classic recipe, but fewer calories and fat, this slow cooker recipe is sure to become a favorite!

Crockpot Butter Chicken Recipe

This recipe makes it easy to bring the flavors of India right into your kitchen by turning it into a slow cooker butter chicken recipe. It’s as simple as adding a handful of simple, flavorful ingredients to your slow cooker. Then, let the aromas fill your home.

 

Here is a brief overview so you can see just how easy it is to make. Scroll down to the printable recipe card for the full quantities and details.
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What is in Butter Chicken?

Chicken

You can use whole boneless skinless chicken breasts if you would like a version of butter chicken that is shredded or pulled. Or cut your chicken into chunks if you prefer large pieces, like in the photos.

Spices and aromatics

Onion and garlic are cooked with the chicken. And the mixture of spices in this recipe includes curry powder, garam masala, ground ginger, and cayenne pepper.

Sauce ingredients

The tomato sauce is made by cooking the chicken in a mixture of canned coconut milk (you can use light coconut milk to save calories or full-fat coconut milk to make it keto-friendly), tomato paste, butter, and lemon juice. For extra creaminess without heavy cream, Greek yogurt is stirred in at the end.

Directions overview – scroll to the recipe card for the full set of instructions

The video above shows how to make crockpot butter chicken that is shredded so it’s almost like a slow cooker pulled chicken. But if you want the larger pieces like in the photos, just cut the chicken into chunks before putting it in the slow cooker, and don’t shred it before adding the Greek yogurt.

  1. Add the chicken to your crockpot with all of the ingredients except the Greek yogurt.
  2.  Cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours.
  3. If you are using the whole chicken breasts, at this point you will remove them from the slow cooker. Shred the chicken with two forks, then return it to the slow cooker.
  4. About 15 minutes before serving, ensure your slow cooker is on low, then stir in the Greek yogurt until it is nice and creamy.

Is slow cooker butter chicken gluten free?

Gluten Free Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. This information is solely based on my research and personal experience, and I provide it as a courtesy to my readers. Please consult your doctor or medical professional for any questions as it relates to your needs, particularly if you have celiac disease or a severe gluten allergy or intolerance. Products, manufacturing facilities, and ingredients change frequently, so you should always contact the manufacturer for the latest information. 

Yes, this butter chicken recipe IS gluten free! I always advise you to read labels, especially in the case of spice blends. This is just in case certain brands add fillers or manufacture where there could be cross-contamination. But in general, this recipe does not use any gluten-containing ingredients.

Serve it over cauliflower rice and it is keto-friendly too!

What do you serve with butter chicken?

Lightened-Up Slow Cooker Indian Butter Chicken

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Healthy Slow Cooker Indian Butter Chicken

Make traditional Indian Butter Chicken healthier and easier by lightening up a few of the ingredients and making it in your slow cooker.
Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 4 hrs
Total: 4 hrs 15 mins
Servings: 8

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts (whole or cut into 1-inch chunks)
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 14 oz. can of light coconut milk
  • 6 oz. tomato paste
  • 4 Tablespoons butter or light butter spread
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt

Instructions

  • Place the chicken, onion, garlic, and dry spices in the slow cooker.
  • Add the coconut milk, tomato paste, butter, and lemon juice.
  • Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, or high for 4 hours.
  • If you are using whole chicken breasts, remove the chicken from the slow cooker and shred with a fork. Return the chicken to the slow cooker (if you used chinks, just leave them in the slow cooker).
  • Stir in yogurt about 15 minutes before serving.
  • Salt to taste.
  • Serve with brown rice, basmati rice, or jasmine rice. I also served it with steamed broccoli.
Nutrition Facts
Healthy Slow Cooker Indian Butter Chicken
Amount Per Serving (4 oz)
Calories 272 Calories from Fat 108
% Daily Value*
Fat 12g18%
Saturated Fat 7g35%
Cholesterol 89mg30%
Sodium 404mg17%
Potassium 714mg20%
Carbohydrates 9g3%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 4g4%
Protein 28g56%
Vitamin A 590IU12%
Vitamin C 9.6mg12%
Calcium 53mg5%
Iron 1.3mg7%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Enjoy!

75 Comments
    1. Brianne Cupcakes & Kale Chips

      I’m so happy to have given you a new recipe to try, Jean. Butter chicken is delicious, and I hope you will enjoy it!

  1. Everything is already in a slow cooker. Can’t wait for the chicken to be ready. My only question is- there is no salt? Is it supposed to be like that? Will the chicken taste because of spices?
    Thank you

  2. Thanks for this great recipe! My family loves a good curry but it is a hassle to prepare for a weeknight meal. Until now! My daughter said this was way better than the curry I usually make and she is right! We love it!!

  3. Honest Tom

    What is Mango Lassis? My daughter, husband, and 8yr. old visit me every Friday for supper. I am a very amateur cook(mostly follow directions to the letter, no imagination or feel for cooking) -I think I may give this a try and see what they think.

  4. Jeri Safari

    Hi, this sounds wonderful and I love that it’s made in a Crockpot. I noticed in the “Meltaways” version they used 2 tsp of curry but you used 2 tbl of curry, is this correct? I can’t wait to make this, thanks for sharing!

  5. I like Indian food so much and sadly we do not have many good Indian restaurants around in PDX. – this dish looks absolutely fantastic. Now, all I have to do is get a slow cooker 🙂

  6. This dish is definatly fresh in my memory. It looked gorgeous when Pam made it and looks just as gorgeous now. Instead of salvating at the computer screen maybe I should get off my tukas and just make it. Good idea right? 😉

  7. Brianne, this is amazing! I love Indian food and this is the first Indian recipe that I came across using butter, I can imagine how tasty it is. Thanks to both you and Pam for this fabulous recipe!

  8. Amy Kim (@kimchi_mom)

    I LOVE INDIAN FOOD! I’ve always wanted to make butter chicken. I’ll give this a try! Thanks for reintroducing this recipe!

  9. Fabulous post as always, Brianne. I want to make Pam’s dish too. I love Indian but can’t handle anything too spicy so this is perfect for me. I don’t have a slow cooker (so sad!) so maybe I’ll try this in my dutch oven – just set the heat on my stove real low and cook it long. And isn’t it amazing how the internet/smart phones can now stop debates right in their tracks? Before, we’d have to go to the library and do research in an encyclopedia (remember those?) to verify details & information!

  10. I’ve never eaten butter chicken before, but this shredded version over rice looks wonderful! And I can definitely see room for a candle on top 😉

  11. Thank you, Brianne! A. My husband and my friends and I love curry. B. I’ve received a bottle of garam marsala from my ex-pat brother and his wife and wondering what the heck to do with it C. My husband loves chicken. You can be sure your recipe is a keeper!

  12. I love that you make a rule not to take out electronic devices during dinner. Growing up, we never ate with the TV on and I remember eating at a friend’s house whose parents had the news on during dinner. No one talked but the news anchors and everyone faced the TV instead of each other. I’m guilty of whipping out my phone to take pictures of what I’m eating, but it’s a habit that I’d like to break! Also, I’m glad you chose this recipe. Indian food is intimidating to me (I’m not sure why), but I love eating it. This looks very doable 🙂

    1. This is so doable. I remember eating dinner in front of the TV as a kid, but my mom, when she was single and we were on our own, used to let me do that as an occasionally treat. We were very close and talked a lot, but sometimes the two of us sitting at the table could get a little boring. I hope I can keep my boys at the table!

  13. Thank you so much for all your inspiration every week… there is nothing I love more than when you talk about all the wonderful food the bug enjoys! This recipe looks amazing and it is on my must try list for sure!

    1. No, thank you, Isabel. While we do eat together most nights, you and everyone else in this group inspires me to continue this as I look at your families through your blogs and see even the older kids still enjoying meals with their family. Plus all of the themes inspire me to come up with new ideas! And you must try this!! So goood!

    1. Give it a try! So easy that it won’t feel like a huge effort if you aren’t a fan. And maybe cut down on the spices the first time. The tomato and coconut and yogurt add a lovely creaminess, so you can add a little spice at a time till you get used to is.

  14. I like this lightened up version of Butter Chicken.Its also very different from the traditional Butter Chicken that you would eat in an Indian restaurant!I bet it tasted delicious with the curry and coconut 🙂

    1. This still has some richness with the butter and even light coconut milk, but it would be a nice treat that isn’t going too crazy. Like I mentioned, try using less butter even. You’ll still get all the spices, and I am not sure I tasted the butter much. The coconut milk and yogurt add a lot of creaminess and richness.

  15. Oh yes I know what you meant with the nuts in India. I used to only eat parle cookies, oranges and peanuts when I discovered the country first, I just couldn’t eat the spicy hot food! First of all its so different to our food in Europe and secondly my stomach couldn’t handle it. ^.^

    Nowadays I love Indian food, especially the goan cuisine. One of my favorite Punjab style dishes is the Butter Chicken. We are all nuts for this dish here and when we used to run a Tandoori restaurant here, we would have butter chicken very frequently with nans.

    You tempted me with your gorgeous butter chicken!

  16. We love Indian food here even Morgan does, I have been shocked at how spicy she can eat her curry. But then again I guess kids in India eat it as well so I shouldn’t be so shocked. But I have to say I have never made butter chicken before, I love that it is a crock pot version as well.

      1. Indian and Mexican have such different heat profiles so i dont blame him for not taking to it right away. I have been eaing spicy Indian food for as long as I can remember but it took me years to enjoy my Mexican food spicy.

  17. I am so glad that you liked it! We loved it and I’ll have to make it again soon for my hubs as well. Thank you so much for choosing one of my dishes – it totally made my day! Your pictures are beautiful – love the elephant!

  18. ooh, didn’t know you had visited India. Wherabouts? I am from Bangalore, only came to the states about 15 yrs back. I cook Indian a lot at home, but have a light version of butter chicken too but have never tried it in a slow cooker. I bet it’s full of flavor cooked in a slow cooker. Have to try this recipe.

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