The Friday night fakeaway is a thing in our house. Why pay an absolute fortune for a takeaway chicken curry when you can make a better tasting one yourself? This Slow Cooker Butter Chicken recipe (or Murgh Makhani in Hindi) features regularly on our fakeaway recipe list. Read on to learn how to make the perfect crockpot curry!
History of Butter Chicken Curry
Butter Chicken originates from a restaurant in the Punjab region of Northern Pakistan called Moti Mahal.
When the owner Kundan Lal Gujral realised that dry pieces of Tandoori chicken would waste quickly with no refrigeration, he added them to a fragrant gravy consisting of spices, butter, yoghurt and tomatoes, cooking them slowly over a low flame.
Butter Chicken was born! It later became popular in Indian restaurants across the world.
Chicken Tikka Masala is a very similar dish but was invented in the UK for British tastes. The spice mix used in Chicken Tikka Masala, and chicken cooked in a tandoor are what set the two dishes apart.
What ingredients do I need?
This crock pot butter chicken recipe is made from ingredients you’re likely to have in the cupboard, which means no special shopping trip. The sauce in our version consists of tomato, yoghurt, and coconut milk.
The spices traditionally used in a butter chicken curry are the following blends:
- Curry Powder – is a blend of spices, including cumin, tumeric, coriander, mustard powder, cinnamon, cardamom and cayenne pepper.
- Chilli Powder – is another spice blend, consisting of paprika, oregano, cumin, garlic powder and onion powder.
- Garam Masala – yet another spice blend, made with black pepper, cinnamon, cumin, cardamom, coriander seeds, cloves and bay leaves.
…and then the addition of these individual spices:
- Tumeric – a bright yellow pungent spice, also used as a dye and in medicine!
- Ginger – a sweet yet warming spice, too much and it’ll get you with its distinctive bite on the back of your throat!
Perfect Butter Chicken Curry
If you’re looking for a super-tasty but easy to make curry, this is the one to choose!
Start by sealing the chicken in a pan, and transfer it to the slow cooker. Using the same pan, gently fry the onions and garlic. This process will increase the sweetness of the onions, and your curry!
Follow up by combining the spices, yoghurt and coconut milk in a bowl, and mixing it up well. Transfer the mixture to the slow cooker, and give it a good stir.
Then all you need to do…is wait. It’ll be worth it!
Can I use chicken breasts for Slow Cooker Butter Chicken?
People say that you should only use chicken thighs as they are more flavoursome, and are less prone to drying out in the crockpot due to their higher fat content. Our preference is to use chicken thighs over breast.
However; chicken breast will work great, just make sure you reduce the cooking time accordingly (details in the recipe card below).
Do I need a crockpot to make Butter Chicken?
The taste will be better by slow cooking the recipe (and is the traditional way of making Butter Chicken), but if you’re pushed for time it’ll still taste great if you replace the slow cooking with 30 minutes of simmering on a hob.
If you’re using chicken breast, set the chicken aside after searing, and re-add it 10 minutes before the end – this will ensure the chicken stays succulent and doesn’t dry out.
More Delicious Curries
Crockpots are great for making curries. Why not try one of these alternatives from around the world?
Can I freeze leftovers?
It’ll keep in the freezer for up to three months. You can also keep it in the fridge for up to three days in an airtight container.
Defrost it in the fridge over night, and ensure it’s piping hot all the way through before serving. As is always the way with defrosted meals – Indian Butter Chicken tastes even better second time around as the flavours have had even longer to meld together!
Slow Cooker Butter Chicken
- 6 chicken thighs
- 2 garlic cloves crushed
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 1 tbsp curry powder
- 1 tbsp chilli powder mild
- 2 tbsp garam masala
- 1 tsp tumeric
- 0.5 tsp ground ginger use fresh ginger if you have it
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 0.5 tsp ground black pepper
- 150 g (5 oz) tomato puree (a small can)
- 125 ml (0.5 cup) yoghurt plain
- 250 ml (1 cup) coconut milk (full fat, not light)
- coriander roughly chopped
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- In 1 tbsp of olive oil over a medium heat, seal the chicken and transfer to the slow cooker. In the same oil, fry the onions until translucent, and add the crushed garlic, cooking for another minute. Add the onions and garlic to the chicken that's already in the slow cooker.
- In a bowl, mix together the garam masala, tumeric, curry powder, chilli powder, ginger, sugar, salt and pepper. In the same bowl, mix in the tomato puree, followed by the yoghurt and coconut milk.
- Pour the spice mixture over the chicken and onions in the slow cooker, and stir well.
- Cook on low for up to six hours. Once cooked, check the seasoning and adjust if required. Serve with plenty of chopped coriander.
- Chicken: It’s possible to use chicken breast instead of thighs, but the result will be much better by using thighs. They’re also a lot cheaper!
- Garam Masala: You should be able to find this in all good supermarkets. If you’ve had it sat in your cupboard for years, chuck it and buy a fresh pot. It’ll make an enormous difference to the end result.
- Spice level: Butter chicken isn’t a spicy curry. If you like your curry with a kick, add fresh chopped red chillis as you serve it up.
Saturday 4th of February 2023
Is there something I can use that's dairy free instead of yoghurt for this recipe?
Thursday 26th of January 2023
Hi,I’m going to try out this recipe this weekend but your recipe says to use a 3.5L slow cooker but mine is 6L.will it make a difference to the recipe or cooking time?sorry if stupid question but I’m new to using a slow cooker
Wednesday 11th of January 2023
Absolutely delicious :) Made this today and both my husband and son loved it. Thank you for a very easy to follow and fabulous recipe. I can guarantee that this will be made again and again! I'm looking forward to trying the Hong Kong Style Sweet and Sour chicken recipe next!
Thursday 5th of January 2023
Decided to dust off my slow cooker and this was my first recipe. Genius! I’ve made this twice now and it’s perfect every time. Thank you so much, absolutely delicious!
Saturday 31st of December 2022
I'm slow cooking this recipe as I write. It will be ready at 8pm. Curry on new year's eve is a tradition here and judging by the taster of the sauce I just had, we are in for a treat! It tastes very authentic (by which I mean just like butter chicken in an Indian restaurant) but took no time at all to prepare and very little washing up. Staying in this year for this home cooked curry, a film and the fireworks on TV. Bloomin' perfect! Thanks again for doing what you do. 2023 will be the Year of the Slow Cooker in this house I reckon!