Skip the take out and make this super easy, creamy butter chicken right in your slow cooker or crock pot! This Slow Cooker Butter Chicken recipe is loaded with a few surprises for a tasty twist on a very popular Indian dish.
I wasn’t always an adventurous eater….it took some time before I would eat just about anything you put in front of me. Escargot…check. Soft Shell crab…check…LOVE IT. Sweetbreads…which is not really a “sweet bread”…gotta try everything once, right? Indian food….I dove right in with my first bite at a shady Indian restaurant’s lunch buffet. Before I get started on our little culinary tour, let me just say that this restaurant is no longer in business. And I went there on my lunch break with a bunch of people from my office. You may already see where this is going. We went there, I perused the offerings briefly and then proceeded to load up my plate with everything colorful. They say colorful food is healthy food so I was going to eat the rainbow. And I did….and then…I spent the remainder of the afternoon locked away in a tiny bathroom stall. Until it was safe to come out…which was around the same time everyone was getting ready to go home. So, I had an aversion to Indian cuisine for a long time. Which was a crying shame, I later found out, because it’s flippin’ delicious.
The next time I ventured into Indian territory was at Trader Joe’s. I was REALLY hungry and went there to do a little shopping during my lunch break. I wanted something quick and easy so I grabbed the most logical thing….Tandoori Style Butter Chicken in their refrigerated prepared foods section. I don’t know what I was thinking but it looked so enticing…I couldn’t get back to my desk fast enough, which was odd because I didn’t really love my cubicle that much. Anyway, I barely could wait to heat it before I started digging in. This was no ordinary butter chicken…this one was dotted with butternut squash and golden raisins. Bright green spinach was swirled through the sauce and it was blanketing a pile of soft, fluffy rice. It was absolute heaven. And comforting….and I was addicted. Until, one day….it was gone. No longer available…as things always seem to go missing at Trader Joes from time to time. Except for that Cookie Butter.
So, as usual, I had to take matters into my own hands…again. But this time, I decided to make this Slow Cooker Butter Chicken because the slow cooker is awesome and magical and one of my favorite ways to make dinner. I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs just to give the dish more flavor and so the chicken wouldn’t dry out. I stuck with Trader Joe’s lead by adding chopped butternut squash, golden raisins and threw in some spinach at the very end so it kept its vibrant color. The sauce is slightly spicy, creamy and just bursting with flavor. It’s perfect for a cold winter night and fancy enough for company. I like to serve it with rice and some naan for dipping.
Slow Cooker Butter Chicken is now one of our top 3 crock pot recipes in this house next to this crazy amazing chicken and my super famous (apparently award winning!) chili! Try them all and you’ve got one culinary trip around the world. And don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube Channel for more recipes and kitchen tips!!
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 4 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons ground turmeric (I like Spice Islands)
- 2 tablespoons garam masala
- 2 tablespoons ground cumin
- 1/2 tablespoon cayenne pepper
- 8 ounces canned tomato sauce
- 3 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and grated or finely minced
- 1 1/2 cups cubed butternut squash
- 3/4 cup golden raisins
- 3 serrano or jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 1/2 cups half and half
- 1 1/2 cups lightly packed fresh baby spinach
- fresh chopped cilantro, for garnish
- In a large skillet (or your stovetop proof slow cooker insert), heat the oil over medium heat. Add the chicken, cornstarch, salt and pepper to a large bowl. Toss to coat the chicken completely. Cooking in batches, add the chicken to the skillet and brown on all sides. Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining chicken. Drain off all but 1 tablespoon of fat and add the onion to the pan. Cook the onion until softened and then stir in the garlic. Cook for one minute longer.
- Transfer the chicken and onion mixture to the slow cooker.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the turmeric, garam masala, cumin, cayenne pepper, tomato sauce and ginger. Pour the mixture over the chicken. Add the squash, raisins, chicken stock, cinnamon stick and peppers to the slow cooker. Stir to combine. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours or high for 4 hours.
- Ten minutes prior to serving, stir in the half and half and spinach. Serve with rice and chopped cilantro, if desired.