Skip the take out and make this super easy, creamy butter chicken right in your slow cooker or crock pot! This Crock Pot Butter Chicken recipe is loaded with a few surprises for a tasty twist on a very popular Indian dish. 

Butter Chicken in a bowl of rice with cilantro on top.

Butter Chicken

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I wasn’t always an adventurous eater….it took some time before I would eat just about anything you put in front of me. The first time I ever had Indian Butter Chicken was from 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. 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.

Overhead shot of butter chicken in a bowl with white rice.

What is Butter Chicken?

Butter Chicken, or makhan murg, is a chicken dish in a mildly spiced tomato sauce originating in Indian subcontinent. The flavor is that of a light curry sauce and can include vegetables or not.

It is called butter chicken because it is prepared in a makhani (butter) gravy which uses butter and cream in its recipe.

Spices for butter chicken in a glass bowl.

How to Make Butter Chicken

You can easily make this Butter Chicken recipe on the stovetop just by simmering. 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 while cooking. 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.

  1. Het the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Toss the chicken with the cornstarch, salt and pepper in a large bowl.
  3. Cook the chicken in the skillet in batches. Transfer to a plate.
  4. Cook the onion and garlic in the skillet then transfer the chicken and onion mixture to the slow cooker.
  5. Whisk the spices together with the tomato sauce and ginger. Pour the mixture over the chicken.
  6. Add the squash, raisins, chicken stock, cinnamon stick and peppers to the crockpot.
  7. Cover and cook for 6 hours on low.
  8. Prior to serving, stir in the half and half and spinach.
  9. Serve over rice.

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.

We love this programmable slow cooker with auto warm setting by CrockPot! It’s a great way to make dinners easy and keep them warm until you’re ready to eat. We pull this one out at least once a week and the price can’t be beat!

Overhead shot of ingredients for butter chicken in a slow cooker.

Butter Chicken vs. Tikka Masala

So, what’s the difference between Butter Chicken and Tikka Masala? First, Tikka masala is a dry dish that is cooked in a tandoor while Butter Chicken is cooked in a pan over a fire with a creamy sauce.

Butter Chicken is also in a creamy light tomato sauce where as Tikka Masala has a more pronounced tomato flavor with vibrant spices.

Overhead shot of butter chicken in a slow cooker with a wooden spoon.

More Easy Crockpot Recipes

Easy 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!!

DON’T MISS A RECIPE! Follow us on Instagram and Facebook for even MORE family favorites!

For more take out fake outs, try this easy Szechuan Chicken and our favorite Mongolian Beef Stir Fry!

Overhead view of Szechuan Chicken in a black wok.
Butter Chicken in a bowl of rice with cilantro on top.

Get the Recipe: CrockPot Butter Chicken Recipe

Indian Butter Chicken made in the slow cooker is better than take out from anywhere. 
5 from 3 votes


  • 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


  • 1 slow cooker


  • 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.


YouTube video
Serving: 1g, Calories: 433kcal, Carbohydrates: 30g, Protein: 43g, Fat: 15g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Cholesterol: 125mg, Sodium: 494mg, Potassium: 1226mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 12g, Vitamin A: 3805IU, Vitamin C: 19.8mg, Calcium: 117mg, Iron: 3.8mg