This healthy slow cooker butter chicken recipe is an excellent make at home meal that will be sure to remind you of your favorite takeout without all the fat and calories!
Ever heard of Chicken Makhani? If you’ve tasted this dish you know exactly how flavorful and buttery this meal can be. It is a traditional butter chicken recipe just lightened up! It's one of our favorite Indian meals along with this Slow Cooker Saag Paneer and Slow Cooker Chana Masala.
I recently went to Chicago and ate the most amazing Chicken Makhani, from a local takeout restaurant. I generally try to resist this Indian dish since it is super high in calories but this version was so good, I couldn't resist. It came with a rich and creamy butter chicken sauce.
After eating this meal I was determined to come up with a way to make a lighter version at home! After much research, I was able to recreate this dish and make a healthier Slow Cooker Butter Chicken. It has all the flavor of a traditional butter chicken recipe, although I used about a fourth of the butter typically called for in this type of recipe, so the sauce is a bit less rich.
Healthy Slow Cooker Butter Chicken made in the crockpot comes out incredibly tender, is packed with flavor, and just as good as your favorite takeout version. It's a meal you can have again and again!
How to Make Slow Cooker Chicken Makhani
Now that I have your mouth watering for a delicious butter chicken recipe without the guilt, let me explain how you can make this recipe at home. Begin by heating the oil over medium heat in a medium saucepan. Once the oil is warmed add the shallot and onion and saute until they are soft. Get ready for a robust aroma when you add the butter, lemon juice, ginger, garlic, garam masala, chili powder, cayenne, cumin, and bay leaf. Allow that combination to cook for 1 minute, or until fragrant.
Now add the tomato sauce and cook for 2 minutes making sure that you stir often to avoid sticking and burning. Mix in the half and half, milk, and yogurt and reduce the heat to low, this is where your reduced calorie butter chicken sauce is formed. Allow this to simmer for 10 minutes and stir frequently. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Once everything is to your liking add it all to a blender and blend until well combined.
You’ve made it to the slow cooker portion! Get that handy piece of kitchen equipment out and add cubed chicken breast to the slow cooker with the sauce and cook for 4 hours on low. Enjoy served over rice or cauliflower rice or go a more traditional route and make some white basmati rice.
Healthy Side Dish Ideas for Crockpot Butter Chicken
There are all kinds of options for serving this. Keep things light and healthy by using some of these ideas
- Serving it alongside some cauliflower rice.
- Consider using brown rice in place of white basmati rice.
- For a vegetarian version, use chickpeas instead of the chicken. You can also add chickpeas to the version with chicken for a heartier dish.
- There is a frozen Naan at Trader Joe's that is really good and sometimes I can find a whole wheat version at my local grocery store. Naan is always a good choice, but it’s important to watch the serving size.
- You can replace all the diary with a can of full fat or light coconut milk if you like. This makes is Paleo friendly.
Change it up
- Play with the spice level to get it just where you like. Butter chicken traditionally isn't very spicy, but you can definitely kick things up with extra chili powder or some cayenne pepper.
- Garam masala varies greatly in terms of flavor and strength. You may need to add more to get that curry flavor to come through.
There are many items in this butter chicken recipe that can be prepped ahead. Check out this list for ways to save a little time the day of cooking.
- Cut up your chicken into cubes ahead of time. Make the makhani sauce in advance.
- Rice is an easy side to make ahead and reheat without bad texture changes.
- Going to make cauliflower rice? Why go on and wash and grate it so it is ready to go. You could also buy a frozen bag.
- If you have time, you can also make this entire recipe a few days in advance. It will only get better after a few nights in the fridge.
Slow Cooker Butter Chicken | Makhani
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- 2 lbs boneless and skinless chicken breast, cubed
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup onion, chopped
- 1 cup tomato sauce (or 1/2 cup tomato paste)
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced (or to taste)
- 2 tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/4 cup plain nonfat yogurt
- 1/4 cup half and half
- 3/4 cup nonfat milk
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste)
- Salt and pepper
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- Nutritional Information
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* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.
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