A bowl of Homemade Indian Butter Chicken with Indian Rice.

From Scratch Indian Butter Chicken {Non-Dairy, Slow Cooker Recipe}

  • Author: RebeccaBlackwell
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 4-6 hours
  • Total Time: 6 hours
  • Yield: 8 servings


Indian Butter Chicken (Chicken Makhani) is a take-out favorite for good reason. It’s absolutely delicious. The dish includes tender pieces of chicken floating in a creamy curry sauce flavored with onions, garlic, garam masala, chili powder, ginger, turmeric and paprika. Serve with Indian Style Rice and, if you like, Homemade Naan.


  • 1 1/2 cup roasted, salted cashews – OR – 1 1/2 cups heavy cream (*See note)
  • 3 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/41/2 tsp cayenne pepper (depending on how spicy you want your chicken)
  • 3 tsp salt (plus more, to taste)
  • 2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 4 tbsp butter (Can use non-dairy vegan butter, or vegetable or olive oil)
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 heaping tbsp minced garlic (about 45 cloves)
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated or minced
  • 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 cup water (or chicken broth)
  • 4 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • Serve with Indian Style Rice


  1. If using cashews, put them in a high-powered blender along with 1 cup of very hot water. Puree at high speed until very smooth. Set aside. If using cream, measure 1 1/2 cups and set aside.
  2. Add the garam masala, curry powder, chili powder, turmeric, paprika, sugar, cayenne, salt, and pepper to a small bowl and set aside.
  3. Add butter and chopped onions to a large saucepan and set it over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until soft and translucent, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger to the onions and cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes longer.
  4. Add the spices to the saucepan and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute longer.
  5. If using cashews, add the pureed cashews to the spices and cook, stirring constantly for 1-2 minutes. (If using cream, skip this step.)
  6. Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, and water or broth. Turn the heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Turn the heat down to medium-low and let simmer for 5 minutes to let the flavors blend. Remove from the heat. If using cream, stir it in now. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if desired. (*See note about early preparation of the sauce.)
  7. Add the chicken to a slow cooker and pour the sauce over the top. Stir to coat the chicken in the sauce. Cover with the lid and let cook on low for 6 hours or on high for 4 hours.
  8. Serve with Indian Rice.


  • This recipe comes with two different options for cream – heavy cream OR “cashew cream”. I can tell you with complete confidence that both are equally delicious. But, besides being (obviously) dairy free, one of the benefits of using cashews is that they are something I almost always have in my pantry.
  • The sauce can be prepared ahead of time. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days before proceeding with the recipe.
  • Category: Chicken
  • Method: Slow Cooker
  • Cuisine: Indian

Keywords: butter chicken, Indian food, Indian recipe, slow cooker, crock pot, Chicken Makhani, non-dairy, crock pot