Thank you all so much for the great response to my first video!! If you missed it, you can find it on The Kitchen Paper YouTube Channel! xoxo
Remember a few months ago when I pretty much wrote a love letter to Indian food and made extreme claims of a life changing recipe? I WASN'T KIDDING. And, based on the crazy traffic and high level of comments on that post: I wasn't the only one. I was so so so glad to hear that other people made that recipe (Indian Butter Chicken) and loved is just as much as I did! I still make it and love avtomaty na dengi! And ... I realize how much cream goes into it and that *maybe* it's not a sustainable thing to eat 10x per week. Um, run more? OR: make this version.
I did some googling and found various "lighter" butter chicken (or tikka masala) recipes, but most of them still had quite a bit of cream. And butter. And I questioned how "healthier" or "lighter" was applicable at. all. for their recipes. SO, I made this one with a few criteria: NO butter. NO cream. STILL TONS O' FLAVOR! Did I succeed? HECK YES. Um, this probably can't really be called "butter chicken" though, because there is no butter. SO... oops?
I won't lie to you and say it's the same as the original. There's just no way to replace 2 cups of cream and many tablespoons of butter. That's life. BUT: it's still creamy (thanks, Greek yogurt!), flavorful, uh-mazing — and, it's really easy. The crock pot does all the work for you. Which brings me to my second set of priorities: SLOW COOKER EASE. If something is a slow cooker recipe, I expect to not have to do any extra frying/dish dirtying/cooking. I want to throw it in the crock pot and move on. If I'm going to spend 20 minutes cooking over the stove, I might as well just cook the regular dish. Amiright? Yeah. So. No fussing around here! JUST THROW IT IN! (Admittedly, recipe where you brown the meat first will OF COURSE have a more complex final flavor, but when I want to cook in a slow cooker I'm willing to give that up. If you want to brown your meat, go for it!).
OK. Back to the chicken. You guys know I love Indian food. It's just so freaking flavorful! I took that original recipe and basically just cut out the cream and butter, and replaced it with nonfat Greek yogurt, which is mixed in (carefully) at the end. If you just dump it in and mix, it'll probably curdle — which isn't very attractive — so I suggest taking some of the warm sauce and gradually adding it into the cold yogurt. This will bring the temperature of the yogurt up, slowly, and you can then add it to the crockpot to heat fully without curdling. IF yours does curdle, take all the chicken out, blend up the sauce, and put it all back in. It might be weird, but it'll solve the texture problem if you experience the dreaded curdle. Moral of this story: SLOWLY add the hot to the cold and mix away!
I'll be sharing a REAL naan recipe with you on Wednesday to go with this! In the meantime, you'll have to live with the quick yeastless naan — way easier, but let me tell you: the "real" naan will BLOW. YOU. AWAY. No joke.
Have a wonderful week!Print
Healthy Slow Cooker Indian Butter Chicken
- Prep Time: 10 mins
- Cook Time: 6 hours
- Total Time: 6 hours 10 minutes
- Yield: 4-6 1x
This take on an Indian favorite comes together with just 10 minutes of prep, and is beyond flavorful! Healthy Slow Cooker Indian Butter Chicken Recipe!
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 Tbsp garam masala
- 1 Tbsp fresh grated ginger
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- 2 14oz cans of tomato sauce
- 2 lbs chicken breasts, cut into 1" chunks
- 2 cups nonfat Greek yogurt
- salt & pepper
- lime & cilantro, for garnish
- naan & rice for serving
- Combine the onion, garlic, all spices, and tomato sauce in your slow cooker. Mix to combine, then add the cut up chicken. Stir, and cook on low for 6 hours (or high for 4).
- Twenty minutes before you want to eat, put the yogurt into a separate bowl. Stirring continuously, add ¼ cup at a time of the hot tomato sauce to the yogurt, until you've added about 2 cups. Then, pour the entire thing back into the crock pot and stir to combine.
- Cook another 15-20 minutes, or until heated through. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve garnished with lime and cilantro, along with naan and rice.
This looks so good! I am with you, Indian is one of my favorite foods - I can't wait to see your recipe for Naan. I haven't been brave enough to try it, but perhaps you will inspire me. I will be checking out your video also as it is something we are thinking of doing for our site :).
Thanks, Allison! The naan is really easy — you'll have to try it! The video was also surprisingly easy... just a bit scary to actually do! You guys should definitely jump on it! xo
Claire @ TallGirlBigWorld says
Thank you so much for creating this recipe!! I love Indian food, but I rarely cook it because I try to eat as healthily as possible too. I'm making this ASAP.
Thanks, Claire! And, you're welcome! I hope you love it as much as I do! xo
This was delish! The greek yogurt added a nice tanginess.
Thanks, Laura! Glad you liked it!
Is there a way to make this without a slow cooker? I love the idea of a lighter version but I don't have a slow cooker to make this 🙁 Could I somehow make it from scratch after I get home in the evening? Thank you 🙂
Victoria — check out my normal butter chicken recipe, and just omit the butter, and replace the cream with the yogurt (use the same method as here to avoid curdling!). It should be done in 30ish minutes! Enjoy!
Thanks for the recipe. I tried making it. Even though it tastes great the color I obtain was very pale orange. I followed the recipe completely. I was wondering what could I have done wrong.
Once again thanks for the recipe.
Hi Sun! I'm glad you liked it! I've had varying colors simply based on what kind (brand) of tomatoes I'm using. I wouldn't worry about it! xo
This recipe is awesome!! When storing it for leftovers, do you keep the yogurt in and then refrigerate? Or add the yogurt when you are about to eat it?
Hi Katie! Interesting question... I think I'd put the yogurt in all at the same time, so that the recipe is "complete" and then refrigerate it. I suppose either way would work, though! Enjoy! xo
If you’re having a tough time finding a good garam masala for this recipe, I used RawSpiceBar’s freshly ground garam masala spice blend and it was wonderful in this dish.
Thanks for the tip, Lylah! Enjoy!
Can I make this in a 3.5 quart crockpot??
Hmmm I think it'd be a tight fit... If you could halve or cut the recipe into 2/3 it'd be a lot better! Good luck!
Hi Mary, I notice that this recipe calls for 1 lb of diced chicken, whereas the "buttery" version calls for 2 lbs, but they both call for the same amount of spices. I know it's somewhat a matter of personal taste, but does it not really matter whether you're using 1 or 2 lbs for this amount of spice? Please let me know ASAP as I'm hoping to try it for dinner tonight. Thanks!
Hi Jenn! Thanks so much for pointing that out — I think I'll change them to both call for 2 lbs... but I would definitely taste as you go and add more spices if needed.
Obviously food prepared with chicken is all time favorite dish. Surely gonna try Indian butter chicken.
Hey, I was looking at your other recipe for butter chicken and went out to buy a cup of heavy cream when I saw this! Is there a way to incorporate the heavy cream while skipping out on the butter in the other recipe, while still using a slow-cooker? Thanks!
Hi Ana! I think you could totally do that! I'd just make it according to the slow cooker recipe, but swap out the yogurt for the cream — still just adding it at the end, like you would with the yogurt. Hopefully that answers the question! Enjoy! xo
Julia Pterov says
I saw the other recipe looks not as healthy, is there need for more tomato sauce here or no !?!?
Hi Julia! I'm a little confused what you're asking ... the amount of tomato sauce listed in the recipe is accurate!
What type of tomato sauce do you recommend?
I love San Marzano!
Here in the UK.we have passatta...puree or tinned chopped tomatoes...what is tomato sauce?
Thanks Anita x
Hi Anita, I think the puree is probably more what you're looking for... here in the US we have something called "Tomato Sauce" that is different than puree, though, so I'm not totally sure how to guide you!
Hi Anita I had the same question and ended up using passata. It worked perfectly.
I made this today! I used freshly ground garam masala made from the epicurious recipe, and my own homemade yogurt. My husband and I both agreed it was pretty good, but was more of a spicy tomato chicken dish... the sauce is a little boring. :\ I think I should have added a bit of salt, and maybe less tomato sauce. I'm sure it would have been a bit smoother/creamier with all the butter from the other recipe, maybe I'll have to try that one!
Thanks for the new idea!
Thanks for the comment, Elizabeth! I'll look into the tomato sauce issue... xo
OH HEY, I just noticed-- that comment from above is right! This recipe calls for two 14 oz cans of tomato sauce, and the butter/cream recipe calls for 1 and 1/2 cup or ONE 14 oz can! No wonder mine was so soupy and tomato-y! Maaaaaan~ 🙁
Any idea on the calorie count?
I haven't calculated it — sorry, Kelly! xo
Bicultural Mama says
I have regular plain whole milk yogurt in my refrigerator now. Can I use that instead of the Greek yogurt?
Definitely! Enjoy! xo
When adding the chicken, is it already cooked chicken or raw chicken?
Hi Danielle! Raw chicken! xo
Kathy Derrick says
Made this for dinner and was a success. I had no problem with yogurt curdling. I also made only with cauliflower for vegetarian version. Yum!
Sounds delicious, Kathy! Thanks for the feedback! xo
Delicious! My yogurt curdled, but only because I didn't take enough care at the end to slowly bring the temp. of the yogurt up. My husband and I decided to look past that and we ate it anyway, because it was still really good! We will make it again, but I'll definitely take my time with the yogurt next time...I was just too eager! Thanks for sharing! 🙂
Glad you liked it, Dee!! Thanks for sharing! xoxo
We love it! I made it again and managed to avoid the curdling. So.frickin'.delicious. Thanks again:-)
Ha! YAY! I'm glad it's a hit with you, Dee! xoxo
The healthy slow cooker recipe has twice the amount of tomato sauce than the original recipe. I'm wondering if this is an error. Should I be using 1 or 2 fourteen ounce cans of tomato sauce?
Hi Debra — use 2! Enjoy! xo
This recipe has become a staple in our home! I'm so thankful because we used to live in Bangkok where it was easy to get delicious Indian food. We first made the regular version, secondly looked at the fat content on the heavy whipping cream ?, then made the healthy version, and were so happy to find it to be 95% of the taste for what must be 10% (maybe 5%!) of the fat! No looking for us!
Ha! That's exactly why I made the healthier version — 95% of the taste for a fraction of the fat! Glad you guys enjoyed it. xo
I just made this today and it was SO GOOD!! I was wondering exactly how it would taste since there wasn't any cream in it, but it was so flavorful! Will definitely make again.
Yay! Glad you liked it, Dani! xoxo
It did curdle even adding the sauce to yogurt gradually but tasted good with quite the kick. We browned the meat first so the sauce had as much flavor as possible:)
You can add a tablespoon of butter flavor... To add the buttery taste back
Made this for my boyfriend and I - it was a total hit! What is your recommended best before time when putting it in the fridge? 4 - 5 days? I know there is yogurt and chicken in there so just wanted to make sure 🙂
Thanks for the recipe!
Hi Erin! I'm glad you both liked it! I'd probably try to finish this within 3 days, but am honestly not a pro on food safety... so I'm not sure! You can always freeze it and re-heat, if you have too much to eat in that time! xoxo
Lisa H. says
Hi Lisa — I haven't calculated it, sorry! Good luck!
The yogurt is too much!
Love the base, everything was going well until I added the yogurt at the end. Tread carefully.
Hi Scott! Can you elaborate on what you mean by "too much" ? Sorry it didn't work out for you! xo
Hi! Oh my gosh, this was so easy, delicious, and healthy! I can already tell I'm going to be making this a lot (and now I want to check out your other recipes). I did have some trouble with the yogurt curdling at the end. It didn't affect the taste, but it doesn't look as pretty or appetizing. How can I avoid this next time? I tried to follow the directions, mixing the sauce into the yogurt slowly, but I don't know that I was doing it carefully enough. Is it an issue of needing to blend the liquid thoroughly? Or is it a temperature thing?
Thanks so much!
Hey Kelsey! Glad to hear you enjoyed it! The curdling is definitely a temperature thing. The contrast between the yogurt and the sauce needs to be reduced as gradually as you can. Good luck!! xo
Super frustrated, followed the directions exactly to prevent curdling... it curdled... followed directions exactly to remediate if it did curdle.... still curdled. UGH! All that time wasted!!
Sorry Kathryn! It's still edible, it just doesn't look super appealing.
Hi Lynn — I have not calculated the nutritional info for this (or any of my recipes). Feel free to do so yourself! xo
I'm so excited to try this! I'm just on my way to the grocery store!
Curious though, I like to add extra veggies to my crockpot meals. I realize it definitely wouldn't be a true 'Butter Chicken' but do you have any recommendations of vegetables that would compliment this dish. (Planning on throwing them all into the crockpot at the same time).
Hi Kristen! I go pretty classic when I add veggies to this: carrots and peas!! I keep the peas out until close to the end, though, so they don't get mushy. I think cauliflower would be pretty delicious, too! Enjoy! xo
Linda Lu says
I'm making this right now. I have table cream I need to use up. Will that curdle if I put it in from the start? How about if I use it by the recipe instead of yogurt?
Hi Linda! Table cream is fine, but I would follow the same method as with the yogurt: put it in at the end, slowly mixing bits of the warm into the cold (or just warming up the cream, which you can't really do with yogurt), before pouring it all into the pot. Enjoy! xo
Linda Lu says
Thanks for the quick response, Mary! I'll do that.
It's was very delicious and simple to make. Going to make this recipe again. Instead of using gramsa masala, I used curry powder. Didn't add salt as I used Del monte tomato sauce.
Thanks, Autumn! Glad you enjoyed it! xo
Hi what do you mean by cans of tonatoe sauce? As in diced tomatoes? Paste? Thanks heaps
Hi Lisa! I'm guessing you aren't in the US — are you in Australia?? I think Australians call it Passata! There are tons of comments on my normal Indian Butter Chicken post discussing what it's called in other countries — I'd search that page (command + F) for your country, if you want to see what other people call it!
Hi Mary, loving the look of this recipie and can’t wait to try it! Thanks for posting!
Can I please check two things. The tomato sauce, do you mean like a plain tomato pasta sauce or would passata work?
Can I use boneless chicken thighs?
Hi Louise! Are you in Australia?? If so, passata is what you want (I think!). Many other commenters have said that's what the equivalent is in Australia. You can absolutely use boneless chicken thigh — many people prefer them! xo
The other thing I would say is maybe you shouldn't name this Butter Chicken, because it is no longer butter chicken at all the moment you omitted the butter. This recipe is basically Tikka Masala now. Otherwise very beautiful!
Nolan Archer says
I'm totally with you about no fuss for slow cooker recipes. 2 notes about your recipe. 3 tsp = 1 Tbsp
You can't curdle yogurt. It's too late; yogurt is already acidic.
Thanks, Nolan! You're completely right about the tsp to Tbsp conversion. I'll fix that now! As for yogurt, my experience has been that yogurt does curdle in hot liquid — especially greek yogurt. I'm glad you've avoided that!
This was a bit disappointing. It wasn’t creamy at all and the yogurt separated.