Slow Cooker Dairy-Free Butter Chicken

A lightened up version of an Indian food classic, you’ll love this slow cooker dairy-free butter chicken recipe made with coconut oil and coconut milk. It’s loaded with flavor and absolutely delicious served over cauliflower rice. Paleo, grain-free and dairy-free. This post is sponsored by Nature’s Way. 

Dairy-free butter chicken in a white bowl served with cauliflower rice.

In case you haven’t noticed, we LOVE Indian food over here! I basically add curry to everything. Prime example = my curried shakshuka.

Anyhow, one of Isaac’s favorite Indian dishes is butter chicken, which isn’t the healthiest of options when it comes to Indian food. Honestly, most Indian food can feel kind of heavy, with rich sauces, lots of rice and naan. Don’t get me wrong, I love all of this and enjoy it very much when we go out for Indian, but I also like being able to make and enjoy a lighter version at home on the regular.

Side note: we have an awesome Indian restaurant in Richmond called Lehja that actually makes really clean Indian cuisine.  They’ll even make things vegan if you request it.  

Dairy-free butter chicken in a white bowl served with cauliflower rice.

With that in mind I set out to make an at-home version of butter chicken with really clean ingredients.

Don’t let the name fool ya, this butter chicken doesn’t have any butter. We’re using Nature’s Way Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil instead and it works like a charm. In traditional butter chicken recipes the chicken is marinated in a yogurt mixture, but I wanted this recipe to be 100% dairy-free so we’re using coconut milk and skipping the marinating process altogether. Don’t worry, cooking in slow cooker ensures the meat has plenty of time to soak up lots of flavor from the tomato sauce.

Dairy-free butter chicken with cauliflower rice served in two white bowls.

Nature’s Way Coconut Oil replaces the butter, but provides the same robust richness. It also works perfectly for sautéing the onion, garlic and ginger before placing everything in the slow cooker.

Dairy-free butter chicken with cauliflower rice served in two white bowls next to jar of coconut oil.

Although butter chicken isn’t traditionally cooked with veggies I took it upon myself to add green beans to my version. Not only do they add another texture and some volume, you’re also getting a pop of color and additional nutrients.

Lightened up dairy-free butter chicken in the slow cooker.

Isaac and I loved the way this dairy-free butter chicken turned out. Not only did the kitchen smell amazing while the chicken cooked away in the slow cooker, but we enjoyed this dish for dinner three nights in a row and each night was better than the next.

I loved having it over cauliflower rice with a heavy sprinkle of chopped cilantro and a squeeze of lime. It was so delicious I almost didn’t miss the naan…. almost.

Dairy-free butter chicken with cauliflower rice served in two white bowls.

In terms of spice level this butter chicken isn’t super spicy, but there is a bit cayenne pepper. You can leave this out if you want a milder dish or add more for extra spice.

If you make this slow cooker dairy-free butter chicken let me know how it turns out by leaving comment and star rating below. Your feedback is super helpful for the EBF team and other readers. 


Slow Cooker Dairy-Free Butter Chicken

  • Author: Brittany Mullins
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 6 hours
  • Total Time: 6 hours 10 minutes
  • Yield: 8


A lightened up version of an Indian food classic, you’ll love this slow cooker dairy-free butter chicken recipe made with coconut oil and coconut milk. 


  • 2 Tablespoons Nature’s Way Coconut Oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 inch knob of ginger, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1 Tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 Tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast (chopped into chunks)
  • 15 oz can full fat coconut milk
  • 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 cups thawed frozen green beans (optional)
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro


  1. Add oil to a large skillet or saucepan and cook onion and garlic until soft and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add fresh ginger, turmeric, garam masala, cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper, cinnamon and cayenne and toss to combine. Cook for another 1-2 minutes. (This step can be done in the base of your slow cooker if it allows.)
  2. Transfer onion and garlic mixture into your slow cooker. Add chicken, coconut milk, tomato sauce, lemon juice and cinnamon stick to the slow cooker as well. Cover and cook on high for 3 hours or low for 6 hours. Add green beans when there’s about 1 hour left in the cooking process.
  3. Serve over cauliflower rice (or regular rice) with fresh cilantro and a wedge of lemon for squeezing.

  • Category: Lunch/Dinner
  • Method: Slow Cooker
  • Cuisine: Indian


  • Serving Size: 1/8 of recipe
  • Calories: 304
  • Sugar: 3g
  • Sodium: 562mg
  • Fat: 18g
  • Saturated Fat: 14g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 9g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Protein: 28g
  • Cholesterol: 83mg

Keywords: slow cooker butter chicken, dairy-free butter chicken

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  1. Hello,

    I can’t get hold of a tomato sauce like that one here. Would it be possible to substitute for tomato paste? and if so, should i use less seeing as its more concentrated? thank you!

  2. How much of this should you eat to keep with the diet? Like one cup of it or a different measurement? I don’t want to eat too much

  3. This recipe is amazing! I was lazy and used garlic, onion and ginger powder instead of the real thing. Just threw everything in the slowcooker and done! So yum.

  4. I made this over the weekend and it was delicious! I didn’t do it in the slow cooker as was short on time so I’m sure it could have been even nicer!

  5. Thank you for sharing this delicious recipe! I made it in the slow cooker for 3.5 hours on high, and substituted the chicken breasts with chicken thighs.

  6. Made this today for a comforting Sunday dinner. Turned out incredible!! Thank you so much for this recipe. Tweaked the recipe ever so slightly. I added cayenne powder and about a tsp. of ground cardamom. I also added a decent size handful of fresh cilantro with everything in the crockpot, not at the end. Delicious!!

  7. Hi, This looks delicious. However, I cannot use coconut milk. It makes me nauseous. I drink Cashew milk and use that in recipes. Would that work in this? I love Butter Chicken but almost every recipe calls for coconut milk (I guess because it is an Indian dish). Any suggestions?

  8. I made this in the instant pot and thought I’d share my adaptation-

    Step one- I did everything the same except I sauteed in the instant pot on high
    Step 2- I added the tomato sauce and let that reduce/thicken for about 5-7 minutes, then stirred in the coconut milk and added the chicken
    – I then put the lid on the pot and set to high pressure for 10 minutes
    – When the timer went off I manually released the pressure
    – I then finished the dish with the lemon juice
    I forgot the cinnamon stick, but it was still delicious! Thanks for the recipe!

  9. This was phenomenal!!! Literally tasted exactly like the real thing if not better and so much healthier. Can’t wait for your E-Book!

  10. Thanks for the recipe. My daughter has a dairy allergy so this is wonderful. It’s always nice when she can try different ethnic foods.

  11. This was simply delicious and had the whole family wanting more! My toddler can’t do dairy, nut or gluten therefore this dish was perfect for him. My 8 year old had seconds and thirds, we’ll my husband and I did too 🙂 Instead of adding green beans into the butter chicken, I sauteed them with olive oil, garlic and salt & pepper and served it as a side dish. Thank you for this recipe! Can’t wait to have people over, to make this intoxicating dish again and again.

  12. We love Lehja….we usually eat there 2-3 time a month. I would love to figure out how to make their Crab-Scallop “MelJol”. We also love their House Kabab Medley.

  13. Just curious what a can of tomato sauce is ? Just like a can of crushed tomatoes or something thicker like paste ?

    • Hi Ylva! I have a programmable slow cooker from Hamilton Beach that I love. It awesome because you can set the cook time and then have it automatically switch to the “keep warm” setting. You can also sear/sauté in the removable base of the pot, which is so convenient for soups. Here’s the one I have:

  14. This recipe is fantastic! I followed it as written but also added a head of chopped kale along with the green beans. My batch did not need 6 hours on low–more like 4.5 to 5–I believe because the chicken was cut up into pieces and with the ease of using frozen green beans. Along with the cauliflower rice, it is satisfying but light. Will definitely make it again.

    • Hi Angela! I’m so glad that you enjoyed this recipe and I so appreciate you taking the time to come back and leave this comment as well. I love your addition of chopped kale. I’m all about adding extra leafy greens to everything!

  15. I followed this recipe exactly and it was perfect! It tastes very similar to butter chicken, and the coconut milk and cauliflower rice substitutes prevent the dish from feeling heavy; no bloating feeling here! The creator of this recipe is a genius! Sorry, my computer glitched! That was meant to be a 5 star!!

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