Slow Cooker Dairy-Free Butter Chicken


You’ll love this dairy-free butter chicken recipe made with coconut oil instead of butter. It’s loaded with flavor and absolutely delicious served over cauliflower rice.

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.

What is Butter Chicken?

Anyhow, one of Isaac’s favorite Indian dishes is butter chicken. If you’re unfamiliar, it’s a popular dish with chicken in a spiced tomato, butter and cream sauce (or gravy). I decided it would be fun to create an untraditional, lightened up version without butter (or cream) so those who are dairy-free can enjoy butter chicken as well!

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

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

Coconut Oil Instead of Butter

Don’t let the name fool ya, this butter chicken doesn’t have any butter. We’re using 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.

Added Veggies

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.

More Indian-Inspired Recipes You Might Enjoy

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

4 from 65 votes
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. 
Butter chicken with cauliflower rice in a white dish.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 6 hours
Servings 8


  • 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


  • Sauté: 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.)
  • Add ingredients to slow cooker: 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.
  • Cook: 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.
  • Serve: Serve butter chicken over cauliflower rice (or regular rice) with fresh cilantro and a wedge of lemon for squeezing.


Serving: 1/8 of recipe Calories: 304kcal Carbohydrates: 9g Protein: 28g Fat: 18g Saturated Fat: 14g Cholesterol: 83mg Sodium: 562mg Fiber: 2g Sugar: 3g
Course: Lunch/Dinner
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: dairy-free butter chicken


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Recipe Rating

    1. Alex
      August 7, 2021 AT 1:42 pm

      5 stars
      Great recipe that is in our regular dinner rotation. I make it in the instant pot on slow cooker mode, so I’m able to sauté directly in the same pot. Super quick and easy. Always appreciate the leftovers!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        August 9, 2021 AT 11:29 am

        Woo! So glad you’ve been enjoying this recipe. Thanks for the review, Alex!

    2. Kasey
      July 29, 2021 AT 6:01 pm

      Is this Gluten Free?

      1. Brittany Mullins
        August 2, 2021 AT 8:52 pm


    3. Emily
      July 23, 2021 AT 10:01 am

      5 stars
      As someone who is lactose intolerant, thank you so much for the dairy-free recipe! I only had tomato puree on hand so I used that instead of tomato sauce. It was absolutely delicious! Definitely a go-to from now on

      1. Brittany Mullins
        July 23, 2021 AT 5:36 pm

        You’re so welcome, Emily! So pumped you loved this recipe! Thanks for the review. I so appreciate it!

    4. Rachel
      June 26, 2021 AT 2:23 pm

      1 star
      Tastes nothing like traditional butter chicken. Very disappointing.

      1. Brittany Mullins
        June 28, 2021 AT 7:27 pm

        Sorry to hear you didn’t like this recipe, Rachel. Did you change anything about the recipe? What would you say was off about it?

    5. Michela
      June 14, 2021 AT 9:26 pm

      Hello! Looking to try this recipe tonight.

      Silly question, but Just wondering exactly what a can of “tomato sauce” means in this recipe.

      Passata? Chopped/blended tomatoes? Obviously not “ketchup”…


      1. Brittany Mullins
        June 15, 2021 AT 5:22 pm

        Hey Michela – Just straight up tomato sauce in a can. Not diced or chopped. It should be in the aisle with the other canned tomatoes.

Parchment paper lined with protein balls.


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