Slow Cooked Indian “Butter” Chicken

This is one of our favorite recipes; it’s our take on traditional Indian Butter Chicken, without the dairy, and on permanent rotation in our meal plans. The shredded chicken stays moist in the aromatic, spicy, and slightly sweet non-dairy sauce. We were able to get extra veggies into our boys, as they barely noticed the inclusion of carrots and potatoes (peas and parsnips would also fly under the radar if you’re looking to add extra veggies!) We adapted this recipe from Sam Sifton of The New York Times. Serve with steamed or roasted vegetables and fluffy white rice.

Slow Cooked Indian “Butter” Chicken

Our take on traditional Butter Chicken, without the dairy. The shredded chicken stays moist in the aromatic, spicy, and slightly sweet sauce.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 15 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: chicken, dairy-free, sugar-free, wheat-free, Whole Life Challenge
Servings: 6
Calories: 558kcal
Author: planfulcook


  • 1 1/2 cups non-dairy unsweetened plain yogurt
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tbsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tbsp garam masala
  • 2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 3 lb chicken thighs bone-in
  • 3 carrots sliced small
  • 2 russet potatoes 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1/4 lb vegan butter or coconut oil
  • 4 tsp vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 bunch green onions chopped fine
  • 3 tbsp fresh ginger minced
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 medium-sized tomatoes diced
  • 2 Anaheim chilis or 1 jalapeño pepper seeded and diced
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • 2/3 cup chicken stock low-sodium
  • 1 1/2 cup light coconut cream mixed
  • 1 1/3 tsp tomato paste
  • 3 tbsp ground almonds


  • Create a marinade for the chicken: whisk together the yogurt, lemon juice, turmeric, garam masala and cumin in a large bowl. Add the chicken, coat with the marinade, cover, and refrigerate (for up to a day).
  • In a large pan over medium heat, completely melt the vegan butter in the oil. Add the green onions and cook, stirring frequently, until softened. Add the ginger and cumin seeds, and cook until the onions start to brown.
  • Add the cinnamon stick, tomatoes, chiles and salt, and cook about 10 minutes, until the chiles are soft.
  • Add the chicken and marinade to the pan, and cook for 5 minutes, then add the chicken stock, potatoes, and carrots. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, for approximately 30 minutes. 
  • Stir in the light coconut cream and tomato paste, and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Add the almonds, cook for an additional 5 minutes and remove from the heat. Serve with fluffy white rice. Enjoy!


Garam Masala is a spicy mixture of ground spices commonly found in Indian recipes. The mix usually includes black and white peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon, mace, black and green cardamom pods, bay leaf, cumin, and coriander.
We used Miyoko’s vegan butter and Forager Project’s unsweetened plain cashewgurt to make our sauce. These links aren’t sponsored if you’re wondering; we just really love these two companies and want to be sure their products are available to anyone looking for delicious non-dairy alternatives!
If you don’t have fresh tomatoes, you can use a small 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes instead. Drain the extra juice before adding to the pot. Speaking of tomatoes, if you can find tomato paste in a tube, purchase that instead of canned. Most recipes call for only 1-2 tbsp, and the leftovers in the can tends to go to waste. 
We recommend using light coconut cream; if you use the full-fat variety, the sauce ends up a little oily.

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