Indian Butter Chicken

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Indian Butter Chicken — An EASY, ONE-POT recipe for a classic Indian favorite!! Juicy, BUTTERY chicken simmered in a CREAMY tomato-based sauce! Next time you’re craving Indian food, you can make it yourself in 30 minutes!!

Indian Butter Chicken – An EASY, ONE-POT recipe for a classic Indian favorite!! Juicy, BUTTERY chicken simmered in a CREAMY tomato-based sauce! Next time you’re craving Indian food, you can make it yourself in 30 minutes!!

Easy Butter Chicken Recipe

I am by no means an expert in Indian cooking. Or for any ethnic recipes that I share, from Mexican to Asian. But after plenty of research, trial and error, and condensing some very complicated and time-consuming recipes for Indian butter chicken into this very straightforward and easy one, I can definitely say that it’s a winner that my daughter and I loved.

It reminds me a lot of my Chicken Tikka Masala, but rather than having to marinate the chicken overnight in a Greek yogurt-based marinade, no planning ahead is required for Indian butter chicken. Score!

Sweet Vidalia onions are caramelized in butter before adding the chicken, garlic, and a slew of spices, including garam masala, cumin, turmeric, and ginger. I am not shy when adding spices because flavor development is my goal and bland food is my nemesis.

None of the spices are so exotic that they are hard to find and you can find them all in your regular grocery store. Keeping recipes convenient enough so that people actually make them is important to me!

Garnished with cilantro and served on top basmati rice, this is a keeper that’s faster than going to your local Indian restaurant because it’s ready in 30 minutes and tastes every bit as amazing. It may be a simple butter chicken recipe, but I promise it’s packed with flavor! 

Indian Butter Chicken – An EASY, ONE-POT recipe for a classic Indian favorite!! Juicy, BUTTERY chicken simmered in a CREAMY tomato-based sauce! Next time you’re craving Indian food, you can make it yourself in 30 minutes!!

Indian Butter Chicken Ingredients 

To make this simple butter chicken recipe (including the addicting butter chicken sauce), you’ll need: 

  • Unsalted butter
  • Sweet Vidalia onion
  • Chicken breasts
  • Garlic
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • Heavy whipping cream
  • Tomato sauce 
  • Basmati rice
  • Fresh cilantro 

The butter chicken spices that I used included: 

  • Garam masala 
  • Ground cumin
  • Ground turmeric
  • Ground ginger
  • Salt and pepper
  • Cayenne pepper

Can I Make This Vegetarian? 

Yes, very easily! You can sub cubed tofu or chickpeas for the chicken, if desired. 

Is There a Heavy Cream Substitute I Can Use? 

Not that I’m aware of. Indian butter chicken is one of those dishes where full-fat butter and cream is a must.

If you tried to use a substitute like whole milk or yogurt, I’m not sure how well the butter chicken would taste. Not to mention the butter chicken sauce would likely be super runny. 

A few readers have reported success using full-fat coconut or coconut cream, but both options would of course add a coconut flavor to the recipe. 

Indian Butter Chicken – An EASY, ONE-POT recipe for a classic Indian favorite!! Juicy, BUTTERY chicken simmered in a CREAMY tomato-based sauce! Next time you’re craving Indian food, you can make it yourself in 30 minutes!!

How to Make Butter Chicken

This recipe for Indian butter chicken is as quick and easy as it gets! Here are the basic steps to making this simple butter chicken recipe: 

  1. Heat a little butter in a skillet and sauté the onions until they begin to soften and caramelize.
  2. Add the diced chicken to the skillet and cook until almost done.
  3. Then, stir in the spices and garlic. 
  4. You can’t have butter chicken without plenty of butter! After adding the spices, you add (more) butter and heavy cream. It’s a full-fat dairy marriage in heaven that produces a buttery, creamy, full-bodied sauce that is butter chicken’s signature.
  5. Let the sauce bubble away until thickened, then serve the butter chicken over rice and garnish with fresh cilantro.  

Indian Butter Chicken - An EASY, ONE-POT recipe for a classic Indian favorite!! Juicy, BUTTERY chicken simmered in a CREAMY tomato-based sauce! Next time you're craving Indian food, you can make it yourself in 30 minutes!!

What to Serve with Homemade Butter Chicken 

I’ve had a few readers ask what they should serve as a side with this easy butter chicken recipe. I like serving naan bread (sold in most grocery stores), steamed or roasted veggies, or a side salad with butter chicken curry.

The butter chicken has so much flavor that you can pair it with simpler sides. 

Indian Butter Chicken — An EASY, ONE-POT recipe for a classic Indian favorite!! Juicy, BUTTERY chicken simmered in a CREAMY tomato-based sauce! Next time you're craving Indian food, you can make it yourself in 30 minutes!!

Can I Freeze Indian Butter Chicken? 

Yes, this Indian butter chicken recipe can be prepared, allowed to cool, and then frozen for up to three months. 

Indian Butter Chicken — An EASY, ONE-POT recipe for a classic Indian favorite!! Juicy, BUTTERY chicken simmered in a CREAMY tomato-based sauce! Next time you're craving Indian food, you can make it yourself in 30 minutes!!

Tips for Making the Best Butter Chicken

Very Saucy – If you’re a sauce fan, this recipe produces an abundant amount of butter chicken sauce as written.

If you don’t want it as saucy, you can scale back on the amount of tomato sauce and/or cream. The sauce it good enough to slurp down as if it were a soup, which I relished doing.

Salt – I used no-salt added tomato sauce and used nearly 2 teaspoons salt in total, but if you’re using salted tomato sauce 1 teaspoon salt will likely be enough. Always salt to taste.

Not Spicy – Note that the cayenne pepper in the sauce doesn’t make the dish spicy. It just adds a nice depth of flavor.

However, you’re welcome to add more cayenne pepper if you like things spicy. 

Indian Butter Chicken — An EASY, ONE-POT recipe for a classic Indian favorite!! Juicy, BUTTERY chicken simmered in a CREAMY tomato-based sauce! Next time you're craving Indian food, you can make it yourself in 30 minutes!!

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Yield: 4

Indian Butter Chicken

Indian Butter Chicken

An EASY, ONE-POT recipe for a classic Indian favorite!! Juicy, BUTTERY chicken simmered in a CREAMY tomato-based sauce! Next time you're craving Indian food, you can make it yourself in 30 minutes!!

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter (1/2 stick + 1 stick), divided
  • 1 large sweet Vidalia or yellow onion, diced small
  • 1.50 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast, diced into bite-sized pieces
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced or pressed
  • 2 tablespoons garam masala
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger or 1+ tablespoon fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream (see Notes below)
  • one 8-ounce can tomato sauce (I used no-salt added; see Notes below)
  • basmati rice (or your favorite rice), for serving
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves, or to taste for garnishing

Instructions

    1. To a large skillet add 1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick), onion, and sauté over medium-high heat until the onions begins to soften and caramelize about 5 minutes; stir intermittently. It does not have to be fully caramelized before moving on.
    2. Add the chicken and cook for about 5 minutes, or until chicken is done; flip and stir often to ensure even cooking.
    3. Add the garlic, stir to combine, and cook for about 1 minute, or until fragrant; stir frequently.
    4. Add the garam masala, cumin, turmeric, ginger, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper (does not make it spicy but adds depth of flavor), and stir to combine.
    5. Add the remaining 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter and heat until it has melted; stir frequently to encourage melting.
    6. Add the heavy cream, tomato sauce, stir to combine, and allow mixture to simmer for about 10 minutes, or until sauce has thickened and reduced slightly. Taste and if desired, add additional salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, etc.
    7. Add rice to the serving plates and top with chicken and as much sauce as desired.
    8. Evenly garnish with cilantro and serve immediately. Dish is best warm and fresh but will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Notes

  • If you’re a sauce fan, this recipe produces an abundant amount of sauce as written. If you don’t want it as saucy, you can scale back on the amount of tomato sauce and/or cream.
  • I used no-salt added tomato sauce and used nearly 2 teaspoons salt in total, but if you’re using salted tomato sauce 1 teaspoon salt will likely be enough.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

4

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 906Total Fat: 63gSaturated Fat: 37gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 22gCholesterol: 303mgSodium: 975mgCarbohydrates: 26gFiber: 4gSugar: 6gProtein: 58g

More Easy Chicken Recipes:

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Chickpea and Potato Curry — This vegan, gluten-free curry is pure HEALTHY COMFORT FOOD with a fusion of Thai and Indian flavors!! Hearty, delicious, easy, ready in 30 minutes, and the leftovers freeze wonderfully!!

Originally posted April 9, 2018 and reposted January 20, 2023 with updated text.

About the Author

Welcome to AverieCooks! Here you’ll find fast and easy recipes that taste amazing and are geared for real life. Nothing fussy or complicated, just awesome tasting dishes everyone loves!

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Comments

  1. This might sound like a silly question, but I live on another continent with different products.
    What is ‘canned tomato sauce’? Is it like ketchup or more like tomato puree?
    I have been an ardent follower of your recipes!
    Thank you. 

    1. I completely understand your challenge with the ingredients. I’ve cooked in many foreign countries, wondering what exactly I’m looking for and hoping when I get home and opened it up it functions like I hope it’s going to function. Sometimes you get lucky and sometimes you don’t!

      Canned tomato sauce is definitely more like a purée than ketchup. Hopefully this link will work for you so you can see what it looks like

      https://www.amazon.com/Hunts-Tomato-Sauce-8-oz/dp/B000Q3R6KS/ref=mp_s_a_1_2_f3_0o_fs?crid=1XHAB5XL0YVZY&keywords=hunts+tomato+sauce+8+oz&qid=1674282548&sprefix=hunts+tomato+sauce+8+%2Caps%2C124&sr=8-2

      It’s basically the sauce you would use on pizza dough to make a traditional pizza.

      Please report back if you makes us and how it goes for you!

  2. I am curious, is it possible to make in the slow cooker? If so, would you alter in any way, like add the cream (or cream sub) later in the process of slow cooking? Thanks!

    1. Here’s the thing – this is a 30 min recipe and I see no reason to “drag it out” with a slow cooker. Plus, you will have to sear, transfer into the slow cooker, make a sauce and transfer, and just too many considerations to off the cuff say oh yeah, do it. Honestly, make it on the stove. It is PERFECT and such a fast recipe. The slow cooker would just complicate a fast and easy recipe.

      https://www.averiecooks.com/crock-pot-pressure-cooker-chicken-tikka-masala/ there are directions in this recipe for how to make it in a slow cooker. Similar flavor profile to the Butter Chicken and perhaps is of interest.

  3. This recipe is the gift that keeps on giving! I just made it again, this time with boneless porkchops! Great sauce, great taste, great meal! Me and Hubby love it! This has become a favorite in our household!

    Rating: 5
    1. Thanks for the 5 star review and glad to hear this has been a fave in your house and that it worked well with boneless pork chops!

  4. Excellent!  Followed the recipe as written with  one exception I used Jasmine rice as that is what I had on hand.  Easy as you stated and is definitely a keeper.

    Rating: 5
  5. AMAZING. I love how it is flavorful with no marination required. I used fresh ginger and a regular yellow onion…. mmm so much sauce, great to eat with crunchy veggies & rice.

    Rating: 5
  6. You can sub in Coconut cream for the whipping cream for a dish that is just as yummy. My Indian friend taught me this trick.

    Rating: 5
  7. What do you think about substituting turkey for the chicken in this recipe? I have a big turkey breast that I need to use and am thinking this would be perfect for a completely different taste from Thanksgiving! This is an amazing, amazing recipe for butter chicken and so easy too! We eat it often now!

    Rating: 5
  8. Made this exactly as written and I am BLOWN AWAY. This was SO delicious and the prep was easy. Loved the flavor profiles and richness from the cream and butter. Thank you for posting this.

    Rating: 5
    1. Thanks for the 5 star review and glad you were blown away! I know, this is a rich and delicious one and glad you loved it!

  9. This was so fast and so delicious! I didn’t have cilantro but other than that I followed the recipe as written. I will not change a thing in the future when I make it again. 

    Rating: 5
    1. Thanks for the 5 star review and I am glad it was fast and delish and that you’ll make it again and not change a thing!

  10. I can’t believe I had all ingredients on hand! I did sub Costco roasted chicken that they sell in the refrigerated section in a bag- all white meat. The recipe was a breeze to make and all came together very easily and quickly. Husband was super impressed and I thought it was pretty darn good. Now I’m ready to try more of your Thai and Indian recipes!

    Rating: 5
    1. Thanks for the 5 star review and glad this worked well with the Costco chicken and that you’re going to try more of my Indian and Thai recipes!

  11. I made this a couple months ago and substituted Curry Powder for turmeric, because I was out. It was amazing. We added a little lemon juice to it after serving and found it helped balance it.My family thought it was too hot, but I didn’t think it was spicy at all! 😆I’m making it again tonight. Doubled the batch, but did not double the cayenne. Hopefully that helps. 🤷

    Rating: 5
  12. oh no, i dont have any heavy cream. will regular coconut milk work ok?? i cant wait to make this tonight – thanks for all of the super easy and extremely tasty recipes! your thai chicken coconut curry is one of our family favorites!

    1. Regular full fat coconut milk is a great option and I think it will be fine as long as you know, of course, it will taste coconutty – whereas regular heavy cream is more neutral tasting.

  13. Tried the butter chicken recipe. WOW!!Easy and delicious. You weren’t kidding about the sauce being so good you could eat it like soup. My husband even commented on how much he liked the sauce!

    Rating: 5
  14. I made this recipe exactly as written and it was absolutely, hands down, one of the BEST things I’ve eaten in a long, long time! I admit I was a little concerned about the large amounts of spices and almost cut them down but decided not to and am very glad I didn’t. I can’t wait to try some of your other recipes now. Thanks for sharing!

    Rating: 5
    1. Thanks for the 5 star review and glad it was one the best things you’ve ever eaten, hands down! What a compliment, thank you!

  15. It is good but I was hoping for a stronger tomato flavor in the base. It didn’t really taste like the butter chicken from my favorite Indian place. I will keep looking for a butter chicken recipe with more tomato.

    1. Add a 4 ounce jar of tomato paste. To me, that would overwhelm it and I love tomatoes but if you want something much stronger in the tomato department, that will do it.

  16. This is 6-star; my teenaged sons and I LOVED it!! Had to hunt for your site again to make it this second time…I won’t make that mistake again and will be trying more of your recipes, too! I used table cream the first time (because I wasn’t sure while in the store if heavy cream is the same as whipping cream) and it turned out amazingly regardless. P.S. I have never left a comment on a recipe site before now!

    Rating: 5
    1. Thanks for the 5 star review (or 6!) and glad these were a huge hit with the teenage sons!

      Table cream, you mean coffee cream, that is half-and-half. The next jump up is whipping cream, and then after that, heavy cream, i.e. the heaviest because it has the highest fat content.

  17. Wow! Wow! Wow! I just made this and it is amazing! After dinner I said to my Hubby, “Do you wanna put everything up honey?” And he’s like “No its too early to put it up now! Leave it out I’ll eat some later! Its really filling especially with rice!” This definitely makes it into our food rotation! Thank you so much for the recipe! God Bless!

    Rating: 5
    1. Thanks for the 5 star review and glad you will definitely make it again and it’ll be in your food rotation!

  18. Hi! I love your recipes! Two questions:
    1. I am wondering what tomato sauce you use- can I just blend diced tomatoes?

    2. I don’t have garam masala on hand what can I use as a substitute.

    Thanks so much!

    1. 1. Probably if that’s all you have on hand, it could work, but I haven’t tried it.
      2. Google what’s in Garam Masala, see if you have any of that, and if not, add more of the spices you do have on hand that are called for in the recipe, to taste.

  19. Thank you for this recipe. It’s perfect. Next time I might substitute shrimp for the chicken. You are a wonderful cook!

    Rating: 5
    1. Thanks for the 5 star review and glad it was perfect! If you do try with shrimp, LMK how it goes!

  20. This is mine and my husband’s favorite new recipe! It is simple to make, cost-effective (once you buy those fancy spices), and delicious. I am so glad we stumbled upon this one!

    Rating: 5
    1. Thanks for the 5 star review and glad it’s you and your husband’s new favorite recipe! Glad you stumbled upon it too!

  21. This is a great recipe while on Keto Diet. Super Flavor great texture. Ate this with Cauliflower rice and loved every drop.Im not a big butter chicken fan but I would give this recipe 6 stars instead of 5. Used leftover Costco Rotisserie chicken Breast previously frozen. I will be making this recipe a regular.

    Rating: 5
    1. Thanks for the 5 (or 6) star review!! Glad you loved this and will be making it as a regular recipe!

  22. A great (non-dairy) alternative to the heavy cream is coconut cream, I use it for all of my cream based sauces. I buy the Kara brand in the 6.8oz foil box found in the Asian food section. It has a wonderful richness and full bodied consistency just right for the butter sauce.

    Rating: 5
    1. Great suggestion and with this recipe, if there is a hint of coconut flavor in the background, the flavors would mesh well anyway.

  23. Amazing! Probably my most favorite thing I have made off of the internet. I was craving Indian, and honestly I thought making this would only make my craving worse, but I was wrong. Pretty sure I could just eat it all day long. Thank you!!! I think I will have to try some more of your recipes 😁

    Rating: 5
    1. Thanks for the 5 star review and for letting me know it’s your favorite recipe you’ve made from the internet! Glad to hear you will try more of my recipes!

  24. I love this recipe! It is easy to make and is just as good as Indian takeout!Is there any way to lighten up the recipe (calorie wise) without losing the main flavor?

    Rating: 5
    1. Thanks for the 5 star review and glad it’s just as good as Indian takeout for you!

      If you reduce the butter in step 5 to half of a stick, and reduce the amt of heavy cream to 1/2 cup from 1 cup, that will lighten it up by the sheer fact that not as much sauce will be produced. But I can’t comment on the taste. You could also try half-and-half rather than heavy cream. Or whole milk (but I personally don’t think whole milk would really do the trick for me).

  25. I love butter chicken. It’s always been my go-to dish when we go out for Indian. I have tried at least four or five different recipes while trying to make it at home, but none of them even come close to this one! Soooo amazing! I will never use another butter chicken recipe again! 😄

    Rating: 5
    1. Thanks for the 5 star review and I am glad that this is the favorite recipe by far that you’ve tried and will never use another recipe again – awesome to hear!

  26. This recipe was absolutely delicious. I was so apprehensive about making this because I was not sure how all of the spices were going to mesh together. It turned out better than expected. Next time I’m going to have to double the chicken because this dish went fast.

    Rating: 5
  27. This was delicious! I am a wimp when it comes to spice, and I did not find this too spicy. We may add some curry next time we make it, to add a bit more flavor and kick. It did seem to need more salt, which we added at the table. Definitely a winner, going into our favorite recipes file!

    Rating: 5
    1. Thanks for the five star review and I’m glad it was delicious!

      Salt is so personal and so yes, always add to taste. I am sure curry would be delicious in it!

  28. Made this last night and it was yummy. Next time I would cut back on the tomato sauce as it was too saucy. Or maybe I just need to add more chicken? Also, my own fault but my rice was little too wet, next time my rice needs to be drier for this. The good thing is you can make this recipe as hot or mild as you want. Next time I might try adding some lemon juice for a little “zing.”

    Rating: 5
    1. Thanks for the 5 star review and I’m glad you enjoyed it overall. I did mention in the blog post under the section ‘Feeling Saucy’ and to scale back if desired on the sauce since I know that’s personal preference. Something you can do for next time. And/or just add more chicken. And yes, drier rice is best too for this.

  29. Delicious dish that everyone enjoyed! I would not change any ingredient or amount … wonderful as is! So each to make and it truly is one dish!

    Rating: 5