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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4.65 from 237 votes

Indian Butter Chicken

By Averie Sunshine
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
Servings: 4
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Ingredients  

  • ¾ 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
  • ¼ 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
  • cup fresh cilantro leaves, or to taste for garnishing

Instructions 

  • 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.
  • Add the chicken and cook for about 5 minutes, or until chicken is done; flip and stir often to ensure even cooking.
  • Add the garlic, stir to combine, and cook for about 1 minute, or until fragrant; stir frequently.
  • 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.
  • Add the remaining 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter and heat until it has melted; stir frequently to encourage melting.
  • 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.
  • Add rice to the serving plates and top with chicken and as much sauce as desired.
  • 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

Serving: 1, Calories: 906kcal, Carbohydrates: 26g, Protein: 58g, Fat: 63g, Saturated Fat: 37g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 22g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 303mg, Sodium: 975mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 6g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

More Easy Chicken Recipes:

Favorite CHICKEN RECIPES HERE

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Grilled Tandoori Chicken — Recreate this Indian favorite QUICKLY and EASILY at home! If you’re looking for a new spin on grilled chicken, this is THE recipe to try.

Thai Green Curry with Chicken — An EASY, one-skillet green curry that’s ready in 20 minutes and tastes BETTER than from a Thai restaurant!! It’s healthy comfort food that tastes AMAZING!!

Thai Chicken Coconut Curry – An EASY one-skillet curry that’s ready in 20 minutes and is layered with so many fabulous flavors!! Low-cal, low-carb, and HEALTHY but tastes like comfort food!!

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Baked Curry Chicken and Vegetables — An EASY Indian-inspired meal that’s ready in 30 minutes, made on ONE pan, and great for meal prep or busy weeknights!! There’s so much CURRY FLAVOR in every bite!

Baked Curry Chicken and Vegetables — An EASY Indian-inspired meal that's ready in 30 minutes, made on ONE pan, and great for meal prep or busy weeknights!! There's so much CURRY FLAVOR in every bite!!

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!!

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.

4.65 from 237 votes (145 ratings without comment)

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Please note: I have only made the recipe as written, and cannot give advice or predict what will happen if you change something. If you have a question regarding changing, altering, or making substitutions to the recipe, please check out the FAQ page for more info.

Recipe Rating




Comments

  1. 4 stars
    An absolutely delicious way to enjoy Indian flavors at home! I’m so excited to have found this recipe. Hubby and I are sitting here now in a food coma after enjoying this way too much. Thanks for sharing!

    1. I am glad this was a winner for you and your hubby and that you thoroughly enjoyed the recipe!

  2. 5 stars
    Absolutely delicious! Even my picky 6-year-old asked for seconds and said he couldn’t even taste the onions 😜

    1. Thanks for the 5 star review, Kyra, and I am glad this even passed the 6 year old picky eater test!

  3. 5 stars
    This was delicious and made the house smell so good. It was also very easy to make. I had forgotten to make some naan, but my son in law liked it with tortillas and made a couple “burritos” and pronounced them excellent. Definitely will add this to my rotation. Very authentic taste.

    1. Thanks for the 5 star review and I’m glad this was a winner – and great job for your SIL for just improvising and going with it! Glad it’s going into your rotation!

  4. 5 stars
    Thank you Averie for your advice regarding garam masala. I made this last night, I was blown away, so delicious! This was so easy, and my first-ever Indian dish; I felt I was reliving The Hundred-Foot Journey…haha! Next time I will combine the spices & seasonings in a bowl first, because things happen quickly at that point. This recipe is a KEEPER!!

  5. 5 stars
    Thank you Averie for your advice regarding garam masala. I made this last night, I was blown away, so delicious! This was so easy, and my first-ever Indian dish; I felt I was reliving The Hundred-Foot Journey…haha! Next time I will combine the spices & seasonings in a bowl first, because things happen quickly at that point. This recipe is a KEEPER!!

    1. Thanks for the 5 star review and I am glad that your first Indian dish at home turned out amazing and that it was easy and that this is a keeper for you!

  6. I am planning to make two of your recipes asap…but I have a question: Do you mix up your own blend of garam masala, or do you buy one? Would like to know either your recipe, or the brand you prefer most… seems like every ‘recipe’ out there is different.
    Thanks!

    1. I don’t mix up my own. There are so many elements that for me, it’s not worth it to buy all of the various componets and try to DIY. I just buy it.

      Something like this is good https://amzn.to/3RnKzmq but honestly I would go with whatever your gut tells you if you’re ordering online or buying in person!

  7. 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!

  8. 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.

  9. 5 stars
    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!

  10. 5 stars
    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!

    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!

  11. 5 stars
    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.

  12. 5 stars
    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.

  13. 5 stars
    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.

  14. 5 stars
    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.

  15. 5 stars
    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.