Butter Chicken

Indulge in butter chicken, a mix of flavors married in a rich, creamy gravy! This Indian delicacy, with tender chunks of chicken, makes a heartwarming meal, promising both comfort and a burst of spices. Perfect for a family dinner or festive feast!
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This butter chicken recipe is easy, healthy, and incredibly flavorful!  It is a rich and flavorful Indian dish made with chicken that has been marinated in yogurt and spices, and then cooked in a creamy tomato sauce. The chicken is tender and juicy, and the sauce is thick and flavorful. This Indian-inspired dish is full of flavor and great for the whole family!

Butter chicken.

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Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • This butter chicken recipe is easy to make.
  • After marinating, this recipe is made in one skillet.
  • This Indian chicken recipe is rich and flavorful.
  • The chicken is tender and juicy! Check out more Chicken Meal Prep Ideas and Chicken Breast Recipes.
  • The curry sauce is thick and creamy.
  • It is versatile and even better as leftovers.
  • This recipe is also a great dish to serve at parties or potlucks.
  • The leftovers are even better!  This is great for weekly meal prep.
  • The chicken itself is gluten-free.
  • Serve with brown rice, whole wheat Naan, or mashed potatoes.

What Is Butter Chicken?

Butter chicken, also known as Murgh Makhani, consists of yogurt marinated chicken and spices. It is cooked in a creamy tomato sauce.

This dish originated in India but is now popular all over the world.

It is popular at Indian restaurants, but it is easy to make at home.

Butter chicken is commonly served with white rice or Naan. We love serving it with brown rice or whole wheat Naan!

Ingredients & Substitutes

These are the ingredients and substitutes for butter chicken. Scroll down to the recipe card below for the entire recipe.

Use boneless skinless chicken thighs or breasts. Cut into bite-sized pieces. If you only have frozen chicken, thaw completely.

Marinate the chicken in plain yogurt. Do not use sugar sweetened yogurt.

Lemon juice, ginger, and garlic add tartness and flavor.

In addition, season the chicken with cumin, coriander, turmeric, chili powder, and salt.

For the sauce, use unsalted butter. If you only have salted butter, then omit the salt otherwise.

Finely chop the onion.

More garlic and ginger add flavor to the sauce.

In addition, cumin, coriander, turmeric, and chili powder add flavor to the chicken.

Crushed tomatoes add to the sauce.

Use heavy cream or coconut cream for a dairy-free option.

Plain Greek yogurt helps thicken the sauce. In addition, it makes the sauce extra creamy.

Garam masala adds a delicious Indian-inspired flavor.

Add salt to taste.

Garnish with fresh cilantro if desired.

Taste & Texture

Butter chicken has a rich and flavorful taste!

The chicken is tender and juicy. In addition, the sauce is creamy and tasty.

This restaurant-quality dish is great for the whole family!

How to Make

Step 1

First, in a large mixing bowl, combine all the marinade ingredients: plain yogurt, lemon juice, ginger garlic paste, ground cumin, ground coriander, ground turmeric, chili powder, and salt. Mix well.

Step 2

Add the chicken pieces to the marinade and toss until they are evenly coated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, preferably overnight, to allow the flavors to infuse into the chicken.

Marinated chicken in bowl.

Step 3

In a large skillet or saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.

Step 4

Add the chopped onion and sauté until it becomes soft and translucent.

Diced onions in skillet.

Step 5

Stir in the minced garlic and ginger and cook for an additional minute until fragrant.

Step 6

Add the ground cumin, ground coriander, ground turmeric, and chili powder to the skillet. Cook for a minute or two to toast the spices and release their flavors.

Onions and seasonings in skillet.

Step 7

Pour in the crushed tomatoes and simmer the sauce for about 10 minutes until it thickens slightly.

Onions and tomatoes in skillet.

Step 8

Remove the skillet from the heat and use an immersion blender or transfer the sauce to a blender to blend it into a smooth consistency.

Step 9

Return the skillet to medium-low heat and add the marinated chicken along with any marinade left in the bowl.

Creamy chicken with yogurt.

Step 10

Cook the chicken in the sauce for about 10 to 15 minutes or until it is fully cooked and tender.

Step 11

Stir in the heavy cream or coconut cream and Greek yogurt, and let the sauce simmer for an additional 5 minutes to thicken and develop flavors.

Creamy chicken in skillet.

Step 12

Sprinkle in the garam masala and season the butter chicken sauce with salt to taste. Adjust the spiciness if needed.

Orange creamy skillet.

Step 13

Finally, serve the butter chicken hot. Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro.

Expert Tips for Success

Here are a few expert tips and tricks for making the best butter chicken.

Use fresh chicken thighs or breasts. If you only have frozen, thaw completely.

Don’t overcook the chicken. The chicken should be cooked until it is just cooked through. Overcooked chicken will be dry and tough.

Don’t overcrowd the pan when cooking the chicken. This will lower the temperature of the pan and make the chicken cook unevenly.

Garnish with cilantro for extra flavor.

Bowls of Indian chicken.

Flavor Variations & Add-Ins

In addition to the basic butter chicken recipe, there are many different ways to flavor and customize the dish. Here are a few ideas.

  • Add vegetables, such as carrots, onions, or peppers, to the sauce.
  • Garnish with cilantro, chopped onions, or a dollop of sour cream.
  • Serve over whole wheat pasta!  This is the ultimate comfort food.  We love whole wheat pasta or spaghetti squash.

How to Serve & Store

Butter chicken is best served fresh.

For real food ingredients, serve with whole wheat Naan or brown rice.

This dish is also delicious served over spaghetti squash or whole wheat noodles.

It can also be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

You can also freeze butter chicken for up to 2 months. When reheating, thaw the butter chicken in the refrigerator overnight and then reheat it in a pan over medium heat until heated through.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the difference between butter chicken and tikka masala?

Butter chicken and tikka masala are both popular Indian dishes that are made with chicken that has been marinated in yogurt and spices. However, there are some key differences between the two dishes. Butter chicken is made with a tomato-based sauce, while tikka masala is made with a cream-based sauce. Butter chicken also tends to be milder in flavor than tikka masala.

Can I make butter chicken without using butter?

Yes, you can make butter chicken without using butter. There are many different recipes that use different cooking oils instead of butter. You can also use a vegan butter substitute.

Can I make butter chicken ahead of time?

Yes, you can make butter chicken ahead of time. The dish can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To reheat, simply warm it in a pan over medium heat until heated through.

What is butter chicken sauce made of?

Butter chicken sauce is a creamy tomato-based sauce made with onions, garlic, ginger, spices, and cream.

Does butter chicken keep well?

Yes! The leftovers are delicious.

Close up of butter chicken.

Equipment Needed

Large Nonstick Skillet: This nonstick skillet is large enough for this Indian butter chicken recipe.

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