Home > Dinner > Butter Chicken Butter Chicken May 11, 2020 | 14 Comments SAVE TO RECIPE BOX Jump to Recipe This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy. Butter Chicken is one of the most popular curries around the world! Tender, marinated chicken is cooked in a luxuriously rich and creamy curry sauce. Skip the take-out– this recipe will rival any restaurant and can be made in the comfort of your home. Butter Chicken Butter Chicken has always been one of my favorite curries, and I am so excited to finally share my version with you! The chicken is tender and juicy; it practically melts in your mouth, and the curry sauce is loaded with flavor and just the right amount of spice. The great thing about Butter Chicken is that it’s a much milder curry than many other Indian curries, so it’s very family friendly. In fact, my kiddos say this is their favorite curry dish! You can certainly add more spice to this dish, but as written, it is very mild. I highly recommend using chicken thighs in this recipe. The thighs simmer for a while in the curry sauce, heightening the flavor of everything. This results in ultra-tender chicken. Breast meat will work, but it won’t be nearly as tender or flavorful and you’ll have to watch the cooking time a bit more carefully. QUICK TIP When you want to order Butter Chicken at an Indian restaurant, you may find it called Murgh Makhani. Translated, that means chicken with butter–so order with confidence! How to make homemade Butter Chicken One of the best things about this recipe is that the ingredients are very easily accessible. No need to go to a specialty store or order anything online; you should be able to find everything at your local grocery store! Double purpose spice blend: Many Indian curries call for seasonings for the chicken marinade and different ones for the curry/sauce. I’ve combined the two processes so you only have to make one spice blend. Half goes in the marinade and the rest goes in the sauce. Marinate chicken: Mix the chicken with half of the spice blend along with a few other ingredients and set it in the refrigerator to marinate. If you’re short on time, even 30 minutes of marinating time will yield good results. If you have a little more time, the chicken just continues to get more flavorful and more tender. Curry sauce: When the chicken is done marinating, we cook it in a skillet along with some onion and the rest of the spice mix. After that, the rest of the ingredients are added to create the curry sauce. Everything is simmered until the chicken is tender and the sauce is thickened. And just like that, homemade Butter Chicken is ready to serve. The spice blend in Butter Chicken If you enjoy Indian food, you likely have all these spices in your cabinet. And if not, they’re very common at just about any grocery store. Garam masala Turmeric Cumin Paprika Cayenne pepper: Here’s where you can play a bit with spice; I add in very little (1/8 teaspoon) cayenne, which you can completely omit if you’re very sensitive to spice. Alternatively, you can increase up to a full teaspoon if you’d like some heat in this Butter Chicken. Salt To the spice blend we also add fresh minced garlic and minced ginger. I recommend fresh since they add so much flavor to the chicken and the sauce, but in a pinch dried ginger and garlic powder will work. Butter Chicken FAQs Why is Butter Chicken called Butter Chicken? While there is butter in this recipe, there isn’t a whole lot, so why is it called Butter Chicken? This dish is prepared in a makhani (butter) gravy that uses butter and cream. Butter is actually not typical of Indian masalas and using butter to sauté the onion and spices changes the flavor of the curry. So the recipe name calls attention to the departure from typical curries. What is the difference between Butter Chicken and Chicken Tikka Masala? While these two curries are similar (and Chicken Tikka Masala is a personal favorite of mine!), they do have a few differences. Chicken Tikka Masala is typically less creamy than Butter Chicken. Butter Chicken usually has less of an intense tomato flavor. Finally, Tikka Masala is traditionally cooked in a tandoor while Butter Chicken is cooked in a pan over a fire. Is Butter Chicken actually Indian? The dish was developed in the 1950s by three restaurateurs: Kundan Lal Jaggi, Kundan Lal Gujral and Thakur Dass, who were the founders of a restaurant– in India. The dish was created by chance when leftover chicken was mixed in a tomato gravy. That tomato gravy was rich with butter and cream. (Source) What to serve with Butter Chicken We love Butter Chicken served over basmati rice (or white rice). You can serve pita bread, flatbread, roti (buttery Indian flatbread), or even naan bread on the side. Serve with an Indian vegetable stir-fry as a side dish — think cauliflower, carrots, etc. A very common accompaniment to Indian dishes is an easy cucumber and yogurt salad (called Raita); a plain cucumber salad would also make a delicious side dish. Cooking basmati rice Here’s how I cook the basmati rice: Measure the rice and rinse it in a fine-mesh sieve until the water runs clear. Place the rinsed rice in a bowl and cover it with water to soak for about 5-10 minutes. While the rice is soaking, fill a large pot with water and set it to a boil. Once the water is at a rolling boil, drain the rice and add it to the pot. Cook, without reducing the heat, for 5 minutes (taste and ensure the rice is tender; add another minute if not) and then drain and fluff with a fork. It might seem like a few extra steps, but I promise it is quick, and the rice is perfect every time. Make ahead This is a dish that just keeps getting better as it sits, making it great for meal prep or making ahead of time, if you have company coming (stress free!). We like this meal even better on day 2. Allow the food to cool completely and refrigerate for 2-3 days. Unfortunately, this is not a dish that freezes and thaws well. More chicken recipes Coconut Curry Chicken reader favorite recipe! Chicken Ramen easy 30-minute dinner Peanut Sauce Chicken with an easy and sweet peanut sauce Chicken Larb healthy chicken Thai-inspired lettuce wraps Chicken Gyros with the best easy Tzatziki FOLLOW ALONG! Subscribe to my newsletter and follow along on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram for the latest updates, recipes and content. Butter Chicken 5 from 7 votes - Review this recipe Butter Chicken is one of the most popular curries around the world! Tender, marinated chicken is cooked in a luxuriously rich and creamy curry sauce. Skip the take-out-- this recipe will rival any restaurant and can be made in the comfort of your home. SAVE TO RECIPE BOX Print Recipe Butter Chicken 5 from 7 votes - Review this recipe SAVE TO RECIPE BOX Print Recipe Butter Chicken is one of the most popular curries around the world! Tender, marinated chicken is cooked in a luxuriously rich and creamy curry sauce. Skip the take-out-- this recipe will rival any restaurant and can be made in the comfort of your home. Course Dinner Cuisine Indian Keyword Butter Chicken Prep Time 30 minutes Cook Time 30 minutes Marinating Time 30 minutes Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes Servings 4 -6 servings Calories 250kcal Cost $6.81 IngredientsSpice Mix & Chicken Marinade2 tablespoons EACH ground cumin, garam masala1 and 1/2 tablespoons ground turmeric1 teaspoon paprika1 and 1/2 tablespoons EACH: finely minced garlic, finely minced ginger (~4 cloves; ~1-inch piece)1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs3/4 cup full-fat plain Greek yogurt1 tablespoon lemon juiceFine sea saltCurry2 tablespoons unsalted butter1 and 1/2 cups finely diced yellow onion (1 large onion)1 tablespoon tomato paste1 can (14 ounces) fire-roasted crushed tomatoes1 and 1/4 cups heavy cream1 tablespoon white sugarServe with: cooked basmati rice and fresh cilantro (See Note 2)Optional serve with: pita bread, flatbread, roti, or Naan bread InstructionsSPICE MIX: Combine the 2 tablespoons cumin, 2 tablespoons garam masala, 1 and 1/2 tablespoons turmeric, 1 teaspoon paprika, 1 and 1/2 tablespoons finely minced ginger (peel the ginger with a vegetable peeler or scrape off the peel with the sharp edge of a spoon), 1 and 1/2 tablespoons finely minced garlic, and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (See Note 1). Stir together and set aside.MARINATE CHICKEN: Trim the fat and cut the chicken into 1-inch pieces and place in a large bowl or bag. Add the 3/4 cup yogurt, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and HALF of the spice mix (just eyeball it). Stir to coat (or knead the bag to coat). Cover the chicken tightly (or seal the bag) and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes up to overnight. Do not marinate longer than 24 hours.COOK ONION AND SPICES: Add the 2 tablespoons butter to a large skillet and heat over medium heat. Add in the 1 and 1/2 cups finely diced onion and cook, stirring occasionally for 7-10 minutes (reduce the heat if it begins to burn). Add in the reserved half of the spice mix and 1 tablespoon tomato paste. Stir for 2-3 minutes or until very fragrant. COOK CHICKEN: Push the onion and spices to the edges of the pan and add the chicken in the middle of the pan. (Remove the chicken from the marinade but don't wipe off the marinade from the chicken and don't pour the marinade left in the bag/bowl into the pan.) Cook for about 3-4 minutes, over medium-high heat, or until the chicken is white on the outside (but not cooked through). Stir often and incorporate the spices and onion into the chicken as you cook. (See Note 3)SAUCE: Once the chicken is white all over, add in the can of fire-roasted crushed tomatoes, 1 and 1/4 cup heavy cream, 1 tablespoon white sugar, and add salt to taste (about 1 teaspoon). Stir, and reduce the heat to low. Simmer 15-20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through (165 degrees F) and sauce has thickened. If desired, stir in some chopped cilantro here (about 1/3 cup).SERVE: Serve curry over cooked basmati rice (See Note 2) and garnish with additional cilantro leaves (optional). Serve with flatbread, roti, or naan. Recipe NotesNote 1: Cayenne pepper: You can omit cayenne entirely if you're very sensitive to spice. Alternatively, you can increase (up to a full teaspoon) if you'd like some heat in this butter chicken. Note 2: Basmati rice: Here’s how I cook the basmati rice: Measure the rice and rinse it in a fine-mesh sieve until the water runs clear. Place that rice in a bowl and cover it with water to soak for about 5-10 minutes. While the rice is soaking, fill a large pot with water and set it to boil. Once the water is at a rolling boil, drain the rice and add it to the pot. Cook without reducing the heat, for 5 minutes. (Taste and ensure the rice is tender; add another minute if not.) Drain and fluff with a fork. Note 3: Chicken: If using chicken breast instead of thighs, cook completely through at this point and then remove from the heat onto a plate and cover with foil. Only add the chicken breast back into the curry to warm through in the last minute of cooking the curry sauce. Otherwise, the chicken breast will be too dry. Nutrition FactsServing: 6servings | Calories: 250kcal | Carbohydrates: 8.4g | Protein: 14.4g | Fat: 17.9g | Cholesterol: 93.1mg | Sodium: 71.7mg | Fiber: 0.9g | Sugar: 6.5g We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed. DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE? I love hearing from you when you've made one of my recipes! Tag me on Instagram at @ChelseasMessyApron or leave me a comment below.