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Butter Chicken

Butter Chicken (Murgh Makhani — chicken with butter) 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


Spice Mix & Chicken Marinade

  • 2 tablespoons EACH ground cumin, garam masala
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons EACH: finely minced garlic, finely minced ginger (~4 cloves; ~1 inch piece)
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 3/4 cup full fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Fine sea salt


  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 and 1/2 cups finely diced yellow onion (1 large onion)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 can (14 ounces) fire-roasted crushed tomatoes
  • 1 and 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • Serve with: cooked basmati rice and fresh cilantro (See Note 2)
  • Optional serve with: pita bread, flatbread, roti, or Naan bread


  • SPICE 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. Reduce heat if the mixture begins to burn.
  • 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 out of the marinade but don't wipe off the marinade from the chicken (but also 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.


Note 1: You can omit cayenne pepper 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: 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 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) and then drain and fluff with a fork.
Note 3: if opting to use 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.


Serving: 6servings | Calories: 250kcal | Carbohydrates: 8.4g | Protein: 14.4g | Fat: 17.9g | Cholesterol: 93.1mg | Sodium: 71.7mg | Fiber: 0.9g | Sugar: 6.5g