Butter Chicken Recipe

5 from 6 votes
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Butter Chicken – an Indian food classic, butter chicken recipe. Easy to make, uses ingredients you can find in the regular grocery store, and so good!

About 15 years ago we discovered Indian food. I am not sure how it happened, but we fell in love. It has turned into a staple at our house. Slow Cooker Tikka Masala is a great way to enjoy it on busy nights.

Indian food can be kind of intimidating, because it hasn’t been popular in the United States until more recently. But this recipe uses spices that you can find in any grocery store and just turns them into something delicious.

butter chicken curry topped with cilantro in a white bowl

 

Butter Chicken

Butter chicken is one of the first things we ever tried at an Indian restaurant. It is definitely a “safe” choice, for someone who isn’t super adventurous with food. Even both of our super picky Dads have eaten this and enjoyed it. We just didn’t tell them what it was!

Sometimes Indian food gets a reputation of being spicy. But the really nice thing is you can control the heat level. This is a very mild dish, the cayenne pepper in it is not very much. But if you like more heat, add more!

white bowl with butter chicken and rice

What You’ll Need

  • Chicken
  • Plain Yogurt
  • Garam Masala
  • Ginger
  • Garlic
  • Lemon Juice
  • Cumin
  • Turmeric
  • Chili Powder
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Butter
  • Onion
  • Tomatoes
  • Ground Coriander
  • Heavy Cream

I get that the ingredient list looks long, but don’t worry! The spices can all be found at your local grocery store. The chicken marinates in the yogurt and quite few of the spices for at least 4 hours, up to 24. So you can definitely get some of the work out of the away the day before.

butter chicken marinade ingredients

How To Make Butter Chicken

  1. In a bowl mix together the yogurt and the rest of the ingredients for the marinade. Add the chicken pieces and mix until they are well coated. Cover and refrigerate for 4-24 hours.
  2. Preheat oven to Broil.  Place chicken pieces on a baking sheet.  Cook for 3-4 minutes, flip the chicken and cook for 2-3 minutes more.  Remove from oven.
  3. In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat. add onions and cook for 5-6 minutes, until they are soft. Mix in the ginger and garlic and cook for 1 minute, until it is nice and fragrant.
  4. Add the tomatoes, chili powder, coriander, cumin, turmeric and garam masala. Add water and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cook for about 10 minutes.
  5. Using an immersion blender, traditional blender or food process to puree the sauce until it is smooth.
  6. Add the chicken and the juices to the sauce.  Stir in the cream and cook for about 10 minutes until the cause is bubbling and thick.
  7. Serve over white rice.  Garnish with cilantro if desired.
looking down on a bowl of butter chicken curry, rice and naan bread
Is Butter Chicken Spicy Or Sweet?

Butter chicken is very flavor and full of spices, but it isn’t spicy as it heat level. The curry sauce is very savory and isn’t a sweet sauce like Chinese food often is in the United States.

Why Is Butter Chicken Called Butter Chicken

You will notice there isn’t much butter in the sauce, so how did it get its name? This dish was originally created in Northern India in 1948, by Kundan Lal Gujral. There isn’t a lot of history known of the dish, some say it is because the chicken is so tender and just melts in your mouth, like butter. Some say sauce is so rich and creamy. But it does seem that over time more and more actual butter have been added to a lot of the curries to live up to the name.

What Kind Of Chicken Do I Use

I usually make this with chicken breasts that are cut into about 1 inch cubes, but that is just what I tend to have in the freezer. You can definitely do this recipe with chicken thighs as well. Just cut the meat into cubes and the rest of the recipe will remain the same.

indian butter chicken over rice in a white bowl

Can I Make Butter Chicken Ahead

This is one of those recipes that works really well to make ahead. The gravy just blends together with the spices the longer it sits and is delicious.

  • Make the sauce portion of the recipe and then let it cool. Store in an airtight container in the fridge (3-4 days) or freezer (3-4 months) until you are ready to use it.
  • The day before remove the sauce from the freezer and let it thaw in the fridge overnight. Follow the instructions for the chicken and let it marinate overnight.
  • Cook the chicken as directed and reheat the sauce in a pan over medium heat. Add the cooked chicken and allow it to simmer together for a few minutes.
  • Serve with rice or Naan bread.

Serve Butter Chicken over Basmati Rice or Instant Pot Jasmine Rice along with homemade Naan bread for a delicious dinner everyone will enjoy.

close up butter chicken curry for pinterst

More Delicious Dinner Recipes

square close up butter chicken curry with cilantro over rice
5 from 6 votes

Butter Chicken Recipe

By Erin
Butter Chicken – an Indian food classic, butter chicken recipe. Easy to make, uses ingredients you can find in the regular grocery store, and so good!
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Total: 40 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients 

  • 1 pound chicken, ,cut into bite sized pieces

Marinade

  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 Tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, , minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Sauce

  • 2 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 14.5 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoon ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

Instructions 

  • In a bowl mix together the yogurt and the rest of the ingredients for the marinade. Add the chicken pieces and mix until they are well coated. Cover and refrigerate for 4-24 hours.
  • Preheat oven to Broil.  Place chicken pieces on a baking sheet.  Cook for 3-4 minutes, flip the chicken and cook for 2-3 minutes more.  Remove from oven.
  • In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat. add onions and cook for 5-6 minutes, until they are soft. Mix in the ginger and garlic and cook for 1 minute, until it is nice and fragrant.
  • Add the tomatoes, chili powder, coriander, cumin, turmeric and garam masala. Add water and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cook for about 10 minutes.
  • Using an immersion blender, traditional blender or food process to puree the sauce until it is smooth.
  • Add the chicken and the juices to the sauce.  Stir in the cream and cook for about 10 minutes until the cause is bubbling and thick.
  • Serve over white rice.  Garnish with cilantro if desired.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 488kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 33g | Fat: 36g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 18g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 157mg | Sodium: 204mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 4g

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

Additional Info

Author: Erin
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Course: Dinner Recipes
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4
Calories: 488
Like this recipe? Leave a comment below!

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About Erin S

Welcome to Dinners, Dishes, & Desserts where my love of food meets my busy life. My name is Erin and I’m a casual home cook who loves to feed people. On this blog, you’ll find hundreds of quick and easy recipes made mostly from scratch. My days are spent in the kitchen, creating new recipes to share with family and friends.

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5 Comments

  1. Oh wow!! This is such a fantastic dish! The flavors are amaaaazing!! I am so excited to try it!

  2. This was very good. I added cayenne pepper to the sauce to make it spicier as Indian food tends to be pretty spicy. Thanks for the recipe!