Better than takeout, make easy, restaurant-quality Indian butter chicken at home in just 30 minutes. This well-known Indian dish has a creamy tomato-based sauce, charred marinated chicken, and incredible spices and flavour. The moment you get those ingredients and spices into your pan, the aromas that will hit you are something else!
Ingredients in Butter Chicken
- chicken - marinated in yogurt, garlic, ginger, chilli powder, paprika, garam masala, salt and pepper. You can make this dish with chicken breast or thighs. I personally prefer thighs because I find their tenderness to be a better fit in this recipe.
- vegetable oil + butter
- seasonings - coriander seeds, cumin seeds, turmeric, garam masala, chilli powder, dried fenugreek leaves, salt and pepper
- tomato puree - tomato puree may be called crushed tomatoes - look at the picture on the can.
- heavy cream - 35% or whipping cream
- cilantro or parsley (for garnish)
How to Make Butter Chicken
There are two main steps to make this butter chicken. Making the chicken and preparing the butter chicken sauce.
- Marinate the chicken. In a medium bowl, mix together the chicken with the marinade ingredients: yogurt, garlic, ginger, chilli powder and salt and pepper. Cover the bowl and allow chicken to marinate for 1-2 hours or overnight in the fridge.
- Pre-cook the chicken. Preheat the oven to 475 F. Cook the chicken for 10 minutes on the middle rack. Turn broiler on high and move the chicken to the top rack. Char (meaning partially blacken or burn) the top for 2-3 minutes until the top of the chicken begins to brown or burn slightly. Remove chicken from oven.
- Make the butter chicken sauce. In a large frying pan, heat oil over medium high heat. Add butter and allow it to melt. Then, add coriander and cumin and cook for about 30 seconds. Add onion, turmeric, garlic and ginger and cook until onion becomes translucent (2-3 minutes). Then, add garam masala, chilli powder and paprika, stir until coated and cook for about 40 seconds. Add the tomato puree and water and bring the sauce to a simmer.
- Puree the sauce. Pour the sauce into a blender and puree until smooth (If you prefer a chunkier sauce rather than smooth, then skip this step). Pour the sauce back into the pan and bring to a simmer.
- Add pre-cooked chicken. Add the partially cooked chicken. Turn the heat down to low, cover the pan with a lid and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in the cream and fenugreek leaves and season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 2-3 more minutes.
- Serve. Serve with a side of basmati rice and/or naan bread and sprinkle some chopped cilantro or parsley on top.
FAQ and Tips for Making the Best Butter Chicken
- Marinate the chicken for at least one hour. This will enable the chicken to absorb all the delicious flavour deep into its meat. If you are thinking of making this in the next couple of days, make a mental note of that. If you want to make this quickly after work, then think about preparing the chicken the night before and marinate it in the fridge overnight.
- What happens if I don't marinate the chicken? I have to admit that I have made this one night on a spontaneous craving, where I only marinated the chicken for 15 minutes while my oven was pre-heating. The butter chicken still tasted delicious but mainly because of the sauce. When the chicken has been marinated longer, you can taste the vibrant flavours deep into the middle of each and every bite. It makes a huge difference.
- How spicy is this butter chicken? This butter chicken is mild. If you want it spicier, add more chilli powder in the sauce. If you don't want it spicy at all, hold back on the chilli powder or just add a pinch, to taste.
- How long does butter chicken last in the fridge? You can store butter chicken in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
- Can I freeze butter chicken? Yes, butter chicken freezes well. You can freeze it in an airtight container for up to 3 months.
- How can I reheat butter chicken? You can reheat butter chicken easily on a frying pan or in the microwave. Note that chicken is only safe to reheat once, so only reheat the amount that you are going to consume in that sitting.
How to Serve Butter Chicken
More Stewy Recipes
- Slow Cooker Moroccan Lamb Stew
- Pumpkin Chickpea Coconut Curry
- Coconut Curry Lentil Soup
- Easy 20-Minute One Pot Lentils
Did you make this recipe? I would greatly appreciate a comment and rating below, letting me know what you thought of the recipe. You can also snap a picture and tag me on Instagram @aheadofthyme or share it on the Pinterest pin so that I can follow along.
This post was originally posted in January 2016. It has been completely updated with new photos, tips and written content.