Indian Butter Chicken

6 Servings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Indian Butter Chicken (Murgh Makhani) is a flavorful tomato cream curry dish made in just 30 minutes with an optional extra marinade that’s restaurant quality!

There’s no question that Slow Cooker Indian Butter Chicken is one of our fan favorite recipes. This stovetop Indian Butter Chicken is a great recipe when you are craving Indian Food in less than an hour.

Indian Butter Chicken whole breasts cooked in pan


Butter Chicken is similar to the well known Tikka Masala. In fact, Tikka Masala was created because people wanted the flavors of Indian Butter Chicken and restaurants wanted a recipe that didn’t rely on leftovers. If you like Chicken Tikka Masala, this a great recipe to try the next time you are craving a classic Indian dish.

Also known as Chicken Makhani, authentic Indian Butter Chicken is a flavorful Indian dish that braises leftover Tandoori chicken in a rich tomato puree flavored with garam masala, butter and heavy cream. The heavily spiced leftover chicken adds layers of flavor to the sauce.

Optional Marinade to make this EVEN BETTER

Unlike traditional Indian Butter Chicken, this butter chicken recipe uses boneless chicken breasts instead of tandoori chicken. You still get the tandoori flavors thanks to the overnight marinade of a yogurt and spice mixture, without the extra cooking.

If you want to skip the overnight marinade (please don’t though), you can skip the yogurt and add the lemon juice and half the amount of spices to your sauce mixture when you add in the cumin.

Indian Butter Chicken ingredients in bowl before mixing

Despite the name, Butter Chicken doesn’t have that much butter in it. It’s the heavy cream, or other thick cream, that gives the sauce a buttery, silky texture. This tomato puree recipe is heavily spiced with cumin, paprika, and garlic cloves, with just a bit of heat from diced jalapeños, but you’ll notice there is no garam masala.

Garam masala is a traditional spice blend that you will find in many Indian and Southeast Asian recipes. While it gives so much warm, spicy flavor, it can be hard for home cooks to find and keep on hand. This homemade butter chicken spice blend brings all the flavor of garam masala with pantry spices you already have on hand.

Serve this slightly spicy Indian Butter Chicken with a cool cucumber Indian Raita, a tasty sauce that is similar to a greek yogurt tzatziki. Butter Chicken is usually served with basmati rice and naan, but it also goes great with light Coconut Rice, Roasted Broccoli, or Roasted Potatoes.

Indian Butter Chicken sliced chicken pieces in sauce

Tips for Indian Butter Chicken

  • if using your marinade, don’t marinate your chicken for more than 24 hours. The lemon and acid in the yogurt will start to break down the chicken texture after a day.
  • Make the butter chicken sauce ahead of time and freeze for up to 6 months! Simply cook the sauce without the chicken and store in plastic bags. Thaw overnight in the fridge and cook marinated chicken in the sauce as usual.


Indian Butter Chicken sauce in pan


  • Meat: You can use any kind of chicken in this recipe, like chicken thighs and bone-in chicken legs. This dish 
  • Spices: If you have it on hand, add 1 tablespoon garam masala to your marinade and another tablespoon to your butter sauce for more classic flavors.
  • Spicy: Add more or less jalapeños to make this dish spicer or more mild. You could also use really spicy peppers like Thai bird peppers or Serrano peppers if you are fan of heat!
  • Dairy: Instead of heavy cream, you can substitute full fat coconut milk or half-and-half. If you use non-fat milk, the sauce won’t be as rich and creamy.
  • Yogurt: You can use any full fat or non-fat yogurt in the marinade. If you want a tangier marinade, use Greek yogurt.

Instant Pot Indian Butter Chicken

  • Marinate the chicken overnight as usual. This step is optional but adds a lot of flavor.
  • Add all the Butter Sauce ingredients to the pressure cooker except the heavy cream.
  • Close Instant Pot lid, seal valve, and set to Manual High Pressure for 10 minutes.
  • Naturally release pressure for 10 minutes, then release pressure.
  • Carefully remove the chicken and set aside.
  • Blend sauce ingredients with an immersion blender. Add ½ cup sauce to room temperature heavy cream.
  • Add heavy cream mixture, butter, cilantro, and oil to the pressure cooker and stir to combine.
  • Return chicken to Instant Pot. Set cooker on Soup until chicken is heated through.



  • Serve: Butter Chicken can be at room temperature for up to 2 hours before it should be cooled and stored.
  • Store: Place cooled Butter Chicken in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 4 days.
  • Freeze: Cool Butter Chicken completely before storing in a sealed container and freezing for up to 3 months.

Indian Butter Chicken with peas and rice on plate

Pin this recipe now to remember it later

Pin Recipe

Indian Butter Chicken

Indian Butter Chicken (Murgh Makhani) is a flavorful tomato cream curry dish made in just 30 minutes with an optional marinade that’s restaurant quality!
Yield 6 Servings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Indian
Author Sabrina Snyder


Butter Chicken Marinade

  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 chicken breasts , boneless, skinless

Butter Chicken Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 clove garlic , minced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper , finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 8 ounces canned tomato sauce
  • 1 cup heavy cream

To Finish

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro , chopped


Overnight Marinade

  • In a large ziploc bag the night before cooking add the yogurt, lemon juice, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, black pepper, ginger, salt and chicken and mix well.
  • If you don't want to marinade overnight, you can either marinade for 15 minutes or simply add the lemon juice and half the spices to your sauce (when you add in the cumin). Skip the yogurt.

Butter Chicken Sauce

  • Add the butter, garlic and jalapeño to a large skillet on medium heat until you can smell the garlic, about 1 minute.
  • Add the 2 teaspoons cumin, 2 teaspoons paprika, 1 teaspoon salt and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly until the spices darken in color.
  • Add in the tomato sauce and heavy cream, stir and cook for 1 minute.
  • Remove the sauce from your pan and keep to the side then wipe skillet clean.
  • Add in 2 tablespoons of butter and vegetable oil to your large skillet on medium high heat.
  • Remove most of the marinade (and discard this marinade) from your chicken and add it to the skillet (you can keep the chicken whole or cut into large chunks).
  • Cook for 5-6 minutes on each side until cooked through.
  • Top with sauce and bring to a simmer, then top with cilantro.


Calories: 383kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 16g | Cholesterol: 147mg | Sodium: 1142mg | Potassium: 682mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 1550IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 102mg | Iron: 2mg

Indian Butter Chicken collage

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the cookbook Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients, published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

Dinner, then Dessert, Inc. owns the copyright on all images and text and does not allow for its original recipes and pictures to be reproduced anywhere other than at this site unless authorization is given. If you enjoyed the recipe and would like to publish it on your own site, please re-write it in your own words, and link back to my site and recipe page. Read my disclosure and copyright policy. This post may contain affiliate links.


Leave a comment & rating

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. This is a wonderful recipe! My husband who doesn’t love Indian food as much as I do, went back for a 2nd serving. It has a nice flavor but isn’t too bold (not that I mind bold, but he does). And sharing a meal with someone who thoroughly enjoys eating it, is half the fun!!

  2. This recipe did not work for me. It was bland and really unappealing. Sad because I just made her lamb curry and it was delicious!

  3. This butter chicken is so delicious! Definitely recommended getting the chicken in the marinade the night before you’re making it – makes a difference! I cubed the chicken breasts in about 1” chunks. The flavor is spectacular. Served it with basmati rice and garlic naan heated on the grill. This was seriously AS GOOD as our favorite Indian restaurant in Houston.

  4. We have tried a few different Indian recipes and we keep coming back to this one. It’s closest to the one we get at the restaraunt we usually go to. It’s awesome and easy and the only thing we changed is dialing back the ammount of Indian chilli powder, unless you like a bit of heat. Mow all we need is how to make the basmati rice and the spinach that comes with it 🙂

  5. This was delicious! All we were missing was some garlic nan bread. My husband kept saying that it tasted like I had gotten it from a restaurant.

  6. This recipe was incredible. Absolutely delicious. Even my husband who hates Indian food, licked his plate clean!!!

  7. Yummy! This is so so good. I’ve had it at a local restaurant before and think that this recipe tasted just as delicious!

  8. Thank you for this amazing, easy to follow, and flavored chicken recipe. I made it tonight: it turned out great. Well, it looks like yours. I hope that I created the same taste as yours as well 🙂

  9. I love everything about this butter chicken! It is so creamy and flavorful and a great meal to make again and again.

  10. Love butter chicken. I am wondering if I could substitute the heavy cream with coconut milk? Or would that make it an entirely different Indian dish?

    1. That would work but will adjust the flavor a bit, just make sure to use full fat coconut milk. Enjoy!