This Indian Butter Chicken recipe is made with tender chicken thighs, tomatoes, heavy cream, and a rainbow of spices. An easy-to-make, takeout-style dinner!
Indian Butter Chicken in a Creamy Tomato Sauce
Butter chicken is a restaurant favorite, and it’s easy to see why. Tender pieces of chicken served in a sauce that manages to be mild, indulgent, tangy, creamy, and full of curry spices?! Um, yes, please! 🙏
Served on a bed of basmati rice or with a few fresh naan, it’s utterly irresistible. 👩🍳
And guess what? It’s also really easy to make! Even if you’re new to Indian recipes, this one is very simple, and you don’t need to know any complicated techniques, or find any hard-to-source ingredients.! Butter chicken comes together quickly and easily on the stovetop, in just about 30 minutes.
This Chicken Curry Is Great Because…
- It’s truly flavorful – a party in your mouth!
- Quick and easy to make, perfect for a busy weeknight.
- Uses real, wholesome ingredients you can feel good about.
- Tastes fancy but doesn’t require any advanced skills or unusual ingredients
The Ingredients You’ll Need
Butter chicken has a surprisingly short list of ingredients, which is one of the things that makes it so easy. Here’s the scoop:
For the Chicken
- Plain Yogurt: I like full-fat yogurt, but you can use regular yogurt, too.
- Lemon Juice: Just a bit.
- Garam Masala: This popular Indian spice blend adds a ton of flavor.
- Chili Powder: Adds an earthy sweetness.
- Turmeric: Adds both color and flavor.
- Chicken: I use boneless, skinless chicken thighs, chopped into 1-inch pieces.
For the Sauce
- Vegetable Oil: For sautéing.
- Brown Sugar: For a touch of sweetness.
- Spices: Cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves give the sauce a spicy fragrance and warmth.
- Ginger: A little fresh minced ginger is my go-to, but in a pinch you could use ground ginger.
- Garlic: Mince or press the garlic.
- Canned Tomatoes: You can use crushed or pureed tomatoes – either one works fine.
- Heavy Cream: Heavy cream adds the perfect silky richness to the sauce.
- Butter: I use unsalted butter, but salted is fine as well.
- Chopped Cilantro: Adds a punch of fresh herbal flavor and color.
How to Make It
Keep in mind that the most flavorful and tender butter chicken needs some time to marinate, so consider starting the marinating at breakfast and then cooking at dinner.
- Marinate the Chicken Thighs. In a large bowl, combine the yogurt, lemon juice, salt, half of the garam masala, chili powder, and turmeric. Whisk it or beat it with a fork to mix well, and then add the chicken pieces. Refrigerate and marinate for at least an hour, or up to 24 hours.
- Cook the Chicken. Place a cooking pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add the oil, and once shimmering, add the chicken and the marinade. Stir this occasionally, cooking until the chicken is no longer pink, about 5 minutes.
- Add the Sauce Ingredients. Next, add the rest of the garam masala, plus the brown sugar, cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, ground cloves, ginger, and garlic. Pour in the tomatoes and heavy cream. Simmer the butter chicken uncovered for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Finish the Dish. Finally, stir in the butter until it melts into the sauce. Remove the pot from the heat, garnish the butter chicken with chopped cilantro, and serve immediately.
Tips for Success
These easy tips will guarantee that your butter chicken turns out perfectly, every time. Read on, and bon appetit!
- Cutting the Chicken: Cutting up chicken thighs is easier when the chicken is slightly frozen, so if time permits, try sticking the raw chicken in the freezer for about one hour before chopping it.
- Coconut: This recipe is also amazing with full-fat coconut milk in place of the cream, and coconut oil in place of the vegetable oil.
- Cream to Taste: If you prefer a creamier butter chicken, you can add an extra ½ cup of heavy cream to the dish.
What to Serve with Butter Chicken
A side of basmati rice is just perfect with this dish, but don’t stop there! All kinds of easy side dishes work well with butter chicken, including:
- A side of Garlic Honey Roasted Sweet Potatoes goes beautifully with the tangy, creamy sauce in butter chicken.
- If you are watching your carb intake, feel free to use these Grilled Summer Squash Kebabs.
- Easy Homemade Flatbread isn’t exactly the same as traditional naan bread, but it is super simple to make and will definitely work!
Storing and Reheating
- Once your butter chicken has completely cooled, it can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days.
- Reheating this dish is easy! I like to reheat it in the microwave, covered with a paper towel to prevent spatters. You can also reheat it on the stove over medium heat.
Can I Freeze Butter Chicken?
- Definitely! Pack butter chicken into airtight freezer containers or freezer bags, and store in the freezer for four to six months.
- Thaw in the fridge before reheating.
Indian Butter Chicken
For the Chicken:
For the Sauce:
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- 2 tablespoons fresh minced ginger
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 (15-ounce can) crushed or pureed tomatoes
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- chopped cilantro, for garnish
- In a large bowl, mix together the yogurt, lemon juice, salt, half of the garam masala, chili powder, and turmeric. Add in the chicken pieces and toss to coat.
- Cover and place in the refrigerator to marinate for at least 1 hour, and up to 24 hours.
- In a large cooking pot or Dutch oven, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add the chicken and the marinade to the pot.
- Stir occasionally, and cook until the chicken is browned and no longer pink, about 4 to 5 minutes.
- Add the remaining garam masala, brown sugar, cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, ground cloves, ginger, garlic, tomatoes, and heavy cream. Simmer uncovered for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Stir in the butter until melted.
- Remove from heat and taste for salt and pepper; adjust accordingly.
- Garnish with chopped cilantro, and serve immediately.
- Serve with basmati rice or Indian flatbread of choice.
- If you prefer a creamier butter chicken, you can add an extra ½ cup of heavy cream to the dish.
- The dish can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 to 3 days.