The Best Butter Chicken Recipe Ever (Better Than Restaurant!)

4.96 from 24 votes
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This creamy, best-ever Butter Chicken recipe is impossibly delicious, with succulent cubes of juicy chicken in the tastiest spiced sauce. My Indian husband says it will change your life!

Easy Butter Chicken - an authentic Indian recipe

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ “I have cooked it hundreds of times. It’s gorgeous!” – Nataly

Why You’ll Love This Butter Chicken Recipe

This Butter Chicken recipe is a cherished family recipe we’ve perfected over the last 20 years. Here’s why you’re going to love it too:

  • A family favorite: Even little palates can’t get enough of this mild Indian curry.
  • Simple to make: This recipe is easy to follow and has been made by THOUSANDS of readers. You’re going to love it, too!

Here’s What You Need

What is Indian Butter Chicken Sauce Made of? To make this Butter Chicken recipe a success, here’s everything you’ll need. I’ve broken it all down into ingredients, variations and the (basic) tools required.


I like to make sure you know why each ingredient is here. This helps when you’re playing around with substitutions!

  • Chicken breast: You could also use boneless, skinless chicken thighs. This is a particul
  • Lemon juice: Adds brightness to balance the flavors.
  • Garlic
  • Garam masala: A super-flavourful spice blend consisting of up to 10 different Indian spices (including cumin, ground ginger, black pepper, cinnamon, turmeric, cardamom, etc.). Using garam masala saves you buying individual spices you’d need in only small quantities.
  • Vegetable oil: Used for frying the onions, it’s a neutral oil that doesn’t distract from the spices.
  • Onion: Adds sweetness and body to the sauce. Once cooked down, it becomes an imperceptible part of the sauce.
  • Paprika
  • Cinnamon: A touch of warmth that complements the other spices beautifully.
  • Tomatoes
  • Heavy cream: Makes the sauce luxuriously creamy and smooth.
  • Butter: Finishes the sauce with a rich, silky texture.
  • Cilantro: A fresh garnish that adds a pop of color and freshness (optional).

Variations and Substitutions

Feel free to tweak the recipe with these ideas to make it your own.

  • Chicken thighs: More flavorful and moist than breast meat.
  • Lemon Juice Substitute: You can use lime juice or yogurt for marinating the chicken if you’re out of lemon juice.
  • Vegan: If you’d like to make this vegan, feel free to use coconut oil in place of the butter and full-fat coconut milk in place of the heavy cream.
  • More Heat: To give the sauce more heat and make the butter chicken more spicy, add 1 tbsp finely-grated fresh ginger along with the garlic to the sauce and add 1/4 tsp cayenne with the spices.
  • Whole Spices: To add move flavour to the sauce, add a few pods of whole green cardamom and a cinnamon stick (remove them before pureeing).

Grab These Tools

Make sure you have these tools on hand to prepare the recipe smoothly.

  • Large saucepan or Dutch oven: For cooking the sauce and chicken together.
  • Immersion blender: Ideal for blending the sauce directly in the pan to your desired consistency.
  • Measuring spoons and cups: Essential for getting the ingredient proportions just right.
  • Chopping board and knife: For prepping your onions, garlic, and chicken.
  • Zip-top bag or shallow dish: For marinating the chicken effectively.
Butter Chicken in a bowl with cilantro on top and flatbread on the side.

How to Make This Easy Butter Chicken Recipe: Step-By-Step

Most butter chicken recipes require cooking the chicken separately first, and then later simmering it in the sauce.

I don’t think this extra cooking step is necessarily crucial, especially for the sake of an easy weeknight dinner.

The marinade, however, is important because the chicken breasts don’t take long to cook. This means that they won’t absorb much of the flavour from the sauce itself.

Here’s how to break it down into simple steps.

adding spices to the chicken marinade for butter chicken

Marinate the Chicken

Start by prepping your chicken to ensure it absorbs all the wonderful flavors.

  • Combine chicken pieces, lemon juice, minced garlic, garam masala, and kosher salt in a zip-top bag or shallow dish.
  • Mix well, ensuring each piece is coated. For best results, let the chicken marinate overnight in the fridge; if short on time, 30 minutes at room temperature will work too.
When onions are done cooking
This is what the onions look like when they are done. Fully soft and golden.

Prepare the Sauce

A great sauce is the heart of any curry, and this one is no exception.

  • Heat the vegetable oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven.
  • Add chopped onions and cook on medium heat until they are golden brown—this usually takes about 20 minutes.
  • To the onions, add coarsely chopped garlic and cook for about 1 minute until it’s fragrant.
  • Stir in garam masala, paprika, cinnamon, and kosher salt. Cook for another minute to let the spices bloom.
  • Add diced tomatoes and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
the sauce for the butter chicken

Blend and Simmer

Blending the sauce helps achieve a smooth, creamy texture that’s perfect for scooping up with naan.

  • Once your tomatoes are softened and the spices integrated, add the heavy cream.
  • Use an immersion blender to puree the sauce until smooth (if using a standing blender, be cautious of hot steam).
  • Return the pureed sauce to the heat and bring it to a gentle simmer.
adding the marinated chicken to the butter chicken sauce

Cook the Chicken

Now, it’s time to combine everything and finish cooking.

  • Add the marinated chicken to the simmering sauce. Discard any leftover marinade.
  • Cover and let it cook on medium-low heat for about 12 minutes. Check a piece to ensure it’s cooked through.
  • The chicken should be tender but not overcooked.
adding butter to the sauce

Final Touches

Adding the final ingredients right before serving keeps the flavors fresh and vibrant.

  • Stir in the butter until it melts into the sauce.
  • Taste and adjust salt if needed.
  • If using, sprinkle chopped cilantro over the dish as a garnish.

Serve your Butter Chicken with warm, fluffy naan or rice and enjoy the perfect meal!

Make Ahead and Storage

Here are some tips to help you prepare this Butter Chicken in advance and store it for later enjoyment.

  • Marinate overnight: For deeper flavor, marinate the chicken the night before you plan to cook. This saves time and enhances taste.
  • Prep sauce in advance: You can make the sauce a day ahead and simply reheat it when you’re ready to add the chicken.
  • Refrigerator storage: Keep leftover Butter Chicken in a sealed container in the fridge. It should last for up to 3 days.
  • Freezing tips: This dish freezes well. Store it in airtight containers and freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating.
  • Reheating: Warm the Butter Chicken over low heat on the stove, adding a little water if the sauce has thickened too much. Stir frequently to avoid burning.

These steps ensure your Butter Chicken remains tasty and safe to eat, whether you enjoy it immediately or later.

Tips for Marinating the Chicken

Even a quick marinade in some super flavourful ingredients really makes a difference.

  • If you are a planner, marinate the chicken overnight for maximum benefit.
  • If you are making this spontaneously, even giving the chicken half-hour to mingle with the marinade while you prep the sauce will make a difference.
  • If you are a planner AND a perfectionist, feel free to add an extra step and char the marinated chicken cubes a bit on a grill/grill pan, or under a broiler for a few minutes before tossing them in the sauce.
Instant pot with bag of chicken in front.

How to Make Butter Chicken in the Pressure Cooker

A few simple changes if you prefer to make this recipe in an Instant Pot or other pressure cooker:

  • Reduce the tomatoes from 2 cups to 1 1/3 cups. Prep the sauce as directed but don’t add the cream.
  • Pressure cook on high for 3 minutes with a quick pressure release.
  • Remove chicken and set aside.
  • Stir cream into the sauce and blend with an immersion blender.
  • Return chicken to sauce and serve.

How to Make Butter Chicken in the Slow Cooker:

If you’d like to make this recipe in a CrockPot instead, the most noteable difference is to leave the chicken breasts whole. This avoids drying them out, and they have plenty of time to absorb flavour from the sauce.

  • Marinate the chicken breasts whole instead of in pieces.
  • Prep the sauce as directed then top with marinated chicken breasts (left whole instead of chopped) without adding the cream.
  • Slow Cook on high for 3 hours then remove the chicken and cut into chunks.
  • Stir cream into sauce and blend with an immersion blender for a lovely creamy texture.
  • Return chicken to sauce and serve.
Homemade Butter Naan with Palak Paneer

What to Serve With Butter Chicken

  1. Indian Flatbreads: Use my buttery naan, paratha bread, roti, or one of my favorite chapathi recipes to mop the creamy sauce off the plate.
  2. Basmati Rice: When I shared mother-in-law’s easy basmati rice recipe on instagram, it went 12-million-views viral!

Fun Fact: In traditional Indian meals, bread or rice is served, but usually not both. It’s common to use your hands (no utensils) to scoop the chicken and sauce off your plate inside bites of of warm bread. It’s heaven.

Hot chai being poured into a glass.


  • Chai: Start the meal with steaming authentic Indian Chai or Karak Tea
  • Lassi: Plain or Mango
  • Iced Tea: Stick to the theme with an Iced Chai Latte
  • Lemonade: I love this rose lemonade
  • Beer: A crisp lager can cool down the spices of Butter Chicken
  • Riesling: An off-dry Riesling complements the dish’s creaminess and spice


Vegetable Side Dishes

Best Butter Chicken Recipe

MORE of my Indian Husband’s Favorite Recipes

If you love Butter Chicken, I’m sure you’ll love some of these other flavor-packed, fan-favorite Indian dinner dishes!

Next Reading: My Best Family-Favorite Indian Curry Recipes

FAQs About Butter Chicken

Just skimming through? Here are some quick answers to the commonly-asked questions.

Is butter chicken spicy or sweet?

Butter chicken has a perfect balance of spicy and sweet, but is definitely mild on the spice spectrum of Indian curries.

What does butter chicken taste like?

Butter chicken tastes richly creamy with a mild heat from the Indian spices, contrasted by sweet undertones from the butter and cream.

What is the difference between chicken tikka and butter chicken?

Chicken tikka consists of spice-marinated pieces of chicken cooked in a tandoor. Butter chicken has chicken pieces in a creamy curry sauce. You can use leftover tandoori chicken in the sauce for even more flavor.

What is butter chicken sauce made of?

The sauce for butter chicken includes tomatoes, cream, butter and various spices for a rich flavor.

Why is it called butter chicken?

It’s named for its creamy sauce that includes butter, giving the dish a rich and smooth texture.

Which is healthier: butter chicken or chicken tikka?

Chicken tikka generally contains fewer calories as it lacks the creamy sauce found in butter chicken.

How is butter chicken different from chicken tikka masala?

Butter chicken has a creamier and less tomato-intense sauce than tikka masala, which is spicier and more tomato-based.

What is butter chicken also called?

It is also commonly known as Murgh Makhani.

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4.96 from 24 votes

Best Butter Chicken Recipe Ever (Better Than a Restaurant!)

Truly the best Butter Chicken (Murgh Makhani) recipe. It's a creamy and perfectly spiced Indian curry recipe with tender chicken and lots of sauce to mop up with warm naan.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 6


For chicken and marinade:

  • 2.2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast cut in 1" – 2" cubes
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp kosher salt

For sauce:

  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 ½ cups chopped onion about 2 medium-large
  • 2 tbsp garlic coarsely chopped
  • 2 tbsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp kosher salt or to taste
  • 2 cups diced tomatoes no-salt-added if canned
  • ¾ cup heavy 35% or whipping cream
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp cilantro chopped, to garnish (optional)
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  • For marinade:
    Combine all ingredients in a zip-top bag or shallow baking dish, massaging the marinade into the chicken. Let stand at room temperature while you prepare the sauce, or marinate in the fridge overnight.

For sauce:

  • Heat oil over medium heat in a large saucepan or dutch oven. Add onions and slowly cook until golden, about 20 minutes, reducing heat if they are getting crispy or browning quickly.
  • Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in garam masala, paprika, cinnamon and salt; cook 1 minute more. Add tomatoes; cook 2 minutes, then add cream and carefully puree using an immersion blender (or standing blender, but do it in batches or the steam will blow the top off).
  • Return sauce to saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove chicken from marinade and it to the sauce (discarding remaining marinade). Cover, and simmer over medium-low heat until cooked through, about 12 minutes (remove a couple of pieces to make sure they are no longer pink inside). A gentle simmer is required to gently cook the breasts so they don’t become tough, and you don’t want to overcook them.
  • Stir in butter, taste and add more salt to taste. Serve sprinkled with cilantro, if desired.



Calories: 408kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 41g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 155mg | Sodium: 1563mg | Potassium: 963mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 1059IU | Vitamin C: 17mg | Calcium: 76mg | Iron: 2mg

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

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Recipe Rating


  1. Jasmine says:

    3 stars
    Decent basic starter recipe for murgh makhani.

  2. Dawn says:

    I made this dish a couple of years ago in a crockpot with a slightly different recipe. This recipe looks like it may be better. I plan on making it for my mom. Our first taste of Indian food was not enjoyable. My ex husband introduced me to fantastic Indian food at a restaurant in the Cincinnati, Ohio area. I now love a lot of dishes. I’m looking forward to making this dish and others. Also thanks for posting such easy directions for paneer! Looking to putting that in recipes too.

  3. Sam says:

    Can anyone tell me what the ingredient is that makes it (curry) spicy? I love it but my family/friends are very sensitive to hot spices. Thanks.

    1. Jennifer Pallian BSc, RD says:

      The garam masala itself can vary in spiciness. The curry is not a spicy curry though, it really sweet and creamy with a bit of spice. Small kids love it. If your friends are sensitive to spices, I might go a different route altogether. 🙂

    2. Becky says:

      This recipe isn’t spicy at all

    3. Patricia H says:

      I didn’t find this spicy at all! I can’t handle heat! I found it more sweet than spicy

  4. nicnaof says:

    3 stars
    this recipe sounds good but like who doesn’t like butter chicken in general

  5. Franca B says:

    Hello. I’m making the butter chicken now and am not sure if I have to drain the chicken from the marinade or use it. Advice please! Thanks

    1. tasha says:

      Use it

    2. Jennifer Pallian BSc, RD says:

      Just pull the chicken out of the marinade. You don’t scrape the marinade in or anything.

  6. Christine Weber says:

    5 stars
    After preparing this recipe the first time I couldn’t find it again! Finally found my print-out and prepared it again. It took me bit longer with the preparations but this gets a full five star rating from me. Even my son who usually doesn’t like Indian food loves this and remarked how soft the meat is! Absolutely the best 🙂

  7. Tracy Morgan says:

    We make this all the time in our house – it is our go to curry recipe! We have eaten it with prawns, meat and veggie (as well as chicken). Awesome!

  8. Nataly says:

    I have cooked it hundreds of times. It’s gorgeous!

  9. Claudia C says:

    This is awesome recipe. Just made it tonight and it’s delicious.

  10. Harry Taylor says:

    This is my go to butter chicken recipe. Thanks!