Butter Chicken is one of the recipes most frequently requested of me.
It’s one I make fairly often, so I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to post it!
This restaurant favourite is creamy, flavourful and mild on the spectrum of Indian curries. My version is simplified (read: doesn’t require a plethora of spices that you’ll buy and only need one-eighth of a teaspoon of) but doesn’t suffer in the flavour department. This is definitely a lick-your-plate dinner.
Most butter chicken recipes require cooking the chicken separately first, then simmering 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, so they won’t absorb much of the flavour from the sauce. If you are a planner, marinate the chicken overnight for maximum benefit (but even a half-hour to mingle with the spices will make a difference). And if you are a planner AND a perfectionist, then feel free to add an extra step and char the chicken cubes a bit on a grill/grill pan, or under a broiler for a few minutes before tossing them in the sauce.
Update: I turned the leftovers into this deliciously addictive Homemade Butter Chicken Pizza – you have to try it!
One thing you don’t want to rush is the caramelizing of the onions – it’s a really important layer of flavour in any Indian curry, and especially in a sweeter one like this.
More Must-Try Indian Recipes
Best Butter Chicken
For chicken and marinade:
- 2.2 lbs (1 kg) 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
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 2 ½ cups chopped onion about 2 medium-large
- 2 tbsp coarsely chopped garlic
- 2 tbsp garam masala
- 2 tsp paprika
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- 2 tsp kosher salt or to taste
- 2 cups diced no-salt-added canned tomatoes
- ¾ cup heavy 35% or whipping cream
- 2 tbsp butter
- Chopped cilantro to garnish (optional)
- 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.
- 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.