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Easy Butter Chicken

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  • PlateServes: 8 servings

A simplified version of the popular Indian dish, this Easy Butter Chicken recipe has a creamy tomato sauce, all cooked in one pan in less than half an hour!

  • Author: Yumna Jawad
  • Posted:

Do you remember the first time you heard of butter chicken (which is known in India as Murgh Makhani)? I literally just pictured chicken swimming in butter… But then I actually tasted it at a restaurant. It was like a party in my mouth! Authentic butter chicken is a labor of love. It requires the chicken to be marinated in advance, has more authentic Indian spices than I can probably pronounce, and takes at least an hour to make.

I only allot myself 30 minutes for most recipes. So I took a shortcut and made this [still absolutely amazingly tasting] easy butter chicken. Don’t be scared by the list of ingredients. 7 of them are just the spices and all the rest are simple easy-to-find items.

Final dish for the easy butter chicken plates with rice and cilantro

I promise you all the flavor of traditional butter chicken is still there (thanks to my amazing Indian spice collection!) And I promise you the chicken will come out juicy, tender and unbelievably tasty! Also, the best part is that even though it’s a butter chicken recipe, there’s really only 1 tablespoon of butter in the recipe.

How to Make Easy Butter Chicken

To start, cook the onions with the butter and olive oil. It’s a great idea to finely dice the onions if you can. This helps the onions blends in well with the sauce. When the onions soften, I add some grated ginger and minced garlic.

Large skillet with minced onions, garlic and ginger cooked in butter and olive oil to make butter chicken

You know by now this is all happening in one pan, right? That’s why it’s easy butter chicken. So into the pan goes literally everything else! There’s chicken breast, tomato paste, red curry paste and tons of colorful Indian spices.

In the large skillet with the onions, garlic and ginger, I added chicken, tomato paste, curry paste and spices.

Once I add the coconut milk to that mixture, it transforms the dish to a beautiful orangey color that’s basically like a velvety butter bath bursting with flavor. Allow it simmer though for 20 minutes. You want the chicken to cook completely and the sauce to thicken.

Easy butter chicken after 20 minutes of cooking in the skillet

That, my friends, is the whole recipe. It’s the fast and convenient recipe for us butter chicken lovers that have 30 minutes to get dinner ready on the table. By the way, while that is simmering for 20 minutes, it’s the perfect time to make rice to go along with this meal. You can also serve it with naan, quinoa, or brown rice. But long grain white rice or basmati rice is the best. It’s the way it’s served traditionally.

Close up of the final dish for the easy butter chicken plates with rice and cilantro

Tips for making butter chicken

  • Be liberal with the spices. Like a lot of Indian recipes, this one is a heavily spiced dish. When you break down the ingredients, you’ll realize that all the flavor comes from the combination of warm smokey spices. Use my recipe below as a guide but feel free to add more and substitute the spices you don’t have with more of the ones you do have.
  • Use fresh ginger and fresh garlic. Yes, we are throwing in a ton of spices in the dish. And it’s tempting to throw in more dried spices like ginger and garlic. But it’s important that you use the fresh versions. They add a ton more flavor to the dish than their dry counterparts.
  • Customize it with vegetables. The chicken is the star of the dish, but you can certainly bulk this up with any other vegetables like carrots, cauliflower or peas to add more servings of vegetables.
  • Substitute the butter if you prefer. You don’t need butter to make butter chicken? Nope. This recipe gets all its richness and “buttery” taste from the from cream, or in my case, the coconut milk. So if you’re not a fan of butter, try olive oil or any other cooking oil.

If you’ve tried this healthy-ish feel good Easy Butter Chicken recipe or any other recipe on FeelGoodFoodie, then don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave me a comment below! I would love to hear about your experience making it. And if you snapped some shots of it, share it with me on Instagram so I can repost on my stories!

For more Indian inspired recipes:

4.24 from 39 votes
Final dish for the easy butter chicken plates with rice and cilantro
Easy Butter Chicken
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
30 mins

A simplified version of the popular Indian dish, this Easy Butter Chicken recipe has a creamy tomato sauce, all cooked in one pan in less than half an hour!

Course: Entree
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: butter chicken, Chicken Curry
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 289 kcal
Author: Yumna Jawad
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion small diced
  • 2 teaspoon ginger grated
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 pounds chicken breasts cut into ¾-inch chunks
  • 3 oz. tomato paste
  • 3 oz red curry paste
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon curry
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 (14 oz) can coconut milk
  • Hot cooked rice and/or naan for serving
  • Cilantro for serving
  1. Heat the butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the onions until they become soft and translucent, about 3-5 minutes. Stir in the ginger and garlic and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.

  2. Add the chicken breast to the skillet with the cooked onions. Add the tomato paste, red curry paste and the Indian spices to the chicken. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the chicken until it's well coated with the onions, tomato and curry pastes and spices. 

  3. Pour the coconut milk over the chicken mixture and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil, and then set the heat to low, and simmer for 20 minutes.

  4. Serve over white rice and/or naan, and garnish with cilantro, if desired

Recipe Notes

Storage: Store any leftovers in an airtight container. They will last about 3-4 days in the fridge.

Make Ahead: If you want to prepare some of the dish ahead of time. You can saute the onions, garlic and ginger with the butter and olive oil. Then transfer the onion mixture to a bowl, add all the ingredients on top of it and stir to combine. You can do this up to one day in advance. When ready to cook, just put everything in a pan, bring to a boil, then simmer on low heat for 20 minutes. 

Sourcing: You can find most of the spices at major grocery stores. Garam masala may not be as widely available, but you can find at Indian specialty stores.

Substitutes: For best results, follow the recipe as is. If you can't find garam masala, you can make your own blend. Here's are two popular substitutions: 1 part cumin plus 1/4 part allspice. Or any combination of: Coriander, Cumin, Black Peppercorns, Cardamom, Cloves, Nutmeg.

Nutrition Label: Please note the nutrition label does not include the rice or naan.

Nutrition Facts
Easy Butter Chicken
Amount Per Serving (1 serving)
Calories 289 Calories from Fat 153
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 17g 26%
Saturated Fat 11g 55%
Cholesterol 76mg 25%
Sodium 530mg 22%
Potassium 665mg 19%
Total Carbohydrates 6g 2%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Sugars 2g
Protein 26g 52%
Vitamin A 41.7%
Vitamin C 7.8%
Calcium 3.9%
Iron 15.3%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.


  • Reply
    Dana Tamer
    December 30, 2018 at 5:48 am

    Is there anything I can substitute red curry paste with if I cant get it?
    Recipe looks delicious and cant wait to try it!!

    • Reply
      Yumna Jawad
      December 30, 2018 at 10:39 am

      Yes, you can just substitute 2 teaspoons curry powder along with 3 oz of tomato paste for the color. Hope you like it!

  • Reply
    November 13, 2018 at 4:22 pm

    What can you substitute if you can’t get Garam masala!?

    • Reply
      Yumna Jawad
      November 13, 2018 at 9:29 pm

      You can leave it out all together or try this substitute a combination of Coriander, Cumin, Black Peppercorns, Cardamom, Cloves and Nutmeg. Hope that helps!

  • Reply
    October 2, 2018 at 5:39 am

    Love the flavor

  • Reply
    September 29, 2018 at 2:53 am

    I made this and absolutely love the flavours. Such a simple recipe to follow. Definitely will be making again 🙂

    • Reply
      Yumna Jawad
      September 30, 2018 at 11:10 am

      That’s so awesome! Thank you!!!

  • Reply
    Michelle Cannon
    September 24, 2018 at 10:45 am

    I love butter chicken! I’ll have to try your recipe!

    • Reply
      Yumna Jawad
      September 27, 2018 at 6:47 pm

      Thanks Michelle! I hope you try it and enjoy it 🙂

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