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This easy butter chicken recipe is full of authentic Indian flavors. This is a healthy chicken curry recipe that is quick to make and perfect for a weeknight meal. The curry sauce is mild in spice but big in flavor! This is the best butter chicken recipe!
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!
Quick Indian butter chicken recipe
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] authentic Indian dish. 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.
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.
You know by now this is all happening in one pan, right? So into the pan goes literally everything else! There’s chicken breast, tomato paste, red curry paste and tons of colorful Indian 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.
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 this recipe? 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.
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the difference between butter chicken and chicken tikka masala?
Butter chicken and chicken tikka masala look very similar, but chicken tikka has a more complex taste with more added spices and butter chicken has a milder and sweeter curry sauce or gravy. Butter chicken originates from India, whereas chicken tikka masala is actually a British dish.
Is butter chicken sauce spicy?
Despite the various spices used in this gravy, it is a very mild dish, the spices add flavor to the curry rather than heat. This is a great family meal that the kids will love, and if you are not a fan of spicy food this dish will be for you!
How many calories are in butter chicken?
If you order butter chicken in a restaurant, you are likely looking at around 500 calories, sometimes more, per serving, but my lightened up version is less than 300 calories yet still as tasty! Feel free to add extra veggies in as well for an even healthier dish!
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.
For more Indian inspired recipes:
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!
Easy Butter Chicken
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion small diced
- 2 teaspoon ginger grated
- 3 cloves garlic clove 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Serve over white rice and/or naan, and garnish with cilantro, if desired
Nutrition information provided is an estimate. It will vary based on cooking method and specific ingredients used.
Hi, me again. I just want to point out that I had gone through my spice cabinet and saw my bottle of Moroccan spice blend (Ran El Hanout) by McCormick and it has all the same spices as Garam Masala, minus the clove. So, in case anyone cannot find Garam Masala, this might be a good alternative and is easily available. You can probably just add a few cloves or a little clove powder to make it the same. Just wanted to point that out so you are not like me searching all the markets down to find this product. I wish I had known that before I wasted the time and money.
This looks wonderful and I’m sure it tastes wonderful too, but I hate coriander as it tastes like ivory soap to me, and I don’t want all the fat from the coconut milk. Oh, and I went to two stores and cannot find mustard seed. Can I omit the coriander and substitute non-fat yogurt for the coconut milk and use dry mustard instead of the mustard seeds? Sorry, I know it must sound like I’m changing your recipe too much, but I really want to make this except for the issue with those items. Thanks for any suggestion you can offer.
Hello, yes, the seasoning is easy to change to whatever your preference is. I think the garam masala and curry paste, and curry powder are the most important, and the others can be substituted or left out. As for the yogurt substitute, I think that will work, but I would recommend whole milk yogurt so that the sauce doesn’t curdle. Let me know how it works.
I was skeptical about this recipe because the ingredients were very different than my usual butter chicken recipe. I made the recipe as written and wow… this was delicious. My husband is a good cook and very picky. He praised the dish and helped himself to seconds. Thank you for an easy and delicious recipe!
So glad you and your husband enjoyed it!!
This is my new butter chicken recipe – delicious and simple!
That is such a compliment! Yay!
I’ve made this multiple times. Literally soooo good.
That makes me so happy to hear! Thank you!
We made this last night, following the recipe (used less chili powder than what was called for, ground mustard vs mustard seed), and it was so spicy we could hardly eat it. Which I was surprised by the outcome since it’s stated above:
“Is butter chicken sauce spicy?
Despite the various spices used in this gravy, it is a very mild dish, the spices add flavor to the curry rather than heat. This is a great family meal that the kids will love, and if you are not a fan of spicy food this dish will be for you!”
We both like spicy food, so I’m not sure where the extra heat came from. Maybe the ground mustard?
I’m not sure what happened there. The mustard shouldn’t affect the spice level that drastically. It could’ve been the chili powder depending on your spice tolerance, so it may be better to leave it out all together.
Made this for dinner tonight it was delicious. The store was out of regular coconut milk, they only had light unsweetened. So I added a couple of tablespoons of sugar. I didn’t know what else to do but it was still really good! I also used half breast meat half thigh meat because that’s what I had available.
That’s amazing! So glad you enjoyed.
Delish ! I used 1.5 cans of Coconut Milk & doubled the Curry & Tomato Paste
We love it more creamy to dip the Naan in
Also used boneless skinless chicken thigh chunks b/c you can simmer this longer & the chicken won’t dry out 🙂
Thank you! I love it with naan!
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