Creamy Cashew Butter Chicken
This delicious Cashew Butter Chicken is as good as it gets. By using cashews instead of cream, this recipe is as rich and creamy as any restaurant-style butter chicken, but it's so much healthier for you. It's easy to make and a naturally dairy-free + paleo + Whole30 compliant recipe that EVERYONE will love.
Cashews for the win … again!
Also, healthy butter chicken for the win. Heck, ya! Those two can share the trophy and become collectively known as Cashew Butter Chicken.
I've gone back to my Easy Butter Chicken Recipe and tweaked it so it's now completely dairy-free but (IMO) even better than the original version.
What we've done here is blended the cashews to make cashew cream. Once you pour that liquid gold into the curry, you'd never know it wasn't whipping cream. That's how delicious it is.
This is restaurant-style butter chicken at its best.
The cashew cream trick is an old one around this blog. We used the same technique with the Not Yo Mama's Pork Chops and Mushroom Soup recipe. Have you tried it? I LOVE that recipe!
I've also used it in most of the ice cream recipes here, which makes them dairy-free + vegan, though you'd never know. ← Trust me on that one!
Even though a round of Brie doesn't stand a chance around me, I like to limit the amount of milk and cream I use when cooking. Using cashew cream means that I don't have to sacrifice taste for health. Big time bonus!
Back to this cashew butter chicken …
When I told my handsome man what we were having for dinner, his face got all twisted up like it would if I said we were having vegan, gluten-free, all-natural, clean-eating, cardboard-tasting pancakes for dinner. He LOVES curry dinners so I thought he was being a total weirdo and told him not to worry about it, he was going to like it.
Apparently, he thought we were having chicken with cashew butter, not butter chicken made with cashews.
Sidebar → Have you ever read the book Eats, Shoots & Leaves? If you haven't, please promise me you will. You'll literally laugh out loud from start to finish.
Sometimes grammar would be handy when speaking, too!
Now ACTUALLY back to this cashew butter chicken …
This is one of those easy dinner recipes that is perfect to keep in your back pocket. Whether you're rushing around with all the back-to-school prep going on, craving a warm and comforting dinner, or are wanting killer leftovers for lunch, this recipe's got your back.
From start to finish, you'll have dinner on the table in about 35 minutes. Talk about quick and easy, my friends!
Curry is my little girl's all-time fav dinner. You should see how much she can eat. And since curry leftovers make THE BEST lunch, this recipe wins twice. If you're feeding a family of four, I'd recommend doubling the recipe so you can all have happy lunchtime faces the next day.
Extras also freeze very well, so don't hesitate to make a big batch!
More delicious curry recipes:
- Creamy Coconut Lentil Curry
- Cashew Coconut Salmon Curry
- Autumn Roasted Pumpkin Curry
- Black Chana Masala
- Coconut Black Lentil Curry
Creamy Cashew Butter Chicken
If you love this recipe as much as we do, let us know with a 5-star rating!
- 1 ½ cups raw cashews, see notes
- 2 tablespoons oil, divided
- 1 lb. chicken thighs or breasts
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 5 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
- 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar or coconut sugar, omit for Whole30
- Sea salt, to taste
- 1 tablespoon garam masala
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ to 1 teaspoon chili powder
- Seeds from 4 cardamom pods
- Place the cashews and 1 ½ cups of water into your blender or food processor and blend on high until completely smooth. Pour into a bowl and set it aside. Don't clean your blender yet – you'll need it again.1 ½ cups raw cashews
- Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook until brown on both sides, about 10 minutes total. You don't need to cook the chicken all the way through. Chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces.1 lb. chicken thighs or breasts
- While the chicken is browning, start cooking the curry. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion to the pan and cook until it is soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and let it cook for 5 minutes more. Add all the spices to a small bowl while the onions are cooking.1 medium onion, 5 cloves garlic, 2 inch piece of ginger, 1 tablespoon garam masala, 1 teaspoon ground turmeric, 1 teaspoon ground coriander, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, ¼ to 1 teaspoon chili powder, Seeds from 4 cardamom pods
- Add the spices to the onions and let them cook for a minute, stirring the whole time. Pour the tomatoes into the pan and scrape the bottom of the pan. Carefully transfer to your blender and blend on high until smooth.28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
- Pour the curry back into the pan, add the blended cashews, the chopped chicken, ½ cup of water, and (if using) the brown sugar. Bring the curry to a boil then reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and let it cook for 10 minutes. Season to taste with sea salt.2 tablespoons brown sugar or coconut sugar
The creamy cashew butter chicken is calling for cashews, not cashew butter. What The ****!
It’s meant as butter chicken made with cashews, not chicken made with cashew butter. Sorry for that confusion!
My husband and I made this with tofu and it was amazing! We had to season the tofu (1/2 tsp each of garam malsala, tumeric, paprika & salt) and bake it to get a crisp texture. But we felt like we had gone out to eat so thank you so much. 🙏🏻
For a whole 30 recipe it was pretty good. I had to about double the seasonings for it to have any flavor. It just didn’t really seem creamy at all. Overall it was just alright
I put a twist on this recipe and used chili 🌶 garlic sauce which is very Spicy! I cooked the chicken in chili garlic, milk, and turmeric in the insta-pot with some of the cashew mixture straight on top of the chicken breasts, After cooked I added the rest of the cashew mixture! So yummy! Thanks for the idea to purée my cashews had a huge container of them! Love this!
Thanks for this great recipe. I made it with paneer instead of chicken (I’m vegetarian) and it was wonderful.
Can I substitute cashew butter for the blended cashews? If so, how much would I use? Thanks!
That would work! I would start with ⅓ – ½ cup and see how that works to thicken the curry. You’ll want to mix it with the water. Then you can always add more if you find the curry is too thin. The cashew butter will thicken as it cooks. 🙂
I have no doubt this chicken will turn out to be yummers. substituting cream with cashews feels lighter and more fresh. Just in case you are wanting to do a differentiated butter chicken vs the typical curry, try these steps:
1) do not use coriander powder, standard cumin and turmeric in butter chicken – these spices, along with red chilli powder are the foundation of any curry. butter chicken sauce is not curry. Its tempting to add these, but please do not. A good chef is the one who knows what not to add than what to.
2) find a Garam masala which doesnt have Coriander powder and cumin seeds. such variants are also tagged under “royal garam masala”. some variants use caraway seeds (shajeera) instead of cumin seeds. Those are even better cos caraway seeds/shajeera is the secret ingredient to restaurant like butter chicken. I would recommend adding more shajeera separately.
3) if you are using fresh tomatoes sometimes they arent that tangy, play with some malt vinegar if you will
4) what is a butter chicken without crushed kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves) garnish.
5) last but not the least give it a smoke treatment for a few minutes towards the end. Drop a small blob of ghee (clarified butter) on the burning coal placed in your pan and cover it for 10 minutes.
There you go. you have my years old secret butter chicken recipe. 🙂
Hello Kristen, this recipe looks amazing! Can you please verify the amount of crushed tomatoes in grams? After doing the conversion it looks like double this recipe would be 1.5kg (56 ounces) which is a whole lot of tomatoes!
Thanks in advance!
28 ounces is 794 grams. They’re sold in large cans, about twice as big as a can of beans. Here’s an example of the size of can to look for. To double the recipe, you’ll want 2 cans. 🙂
This dish is a winner!
I made it exactly as described. It tasted awesome. Really great when cooking for someone with lactose intolerance. What would I change? Maybe less cashew cream so that the other flavours get a chance to shine too. That being said, still a fantastic recipe. Will definitely make again.
Does it matter if the cashews are raw or roasted? Thanks!
I personally prefer the neutral flavor of raw cashews in this recipe. 🙂
Hi- I’m out of cashews but I have cashew milk- can I substitute? If so how much?
Cashew milk won’t thicken the sauce. If you go that route, you’ll need to add some flour or cornstarch. 🙂
I just made this recipe last night. It turned out amazing and so quick and easy. My husband said that he felt that being that it was dairy free it was easier on his stomach and did not make him feel the same heaviness that cream and butter would have. I was unsure what to do with the cardamom pods (i had never used them before) and there was no specifics in the recipe about what to do. Can you advise?
I’m happy to hear that the recipe was a hit. With cardamom pods, I usually smash them with the side of a knife (like you do with garlic) and then remove the little seeds inside. You can also put them directly into the pot after you smash then, but you’ll want to remove them before eating the curry as they are not nice to bite into. 🙂
The first time I made this, I followed the recipe exactly and it came out a bit bland. The second time I made it, I substituted the crushed tomatoes with a 15oz tomato sauce and a 6oz can of tomato paste (came out the same). I also added crushed chilies for some spicy (tasted amazing).
Spicy always makes everything better!
This was the perfect substitute for one of my husbands specialties. He loves making Tikka Massala but its so calorie dense. With this recipe we can enjoy all the savory goodness and spices we love and feel good about eating something healthier and enjoy it more often. I even prefer it to his recipe but that’s our secret ; )
Haha I love it! I’ll make sure to keep it a secret. 🙂
Tried it tonight, a hit with the whole family! So simple to make. I used 100% cashew spread instead of blending raw cashews, just to make it quicker. I also used a curry spice mix which seemed to have all the spices mentioned. It worked a treat! I was really surprised how wonderfully creamy it was despite having no cream. Will definitely be adding this to the dinner rotation.
Hooray! I’m so happy that you love the recipe!
What would I need to do to make this a pressure cooker recipe?
I’ve never used a pressure cooker before so I can’t say. I would look for a pressure cooker curry recipe and use the instructions on that one with the ingredients on this one. 🙂
Do you honk the Nutrobullet blender is good enough for this?
I mean think 😛
A Nutribullet should work just fine. Just make sure you don’t skip soaking the cashews as it will help to soften them. 🙂
This is the best butter chicken!! So creamy and delicious! I have made this multiple times and each time I get asked how did you make this. Definitely one of our favorite meals.
That makes me so happy to hear! Hooray!!
I’ve made this for my family twice now and both times it was a hit. So nice to have a healthy recipe that’s easy to make. Thank you!
You are so welcome!!