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This Easy Butter Chicken recipe (murgh makhani) can be on your dinner table in just 30 minutes. The sauce is deliciously rich and creamy, just like butter chicken from your favorite Indian restaurant.
Butter chicken is best served with a side of steamed basmati rice (or cauliflower rice for a healthier version). If you love butter chicken, make sure to check out this chicken tikka masala recipe. You'll love it, too.
Hello, friends. I've made a big pot of easy butter chicken, and I'm here to share it with you. Food is always so much better when we share it with friends, isn't it?
This easy butter chicken recipe is one I've been making for YEARS. I feel like I owe you a big apology for holding out on you for so long. Do you know those recipes that you make without using a recipe? The kind that you don't think to share because it's just part of your repertoire that you've grown so accustomed to making? That's this recipe for me.
The sauce is thick and rich, creamy, and full of warm Indian spices. I like that it's not as sweet as butter chicken that you get at some westernized Indian restaurants; it tastes more like the real thing.
And since it's made in only 4 easy steps there's really no reason not to treat yourself to curry tonight!
And if you love using your slow cooker, make sure to check out our crockpot butter chicken!
How to make butter chicken an easy recipe?
We've been making versions of this recipe for many years so we have had plenty of opportunities to tweak the method. Our butter chicken recipe is very easy to make but still every bit as delicious as what you'll find at your favorite restaurant. We simplify the traditional recipe in 2 ways:
- Cook the chicken in the sauce. Rather than marinating the chicken (unnecessary with such a flavorful sauce) and cooking it separately, we cook it right in the sauce. This lets the chicken poach gently so that it stays very tender.
- Simmer the sauce. Since we cook the sauce and chicken together we get to skip the time most recipes take to simmer the sauce by itself. Two birds, one stone, same result.
How to make butter chicken
Over the many years of making this recipe we've refined the method so that it is very simple to make. Here's what to do:
- Cook the onions, garlic, and ginger until deliciously caramelized.
- Add the spices and tomatoes then blend the sauce until smooth.
- Now cook the chicken in the sauce so that it's flavorful and tender.
That's it! You've just made your favorite Indian curry!
Tips for making easy butter chicken
- Brown the onions well. They add the most amazing flavor and contribute to the sweetness of the curry.
- When the onions are browning, add all the spices to a small bowl. This will make it quick and easy for you to add the spices once the onions are brown.
- If you're serving this with rice, you can start the rice first. It will finish cooking before the butter chicken is ready, but you can remove it from the heat and set it aside until everything else is done.
Do I need to use all those spices?
Yes, and no. Each of the spices adds a layer of flavor and leaving one out will change the taste of this recipe. But sometimes we all run out of spices or don't want to buy one because we don't think we'll use it often. I get it! If you're craving butter chicken and don't have any cumin on hand, don't sweat it, the curry will still taste great.
Is butter chicken healthy?
It can be! Most restaurant butter chicken recipes use copious amounts of butter, cream, and sugar. We reduce the amount of butter, have options for the cream (whipped cream, yogurt, or coconut milk – your choice!), and use just enough sweetener.
Does this easy butter chicken freeze well?
Yes! We often make a double batch and put leftovers in the freezer. It's better and easier than takeout. We love these big reusable Stasher Bags for freezing leftovers.
- 2 tablespoons butter or cooking oil
- 2 yellow onions (roughly chopped)
- 3 tablespoons chopped ginger
- 6 cloves garlic (crushed)
- 28 ounce can of crushed or diced tomatoes
- 1 lb chicken breasts or thighs (cut into bite-sized pieces)
- 1 cup water
- ¼ cup whipping cream, plain yogurt, or coconut milk
- 2 tablespoons almond butter
- 2-4 tablespoons coconut sugar (can sub brown sugar)
- Sea salt (to taste (I like about 2 teaspoons))
- 1 tablespoon garam masala
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 4 cardamom pods (seeds only – discard the pods)
- Heat the oil in a large-sized frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, ginger, and garlic and cook for about 8 minutes, until well-browned, reducing the heat if necessary. While the onion cooks, place the spices in a small bowl.2 tablespoons butter or cooking oil, 2 yellow onions, 3 tablespoons chopped ginger, 6 cloves garlic, 1 tablespoon garam masala, 1 teaspoon ground turmeric, 1 teaspoon ground coriander, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1 teaspoon chili powder, 4 cardamom pods
- Add the spices to the pan and cook for 1 minute to remove their raw flavor. Pour the can of tomatoes into the pan and scrape the bottom to remove any bits that are stuck to the pan. Transfer to a blender and blend on high until smooth. Return the sauce to the pan.28 ounce can of crushed or diced tomatoes
- Add the chicken and water and bring the sauce to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pan, and let the chicken cook through, about 10 minutes.1 lb chicken breasts or thighs, 1 cup water
- Stir in the cream, yogurt, or coconut milk, the almond butter, and the coconut sugar. Season to taste with sea salt.¼ cup whipping cream, plain yogurt, or coconut milk, 2 tablespoons almond butter, 2-4 tablespoons coconut sugar, Sea salt
We have thoroughly tested this recipe for accuracy. However, individual results may vary. See our full recipe disclosure here.