Indian Butter Chicken – The Cookie Rookie®

If you want to make a delicious curry at home, this Indian butter chicken recipe is for you! The sweet, buttery chicken melts in your mouth, and the sauce is pretty mild, so your entire family will be able to enjoy it.

overhead view of indian butter chicken in a cast iron skillet.

Butter Chicken

Indian Butter Chicken is a takeout favorite, but even better when made at home. Chicken cooked in a creamy, buttery, perfectly spiced tomato sauce is mouth-wateringly delicious.

This dish is often confused with tikka masala, but it’s not quite the same. It’s less spicy, and the creamy chicken softens the heat, making it a recipe everyone will love!

Why You’ll Love this Easy Butter Chicken Recipe:

  • Make Ahead: This easy recipe can be made the same day or the day before. Just store the marinated chicken in your fridge all night and cook it the next day.
  • Quick Cooking Time: The entire cooking time is just 30 minutes. This means you don’t need to stress if you’re running short on time!
  • Low-Cost Meal: The simple ingredients are simple to find and are budget-friendly. The only unique ingredient is the garam masala which can be found at most Indian stores, or you can make it yourself.

Complete your meal by serving your butter chicken with white rice and some fresh naan to scoop up the extra sauce.

overhead view of indian butter chicken in a white bowl with rice and naan bread.

How to Make Indian Butter Chicken

You can jump to the recipe card for full ingredients & instructions!

  1. Add the marinade ingredients to a large Ziplock bag. Then add the chicken pieces and seal. Massage the chicken until coated and refrigerate as instructed.
  2. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook one piece of chicken at a time, 2 to 4 minutes on each side.
  3. Add the tomato sauce, cream, tomato paste, and sugar to the skillet. Stir well.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally until the sauce thickens. Adjust seasonings as desired.
  5. Garnish with fresh cilantro. Serve and enjoy!
step by step photos for how to make indian butter chicken.
close up of indian butter chicken in a cast iron skillet.
What is butter chicken?

Butter chicken, also known as murgh makhani, is an Indian dish made from chunks of chicken cooked in a spiced tomato and butter sauce.

What’s the difference between butter chicken and chicken tikka masala?

Butter chicken and chicken tikka masala are very similar. However, tikka masala tends to be a bit spicier and juicier, whereas butter chicken tends to be more mild and creamy.

Is butter chicken spicy?

Nope! Butter chicken is a very mild, yet flavorful dish! There is a little bit of cayenne pepper, but you can leave that out if you’re concerned about it being too spicy!

What is garam masala?

Garam masala is an Indian spice blend that includes cinnamon, peppercorns, cardamom, mustard seeds, coriander seeds, cloves, mace, and nutmeg. You can find it in the spice aisle of most grocery stores.

close up of indian butter chicken.

Make Ahead Instructions

You can easily make this butter chicken ahead of time for your convenience. Just freeze it in an airtight container or Ziplock bag for up to a month. When ready to cook, allow it to thaw and reheat it in a saucepan over medium-low heat for best results.

It’s important to give the chicken enough time to marinate. You can marinate the chicken up to 24 hours in advance of cooking this recipe!

Storage Instructions

Store leftover Indian butter chicken in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat gently in the microwave or on the stovetop.

Freezing Instructions

Freeze Indian butter chicken in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.


  • You can use full-fat Greek yogurt in place of regular yogurt.
  • If you don’t have fresh ginger, you can use ¼ teaspoon of ground ginger instead.
  • Feel free to leave the cayenne pepper out if you don’t like a little spice.
  • You can use boneless, skinless chicken breasts in place of thighs.
  • You can use ghee in place of the butter.
  • You can use half-and-half in place of the heavy cream.

Tips for the Best Indian Butter Chicken

  • Let the chicken marinade for at least 3 hours or up to overnight.
  • If you’d like a richer sauce, feel free to stir in some more butter or ghee at the end.
  • Serve with basmati rice or naan bread!
indian butter chicken in a white bowl with rice and a fork.

If you’ve never made a curry recipe, this Indian Butter Chicken recipe is the one we think you should try. We promise it won’t disappoint!

If you make this recipe be sure to upload a photo in the comment section below or leave a rating. Enjoy! You can also jump to recipe.

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