Classic Butter Chicken

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Butter chicken is an easy recipe that’s full of savory flavor with warm spices. This mild curry has tender chunks of chicken simmered in a creamy spiced curry sauce. It’s quick to make with chicken, tomato sauce, cream and handful of pantry spices.

Serve over rice with a side of naan bread for sopping up the delicious sauce!

Butter Chicken in a pot with a serving spoon, garnished with cilantro.

Butter Chicken

In Indian cuisine makhani is a butter chicken sauce. It’s basically a gravy the chicken is cooked in with plenty of warm spices, a hint of tomato and some cream.

Like curry-style chicken, it’s both rich and light and best served with rice and topped with cilantro.

Marinating the chicken in yogurt makes it incredibly tender, this can be done the night before if time allows.

Overhead image of raw ingredients for Butter Chicken, in a glass bowl.

Butter Chicken vs Tikka Masala

Butter chicken and tikka masala are similar, but tikka masala has different spices. This butter chicken is easier to prepare and has a mild, buttery flavor with a sweeter sauce.

How To Make Butter Chicken

It’s super easy to make this rich and tasty dish!

  1. Marinate chicken at least 30 minutes, but preferably overnight.
  2. Saute onions in butter and spices until soft and fragrant (per recipe below).
  3. Add all other ingredients to the onions and cook until sauce thickens.
  4. Add cream and continue cooking.

Serve over rice topped with cilantro. Yummy!

Overhead image of ingredients for Butter Chicken in a pot.

What to Serve with It

Butter chicken goes with everything because it has such a savory and mild flavor! Here are some favorite sides, salads, and bread to inspire you!

Butter Chicken in a bowl with rice and Naan bread, garnished with cilantro.

Can You Freeze Butter Chicken?

Butter chicken can be frozen. Make sure it is chilled before freezing. Just place it in a zippered bag or and airtight container and label with the date on it. Butter chicken should keep about two months.

Favorite Chicken Recipes

5 from 2 votes
Review Recipe

Classic Butter Chicken

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Marinate Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Author Holly Nilsson
Course Chicken, Main Course
Cuisine Indian
This homemade Butter Chicken is savory and full of flavorful spices like garam masala, turmeric & coriander.


  • 2 lbs chicken thighs
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 onion diced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger grated
  • 5 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon tumeric
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt or to taste
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 14 oz crushed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 cup plain yogurt

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  • Marinate chicken in the marinade, 30 min or overnight.
  • Remove chicken from marinade allowing excess to drip off. Brown chicken in 1 tablespoon olive oil or vegetable oil until browned on both sides, about 6 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.
  • Melt butter over medium heat, cook onions until tender. Add spices and cook 1 minute or until fragrant.
  • Add chicken stock, browned chicken, crushed tomatoes and sugar. Simmer 10 minutes or until slightly thickened. Add cream and cook an additional 5-10 minutes. Discard cinnamon stick.
  • Top with cilantro and serve over rice.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 444, Carbohydrates: 10g, Protein: 22g, Fat: 36g, Saturated Fat: 15g, Cholesterol: 167mg, Sodium: 465mg, Potassium: 499mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 5g, Vitamin A: 841IU, Vitamin C: 8mg, Calcium: 104mg, Iron: 2mg
Keyword butter chicken
Butter Chicken with a slice of Nan Bread. Butter Chicken prepped in the pot.
Homemade butter chicken in a serving dish being scooped with a spoon.

Classic butter chicken in a serving dish.

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Holly is a wine and cheese lover, recipe creator, shopping enthusiast and self appointed foodie. Her greatest passion is creating in the kitchen and making deliciously comforting recipes for the everyday home cook!

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  1. Came out awful….recipie did not specify to cook chicken separately….spent alot of money and had to order pizza…

    1. Oh no, so sorry to hear that Holly. We have updated the recipe to include browning the chicken before adding to the sauce.