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 being servied with rice and naan in the background

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 or curried chickpeas, 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.

Raw ingredients for butter chicken in a glass bowl

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!

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!

serving of Butter Chicken closeup

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

serving of Butter Chicken closeup
4.99 from 110 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
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Butter Chicken

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

Ingredients  

  • 2 pounds 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
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon tumeric
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt or to taste
  • ¼ cup chicken broth
  • 14 ounces crushed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Marinade

  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 cup plain yogurt

Instructions 

  • 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 broth, 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.
4.99 from 110 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
Or to leave a comment, click here!

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

Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.

Course Chicken, Main Course
Cuisine Indian

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About the author

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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Comments

  1. I love how this recipe simplifies the process but keeps the flavor! I added a fresh jalapeño (seeded and chopped) to the pan with the onion and butter for a tiny kick.5 stars

    1. The full ingredients for the marinade are listed in the recipe and just need to be stirred together. It includes yogurt, lemon, cumin, and garam masala. If you’ve missed it, you can click the “JUMP TO RECIPE” button at the top of any page. Hope that helps!

  2. Can I freeze the chicken in marinade raw? I sometimes prep meals for my hubby to cook while he’s away at work.

  3. Made this tonight for my family who LOVES Butter Chicken from a local authentic Indian restaurant. Everyone said this was as good or better! I did use half and half instead of heavy cream and it was fine. Also, homemade chicken stock made a big difference in depth of flavor. Will add to my recipe book as a favorite! Thank you!

  4. Made this a few nights ago and it was a big hit. Super delicious sauce! We are a house divided, I love chicken thighs and my husband likes chicken breasts. Next time I will cube up some breasts and try it that way. I could literally just make a double batch of the sauce and serve it as soup and he would be happy. Thanks for sharing5 stars

    1. I love that, Betsy! I am a huge fan of butter chicken too so I understand, I could drink the sauce too!

    1. Hi Joyce, Garam Marsala is a spice blend that you can usually find at the grocery store. Hope that helps!