Easy Indian Butter Chicken Recipe

Homemade butter chicken in a serving dish with naan bread

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How to Make Indian Butter Chicken the Easy Way

With its mild, creamy sauce, butter chicken is a great introduction to Indian cuisine for children, while still being rich and flavorful enough to please their parents' more seasoned palates. A traditional butter chicken recipe is somewhat complex, calling for a litany of whole and ground spices, and for cooking marinated chicken separately from the sauce before combining the two into a finished dish. This easy version abbreviates the ingredients list without sacrificing the authentic and complex character of the sauce, while also saving you time by letting you cook the chicken and the sauce in one pot. The result is delicious enough for a special occasion, yet simple enough to prepare for a weeknight meal.

Total Time: 30 to 80 minutes | Prep Time: 10 minutes | Serves: 6 to 8


  • 2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed, or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice 
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream


  1. In a bowl, toss the chicken with the garlic, garam masala, ginger, lemon juice and salt. If you have time, cover the chicken and let it marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
  2. In a large saucepan, skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter, and add the marinated chicken pieces. Stir the chicken around until it is no longer pink, about 5 to 7 minutes.
  3. Transfer the chicken to a clean bowl or plate, and set it aside while you make the sauce.
  4. With the pan still over medium heat, melt another 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the onions and cook, stirring often, until they are soft and golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes.
  5. Add the curry powder, paprika and cinnamon to the pan with the onions, and stir continuously for 1 to 2 minutes.
  6. Pour the crushed tomatoes into the pan, and stir to combine with the onions and spices.
  7. Return the chicken to the pan and stir. 
  8. Let the chicken simmer in the sauce until it's cooked through, 5 to 10 minutes.
  9. Turn the heat down to low; add the heavy cream and remaining 2 tablespoons of butter to the sauce. Stir to combine, and continue to cook until the butter has melted and the sauce has returned to barely a simmer, which should only take a few minutes.
  10. Serve the curry with rice, naan bread and your favorite Indian condiments.