Indian Butter Chicken

If you have trouble finding the spices, you can substitute paprika for the Kashmiri Lal Mirch and skip the Kasuri Methi.

  • Prep time: 30 minutes
  • Cook time: 30 minutes
  • Marinating time: 30 minutes minimum, 8 hours maximum
  • Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

For the chicken and marinade:

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into roughly 1-inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup full-fat plain yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
  • 1 teaspoon dried coriander
  • 1 teaspoon Kashmiri Lal Mirch
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • Salt to taste

For the sauce:

  • 8 to 10 whole almonds
  • 8 to 10 whole cashews
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 (15-ounce) can canned diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons dried coriander
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground Garam Masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground Kashmiri Lal Mirch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 tablespoon Kasuri Methi

To serve:

  • Cooked rice, roti, or naan bread

Method

1 Marinate the chicken: Bring the chicken and the rest of the marinade ingredients together in a large bowl. Using your hands, massage the marinade into the chicken.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to overnight.

How to Make Butter Chicken assemble the chicken and the marinade ingredientsAuthentic Indian Butter Chicken Recipe marinate the chicken

2 Soak cashews and almonds in water for at least an hour to (or up to overnight) before preparing the rest of the recipe.

3 Cook the chicken: Heat a skillet or grill pan over medium-high heat. Drizzle a teaspoon of oil to the pan.

Working in batches, remove chicken from the marinade and grill them on the pan for 3 to 5 minutes on each side, until the chicken is cooked through (clear juice runs out of it when you cut into it). Do not crowd the pan.

Once cooked, transfer the chicken into a separate dish. Cover and set aside for later.

Best Butter Chicken Recipe grill the chicken

4 Start making the sauce: Melt 1 1/2 tablespoons of the butter in a medium sized Dutch oven or a skillet on medium low heat. As soon as the butter melts, add the ginger garlic paste followed by sugar. Sauté for 1 to 2 minutes.

Stir in the tomato and cook for 8 to 10 minutes on medium high heat, until all the extra liquid is cooked off. The sauce should be a loose, paste-like consistency.

Add coriander, garam masala, Kashmiri Lal Mirch, and salt. Stir and cook on medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Turn off the heat.

Easy Butter Chicken Recipe add the butter and garlic and ginger How to Make Butter Chicken add the spicesAuthentic Indian Butter Chicken Recipe add the tomatoes

5 Puree the sauce with the nuts: Transfer the paste to a blender or the bowl of a food processor. Add the soaked cashews and almonds. Blend into a smooth paste.

Easy Butter Chicken Recipe puree the sauce with the nuts

6 Finish the dish: Return the paste to the cooking pan over medium heat. Add the water to the paste and stir to make a smooth sauce.

As the sauce begins to boil, add the grilled chicken and heavy cream. Stir well. Cover the pan and simmer for 5 minutes.

Authentic Indian Butter Chicken Recipe stir the sauce Best Butter Chicken Recipe add the cream and the chicken

7 Rest the butter chicken: Turn off the heat and uncover the pan. Stir in the remaining 1/2 tablespoon butter and the kasuri methi. Cover again, and let the dish rest for 8 to 10 minutes so the flavor of kasuri methi can marry into the butter chicken.

8 Serve: Serve the butter with a side of steamed basmati rice, roti, or naan. Leftovers will keep refrigerated, covered, for five days.

You can freeze this dish in an airtight covered container or a zip-top bag for a month. Thaw and reheat in a saucepan over medium-low heat to retain the texture.

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Comments

  • Miranda

    Hello – how spicy is the Kashmiri Lal Mirch? We’re a bit spice sensitive in my house so I usually omit anything like red pepper flakes or cayenne from recipes. Would still like to use some for the color – but how hot is it?

    • Prerna

      Hi Miranda,
      Kashmiri Mirch is the mildest of all the red chili peppers we use in India. It has a bit of earthy flavor so these are mainly used to give a nice color to the curries without making them hot. So technically they are not spicy at all.
      Having said that, if this is ten first time you are using it, then just use half the amount. And if you still want that bright red color, maybe you can add a drop red food coloring.

  • Adrianne

    This is amazing! I’ve made it twice in the last week. I’m new to Indian cooking (but love Indian food) and was apprehensive about cooking it from scratch but it turned out so great! Thank you so much for introducing me to some new spices and for this wonderful recipe! My while family (even the 4 year old) moaned with joy during the whole meal and we fought over the leftovers!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Bry

    Hi! I have long been a fan of Simply Recipes! This Butter Chicken recipe looks very yummy, and I would love to try it out. Quick question – I live in Canada and up here we refer to coriander as the ground, toasted seeds of the cilantro plant (and we call the plant/leaves itself cilantro). When you refer to “dried coriander” do you mean the ground seeds, or the dried leaves themselves? And if you mean the leaves, can I sub fresh cilantro leaves for the dried? Thanks in advance, can’t wait to try it out! :)

    • Prerna

      Hi Bry,

      Yes, by “coriander” we mean the seeds. This the recipe uses ground coriander (seeds) powder.
      Hope this helps.

  • Meena Sharma (of Saffron Cuisine and Spices)

    Great recipe, as I make often, but I like your method too…I use Hungarian sweet Paprika and make my own ginger-garlic paste, it add freshness to the curry. Thank you for sharing and wish all the best.

  • Kim

    All I could find was fresh methi, how much of that should I use?

    • Prerna

      Hi Kim,
      Kasuri methi is simply dried fenugreek leaves but I have to point, they are much potent than fresh leaves. So if you are substituting fresh leaves for dried ones then you must use at least 3-4 times the amount.
      A friendly warning: that amount of greens might change the appearance of butter chicken. Feel free to skip kasuri methi (or any methi) completely if you’d like.

      • Kim

        Prerna, I made this last night and I used about 1/4 cup of fresh leaves and then chopped them up and threw them in according to the instructions. We all loved it! It had a much more complex flavor than a lot of Indian recipes on the internet. I will definitely make this again! Thanks!

        • Prerna

          Oh bravo! If you liked the flavor of fresh methi leaves then you should also try Methi Chicken once.

  • Mitch B

    Great write-up thanks for being so complete. Will have to make this week. I assume you marinade the chicken as cut-up pieces. When you grill the chicken, your picture shows the whole thighs being grilled – do you really grill the small cubes after marination (seems like they would over cook)?? or is it easier to just quick stir fry them? – OR do you marinade the whole thighs then grill them, then cut-up?

    • Prerna

      Hi Mitch,
      I cut the pieces, then marinate them. The picture here has cut thigh pieces being grilled on a grill pan. Maybe I got too close and personal with them, so they appear big :)
      You could stir fry too, if that makes your life easier. I tried to stay as close to the traditional method as I could, which involves grilling of the chicken pieces before adding to the sauce.