EASY, Healthy and Authentic Tasting Butter Chicken – Instant Pot

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Butter Chicken! Is it possible to enjoy healthy butter chicken without compromising on the authentic flavors? Yes!! Read on for an EASY authentic tasting butter chicken recipe in your Instant Pot.

Punjabi murg makhani also know as butter chicken is one of the most popular Indian dish across the globe. Smoky flavorful chicken, grilled in the tandoor with heavenly aroma of the garam masala and fenugreek, dunked in a creamy sauce with orangish hue from the red chili powder and turmeric – is how I reminisce butter chicken!

instant pot paleo butter chicken 1

I recently purchased my Instant Pot/electric pressure cooker and have been loving the one pot cooking experience! Not much clean up, no baby sitting the food and so many healthy dishes that can be cooked in no time. While I was searching for some instant pot recipes, I came across theprimaldesire.com, a wonderful blog with a delicious and healthy recipe for Paleo butter chicken. Not that I am dairy free but looking at the ingredient list, the butter chicken that is usually drenched in butter and cream all of a sudden looked so much healthy and appetizing!

instant pot paleo butter chicken ingredients

The Paleo version using the coconut milk and ghee to get the same authentic creamy taste without all that butter or cream! And to top it off all under 45 mins,  no chicken to be marinated or grilled. I have tried the recipe few times and loved it every single time. Thanks to Holley & Raj now I am hooked to this healthy, delicious and most of all quick recipe.

instant pot paleo butter chicken 2I am so excited to post my first Instant pot recipe and thought a video to go with it would hopefully make it easier for everyone to follow this recipe. Here is my easy pressure cooker butter chicken recipe:

Here is my version adapted from the original recipe that is now on a repeat list in my house.

4.47 from 13 votes
instant pot butter chicken
Butter chicken {Instant pot paleo recipe}
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
Total Time
35 mins
butter chicken -A flavorful chicken with heavenly aroma of the garam masala and fenugreek, in a creamy sauce with orangish hue from the red chili powder and turmeric.
Course: Entree
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 6
Author: Archana Mundhe
  • 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 2 tbsp ghee or coconut oil
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger grated
  • 1 tbsp fresh garlic minced
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp kashmiri red chili powder **
  • 3 plum tomates pureed
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk allow these to separate - DO NOT shake. Best if left in fridge overnight
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp garam masala**
  • 2 tbsp dried fenugreek leaves
  • 2 tsp sugar skip for paleo
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup cilantro chopped, for garnish
  1. Set Instant Pot on Saute(More) mode, after the 'hot' sign displays, add ghee.
  2. Add onions and 1 tsp salt. Cook until onions are soft and translucent for 2-3 mins (with a glass lid on to speed this process)
  3. Add ginger, garlic, turmeric and red chili powder. Mix well and cook until fragrant for 2 mins.
  4. Separate the coconut cream and water. Keep the coconut cream aside.
  5. Add only the watery portion of coconut milk and pureed tomatoes mixing with spices. Add chicken and stir well.
  6. Close instant pot with steam release handle to sealing position. Set to Manual Mode and cook on high pressure for 8 mins followed by quick release. (Note: If using chicken breasts, cook on Manual(Hi) for 5 mins followed by 5 mins NPR)
  7. Open the instapot, stir in coconut cream, tomato paste, garam masala, fenugreek leaves, sugar and half of the cilantro. Add more salt if needed.
  8. Turn the instant pot to Sauté mode. Cook without the lid to allow the curry to thicken for 10 mins. If the sauce starts to splutter, set adjust to Saute(Less).
  9. Garnish with remaining cilantro.
  10. ** Add more red chili powder and garam masala for spicer version.



78 thoughts on “EASY, Healthy and Authentic Tasting Butter Chicken – Instant Pot

    1. Thank you Loretta! Instant pot Instant Pot does the job of a slow cooker, electric pressure cooker, rice cooker, steamer, yogurt maker, sauté/browning pan, and warming pot. I bough it recently and loving it so far!

  1. Hi Archana your instant pot cooker looks good. My friend has also been raving about it now I need to buy this! The curry looks delicious btw 🙂

    1. Thank you Hans! It is my favorite chicken dish too and I am so glad to have found this healthy and simple version.

  2. Archana,
    I am about to buy the instant pot too. It looks like you can cut down on cooking time.The butter chicken looks awesome!

    1. I add the liquid while I cook the chicken. And add the cream in the end with the tomato paste, garam masala etc – in step 6! Let me know how you like it!

        1. If you do not like coconut you can use full cream. Or cashew cream – soak cashews in warm water for 20 mins, blend to smooth paste.

          1. Cathy, So in step 4 instead of coconut milk, you add 1/2 cup of water. And then in step 6 add 1/2 cup of cashew cream or heavy cream.

  3. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe and video for the instant pot! While traveling around India, butter chicken was one of my favorite dishes. I’m not much of a cook, so Indian food has seemed a bit daunting to undertake. Your recipe makes it feel very approachable and I’m hoping for some delicious results this evening. One question, I haven’t been able to find Kashmiri red chili powder. What can work as a comparable substitute? Will it impact the flavor much? Thanks!

    1. Hi Margi! So fun that you got to travel India and taste the amazing foods there. You can substitute kashmiri chili with any other mild red chili powder or paprika. It will not impact the flavor. Kashmiri chili powder is very mild but gives a beautiful orangish color to the curry.

  4. I made this tonight – so delicious! I followed the recipe to the letter, except I didn’t have tomato paste on hand so I left that out, but I didn’t miss it at all. The only problem was that instead of taking 35 minutes, it took over an hour and a half! I don’t know what I’m doing differently or wrong that it took an hour longer than specified. The time for my Instant Pot to come up to pressure and to slow release was a really long time, so long that I eventually just did a quick release after about 20 or 30 minutes because we were so hungry. I didn’t watch the video so perhaps there are time saving tricks in there. But the chicken was fall apart tender and everything was delicious, even my toddler loved it. Great recipe!

    1. Hi Sundari, So glad to hear that you enjoyed this delicious butter chicken. Do you have a 6QT IP or a 8 QT IP? I have a 6 QT one. Also as the recipe specifies you can do quick release after 5 mins of NPR. That would reduce the time.
      Thank you for your detailed feedback it always helps me to know if I need more detailed instructions, etc. Also If you enjoyed this sauce you might also like the Malai Kofta that uses the same sauce.

  5. I’ve never used coconut milk before as I don’t really like the taste of coconut on its own, but I’d like to try this as written before I start substituting if necessary. Silly question, but can you tell me how to separate the milk from the cream once it’s been in the fridge? Leave it in the can or put it in a bowl? Then just scrape (?) the cream top off? Thanks for any guidance.

    1. Hi Donna! So happy that you want to try this recipe. So you leave the whole can in the fridge. When you open it just scrape the top layer of cream off, which is almost 1/3 of the can. You keep this cream aside to put in the curry in the end. Use the remaining watery portion to cook the chicken. Also remember to use full fat coconut milk.

      1. Thank you, I’m looking forward to giving it a go later in the week. Full fat coconut milk is purchased and ready to go in the fridge. I’m sure this will be delicious. Your aloo gobhi is a staple for me and I appreciate you sharing your recipes. Thanks!!

  6. Hi I do not have fenurek leaves and plum tomatoes, I have regular tomatoes can I use that? Is there a substitute for fenurek leaves or can it be omitted?

    1. Hi Nina, you can use any regular ripe tomatoes. And yes fenugreek leaves can be omitted. Let me know how you like it!

  7. Looks delicious! Would you change the cook time if using boneless skinless chicken breast instead of thighs?

    1. Hi Nishi! Check the detailed recipe. Basically with chicken breasts you want to do 5 min cook with 5 min NPR. Let me know if you have any questions!

  8. Easy recipe but very tasty. Saved it. Will definitely make it many more times. As you have suggested earlier maybe substitute cashews for coconut milk. (You see coconut sometimes causes heartburn!!!).
    BTW Archana I did not find this listed under the Instant Pot recipes tab instead I had to search for it. I think all your posted Instant pot recipes are not populating under that tab or am I mistaken???

      1. Happy that you found it. I do have to keep updating the Instant Pot recipes pages, so you are right that sometimes the newer recipes might take some time.

    1. Hi Kalyani! So glad you tried this recipe and enjoyed it. It is so much healthier than the traditional version yet tastes so authentic.

  9. Just had to tell you how much we enjoyed this recipe! I have made many versions of butter chicken and this is by far my favourite! I made your chciken biryani last week and that was a huge hit too!
    I would add more chciken next time as I have lots of sauce left over but it will be put to good use!

  10. I stumbled upon your site locking for an biryani recipe and ended up making the butter chicken and homemade ghee instead! The family was incredibly happy and this will be a regular. So happy to have found you!

    1. Hi Kate! Thank you for this lovely comment. It made my day!! Ghee and Butter chicken are on a repeat for us too. I love the authentic taste of butter chicken without any cream or butter. And you must try Chicken Biryani, it is my other popular recipe and is DELISH!

  11. How much coconut cream are you adding near the end… I don’t see that in your list of ingredients. Thanks!

    1. Hi Mary Beth, So Basically the recipe calls for 1 can of full fat coconut milk. In step 4 of the recipe you Separate the coconut cream and water. Keep the coconut cream aside. Then in step 7 towards the end, add the coconut cream. Hope this is clear. Let me know if you have any questions

  12. Hi Archana – I made this last weekend and it turned out excellent! Thank you so much for the recipe. I’d like to prepare it for a dinner party and thinking of making 6 lbs of chicken. Have you ever tried to cook that much at one time? Think it’s safe to just triple the ingredients and follow the recipe?

    1. Hi Nina, I have doubled the recipe so far but not tried 3 times. What you can do is not add the third can of coconut milk/liquids. Just add 2 and see if you can fit the chicken so it is not more than 3/4th full. I think it should work. All the timings will still remain the same. Let me know how you make out with this.

  13. thank you for sharing this recipe, Archana. My kids loved it ..they said it came out ‘restaurant style ‘ 🙂

  14. I made this recently and my family LOVED it. My husband and kids described it as “ridiculously good”. This is a popular takeout dish for us so I am extremely grateful that you shared a recipe for it. We can now skip the takeout and have a homemade meal when we are craving this. I can’t wait to try it with veggie meatballs (hoping to make a trip to Ikea today to get the frozen ones you recommended in your malai kofta recipe)

    1. Hi Masooma! You made my day!! Thank you for your feedback. So happy to hear that your family is enjoying this healthy version of butter chicken. Can’t wait to hear how you like the malai kofta.

  15. Hi Archana, love all your receipes. Saw the video of butter chicken. I’m planning to make it in IP but the only thing I do like is the QPR technique. Is there another option for it. If I do NPR after 8 mins of cooking I guess the chicken will get over cooke, by the end of cooking it for additional 10mins after adding tomato paste. I don’t want chicken to be chewy when it’s done.

      1. Hi Archana, made it as a pot luck dish for my co workers. They all loved it in fact beyond that. Thank you very much for your awesome recipes. Quick question can I use the same recipe to make butter panned dish.

        1. Hi Shilpa! Thank you for your lovely feedback! Yes same recipe for butter paneer. Add paneer after the pressure cooking cycle and sauté for few mins or pressure cook for1 more min

  16. This was delicious! My three boys gobbled it up, even when I
    put kale in it! Thanks, Archana, for another delicious and quick (and healthy!) recipe for my family.

    1. Thank you for your lovely feedback Stacy! I am so glad your family enjoyed this healthy and authentic tasting butter chicken.

  17. Hi Archana! This has become a favorite for my family and I am making it for a crowd this weekend 🙂 For 4 lbs chicken, do i keep the cook time the same? and do i simply double all the other ingredients? TIA. Happy Holidays!

    1. Hi Masooma! I am so glad you are enjoying this recipe. You can double all ingredients, increase saute time but same pressure cook time.

      1. Great recipe!!!!! Thank you for sharing. Made it today but didn’t have any tomato paste handy and still turned out great. Which tomato paste do you use?

  18. It came perfect..I tried with whole milk n heavy whipping cream. Next time I will try with coconut milk n cream. Thanks for the recipe

    1. Hi Sapna, So glad you enjoyed it. And yes the recipe is pretty versatile, you can def use milk and cream.

  19. This was delicious!! This was my first time making this dish and the recipe is a keeper. We didn’t have fenugreek so we used regular curry powder I had on hand. I had my husband only put in one tablespoon because I didn’t want it to be overwhelming for him and he liked it. We added salt while we were eating it and other than that, the flavor was perfect. Thank you for posting this recipe.

    1. Thank you for your lovely feedback. So Curry powder and fenugreek leaves have different flavors. You can also skip fenugreek leaves and it is more of a garnish.

  20. My 12 year old says this recipe is excellent and ate the butter chicken for 5 days in a row. I’m vegetarian but have made this multiple times and in fact was the first non-veg recipe and first IP recipe I made. Very easy. Thank you!

  21. Made this tonight! Loved!
    Next time I’m doubling the recipe.
    Made it with plain Basmati rice.
    With Naan.
    Thanks for the recipe❤️
    Now,I need to search for a recipe for an Indian vegetable dish that has potatoes in it 🙂

    1. Hi Tammy! Thank you for your lovely feedback. If you are looking for a potato dish, you must try my dum aloo!! It is to die for.

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