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 that is ready in 30 minutes with an option to cook rice at the same time. Serve with rice and naan for a perfect home-cooked meal!
Punjabi Murg Makhani is also known as butter chicken and is one of the most popular Indian dishes across the globe. Smoky flavorful chicken, grilled in the tandoor with the heavenly aroma of the garam masala and fenugreek, dunked in a creamy sauce with an orangish hue from the red chili powder and turmeric - is how I reminisce this dish!
What is the difference between Butter Chicken and Chicken Tikka Masala
Butter Chicken is a Classic Indian restaurant/roadside Dhaba dish that is cooked in a buttery tomato-based sauce until the chicken is tender, fall-off-the-bone. Indian Butter Chicken is also a sweet and mild curry compared to Chicken Tikka Masala.
Chicken Tikka Masala, on the other hand, is more British than an Indian dish. A national dish of England, chicken tikka masala is made by marinating chicken in warm spices mixed with yogurt and then grilling it in the tandoor-clay oven. The cooked chicken is then simmered in an onion and tomato-based creamy tangy sauce.
I recently purchased my Instant Pot electric pressure cooker and have been loving the one-pot cooking experience! Not much cleanup, no babysitting for the food and so many healthy dishes that can be cooked in no time.
- Skinless and boneless chicken thighs
- Yellow onions, fresh ginger, and garlic paste
- Fresh tomato puree or canned tomato puree
- Spices - turmeric, Kashmiri red chili, garam masala, and dried fenugreek leaves
- Coconut milk and ghee
This Butter Chicken recipe uses unsweetened coconut milk and ghee to get the same authentic creamy taste without having to use cream and butter. Best of all the butter chicken is ready in 30 minutes and there is no need to marinate the chicken. Try this paleo-friendly recipe and I promise it will become your new GO-TO recipe for easy weeknight dinners as well as hosting.
I am so excited to post my first Instant pot recipe! Here is my EASY Instant Pot butter chicken recipe that is now on repeat in my house.
Here are step-by-step instructions with photos to show you each step. All of the steps and the ingredients are in the printable recipe card just a little further down in this post.
Step 1: sauté onions & spices
Set the Instant Pot on Sauté mode and heat ghee. Add onions and salt. Cook until onions are soft and translucent for 2-3 mins (with a glass lid on to speed this process). Add ginger, garlic, turmeric, and red chili powder. Mix well and cook until fragrant for 2 mins (photos 1 - 2)
Step 2: Add chicken and tomato puree
Separate the coconut cream and water. Keep the coconut cream aside. Add only the watery portion of coconut milk and pureed tomatoes mixing with spices and deglazing the pot if needed so there is nothing sticking at the bottom. Add chicken and mix well (photos 3 – 4).
Step 3: Optional Pot in Pot Rice
This is an optional step to make pot in pot rice with butter chicken: To make rice, place a tall trivet over the chicken in the instant pot. Place a stainless steel pot with white rice, water, and salt over the trivet.
Step 4: Pressure Cook
Close the Instant Pot lid with the steam release handle to the sealing position. Pressure cook for 8 minutes followed by a quick release. (Note: If using chicken breasts, pressure cook for 5 minutes followed by 5 mins Natural Pressure Release)
Step 5: Finishing ingredients & Garnish
Open the Instant Pot, and stir in coconut cream, tomato paste, garam masala, fenugreek leaves, sugar, and half of the cilantro. Add more salt if needed. Turn the Instant Pot to Sauté mode. Cook without the lid to allow the curry to thicken for 5 minutes. If the sauce starts to splutter, set adjust to Saute(Less). Garnish with remaining cilantro (photos 5 – 8).
Serve the butter chicken with Homemade Parathas or naan, Basmati Rice or Cumin Rice, and a cooling beet cucumber raita.
Any leftovers can be refrigerated for up to 5 days. You can also freeze the curry for up to 2 months.
Did you enjoy Butter Chicken? Here are some popular Indian chicken recipes to try:
Butter chicken is always a big hit and I often make this one-pot meal when friends come over. It's quick, easy, and delicious. A gathering is not complete without dessert, so finish off the meal with a batch of Almond flour brownies. Your friends will love you for it!
Instant Pot Butter Chicken
- 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs cut into 2-inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons ghee or coconut oil
- 1 large yellow onion finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger grated
- 1 tablespoon fresh garlic minced
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 tablespoon Kashmiri red chili powder
- 3 plum tomatoes pureed
- 1 can unsweetened full fat coconut milk allow these to separate - DO NOT shake. Best if left in fridge overnight
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 2 tablespoons dried fenugreek leaves
- 2 teaspoons sugar skip for paleo
- 1½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup cilantro chopped, for garnish
- Set Instant Pot to Saute mode and heat ghee. Add onions and salt. Cook until onions are soft and translucent for 2-3 minutes (with a glass lid on to speed this process)
- Add ginger, garlic, turmeric, and red chili powder. Mix well and cook until fragrant for 2 minutes.
- Separate the coconut cream and water. Keep the coconut cream aside. Add half a cup of the watery portion of coconut milk and pureed tomatoes mixing with spices. Add chicken and stir well.
- Close the Instant Pot lid with steam release handle to sealing. Pressure cook for 8 minutes followed by quick release. (Note: If using chicken breasts, pressure cook for 5 minutes followed by 5 minutes of natural pressure release)
- Open the Instant Pot, stir in coconut cream, tomato paste, garam masala, fenugreek leaves, sugar, and half of the cilantro. Add more salt if needed.
- Turn the Instant Pot to Sauté mode. Cook without the lid to allow the curry to thicken for 5 minutes. If the sauce starts to splutter, adjust to Saute(Less).
- Garnish with remaining cilantro. Serve the butter chicken with Homemade Parathas and Basmati Rice or Cumin Rice and Cucumber Raita. For a low-carb meal serve with Cauliflower Cumin Rice.
- Instead of coconut milk, you can use ½ cup of water to pressure cook the chicken and then add heavy cream in the end to garnish
- ¾ cup of store-bought puree can be used instead of homemade tomato puree
- Skip tomato paste if you do not have it, tomato paste adds vibrant red color and thickness to the butter chicken
- Check out my Paneer Makhani recipe that uses the same sauce for a delicious vegetarian option
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This recipe is on regular rotation at our house. It is so easy and so delicious! Thank you so much for sharing your recipe.
Chanchal Randhawa says
I tried this butter chicken recipe and came out perfect. My family enjoyed their dinner. The recipe was so easy to follow. Thank you for the recipe.
Thank you so much!
This was so quick and easy and delicious! I highly recommend making an effort to get kashmiri red Chili powder and fenugreek leaves because it really makes a difference. I absolutely loved this and it came out so well in the instant pot. This might become one of my go-to recommendations for new owners of instant pots (people often ask me what to make since they know I use one). Great job Archana!!! This is a really outstanding recipe!
Thank you so much Adriane!
Turned out great. with me being a vegetarian, was very scared as I could taste test it. But my family loved it.
This recipe is absolutely delish!!! I’ve always been hesitant to make homemade butter chicken because of how complicated/ time consuming it can be. However, this recipe is the exact opposite and so so good! The flavor is amazing! I would highly recommend to any butter chicken lover! It reminded me of my moms home made butter chicken! Thank you for this amazing recipe!!
Great recipe. How much cream should we use at the end if we don't have any coconut milk around. Thank you.
half a cup to 3/4th cup depending on how creamy you like the curry to be.
Do you have a slow cooker version of this?
Hi Liz, I do not but you can check out my Slow cooker chicken tikka masala and follow the same timings for this recipe too! Just saute the onions a bit and then add the remaining ingredients and cook in slow cook mode.
I can't get my hands on dried fenugreek leaves but there's the fresh fenugreek leaves available in the stores. How much of the fresh should i put in to subsitute the 2 tablespoons of dried?
Hi Aliya, fresh fenugreek leaves have a very different flavor and aroma. There is no good substitute for dried fenugreek. Also if the store carries fresh I am sure they have the dried ones too. Ask for "Kasoori methi" It usually comes in a small yellow/green carton. If you do not find the dried fenugreek you can skip it.
Sarah VM says
Oh my stars this was good. Going into the rotation for sure. I didn’t have to adjust a single thing!!! Served with cauliflower rice.
Thank you, Sarah! This is my family fav too!
Lynn Spencer says
Good Morning. I LOVE your Instant Pot Biryani recipe and planning on making that for my kids next week. But I was also going to make butter chicken for dinner as well. Unfortunately I only have one instant pot. Can your butter chicken be altered for stove top or oven? Or even slow cooker? Thanks, Lynn
yes, you can cook butter chicken on the stove top! Make sure to saute the onion well.
I had my family over and made this for dinner tonight. It is delicious, everybody was full and happy!
I will definitely put this on future menus!
Thank you Julie!
Delicious! I didn’t use coconut milk — followed your directions to use water and finish with heavy cream. Best butter chicken I’ve ever made and so easy!
Thank you for the lovely feedback!
Holy WOW! This is amazing, my almost done taste test is darn near divine. Thank you so much for sharing your recipe with us!
You are most welcome! Thank you for the feedback.
Really tasty recipe. Served it with homemade parathas and everyone loved it!
Thank you Shalini
How much tomato puree would equal 3 roma toms?
About a cup of tomato puree will be equal to 3 Roma tomatoes.