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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Erin Fraser says
I am sooooo excited to try this! One question, if I wanted to add something like frozen peas and carrots (like the little chopped up frozen ones in a bag), when during the process would I do that? Would they overcook and turn to mush if they were in during the pressure cooking?
I would stir frozen peas and carrots in the end along with coconut cream to avoid over cooking
Bridget Booth says
Hi hope to make tomorrow. Even got the fenugreek but now realize I don’t have right red pepper mentioned. Is there another pepper that would be comparable?
Hi Bridget! Yes you can use any mild red chili pepper or paprika. If you have hotter chili pepper put only half or 1/4 the amount mentioned. You can always add more in the end. Basically Kashmiri red chili powder gives a bright orange hue to the curry without making it spicy
Bridget Booth says
I have ancho, cayenne, chipotle and aleppo
I would add little bit if cayenne
Shiby George says
Hiii. So I have a 3QT Instant Pot. I just purchased the Global Belly kit for this recipe and I wasn't sure if I would be able to make the full serving size in my 3QT Instant Pot. Please advise 🙂
Hi! Yes you can make the servings as suggested in the kit in a 3Qt instant pot. Can’t wait for your feedback.
Can I use greek yogurt instead of coconut milk? If yes, how can I alter the recipe for this change?
Hi Monica, yes you can use greek yogurt. Add few tablespoons of hot curry to the yogurt so the yogurt will be warm and then stir it in the curry. Also remember to add yogurt in the end after the pressure cooking cycle is complete.
Will this recipe freeze well? I want to make freezer meals for my daughter who will be on maternity leave.
Hi Deb, Yes freeze in smaller portions. Congratulations to you 🙂
Meghan Bennett says
This was amazing. I am currently eating it for dinner right now. My daughter loves it, and my husband went in for seconds! Delicious!!!! Thank you!
I made the sauce according to the recipe but added leftover oven roasted chicken my family did not want to eat as leftovers. I pressure cooked the bone in chicken 5 minutes before adding the coconut cream, tomato paste, etc. turned out wonderfully and I will do this again when I have leftover chicken. Perfect spices! Thanks for the recipe
Thank you for the lovely feedback Lauren!
I am trying to make this but realized I am out of coconut oil! Can I use butter?
Yes butter works
I made this today
I did not have tomato paste but followed the rest of the recipe
My family loved it!!
Thank you for the feedback ❤️
Jennifer Loveridge says
Delicious. The family loved It. I did not do the additional saute to thicken because my instapot overcooks the chicken. Instead, a add a bit of cornstarch/water mix to thicken. I will make it again.
Umm...yeah...this recipe was FUN to make and the whole family DEVOURED it. I have a 2 and 4 year old. I really like your blog! I had to modify a couple things. I’m looking forward to making this again! But, next time I will make sure I have FRESH cilantro and Fenugreek leaves. I thought I had the Fenugreek but no.
Thank you! I am so glad your little ones enjoyed it too.
Just made this delicious recipe.
My husband said I can make this more often. I didn’t have cilantro so I used chopped fresh spinach.
Thank you for sharing this recipe
Thank you for the lovely feedback. This recipe is a FAV in my home too
Tried this today, tasted amazing. Will definitely be making it again. Thanks for the recipe
Scott J. says
Made the Butter Chicken last night and my wife, my Indian wife 😉 , loved it! She thought the sauce was legit and went back for seconds, and she doesn't normally eat that much chicken when we go to Indian restaurants and order their Butter Chicken. We're heading to a friends place tomorrow to watch the NFL playoffs and thought about trying to convert this to a dip served with small Naan pieces. Arachana - any suggestions on how to make this like a Buffalo Chicken dip? Think I might just make the recipe as is, shred the chicken and fold in some yogurt or something to thicken it up. Thoughts?
Thank you so much for your lovely feedback! I actually have an awesome pulled butter chicken recipe that's based on the same flavors - https://ministryofcurry.com/pulled-butter-chicken-sandwiches/
Let me know if you have any questions.
Scott J. says
Ah yes that would work, but I think it needs to be heavier on the sauce and less on the chicken so it's more dip-able. And I apologize, Archana, I misspelled your name in my previous post.
We are not a big fan of using coconut milk what can we use instead. Is there a non paleo version
Yes, you can use heavy cream instead.
Made this tonight and it was so good!! I dont have an instant pot though, are there any changes you suggest when just cooking on the stovetop?
Thank you! When cooking on the stove, stir it a few times after adding chicken so it cooks evenly and add extra water as needed. Would love a 5-star rating from you 🙂
I am making this tomorrow & would like to make Basmati rice - Pot in Pot. Any suggestions if this will work? I would be feeding 4 people.
Yes! Place a tall trivet over the chicken. Then place the rice bowl. 1 cup basmati rice, 1.5 cups water + 1 teaspoon salt. It will work great.
Looking forward to trying this! What is your recommendation if we want to use paneer instead? I have frozen paneer that I would like to use up but unsure of how to add/cook it (time and temp) in the insta pot. Thank you!
Hi Shloka! I just added details to the notes. Hope you find it useful. Its super yummy with paneer.
Can’t wait to try this recipe! I’m about to cook. How much heavy cream if I don’t want to use coconut milk? Will let you know how it turns out. Thanks
Sorry, just catching up to this. 1/2 cup but more or less depending on how creamy you like
Is there anything I can substitute for pureed plum tomatoes? I have tomato paste, or tomato sauce, or fresh hot house tomatoes. Everything but!
Use tomato sauce, if it has salt you may want to adjust the salt a tiny bit in the recipe and if the sauce is too sour, add extra 1 teaspoon of sugar or sweetener to balance it out.