Butter Chicken

// Easy, creamy Butter Chicken recipe perfect for dinners. Rich flavors for a meal everyone loves! Quick to make and delicious.



Butter Chicken, also known as Murgh Makhani or Chicken Makhani, is one of the most popular Indian curries enjoyed worldwide. This restaurant-style butter chicken curry recipe is not only super delicious and flavorful, but it is also incredibly easy to make.

You can pair it with Garlic Naan, Tandoori Roti, Plain Paratha, Chapati, Jeera Rice, or just steamed Basmati Rice for a complete Indian meal experience.

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A bowl of creamy butter chicken garnished with cilantro, accompanied by garlic naan, on a dark background.

With this easy recipe, you can make the best-tasting, creamy, indulging, and flavor-packed authentic Indian Butter Chicken recipe in the comfort of your own home.

About Butter Chicken

Butter Chicken or Chicken Makhani is a traditional Indian curry made by simmering marinated & grilled chicken pieces (Tandoori chicken) in a rich, creamy, aromatic, and buttery tomato gravy. In simple words, butter chicken is a curry where aromatic tender chicken pieces are cooked in an incredible buttery and creamy curry sauce.

For this homemade butter chicken recipe, you will need a deliciously spiced yogurt marinade similar to paneer tikka.

Each bite of this curry has tender and juicy chicken pieces. And the beautiful, bold flavors of this curry can win you over any day.

Similar to Chicken Tikka, Chicken Tikka Masala, Paneer Tikka Masala, Butter Paneer, Butter Chicken is one of the most popular chicken curries at any Indian restaurant worldwide. No wonder it is highly popular among Indian food lovers across the world.

Known for its creamy texture and aromatic spices, this lip-smacking, succulent chicken curry has an inviting blend of flavors which is loved by admirers of Indian cuisine.

The great thing about cooking an Indian recipe for Butter Chicken at home is that it is prepared using everyday easy-to-find ingredients. You can get all the ingredients from any Asian Indian grocery store worldwide.

Top view of butter chicken in a white bowl topped with fresh herbs beside lemon wedges and sliced onions.

In this post, I have shared a simple and fail-proof recipe to make authentic North Indian Butter Chicken, and I promise this easy Indian chicken curry tastes better than your favorite restaurant or takeouts. 

It is one of the best butter chicken recipes you will try at home. You will simply love how quick and straightforward it is to make at home. Even if you are cooking it for the first time, you can cook it with perfection. 

Restaurant butter curry chicken recipe is laden with loads of butter, which usually makes us feel bloated. But we have a solution for it. This restaurant-style recipe gives you a similar taste without feeling greasy. It is because I have cooked this recipe in a combination of butter and oil.

Also, adding cream at the end of cooking gives it the perfect richness and creaminess you want in an authentic butter chicken.

Serve it with matar pulao and fresh homemade Afghan Naan, and you are all in for a treat.

So, are you ready for this ultimate comfort food to enjoy with your family and friends?

Origin of Butter Chicken

Butter Chicken got its start back in the 1950s in the heart of Delhi, within the bustling kitchen of the famous Moti Mahal restaurant. This recipe was invented when the chef took the initiative to use up the leftover tandoori chicken.

They cooked the tandoori chicken pieces in a spicy tomato gravy with butter, cream, and a bunch of spices. This way, they could cut down on waste, and luckily it became a huge hit among chicken lovers and is now loved by people all over the world.

Close-up of butter chicken curry topped with cream and herbs, with a piece of naan on the side.

What is Butter Chicken

Butter chicken is a North Indian curry where marinated grilled chicken pieces are simmered in a buttery and creamy gravy, giving this sauce a silky smooth, rich texture.

Butter is known as ‘Makhhan’ and chicken as ‘murgi’ or ‘murgh’ in the Hindi language. Hence, it is also known as Murgh Makhani. The other name for this curry is Chicken Makhani.

How to Make Homemade Butter Chicken

Making butter chicken murg makhani is very simple. For making butter chicken masala, you will need boneless and skinless chicken thighs or breasts. For this recipe, you can either use chicken thighs or breasts.

Make Marinade: 

First, you need to make a marinade using yogurt, oil, ginger garlic paste, and spices such as turmeric powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, black salt, amchur, and Kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves).

Marinate:

Marinate the chicken pieces for 1 hour to 24 hours. The longer it marinates, the more tender and flavorful your chicken will turn out.

Base Sauce:

Then, make the base sauce by cooking onion, tomato, ginger, garlic, cashews, whole spices, and powdered spices. Once cooled, this mixture is blended into a smooth puree.

Grill Chicken:

Cook the marinated chicken pieces in a pan or grill until they are charred and cooked. 

Make Butter Chicken Sauce:

Make the final curry by cooking strained base gravy with ginger garlic paste, red chili powder in butter. Then add kasuri methi, garam masala, salt, sugar, and mix. 

Make Butter Chicken:

Add in heavy cream or regular dairy cream, grilled chicken pieces, and simmer. Finish off with butter and cilantro. Your butter chicken curry recipe is ready to be served.

Serving Butter Chicken

Just like any Indian curry, this butter chicken goes perfectly well with paneer stuffed naan, roti, pulao, or even plain steamed rice. For an elaborate Indian meal experience, you can accompany it with samosa, dal makhani, onion tomato raita, pickle, papadums, and gulab jamun, a glass of mango lassi or mango kulfi to balance the spicy aftertaste.

Tips and Tricks to Make the Best Butter Chicken

  1. Marinade: To enhance the flavor, I like to add any leftover marinade to the curry sauce. It intensifies the butter chicken taste.

  2. Blitz & Strain Sauce: For an extra smooth sauce, blend the base sauce ingredients until smooth. Straining this puree is optional but recommended, as it results in a super smooth gravy.

  3. Butter and Oil: Using a combination of oil and butter achieves the perfect creamy texture and richness. Feel free to use only ghee (clarified butter) or butter if you prefer. You can also substitute butter with ghee.

  4. Marinade: Ensure the chicken is marinated for at least 1-2 hours. Marinating up to 24 hours is fine, but don’t exceed this time, or the chicken will lose its flavors.

  5. Cooking Chicken: Cook the chicken in a skillet or grill over medium-high heat until it is fully cooked and white throughout. This should take about 5-6 minutes. When cooking, take the chicken out of the marinade and add it to the pan without shaking off the excess.

  6. Tomato: I use fresh tomatoes to make the sauce, but you can also use tomato paste, puree, or crushed tomatoes.

  7. Serving: Butter chicken pairs well with any flatbread, such as garlic naan, wheat naan, or tandoori roti. It also goes well with plain steamed basmati rice, pulao, or pilaf.

  8. Spicy: This recipe yields a rich, creamy, mildly spicy curry. If you prefer a less spicy curry, feel free to omit fresh chili from the recipe or reduce the red chili powder amount.

  9. Lighter Version: For a lighter curry, use half cream and half milk.

Butter chicken served in a white bowl with a side of garlic naan, lemon slices, and red onion on a wooden board.

FAQ

Can I prepare Butter Chicken in advance for meal planning?

Yes, you can prepare it in advance. In fact, butter chicken often tastes better the next day as the chicken absorbs the flavors. This makes it a great option for parties or gatherings. Simply make the butter chicken and store it in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Gently reheat it in a pan when ready to serve. Garnish with fresh cream and cilantro to enhance the flavors.

Can I use dairy alternatives in Butter Chicken for a lactose-free version?

If you are lactose intolerant or avoiding lactose, you can make a lactose-free version of butter chicken. Use dairy-free alternatives like coconut milk or coconut cream to make it lactose-free.

Is there a way to make Butter Chicken vegan?

Yes, it’s possible to make vegan butter chicken. Replace the chicken with plant-based alternatives, such as soy chicken, and use vegan butter and cashew cream instead of butter and cream.

What to do if my Butter Chicken sauce is too thin?

If the sauce is thinner than desired, you can thicken it by cooking it longer to evaporate the excess liquid. Adding some cream and butter can also help thicken it.

What are some common sides to serve with this Chicken Curry?

Chicken curry is traditionally served with Indian flatbreads like naan, khoba roti, or paratha. It can also be served over basmati rice or matar pulao. For a more satisfying meal, pair it with other Indian dishes such as hariyali paneer tikka, mango raita, papads, mango sago, and fruit custard.

Can I substitute ingredients in this Chicken Curry?

Yes, you can substitute ingredients, such as using bone-in chicken instead of boneless. You can also swap fresh tomatoes with crushed tomatoes or tomato puree. Although I use homemade ginger garlic paste in this recipe, store-bought ginger garlic paste is also suitable.

What is the difference between Butter Chicken and Chicken Tikka Masala?

Both Butter Chicken and Chicken Tikka Masala use marinated grilled chicken as a base. However, the sauce for each curry differs, with butter chicken being richer and creamier than Chicken Tikka Masala. Sometimes Chicken Tikka Masala includes vegetables like onions and capsicums.

Can I make this chicken curry spicier?

Yes, to make it spicier, increase the amount of red chili powder and garam masala powder. Adding more garam masala not only makes it spicier but also enhances the overall aromatic flavor.

Is garam masala necessary for Butter Chicken?

Yes, garam masala is a key spice that gives the sauce its authentic flavor. You can use either homemade or store-bought garam masala; both work well in this recipe. Garam masala is easily found in the spice section of any supermarket.


Butter Chicken (Step-by-step photo instructions)

Marinate the Chicken:

  1. For the marinade, take a mixing bowl, add the chicken pieces. Add hung curd, Kashmiri red chili powder, mustard oil, ginger-garlic paste, coriander powder, cumin powder, turmeric, black salt, Kasuri methi, amchur powder, and lemon juice.
  2. Image of the recipe cooking step-1-1 for Butter Chicken
  3. Mix well until the chicken is thoroughly coated. Then add salt to taste and mix again. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it marinate for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight in the fridge for the flavors to meld.
  4. Image of the recipe cooking step-1-2 for Butter Chicken

Make the base gravy:

  1. In a large pot, heat the oil. Then add cumin seeds, dried red chilies, black cardamom, green cardamom pods, cloves, and peppercorns. Sauté for a minute until fragrant.
  2. Image of the recipe cooking step-2-1 for Butter Chicken
  3. Add cashew nuts and mix well. Then add ginger, garlic, and sauté for another 2 minutes.
  4. Image of the recipe cooking step-2-2 for Butter Chicken
  5. Add the sliced onions, sliced tomatoes, and mix well.
  6. Image of the recipe cooking step-2-3 for Butter Chicken
  7. After that, add turmeric powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, Kashmiri red chili powder, fresh chili, black pepper powder, and salt. Mix well and add hot water. Mix again, cover the pan with the lid. Simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the tomatoes are soft and mushy.
  8. Image of the recipe cooking step-2-4 for Butter Chicken
  9. Remove the black cardamom and chili stem.
  10. Image of the recipe cooking step-2-5 for Butter Chicken
  11. Allow the mixture to cool slightly, then blend it into a smooth sauce using a hand blender or a food processor.
  12. Image of the recipe cooking step-2-6 for Butter Chicken
  13. The smooth puree is ready, set it aside.
  14. Image of the recipe cooking step-2-7 for Butter Chicken

Grill the Chicken:

  1. Heat the butter and oil in a grill pan or skillet over medium heat.
  2. Image of the recipe cooking step-3-1 for Butter Chicken
  3. Add the marinated chicken and cook until it's nicely charred and cooked through on both sides and has a golden brown color.
  4. Image of the recipe cooking step-3-2 for Butter Chicken
  5. Remove it from the heat and set aside for later use. Alternatively, you can also grill them in an oven for 5-6 minutes at 220°C. Also, reserve the leftover marinade; we will use it in the gravy.
  6. Image of the recipe cooking step-3-3 for Butter Chicken

Make Butter Chicken:

  1. Set a pan on medium heat, add oil and butter.
  2. Image of the recipe cooking step-4-1 for Butter Chicken
  3. Once hot, add ginger garlic paste and sauté for 1 minute.
  4. Image of the recipe cooking step-4-2 for Butter Chicken
  5. Then add 1 bay leaf and mix. Lower the heat and add Kashmiri red chili powder, cook for about ½ minute to one minute.
  6. Image of the recipe cooking step-4-3 for Butter Chicken
  7. Strain the sauce back into the pot for a smoother texture, although this step is optional. You can add some hot water to adjust the consistency of the gravy.
  8. Image of the recipe cooking step-4-4 for Butter Chicken
  9. Mix well until combined. Then add Kasuri methi, toasted, garam masala, sugar/honey, and salt, to taste. Mix well and simmer for 10-15 minutes on medium heat, stirring at short intervals.
  10. Image of the recipe cooking step-4-5 for Butter Chicken
  11. Next, add 1 tablespoon of marinade and mix well.
  12. Image of the recipe cooking step-4-6 for Butter Chicken
  13. Add cream and mix well.
  14. Image of the recipe cooking step-4-7 for Butter Chicken
  15. After that, add the grilled chicken, stir well. You can add some hot water if required to adjust the consistency. Cook further for 7-8 minutes on medium-low heat.
  16. Image of the recipe cooking step-4-8 for Butter Chicken
  17. Add 1 tablespoon butter, and choppe cilantro. Stir well and cook for a minute; do not overcook.
  18. Image of the recipe cooking step-4-9 for Butter Chicken
  19. Butter chicken is ready, garnished with ginger juliennes, chopped cilantro, and fresh cream. Serve hot with butter garlic paratha or naan or any Indian bread of your choice.
  20. Image of the recipe cooking step-4-10 for Butter Chicken

Recipe Card


Butter Chicken [Recipe]

Recipe Image
Easy, creamy Butter Chicken recipe perfect for dinners. Rich flavors for a meal everyone loves! Quick to make and delicious.
★★★★★
(Rating: 5 from 6 reviews)

Prep time 🕐 Cook time 🕐 Total time 🕐
45 mins
Category ☶ Cuisine ♨ Serves ☺
Main Indian 4
Nutrition Info ⊛ Serving size ⊚
390 calories 1

INGREDIENTS

For Chicken Marination
  • Boneless chicken, 500 grams
  • 1 tablespoon mustard oil
  • 1 teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon black salt
  • 1 teaspoon Kasuri methi
  • 1/4 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon amchur powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup thick curd
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
For Grilling Chicken
  • 1.5 tablespoons butter or ghee
  • 1 tablespoon oil
For Makhani gravy base
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2-3 dried red chilies
  • 1 black cardamom
  • 2 green cardamoms
  • 4 cloves
  • 4-5 black peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons cashew nuts
  • 4-5 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 inch ginger, roughly chopped
  • 3 medium-sized onions, sliced
  • 2 medium-sized tomatoes, sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1 fresh chili, sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 cup water
For Butter Chicken Final Cooking
  • 1 + 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon Kasuri methi, toasted
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar/honey
  • Salt, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cream
  • 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped
For serving
  • Ginger juliennes
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh cream

INSTRUCTIONS:

Marinate the Chicken:
  1. For the marinade, take a mixing bowl, add the chicken pieces. Add hung curd, Kashmiri red chili powder, mustard oil, ginger-garlic paste, coriander powder, cumin powder, turmeric, black salt, Kasuri methi, amchur powder, and lemon juice.
  2. Mix well until the chicken is thoroughly coated. Then add salt to taste and mix again. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it marinate for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight in the fridge for the flavors to meld.
Make the base gravy:
  1. In a large pot, heat the oil. Then add cumin seeds, dried red chilies, black cardamom, green cardamom pods, cloves, and peppercorns. Sauté for a minute until fragrant.
  2. Add cashew nuts and mix well. Then add ginger, garlic, and sauté for another 2 minutes.
  3. Add the sliced onions, sliced tomatoes, and mix well.
  4. After that, add turmeric powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, Kashmiri red chili powder, fresh chili, black pepper powder, and salt. Mix well and add hot water. Mix again, cover the pan with the lid. Simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the tomatoes are soft and mushy.
  5. Remove the black cardamom and chili stem.
  6. Allow the mixture to cool slightly, then blend it into a smooth sauce using a hand blender or a food processor.
  7. The smooth puree is ready, set it aside.
Grill the Chicken:
  1. Heat the butter and oil in a grill pan or skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add the marinated chicken and cook until it's nicely charred and cooked through on both sides and has a golden brown color.
  3. Remove it from the heat and set aside for later use. Alternatively, you can also grill them in an oven for 5-6 minutes at 220°C. Also, reserve the leftover marinade; we will use it in the gravy.
Make Butter Chicken:
  1. Set a pan on medium heat, add oil and butter.
  2. Once hot, add ginger garlic paste and sauté for 1 minute.
  3. Then add 1 bay leaf and mix. Lower the heat and add Kashmiri red chili powder, cook for about ½ minute to one minute.
  4. Strain the sauce back into the pot for a smoother texture, although this step is optional. You can add some hot water to adjust the consistency of the gravy.
  5. Mix well until combined. Then add Kasuri methi, toasted, garam masala, sugar/honey, and salt, to taste. Mix well and simmer for 10-15 minutes on medium heat, stirring at short intervals.
  6. Next, add 1 tablespoon of marinade and mix well.
  7. Add cream and mix well.
  8. After that, add the grilled chicken, stir well. You can add some hot water if required to adjust the consistency. Cook further for 7-8 minutes on medium-low heat.
  9. Add 1 tablespoon butter, and choppe cilantro. Stir well and cook for a minute; do not overcook.
  10. Butter chicken is ready, garnished with ginger juliennes, chopped cilantro, and fresh cream. Serve hot with butter garlic paratha or naan or any Indian bread of your choice.

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NOTES:

  1. For an extra smooth sauce, blend the base sauce ingredients until smooth. Straining this puree is optional but recommended, as it results in a super smooth gravy.
  2. Using a combination of oil and butter achieves the perfect creamy texture and richness. Feel free to use only ghee (clarified butter) or butter if you prefer. You can also substitute butter with ghee.


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