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Fragrant, creamy, and rich without being heavy, this easy Indian Butter Chicken (or murgh makhani) adds some subcontinental flair to your weekly meal plan. Tender chicken and velvety butter sauce makes this recipe delicious!

the best Indian butter chicken recipe

Why You’ll Love This Simple Butter Chicken Recipe

  • It’s Based on Two Reader Favorites. Readers love my tender Slow Cooker Butter Chicken and Instant Pot Butter Chicken, and this Indian butter chicken recipe is the stovetop version!
  • Authentic Flavor, Everyday Ingredients. I love cooking Indian dishes, but a lot of them require a trip to a specialty grocer. This is the best butter chicken recipe if you want to use ingredients that can be found at any grocery store, but still want authentic flavor. (For more inspiration, try Paneer Tikka Masala, Potato Curry, and Lentil Curry too!)
  • Easy Prep. While this might not be the easiest dinner you’ll ever make (we’ll leave that to my Egg Roll in a Bowl and Honey Walnut Shrimp), it is easy compared with other Indian dishes. Measure out the ingredients before you start and it will all come together easy peasy!
  • Spiced, Not Spicy. If you’re not into spicy food, you may approach Indian food with trepidation. With butter chicken, you can grab a fork and dig in—no caution needed! This recipe is full of aromatic, warm spices, but it’s not spicy hot.
30 minute Indian Butter Chicken recipe

How to Make Indian Butter Chicken Recipe

The Ingredients

  • Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts or Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs. Cut these into bite-sized pieces.
  • Curry Powder. I recommend mild curry powder, not hot.
  • Unsalted Butter. This adds richness and flavor.
  • Aromatics. Yellow onion, garlic, and ginger. Fresh ginger is more pungent and warm than ground ginger. It’s worth it here!
  • Spices. Garam masala, an Indian cooking staple also found in Chicken Tikka Masala, along with chili powder and ground cumin.
  • Tomato Sauce. Then, fill the can halfway with water and add that too.
  • Half-and-Half. This gives us a creamy, rich sauce without the heaviness of heavy cream.
  • Plain Greek Yogurt. Yogurt thickens the sauce and adds a bit of tanginess to the overall flavor.
  • Fresh Cilantro. Cilantro haters can skip it, or add a smaller amount of fresh mint leaves.
  • Accompaniments. Serve your Indian butter chicken with brown rice, quinoa, Homemade Naan, and additional cilantro.

The Directions

cooking chicken for stovetop Indian butter chicken
  1. Sear the Chicken. Transfer to a plate.
  2. Cook the Onion. Until it’s just starting to soften.
sauteeing onions for Indian butter chicken
  1. Add the Spices. Cook until fragrant.
simmering ingredients for stovetop Indian butter chicken
  1. Simmer. Stir in the tomato sauce and water, then partially cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
stovetop Indian butter chicken recipe
  1. Add the Chicken and Half-and-Half. Stir and simmer for about 5 minutes.
greek yogurt Indian butter chicken
  1. Temper the Yogurt. Add a few spoonfuls of the sauce to the Greek yogurt and stir to combine. Then, stir this mixture into the pot. This keeps it from curdling.
cilantro on top of stovetop Indian butter chicken recipes
  1. Finish. Stir in the cilantro and serve Indian butter chicken over brown rice or quinoa, or with a side of naan. ENJOY!

Recipe Variations

  • Dairy-Free Indian Butter Chicken. Substitute the butter with coconut oil and leave out the water, yogurt, and half-and-half. Instead, add a can of full-fat coconut milk at the same time you add the tomato sauce.
  • Vegan Indian Butter Tofu. Use the same swaps above, then add Air Fryer Tofu, Crispy Tofu, or plant-based “chicken” as the protein. (This makes it suitable for vegetarians too!)
  • Indian Butter Chicken With Cauliflower. Replace half of the amount of chicken with cauliflower florets.
butter chicken made on the stove

Storage Tips

  • To Store. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • To Reheat. Freeze for up to 3 months in an airtight container or freezer bag. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating. 
  • To Freeze. Warm leftovers gently on the stovetop or in the microwave.

Meal Prep Tip

If you’re making butter chicken for meal prep, store it separately from the cilantro and rice or quinoa.

Leftover Ideas

Leftover Indian butter chicken is tasty spooned over Crock Pot Baked Potatoes or sweet potatoes. You can also spread the leftovers onto Whole Wheat Pizza Dough, add shredded mozzarella, and make a butter chicken flatbread. Garnish with fresh cilantro before serving.

stovetop butter chicken recipe

What to Serve with Indian Butter Chicken

  • Dutch Oven. This is a Dutch oven that will last for decades to come!
  • Measuring Spoons. Double-sided so you don’t have to stop to rinse spoons halfway through a recipe.
  • Liquid Measuring Cup. I like using this to mix the yogurt and sauce; the high sides mean you can whisk it well without overflow.

Recipe Tips and Tricks

  • Use Fresh Spices. The spices are key here, so you don’t want to use anything that’s past its prime. When you open the jar, the spices should be fragrant. If they’re not, it’s time to replace them. Spices and herbs that don’t have much of a smell (or smell musty) won’t add flavor to your dishes.
  • Cut the Chicken Evenly. Even pieces mean all the chicken will finish cooking at the same time—and that you won’t have some pieces that are tough and over-cooked while others are still pink in the middle.
  • Don’t Swap the Half-and-Half for Milk. I know it can be tempting to cut calories wherever you can, but this is neither the time nor the place! Since we’ve already swapped cream out for half-and-half, there’s not anymore room to swap half-and-half for milk—if you do, you’ll end up with a thin, watery sauce.
  • Temper the Yogurt. Adding a little bit of the Indian butter chicken sauce to the yogurt will temper it, which means it won’t curdle when you add it to the pot. While curdled butter chicken sauce is perfectly fine to eat, it’s not terribly appetizing!
Indian Butter Chicken recipe made on the stove in 30 minutes

Indian Butter Chicken

5 from 9 votes
This simple Indian butter chicken recipe is fragrant and filling with a creamy butter chicken sauce. Authentic flavor, healthy, and EASY!

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 35 minutes
Total: 45 minutes

Servings: 4 -6 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder divided
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter divided
  • 1 small yellow onion diced (about 1 cup)
  • 4 cloves minced garlic about 4 teaspoons
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce, plus 1/2 can of water
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro plus additional for serving

For Serving


Instructions
 

  • In a Dutch oven or similar large, sturdy pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, 1/2 teaspoon of the kosher salt, black pepper, and 1/2 tablespoon of the curry powder, stirring to coat the chicken evenly. Sear the chicken on all sides until lightly golden (about 5-6 minutes)—the chicken does not need to be cooked through at this point. Remove to a plate.
  • Reduce the heat to medium. Add 2 tablespoons of the butter and the onion to the pot. Cook until the onion is beginning to soften, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the garlic, ginger, garam masala, chili powder, cumin, and the remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon curry powder. Stir and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  • Reduce the heat to low. Carefully pour in the tomato sauce (be careful of splatters). Fill the can of tomato sauce up halfway with water, then add the liquid to the pot. Stir to combine, then partially cover the pot and let simmer gently for 15 minutes.
  • Return the chicken and any juices that have collected on the plate to the pot. Stir in the half-and-half. Let simmer until the chicken is fully cooked through, about 5 minutes more.
  • Place the Greek yogurt in a small bowl and add a few big spoonfuls of the hot butter chicken liquid. Stir to combine, then add the mixture to the pot (this tempers the yogurt so it doesn’t curdle).
  • Stir in the cilantro and 1 tablespoon butter. Enjoy warm over brown rice, quinoa, or naan, sprinkled with more cilantro.

Notes

  • TO MAKE DAIRY FREE: Use coconut oil in place of the butter; omit the water, yogurt, and half and half; add 1 (14-ounce) can of FULL FAT coconut milk with the tomato sauce.
  • TO MAKE VEGAN: Follow dairy-free above; use Air Fryer Tofu or Crispy Tofu or plant-based “chicken” in place of chicken breast
  • TO STORE: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • TO REHEAT: Freeze for up to 3 months in an airtight container or freezer bag. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
  • TO FREEZE: Warm leftovers gently on the stovetop or in the microwave.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 (of 4)Calories: 475kcalCarbohydrates: 13gProtein: 54gFat: 23gSaturated Fat: 9gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0.4gCholesterol: 180mgPotassium: 1348mgFiber: 3gSugar: 7gVitamin A: 1286IUVitamin C: 14mgCalcium: 119mgIron: 3mg

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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  1. Amazing dish! I went over the recipe a few times and never saw where I’m supposed to use the third tablespoon of butter. Was amazing even without it!5 stars

    1. Hi Phil! So glad you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you for this kind review! Thanks for letting us know about the butter, we fixed that in the recipe!

  2. Good flavors! Made this with Erin’s half cauliflower suggestion, which I thought was great, both for adding in vegetables and having some texture variety. Also used pre pulled rotisserie chicken since I needed to use some up, which worked well enough, but I’d like to try as written with chicken breast next time. Thanks for a delicious recipe!5 stars