Instant Pot Butter Chicken

Isn’t butter chicken just the most wonderful sounding name for a recipe? Today’s Instant Pot Butter Chicken has all of the comforting, soul-satisfying flavor any recipe with the word “butter” in it promises but is healthy, made easier in the pressure cooker, AND I’ve even snuck in a full serving of veggies to make it a true one-pot meal.

Instant Pot Butter Chicken. An easy, healthy recipe for the famous Indian butter chicken that anyone can make! Recipe uses easy to find ingredients like coconut milk and tomato, plus cauliflower to make it a true all-in-one meal.

I have been smitten with Indian food ever since my post-college roommate and I spent a month traveling India after we graduated, especially the rich, saucy curries like Indian butter chicken.

If you aren’t familiar with butter chicken, it’s tender, falling-apart morsels of chicken in a creamy, mildly spiced curry sauce. Butter chicken is not spicy in the sense of being “hot;” rather it is fully flavored with layers of Indian spices and ingredients like ginger, tomato, curry, and coconut milk.

My former Indian travel companion is coming to stay with us this weekend for our annual girls’ reunion (a small group of my best college girlfriends and I are 10-years strong meeting up each summer!), so I thought it would be fun to surprise her with a dish to remind us of our travels.

With its ease to make, fab flavor, and ability to be enjoyed with one of both of our favorite Indian items, naan bread, Instant Pot Butter Chicken feels like the perfect choice for a casual dinner at home.

Instant Pot Butter Chicken. One of THE BEST healthy Instant Pot recipes and Instant Pot chicken recipes! Made with coconut milk, cauliflower, and other easy to find ingredients.

While we were in India, my roomie and I took a cooking class, where I quickly realized that part of the reason Indian food tastes so incredible is that it takes ALL DAY to make. There are whole spices to toast and grind, sauces to simmer, and bread to bake. The process is fun for an afternoon class while in India but impractical for day-to-day life at home, especially at 6:30 p.m. when the line between eating real food for dinner and eating chips + wine for dinner becomes alarmingly thin.

Enter: the Instant Pot.

Instant Pot Butter Chicken with creamy coconut milk sauce. An easy and healthy Instant pot chicken recipe.

Instant Pot Butter Chicken — All-Day Flavor, In a Fraction of the Time

I’ve been loving making Instant Pot recipes Indian, because the pressure cooker consolidates flavors in a way that mimics the effect of all-day stovetop cooking. This Instant Pot Chicken Tikka Masala has become a favorite of both mine and of many of yours too, so I wanted to explore making more Instant Pot Indian recipes.

I’ve also been loving making Instant Pot recipes with chicken, both Instant Pot chicken breasts and Instant Pot chicken thighs. Because the Instant Pot doesn’t lose moisture during cooking, it means recipes like this Instant Pot Chicken and Rice turn out perfectly tender every time. (More recipes can be found here: 15 Healthy Instant Pot Recipes!)

One of the best Instant Pot recipes - Instant Pot Butter Chicken with cauliflower.

Whenever I’m creating a recipe, it’s important to me that you can find the ingredients at your neighborhood grocery store. If I can’t easily locate an ingredient near my house in Milwaukee, you won’t see it in one of my blog recipes, with very few exceptions. (The only one that comes to mind in recent memory is the paneer in this Paneer Tikka Masala…which I ended up finding at an Indian grocery story located two miles from my house. WHO KNEW.)

Thus, this Instant Pot Butter Chicken, while perhaps not the most authentic Indian butter chicken recipe in the land, will be one of the easiest butter chicken recipes you’ll find, starting with the ingredients.

I made this Instant Butter Chicken with coconut milk (look for it in the Asian food section of your grocery store), tomato sauce, and two spice blends, curry powder and garam masala. My grocery store carries both, but if you can’t find them, Amazon has several options, and Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods sell them too.

In my usual style, this is also an healthy Instant pot recipe. I added cauliflower to the mix to make it half chicken/half veggie. I love the way the cauliflower breaks down and absorbs the butter sauce’s flavor. The cauliflower mimics the texture and appearance of the chicken too, so you almost don’t realize you are eating vegetables.

(If you are looking for vegetarian Instant Pot recipes, you could try omitting the chicken and using all cauliflower or explore some of my other Instant Pot recipes, such as this Instant Pot Lentil Curry or this healthy Instant Pot Cauliflower Mac and Cheese.)

One of the best healthy Instant Pot recipes. Indian Instant Pot Butter Chicken. Made with coconut milk, cauliflower, and other easy ingredients.

I hope this Instant Pot Butter Chicken inspires some fresh flavors and brings a taste of adventure to your kitchen. Even if you’ve never cooked (or eaten!) Indian food, I think you’ll be surprised and refreshed by the way something as simple trying a new recipe can transport you from the comfort of your own table.

Recommended Tools to Make Instant Pot Butter Chicken

4.85 from 20 votes
Instant Pot Butter Chicken. An easy, healthy recipe for the famous Indian butter chicken that anyone can make! Recipe uses easy to find ingredients like coconut milk and tomato, plus cauliflower to make it a true all-in-one meal.
Instant Pot Butter Chicken
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
40 mins
Total Time
1 hr
 
Instant Pot Butter Chicken. An easy, healthy recipe for Indian butter chicken made with easy to find ingredients. Delicious and not too spicy!
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: Easy Instant Pot Dinner, Instant Pot Butter Chicken, Instant Pot Indian Recipe
Calories: 439 kcal
Author: Erin
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 small yellow onion diced (about 1 cup)
  • 4 cloves minced garlic about 4 teaspoons
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 3/4  teaspoon kosher salt
  • Splash of water or low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 28-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 small cauliflower or 1/2 large head, cut into florets (about 4 1/2 cups)
  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into small pieces (use coconut oil to make dairy free)
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half or full-fat coconut milk, do not use light coconut milk, as it will water down the sauce
  • 1/2 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt or non-dairy yogurt to make dairy-free
  • Prepared brown rice quinoa, or naan, for serving
  • Chopped fresh cilantro for serving
Instructions
  1. Add the coconut oil to the Instant Pot and set to SAUTE. Once hot, add the onion and cook until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the ginger, garlic, curry, garam masala, chili powder, and salt. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Turn the Instant Pot to OFF. Add a splash or water or chicken broth and stir, using a sturdy plastic or wooden spoon to scrape loose any browned bits that have stuck. Make sure you remove all of the stuck on bits so that you don't trigger a burn warning. Add the tomato sauce and cauliflower florets and stir to combine. Lay the chicken breasts on top, then scatter the butter pieces over the top.
  2. Close and seal Instant Pot. Cook on Manual (HIGH) pressure for 12 minutes. Once the time is up, let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes, then vent to immediately release any remaining pressure. Open the lid and transfer the chicken to a cutting board. Cut into bite-sized pieces, then return to the sauce. Stir in the half and half or coconut milk. Let cool a few minutes, then start in the Greek yogurt (do not stir it in immediately or it will curdle). Serve with rice and a sprinkle of fresh cilantro.
Recipe Notes
  • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Reheat leftovers gently on the stovetop or in the microwave.
  • To make in the slow cooker (not tested, but this is my best estimate—some readers have tried and did report that the sauce ended up being thinner): Sauté the onions and spices in a skillet on the stove, then transfer to a slow cooker that is lightly coated with nonstick spray. Add the cauliflower, tomato sauce, and chicken, making sure the chicken is coated with the sauce. Cover and cook on high for 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours or low for 4 to 6 hours, until the chicken is cooked through. The cooking time may vary based on your slow cooker, so check early to ensure the chicken does not dry out. When the chicken is done, cut into bite-sized pieces, then return to the slow cooker and stir in with the half and half. Let cool a few minutes, then stir in the Greek yogurt. (Note that the sauce may be a thinner consistency when made in the slow cooker.)
Nutrition Facts
Instant Pot Butter Chicken
Amount Per Serving (1 (of 6), about 1 1/2 cups butter chicken and sauce, plus 1/2 cup prepared brown rice)
Calories 439 Calories from Fat 126
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 14g 22%
Saturated Fat 7g 35%
Cholesterol 92mg 31%
Total Carbohydrates 42g 14%
Dietary Fiber 7g 28%
Sugars 9g
Protein 39g 78%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Instant Pot Butter Chicken. An easy, healthy recipe for the famous Indian butter chicken that anyone can make! Recipe uses easy to find ingredients like coconut milk and tomato, plus cauliflower to make it a true all-in-one meal. #wellplated #instantpot #butterchicken #easy #healthy #indian

This post contains some affiliate links, which means that I make a small commission off items you purchase at no additional cost to you.

About Erin Clarke

I’m fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food taste incredible. Wearer of plaid, travel enthusiast, and firmly convinced that sweets and veggies both deserve a place at the table. MORE ABOUT ERIN…

73 comments

  1. I’ve never made butter chicken before…but this looks and sounds delicious! :)

  2. Love your recipes!  Quick question.  For this recipe, can  I cut up the chicken breast and put it in the instant pot; rather than cutting the chicken breast after it has been cooked?

  3. I think I’m in love with you.

  4. Hi Erin..sadly l don’t own an instant pot. Can this be done in a crockpot?

  5. How would you adapt the recipe to remove the cauliflower? My husband loves Indian food but hates cauliflower.

    • Traci, you can leave it out or add an extra chicken breast. I hope you both enjoy it! If you’d like to add some veggies, you can stir in peas or baby spinach at the end.

    • My husband isn’t a big cauliflower fan either. I just kept the recipe the same but served mine over cauliflower rice for me. :) Delicious recipe, Erin. Thank you!

      Rating: 5
  6. Wow your butter chicken looks and sounds delicious, Erin! I love that you made it in the instant pot! :)

  7. Hi, I don’t have an instant pot. Can this be made on the stovetop and/or oven

  8. The second you posted this, I knew I had to make it and HOLY YUM. This is going to be a regular. The leftovers are so tasty too!

    Rating: 5
  9. We just made this tonight!  Sooo good!!  Even my super picky husband gobbled it up ??.  Thanks!

    Rating: 5
  10. I’ve been waiting to make this since you posted the recipe! I just made it,  and my only regret is I didn’t make more of it! It was hard to just have one serving! Excellent recipe, thank you so much!

    Rating: 5
  11. I made the Buttered Chicken and even a few of my husbands coworkers that are Indian couldn’t believe I made it homemade!!

    Rating: 5
  12. Hi, sounds delicious. Any idea how much sodium in the recipe? Trying to keep a low(ish) sodium diet. Also, how do you determine all the nutritional info? Do you need a special machine or just add up the info from the various ingredients? Thanks!

    • Dave, you can calc the nutrition (including any extra fields like sodium you like) for free at myfitnesspal.com. That’s why I use! I’ve heard good things about a site called Spark People too.

  13. Amazing dish – my family loved it! We will make this over and over with cheers and seconds. Thank you!

    Rating: 5
  14. The flavor of this was excellent. I only used cauliflower as I cannot eat chicken. 12 minutes (I should have known) was too long for just cauliflower. How long would you suggest?

    • Sarah, I’m afraid it might be a bit of an experiment at first! I didn’t have an issue with cauliflower being overcooked, but it was also mixed with the chicken so that might have changed things. How overcooked was it? I’d use that as a gauge and adjust. You can look for other cauliflower recipes for reference too.

  15. Made this recipe last night! I put a bag of frozen cauliflower instead of fresh and it turned out perfect! Will be adding to the rotation- thanks erin!

    Rating: 5
  16. I made this in the slow cooker and I liked but didn’t love it. On the plus side it was extremely easy and pretty nutritious. I used an entire cauliflower and threw in a bag of peas at the end for color in the absence of cilantro. Strike one – I cooked my chicken on low for 4 hours which ended up being too long and the chicken dried out. Strike two – as you warned us, it could be more liquid. I don’t have an instantpot to compare texture/viscosity but I did find it a little too “wet,” like an Indian soup. I ate the whole thing anyway for lunches and dinners :). I think it’s really hard to replicate Indian as a home cook but I appreciate the simplicity of this recipe. It was worth a try!

    Rating: 4
    • Alison, thanks for reporting back on the slow cooker version. If you try it in the Instant Pot at some point, I’d love to hear how it goes!

  17. In this recipe you cut up the chicken after it’s cooked. One of your replies is so the chicken doesn’t dry out. In the butter chicken recipe you cut up the chicken before you cook it. What’s the difference.

    • Pierre, this is an adaptation for the Instant Pot, so I find that it’s better/easier to leave the chicken whole. Some stovetop versions might call for cutting it first, but this is a twist for the pressure cooker.

  18. This recipe is ridiculously good and easy.!

    Rating: 5
  19. Hi, sounds delicious. I will trying tomorrow:))

    Rating: 5
  20. This looks spectacular. Can it be doubled? I’m new to the Instant Pot game and am not sure what kind of flexibility it allows.

    • Jade, I’ve never tried doubling! If you have an 8 quart Instant Pot, you could experiment with 1.5 times the recipe, but to be 100% safe, I”d make the recipe per the quantities here.

  21. Elizabeth M Smith Reply

    So easy and so delicious!! Everyone in my family agreed on giving it a Top 10 rating.

    Rating: 5
  22. Ridiculously good. A++++++

    This was my first recipe that I ever made in my instant pot.  I was a little nervous but was able to follow the directions verbatim.  My husband loved the dish.  Says he could eat this every week.

  23. Wow … i tried this yesterday and it came out soo well. I say this with greatest compliment…. i can’t imagine a non Indian making AMAZing indian food ! i have tried making Butter chicken and tikka masala from recipes i have received from my Indian friends . nothing have even come close to this. what a keeper !

    Rating: 5
  24. Do you have your own recipe for the naan bread too?  
    Thanks,

  25. Awesome!  That’s what it was!  MY husband has been to Northern India 3x on a mission trip and absolutely loves Indian food.   We have a really good Indian restaurant about 20 min. from our house, so while out, I stopped by and ordered some naan bread to go and then went home and made this.  Was he ever surprised – and loved it!  And I love my Instapot so it’s a win/win!  I found a grill pan on Amazon so I’m going to give the non-oven naan bread recipes a try that are on some of the Indian youtube channels.  Thanks for an awesome Instapot recipe, Erin!

    Rating: 5
  26. hi, nice recipe looking yummy and delicious. butter chicken is my all-time favorite dish .you have cut the chicken after cooking. I will try this

    Rating: 5
  27. This was amazing, and even better, my whole family loved it! My 8 year old (super picky) said it’s super yummy and he likes how I “baked” it, my six year old kept going on and on about how good it smelled the whole time I was cooking, and hubby said it’s good to go in our regular dinner rotation. Thank you!

    Rating: 5
  28. Great recipe.  I made this tonight and substituted sliced zucchini(it’s that time of year) for the cauliflower .  It was fantastic!  I sliced the zucchini into approximately 1/4 inch slices to keep it from over cooking and it cooked perfectly.  Yummy! 

    Rating: 5
  29. I tried this recipe for my first time using my new Instant Pot. It was fabulous, our guests raved. I even forgot to add the butter, and it made no difference. Makes a lot, too! Four people pigged out on this, plus we had enough to freeze for another meal for two or three people. I’ll definitely be making this again.

    Rating: 5
  30. Can this be cut in half?

    • Hi Amy, I’ve only tested this quantity in my Instant Pot, so I can’t say for certain. There should still be enough liquid to come to pressure, so if you do give it a try, I’d love to hear how it goes.

  31. 28 oz. of tomato paste? Didn’t know they even made them that big. :( I will have to look I guess. This looks delicious!

  32. Saralee M Czajkowski Reply

    The flavors!! The textures!! The spices!! All on point! So quick and easy to make too!

    Rating: 5
  33. Hello, I was wondering if I am able to make this in a deep skillet?

  34. I doubled this recipe and tried to make it in the instant pot. It kept not coming up to pressure, even though the gasket ring was in place and it was on seal for the pressure. Eventually put it into a dutch oven and cooked in the oven and it tastes great. I had cleaned off the bottom after cooking the onions and spices but the tomato sauce seems to have burned. Not sure if this was because I hadn’t used enough stock to deglaze with or if there’s just a problem in doubling the recipe. Once again the taste was really good. Thanks for the recipe!-Todd

    Rating: 4.5
    • Todd, thanks for giving it a try and leaving your notes about doubling! I’m glad to hear it still came out delicious in the dutch oven.

  35. I used 1/ 2 frozen chicken breasts and frozen cauliflower my instant pot did not pressurize but turned on for 12 mins. Didn’t cook the chicken. Did it again using the more setting finally pressurized and cooked it. Wasted alot of time and am wondering if this is normal. Sorry new at the instant pot Recipe though once it was finally cooked was delicious. Would like to do it again but nervous haha

    Rating: 4.5
    • Hi Tracy, I didn’t encounter that issue when I made the recipe, so I can’t say for certain. I would do an online search to see if you can troubleshoot that particular problem! I’m glad to hear it still turned out delicious.

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