Indian Butter Chicken Recipe

Yes, this is a recipe!

This is not a post about a Norwex product (although, the Norwex Kitchen Cloths or the All Purpose Kitchen cloth will come in very handy to clean up the messes and spills while making this recipe).

I do not love to cook but since I’m the mom to 4 growing, hollow legged children, cooking is a part of my life… EVERYDAY, whether I like it or not.

I also love to eat.  So does my hubby.

I am lucky that I don’t have really picky eaters, but each of my kids has their specific food quirks.  I have found a number of “go-to” recipes that I know my kids will eat, are really yummy and not made with a bunch of processed ingredients. These recipes are also pretty easy to make… I make sure of this, because I am not a gourmet chef (I leave that role to my husband, who is a genius in the kitchen!)

I thought I would share some of them with you, starting with one of my (and my family’s) personal favs…

Indian Butter Chicken Recipe

Indian Butter Chicken

 This recipe is super simple to make, and quite fast.  It’s especially quick if you use a pre-roasted rotisserie chicken from your grocery store.  You can make this as mild or spicy as you like… I keep mine rather mild because I’m feeding it to a 5 year old.  But it is lovely with a little more kick served with plain yogurt to cool it down.


Melted Butter for Butter Chicken

 To start, melt 2-3 Tbsp of butter (not margarine) in a 10-12 inch skillet over medium heat.


Butter Chicken

 Prepare the onion (1 chopped), gingerroot (2-3 Tbsp fresh & grated), garlic (2-4 minced cloves) and spices (2-3 tsp chili powder, 2 tsp ground turmeric, 1-2 tsp ground cumin, 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon & 1-2 tsp ground coriander).

I like a lot of flavor, so I generally use more spice rather than less.


Onions for the Butter Chicken

 Once the butter is melted, add the onion and saute until they’re nice and soft and a little translucent.


Blend the tomatoes

While the onions are becoming yummy, prepare the tomatoes.

This step is entirely unnecessary for lovers of tomato chunks.  But my kids HATE… errr…. really don’t appreciate finding large, chewy pieces of tomato in any sauce I make, so this is my solution.  Using my nifty hand blender, I eliminate the chunks.


Add the grated gingerroot and minced garlic

When the onions are cooked, add the grated gingerroot & minced garlic, to the pan.  Stir, and cook for a couple minutes.  Be prepared, the ginger will stick to the pan.


Add spices to the butter chicken

Mix in the chili powder, turmeric, cumin & coriander.  If your tomatoes are really runny, this is where you would add 1-2 Tbsp of tomato paste.  The tomatoes I’m using this time are hearty and thick, and don’t need the help of paste, so I’m not using it.

NOTE:  Many people make the mistake of adding their tomato paste to the sauce after the canned tomatoes have been added;  tomato paste should ALWAYS be sauteed BEFORE adding the diced tomatoes.  This eliminates the tinny, metallic taste that accompanies paste.


Adding the tomatoes to butter chicken

Add the tomatoes and stir them in.


Add brown sugar, salt and pepper

Stir in the salt & pepper, and brown sugar.

Cover your sauce and let it simmer, on low, for 10-20 minutes, or until you’re almost ready to eat.  You really can’t over-simmer this, so if it sits, simmering for 30-40 minutes, it will still be just as tasty.


Chopped chicken for the butter chicken

 Meanwhile… get your cooked chicken de-boned and cut into bite sized pieces.  You can either use a store bought, pre-roasted bird, or you can cook up some chicken you already have.  You can use all white meat, all dark meat or a mix of both… whatever floats your boat.  You can also add as much or as little meat as you want – the rules are very lenient.


Cream and yogurt for the butter chicken

 Measure out your cream (2/3 cup) and yogurt or sour cream (1/2 cup)… or don’t measure… I usually just wing it.


Stir in the cream & yogurt (or sour cream)

Add the chicken to the sauce

 JUST before serving, mix in the cream & yogurt and stir in the chicken.  Heat through, but don’t simmer it or the yogurt and cream will separate.


Serve butter chicken over hot basmati rice.

 Once it’s hot, serve  the Butter Chicken sauce over basmati rice, with fresh, chopped cilantro and a little balkan styled yogurt.


Here is a printable version of the recipe – Eat and Enjoy!

5.0 from 5 reviews
Indian Butter Chicken
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Delicious & easy Indian Butter Chicken that even kids love. This is easy enough for an every-day supper but fancy enough for company.
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Indian
Serves: 6 generously, 8 moderately
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp grated fresh gingerroot
  • 2-3 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1-2 tsp ground cumin (cumin seed is also very nice added to this)
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1-2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 796ml/28 fl oz can of undrained tomatoes. These can be diced or whole, but either way, I "puree" them a bit for my kids who don't like the tomato chunks - the blending is entirely optional
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste (optional)
  • 1-2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper (6-7 grinds)
  • 1 whole rotisserie chicken, skin removed, chopped into bite sized pieces. I often use chicken breast or thighs that I cook myself instead of the rotisserie bird.
  • ⅔ cup 10% cream (or 5% if you're trying to cut calories!)
  • ½ cup plain, balkan style yogurt OR sour cream (again, you can use the light version of sour cream).
  • Fresh, minced cilantro
  1. Melt butter in a deep 10-12 inch frying pan or skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add onions and cook slowly, stirring often, until they are tender and translucent.
  3. While onions are cooking prepare the can of tomatoes (for the picky eaters in your family), by lightly blending with a hand blender, or mashing with a potato masher, eliminating as many chunks as possible.
  4. Add garlic & gingerroot to the onions and saute for 1-2 minutes.
  5. Stir in the chili powder, turmeric, cumin, cinnamon & coriander - Cook one more minute.
  6. Pour in the can of tomatoes, whole, diced or blended... whatever floats your boat.
  7. Stir in brown sugar, salt. pepper and tomato paste (if your sauce is too runny... I don't usually use the paste, but the tomatoes I use are quite hearty and meaty.
  8. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  9. Just before serving, add the cream & yogurt (or sour cream) and stir until fully incorporated. Heat until hot, but do not simmer or the yogurt will separate.
  10. Add the chicken to the sauce and heat through.
  11. Serve over hot basmati rice with cilantro to top.


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  1. says

    That looks De-li-cious! The only thing missing is a big glass of beer on the side! How the heck did you keep the plate so clean? Wipe the edges with a Norwex cloth? At my house the food would taste amazing, but the presentation would leave a LOT to be desired.

    Nice job Deja. I’m looking forward to the next one.

  2. Deja says

    Thanks ladies! Kate, I didn’t have an issue keeping the plate clean, but the stove on the other hand… I may have photoshopped a wee bit of food from the stove :)

    • says

      Selina, thank you for such a great review! I’m so happy to hear that you loved this recipe, and even happier to know that you’re husband loved it!

  3. David says

    Thanks so much, this will now be my go to butter chicken recipe, it was absolutely delicious. I like my Indian food on the more spicy side so I added a couple extra teaspoons of all the spices except for cinnamon, 2 extra cloves of garlic but used the suggested amounts of ginger and pepper. I also added 2 teaspoons of pan roasted cumin seeds. This dish came out restaurant quality,it was very flavorful and everyone that ate it was extremely impressed. The sauce was thick enough that it didn’t need the tomato paste and it was rich enough that I think next time I’ll use 5% cream and save on the calories. Thanks again!

    • says

      I love getting reviews like this! I agree with what you said about the spices… if it’s just me and my hubby eating (on those rare occasions when we’re home alone without the kids), and I make this, I always add more spice for more “kick”. I’ve also added cumin seed, but have never tried it roasted… what a great idea! I’m definitely going to try roasting cumin seed the next time I make it.

  4. Jerusha says

    This recipe was delicious! One of the best things I’ve ever made/eaten. I added about 2 or 3 tbsp of dried Fennel Greek, which gave it a little kick. love, love, loooved it! Thanks :)

    • says

      Jerusha, I actually don’t blend the tomatoes completely smooth… just enough so that the chunks of tomato are mainly undetected by my kids. But that’s a great idea for anyone who likes their sauce really smooth, without much texture. Thanks for the idea, and I’m so glad to hear that you like the recipe!

  5. says

    I was cruising the internet looking for a chicken recipe that I can make now and serve after my sons basketball game tonight because it will be so late. So glad I clicked on this! I have everything done, now, so tonight when we get home, all I have to do is reheat, add the yogurt and the chicken…thank you :)
    I did add zucchini to the pot when I added the onions since I am trying to use up our zucchini and I plan on adding Greek yogurt instead of cream or Balkan yogurt, but so far this is one yummy and easy dish!


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