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Butter Chicken, also known as Murgh Makhani or Chicken Makhani, is Indian comfort food made with spiced grilled chicken cooked in a rich, creamy buttery tomato gravy, and seasoned with a variety of spices. Enjoy this Authentic Butter Chicken Recipe with naan and basmati rice.

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What is Butter Chicken?

Butter Chicken is also known as Chicken Makhani or Murgh Makhani. This dish is specific to the region of Punjab and it is the ultimate Indian comfort food. Butter Chicken is a widely popular Indian dish that is often served at receptions, parties, restaurants, and special occasions.

To make Butter Chicken, the marinated chicken is first grilled and then added to a mildly spicy creamy buttery tomato gravy. This Indian chicken dish is a labor of love, but one that is so worth it.

The History of Butter Chicken

Butter Chicken was invented in New Delhi by Kundan Lal Gujral who was of Punjabi origin and thus making this dish a Punjabi specialty.

The curry was made by accident by combining leftover Tandoori Chicken with a creamy buttery sauce. Essentially, Butter Chicken was a way to use up leftovers specifically dry Tandoori Chicken. The shreds of chicken were added to a tomato cream gravy as a way to repurpose leftovers.

Butter Chicken (Chicken Makhani)

Butter Chicken with or without Onions

So traditionally speaking, Butter Chicken is indeed made without onions. With that said, there are many you prefer with onions. I personally prefer the flavor with onions for that added sweetness.

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

Butter Chicken and Chicken Tikka Masala are both popular Indian dishes, however there are a few differences.

  1. Butter Chicken is a silky, smooth, makhani gravy, whereas Chicken Tikka Masala consists of cooked masala along with a makhani gravy. Thus, Chicken Tikka Masala is a chunkier gravy.
  2. Butter Chicken tends to be on the sweeter side and mildly spicy, on the other hand, Chicken Tikka Masala has more complex flavors.
  3. And lastly, Butter Chicken is less time-consuming than making the latter.

How to make Butter Chicken at home?

Butter Chicken is made by first marinating chicken thighs with lemon juice, yogurt, fresh ginger, fresh garlic, and spices.

Then prepare your sauce by bringing tomatoes, onions, ginger, garlic, green chilies, and spices to a simmer. Once cooled, blend these ingredients and you’ll end up with the most creamy and luscious sauce, aka your Butter Chicken sauce.

The next step is to grill your marinated chicken, then add the grilled chicken to the sauce along with some butter, heavy cream, and final touches.

This delicious recipe is a labor of love, but it’s easy to make. It’s the best Butter Chicken recipe. Hope you guys give it a try.

Butter Chicken (Chicken Makhani)

Ingredients for Butter Chicken

Chicken Thighs – I recommend boneless skinless Chicken Thighs, but you can opt for chicken breasts.

Ginger & Garlic – You’ll need lots of grated fresh ginger and garlic for the marinade. You will need whole ginger and garlic when making the sauce. You will need grated/chopped garlic when flavoring the sauce.

Green Chilies – For some heat, we are using green chilies instead of Indian Red Chili Powder.

Lemon Juice – You’ll need lemon juice for the marinade.

Greek Yogurt – Make sure to use reduced-fat or full-fat Greek Yogurt for the marinade.

White/Yellow Onion – I recommend using white or yellow onion for this dish. Do not use red onions as they’ll alter the color. Also, just roughly cube the onions, no need to chop.

Tomatoes – You’ll need lots of fresh tomatoes. Again, roughly cube the tomatoes, no need to chop.

Avocado Oil – Any high-heat and flavorless oil will work. I love this avocado oil.

Butter – Of course, for butter chicken, you need lots of butter.

Powdered Spices – Kashmiri Red Chili Powder (or paprika), Turmeric Powder, Coriander Powder, Garam Masala, Red Chili Powder (or cayenne pepper – optional). You can find all these spices at the Indian grocery store.

Whole Spices – Cumin Seeds, Bay Leaf, Green Cardamom, Cinnamon Stick, and Cloves.

Salt

Cashews – You’ll need a few cashews to help thicken the gravy.

Heavy Cream – This also adds richness and a creamy texture to the gravy.

Water – to help with blending the sauce.

Dry Kasoori Methi – You’ll need some Kasoori Methi rubbed in between the palm of your hands.

Sugar – You’ll need 1/2 tablespoon of sugar which adds a bit of sweetness to the sauce.

Fresh Cilantro – Chopped up cilantro.

Why You’ll Love this Butter Chicken

  • Creamy & Delicious
  • Flavorful
  • Satisfying
  • Delicious recipe
  • Authentic Butter Chicken recipe
  • Perfect on a cold day
  • Amazing with Naan and Basmati Rice
  • Classic Indian food
Butter Chicken (Chicken Makhani)

How to make Butter Chicken recipe step by step

Prep

1. Wash, pat dry, and cut the boneless skinless chicken thighs into thick cubes or longer pieces. Set aside.

2. Roughly chop onions and tomatoes. Set aside ginger, garlic, and green chilies – no need to chop these ingredients.

Prep Chicken

Marinate Chicken

3. Add Kashmiri red chili powder, turmeric powder, and oil to a large bowl. Mix well.

4. Add the chicken thighs to the large bowl.

5. Squeeze lemon juice and salt. Add grated fresh ginger and grated fresh garlic.

6. Add Greek yogurt.

7. Mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours and up to 24 hours.

Marinate Chicken

Cook & Blend Sauce

1. Heat up oil in a pot. Once hot, add cumin seeds, green cardamom, cloves, cinnamon stick, and bay leaf. Saute for 30 seconds.

2. Add onions and cook for 2 minutes or until translucent.

3. Now add tomatoes, garlic, ginger, green chilies, and salt. Stir well.

4. Now add Kashmiri red chili powder, turmeric powder, and coriander powder. Stir well.

Cook Chicken

5. Add 1 1/2 cups of water and cashews.

6. This is what you should have.

7. Cover and cook for 15 minutes on low heat.

8. Once done. Discard bay leaf. Add 2 tablespoons of butter and stir well. Let the mixture cool for 15 minutes before blending. While the mixture cools – grill the chicken. Go to the Grill Chicken section.

Cook Sauce

9. Once cooled, transfer the onion-tomato mixture to a blender.

10. Blend until smooth and creamy.

Blend Sauce

Grill Chicken

1. Grab the marinated chicken from the fridge.

2. Heat up a grill cast iron skillet on low-medium heat for at least 5 minutes. Once hot, brush with avocado oil – or any high-heat oil. Add chicken pieces to a hot grill cast iron skillet. Cook on each side for 4 minutes or until you have dark grill marks. Don’t move the chicken around and keep flipping it back and forth. Simply grill it once on both sides.

3. Flip and cook on the other side.

4. Once done, transfer to a bowl. You will need to cook the chicken in 2-3 batches.

Grill Chicken

Cook the Butter Chicken

1. Heat the same pot and add two tablespoons of butter and 1/2 tbsp avocado oil.

2. Now add 1 tbsp grated/chopped garlic and 1 slit green chili. Also, add 1 tbsp Kashmiri red chili powder (not shown in image).

3. Saute for 30 seconds.

4. Pour the sauce through the sieve. Get as much liquid to pass through so you’re left with a smooth and velvety sauce.

Cook Sauce

5. Like so.

6. Add heavy cream and dry fenugreek leaves (rub between the palm of your hands). Stir.

7. Add garam masala. Stir.

8. Now add the grilled chicken back in. Stir.

9. Add 2 more tablespoons of butter.

10. Now add 1/2 tablespoon of sugar. Don’t worry, your chicken curry won’t be too sweet. Stir.

11. Add chopped cilantro.

12. Garnish with 1 tablespoon of heavy cream. Serve with white basmati rice and naan. It’s amazing!

Tips to make the BEST Butter Chicken recipe

  • Marinate the chicken overnight or for at least 4 hours.
  • You do need to use butter for the best Butter Chicken.
  • Cook and simmer the onions and tomato mixture. Then, cool and blend the sauce.
  • While the onion-tomato mixture cools, grill your chicken for 4 minutes on each side. Do NOT keep flipping the chicken back and forth, just grill it once for 4 minutes on each side.
  • Add the chicken back in with the pureed sauce along with heavy cream and more butter.
  • Garnish with cilantro and heavy cream.

Serving Suggestions

  • I love Butter Chicken with both white basmati rice and garlic naan. You can make your own naan, but I just use store-bought.
  • Other options are Tandoori Roti, Plain Paratha, or Roti.
  • For a healthier option, you can serve it with brown rice or even quinoa.

Make Butter Chicken Ahead Options

  1. You can make the gravy up to 2 days in advance. Do not add heavy cream, garam masala, kasoori methi. Simply make the gravy, blend, and sieve it.
  2. Marinate the chicken up to 1 day in advance.
  3. The day you want to serve – grill the chicken and flavor the sauce. Add cooked chicken to the sauce, garnish, and serve.
  4. Additionally, you can make the entire butter chicken recipe 1 day in advance and it tastes even better the next day.

What can I make with leftover Butter Chicken?

Butter Chicken Panini Sandwiches with cheese or use naan instead of bread.

Chicken Burritos filled with lettuce, rice, and your choice of veggies.

Butter Chicken Pizza topped off with cheese and veggies of your choice.

Butter Chicken Pasta which simply requires cooked pasta and some heavy cream as garnish.

Substitutions

Chicken Thighs – Instead of chicken thighs, you may use boneless skinless chicken breasts for a healthier option. You may need to add 1 more tablespoon of oil for the marinade since chicken breast contains less fat.

Dairy-free – You may use vegan butter instead of regular butter, and coconut cream instead of heavy cream. Alternatively, you can also use cashew milk.

Storage

How long does Butter Chicken last in the fridge?

Butter Chicken keeps well in the fridge for up to 3 days. I personally don’t like to freeze chicken, but you can freeze the chicken for up to 1 month.

Top Tip

Be sure to marinate the chicken for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours for the best results. Also, do NOT overcook the chicken. For tender and juicy chicken, I highly recommend using chicken thighs over chicken breasts.

FAQ

1. Is Butter Chicken healthy?

No, butter chicken is not healthy since it’s made with butter and heavy cream.

2. Can I make Butter Chicken healthier?

Yes.

You may use milk instead of heavy cream, but you won’t have the same richness. You can also use coconut cream instead of heavy cream. You can also opt for chicken breast rather than chicken thighs.

3. Is Butter Chicken gluten-free?

Yes. Butter Chicken is gluten-free.

4. Can I make Butter Chicken dairy-free?

Yes. Simply replace regular butter with vegan butter and heavy cream with coconut cream.

5. Does Butter Chicken taste better the next day?

Yes. For some reason, dishes with lots of gravy, including butter chicken, taste even better the next day.

6. What kind of chicken is typically used with Butter Chicken?

Chicken Thighs. I love using chicken thighs since they contain more fat and the end result is juicier and tender chicken. For a healthier option, you may use chicken breast.

7. How to make Butter Chicken spicy or less spicy?

This Butter Chicken recipe is spicy, but not too spicy. For less spice, use 1 green chili rather than two green chilies. You can also omit the red chili powder that’s added toward the end of the dish.

Butter Chicken (Chicken Makhani)


5 from 7 votes

Butter Chicken (Chicken Makhani)

By: Nisha
Butter Chicken, also known as Murgh Makhani or Chicken Makhani, is Indian comfort food made with spiced grilled chicken cooked in a rich, creamy buttery tomato gravy and seasoned with a variety of spices. Enjoy this dish with naan and basmati rice.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings: 6 people

Ingredients 

MARINATE CHICKEN

  • 1.6 – 1.8 pounds skinless boneless chicken thighs
  • 1 tbsp ginger, grated
  • 1 tbsp garlic, grated
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp avocado oil, divided, 1 tbsp for marinate + 1 tbsp for grilling
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tbsp kashmiri red chili powder
  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp salt

PREPARE GRAVY & BLEND

  • 1 tbsp avocado oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 bay leaf, discard before blending
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 6 green cardamoms
  • 1 1/2 cups white onion, roughly cubed
  • 1 1/2 pounds tomatoes, roughly cubed
  • 10 cloves garlic
  • 1 inch piece ginger
  • 2 green chilies
  • 1 1/2 tbsp kashmiri red chili powder
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • salt to taste
  • 1/3 cup cashews
  • 1 1/2 cup water, 1/2 more cup if need be
  • 2 tbsp butter

COOK BUTTER CHICKEN

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp avocado oil
  • 1 tbsp garlic, grated or chopped
  • 1 green chili, sliced in half
  • 1 tbsp Kashmiri red chili powder
  • add blended gravy
  • add salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp Kasoori methi/dry fenugreek leaves, rubbed
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • add grilled chicken
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder, optional
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Save this recipe!
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Instructions 

Prep

  • Wash, pat dry, and cut the boneless skinless chicken thighs into thick cubes or longer pieces. Set aside.
  • Roughly chop onions and tomatoes. Set aside ginger, garlic, and green chilies – no need to chop these ingredients.

Marinate Chicken

  • Add Kashmiri red chili powder, turmeric powder, and oil to a large bowl. Mix well.
  • Add the chicken thighs to the large bowl.
  • Squeeze lemon juice and salt. Add grated ginger and grated garlic.
  • Add Greek yogurt.
  • Mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours and up to 24 hours.

Cook & Blend Sauce

  • Heat up oil in a pot. Once hot, add cumin seeds, green cardamom, cloves, cinnamon stick, and bay leaf. Saute for 30 seconds.
  • Add onions and cook for 2 minutes or until translucent.
  • Now add tomatoes, garlic, ginger, green chilies, and salt. Stir well.
  • Now add Kashmiri red chili powder, turmeric powder, and coriander powder. Stir well.
  • Add 1 1/2 cups of water and cashews.
  • This is what you should have.
  • Cover and cook for 15 minutes on low heat.
  • Once done. Discard bay leaf. Add 2 tablespoons of butter and stir well. Let the mixture cool for 15 minutes before blending. While the mixture cools – grill the chicken. Go to the Grill Chicken section.
  • Once cooled, transfer the onion-tomato mixture to a blender.
  • Blend until smooth and creamy.

Grill Chicken

  • Grab the marinated chicken from the fridge.
  • Heat up a grill cast iron skillet on low-medium heat for at least 5 minutes. Once hot, brush with avocado oil – or any high-heat oil. Add chicken pieces to a hot grill cast iron skillet. Cook on each side for 4 minutes or until you have dark grill marks. Don’t move the chicken around and keep flipping it back and forth. Simply grill it once on both sides.
  • Flip and cook on the other side.
  • Once done, transfer to a bowl. You will need to cook the chicken in 2-3 batches.

Cook the Butter Chicken

  • Heat up the same pot and add a dollop of butter and 1/2 tbsp avocado oil.
  • Now add 1 tbsp grated/chopped garlic and 1 slit green chili.
  • Saute for 30 seconds.
  • Pour the sauce thru the sieve. Get as much liquid to pass through so you’re left with a smooth and velvety sauce.
  • Like so.
  • Add heavy cream and dry fenugreek leaves (rub between the palm of your hands). Stir.
  • Add garam masala. Stir.
  • Now add the grilled chicken back in. Stir.
  • Add 2 more tablespoons of butter.
  • Now add 1/2 tablespoon of sugar. Don’t worry, your chicken curry won’t be too sweet. Stir.
  • Add chopped cilantro.
  • Garnish with 1 tablespoon of heavy cream. Serve with white basmati rice and naan. It’s amazing!

Video

Nutrition

Calories: 666kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 56g | Fat: 40g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Cholesterol: 290mg | Sodium: 886mg | Potassium: 1201mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 3049IU | Vitamin C: 27mg | Calcium: 136mg | Iron: 5mg

Additional Info

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Tried this recipe?Mention @honeywhatscooking or tag #honeywhatscooking!


Hi, I'm Nisha!

I'm a foodie who is passionate about healthy-ish living and mindful eating. You'll find a bit of everything here. I use mostly organic real ingredients and incorporate seasonal produce in my cooking. I believe food is medicine. Join me on this soul-searching journey as I share my love for good food, and I hope I inspire you to eat better somewhere along the way.


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5 from 7 votes (1 rating without comment)

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Recipe Rating




7 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This dish is amazing! It’s so flavorful without feeling so heavy! We make this once a month, and it tastes way better than ordering at a restaurant. Highly recommend!

  2. 5 stars
    Loved the receipe…it taste so good..followed the receipe to the point and it was amazing. Can’t wait to make it again!

  3. 5 stars
    Super simple to make and delicious recipe❤️ my family loved it😍👍🏼 Nisha you are so talented😘😘

  4. 5 stars
    Nisha’s recipes are always easy to follow and they are 100% authentic when it comes to flavors and taste. I made this easy butter chicken recipe for our anniversary and it was a hit! The husband licked his plate clean.