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Butter Chicken Recipe

4.89 from 62 votes

posted: 05/19/21

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy

This Butter Chicken Recipe is so easy and so delicious. It’s the perfect weeknight meal. Better than take out, you’ll love making this Indian Butter Chicken at home!

bowl of indian butter chicken recipe with rice and cilantro

We are such huge fans of Indian cooking around here, the flavors and spices are always so perfect. Nathan and I love getting chicken dishes, especially the ones where the chicken is tender and come with a lot of sauce that we can eat with rice and warm pieces of naan. The saucier the recipe, the better.

This take on Indian Butter Chicken is an absolute favorite in our house. Every single person in my family loves it and it is on the menu at least twice every month. That’s truly saying something for a mom that is regularly developing new recipes for work.

While this recipe may vary a little from traditional butter chicken, I am certain it will become a favorite in your house as well.


“This recipe has become a go to for my family! My husband loves requesting it. It’s super easy to make and delicious so thank you!”

overhead view of pan of butter chicken recipe with rice and cilantro

How to Make Butter Chicken

This is a brief overview of how to make this delicious recipe. For the full recipe see the recipe card at the bottom of the post.

  1. Sauté the onions in oil. One of the keys to this recipe is to really let the onions cook down first before you add anything else. Allowing them to cook down first prevents the chicken from over cooking and the garlic from burning.
  2. Melt in the butter. After the butter is melted, add in the garlic and ginger and cook until just fragrant.
  3. Add in the chicken. These bite sized pieces of chicken will only need a minute or two. You want them to just cook on the outside but there is no need to cook them all the way through as they will finish cooking with the sauce.
  4. Season the dish. Now add in the garam masala, chili powder, salt and black pepper.
  5. Make the sauce. Stir in tomato puree, tomato paste, lemon juice, yogurt and half and half. Allow the sauce to simmer, cooking down for 10 minutes. There will still be lots of sauce left perfect for covering rice and dipping naan.
overhead view of a bowl of easy butter chicken with rice and cilantro

Butter Chicken Without Cream

A lot of Butter Chicken recipes call for cream, but I opted out in this version. Instead I used yogurt and half and half, which give you the nice creaminess you are looking for without the heavy cream.

Half and Half

Half and half is a product sold in the United States that is literally just half heavy cream and half whole milk. If you are making this outside of the U.S. you can substitute the 1 cup half and half with 1/2 a cup heavy cream and 1/2 a cup whole milk.

chicken butter masala recipe in a bowl with rice and naan

Garam Masala

Garam masala is a spice blend that is used in a lot of traditional Indian cooking. It gives the recipe a little bit of a kick and a delicious signature flavor that really can’t be found using anything else. It’s a spice blend, the same way that Italian Seasoning is a blend of spices. The spices used vary from brand to brand but often contain the following:

  • Black Pepper
  • Bay Leaves
  • Nutmeg
  • Cumin
  • Pimento
  • Cloves
  • Black Cardamom
  • Coriander

How to Serve Butter Chicken

We love this served over basmati rice. The recipe creates a decent amount of sauce, which we love, that makes each bite of rice delectable. We like to serve this with a side of naan bread and we garnish it with a bit of cilantro.

Storing Leftovers

Leftover butter chicken can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days. I like to store it separate from the rice it is served with. Be sure to only reheat the food that you plan on eat.

Because of the dairy in this recipe, this isn’t a dish I would recommend for the freezer. As with all recipes, use your best discretion when it comes to leftovers.


What can I use instead of garam masala?

I would really encourage you to go out and buy some Garam Masala for this recipe. Without it, the dish won’t have the same flavor.

Is butter chicken spicy?

I don’t think this dish is spicy, but as written my kids find it has a bit of a kick. Surprisingly, it is the black pepper that makes this dish a bit spicy. If you are making this for picky eaters, I would suggest only adding a pinch of pepper instead of the whole amount.

pan of creamy butter chicken with rice, cilantro and naan

Other 30 minute Chicken Recipes

  • My Cajun Chicken Alfredo will become another favorite. It is full of delicious yet easy flavors.
  • Our Chicken Salad is a recipe you should double so you have leftovers to take to work the following day.
  • Just like with my butter chicken, these Chicken Lettuce Wraps have the taste of take out in the comfort and ease of your own home.

If you make any of these great chicken recipes, leave me a comment and let me know what you think!

chicken butter masala recipe in a bowl with rice and naan
4.89 from 62 votes

Butter Chicken Recipe

Serves: 4 people
(tap # to scale)
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 25 minutes
Total: 35 minutes
This Butter Chicken Recipe is so easy and so delicious. It's the perfect weeknight meal. Better than take out, you'll love making this Indian Butter Chicken at home!


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion diced small
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts diced into bit sized pieces
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala read about garam masala here
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 8 ounces tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 cup half and half read about half and half here


  • In a large skillet, heat extra virgin olive oil. Add diced onions to the pan and stir regularly, cooking until the onions are translucent, 5 to 7 minutes.
    1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 yellow onion
  • Add the butter and allow it to melt completely. Then stir in the ginger and garlic, cooking for about 30 seconds to a minute or until fragrant. Be careful not to burn it.
    1/4 cup unsalted butter, 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger, 2 cloves garlic
  • Add the chicken and cook, stirring often until the chicken is no longer pink on the outside, about 2 minutes. No need to cook it all the way through as it will continue cooking as you add the rest of the ingredients and simmer the recipe.
    1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • Now stir in the garam masala, chili powder, salt and black pepper. Then pour in the tomato sauce, tomato paste, lemon juice, yogurt and half and half.  Stir to combine fully.  Bring to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes to allow the sauce to reduce.
    1 tablespoon garam masala, 1 teaspoon chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, 8 ounces tomato sauce, 2 tablespoons tomato paste, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, 1/4 cup plain yogurt, 1 cup half and half
  • The sauce will reduce but still be quite saucy. Serve with rice and naan.
Calories: 401kcal (20%) Carbohydrates: 17g (6%) Protein: 31g (62%) Fat: 24g (37%) Saturated Fat: 13g (81%) Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g Monounsaturated Fat: 8g Cholesterol: 121mg (40%) Sodium: 435mg (19%) Potassium: 532mg (15%) Fiber: 2g (8%) Sugar: 8g (9%) Vitamin A: 1050IU (21%) Vitamin C: 39.6mg (48%) Calcium: 120mg (12%) Iron: 2.2mg (12%)
Author: Lisa Longley
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
chicken butter masala recipe in a bowl with rice and naan

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Butter Chicken Recipe

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Hi! I'm Lisa Longley, and I am committed to giving you simple dinner ideas and recipes that are easy to make; recipes that will fill your home with joy. I am the owner and author of SimpleJoy.com and I'm so glad that you are here.

Reader Interactions


    Have a question? Use the form below to submit your question or comment. I love hearing from you & seeing what you made!

    Rate This Recipe:

  1. Min says

    Would substituting coconut milk for the half and half work or would it change the flavour?

    • Lisa Longley says

      It definitely would change the flavor, but I don’t know that it would change in a way that you wouldn’t enjoy. It would work in this recipe for sure.

  2. Anita says

    What would you recommend for make ahead and store?

    • Lisa Longley says

      I would recommend you make it all the way through. Let it cool, store in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. Then pour it all in the skillet and heat over low heat, stirring occasionally, until warmed through. This recipe creates a ton of sauce, so you will have plenty for reheating it.

  3. Carol Boyer says

    I am so happy to have found this perfect butter chicken recipe. I don’t need to look any further! We love the blend of spices and how all the flavors come together. I have made this dish several times and highly recommend it.

    • Lisa Longley says

      I’m so happy you enjoy it so much! Thank you for taking the time to come back and tell me, Carol!

  4. David Head says

    Lisa, the recipe looks great, I definitely want to make it. I actually made my own Garam Masala recipe … so amazingly fragrant when you make it from scratch spices! Extra work but wow does it have loads of aroma and flavor! My question is about the chili powder in the recipe. Is this U.S. style chili powder? That seems like it would be out of place in this dish. Or is it something else?

    • Lisa Longley says

      While Indian chili powder would be best in this, the chili powder that is sold in US grocery stores will work in this recipe and add a nice subtle layer of spice.

  5. karen anita says

    the recipe is nicely simple and seems delicious , we try and get back to you with feedback.

  6. Arie says

    I just made this recipe tonight and baybee it was top notch for me I don’t even have to order high butter chicken meals from the restaurants no more because I can make it at home. Super simple and easy to follow along with I did add brown sugar at the end which was a good add on thank you so much for this recipe

    • Lisa Longley says

      I’m so happy that you enjoyed it, Arie!

  7. Leslie says

    5 stars
    My family loved this recipe. My youngest daughter has lactose sensitivities so I made some adjustments that did not affect the flavor. Ghee instead of butter (she tolerates ghee), almond milk plain yogurt, and whole lactose free milk. She gave a hearty thumbs up!

    • Lisa Longley says

      I’m so happy to hear that you were able to make this recipe work for your family!

  8. Nita says

    I discovered a Butter chicken cook in sauce pouch at the very back of my grocery cupboard. The due date is April 2019. Will it still be fine to use? I
    can’t wait to make the butter chicken- it looks so delicious!

    • Lisa Longley says

      Hi Nita! I can’t really advise you on weather or not to use a product that has expired. For this dish, you don’t need any pre made sauces. I hope that helps!

  9. Heather says

    3 stars
    I’m not used to Indian Cuisine, but I must have done something wrong. It ended up being kind of bland. I added everything specifically following the recipe- any suggestions on what might have went wrong? It sounded good!!

    • Lisa Longley says

      There is a lot going on here, so I’m really surprised to hear that it was bland. The only thing that I can think of is that your garam masala was a not great brand. But even with that, you have garlic, ginger, chili powder, and black pepper. If you didn’t simmer it long enough, it could be that it didn’t have time to all come together as a sauce.

  10. Rachael Lavender says

    5 stars
    I made this for dinner to night exactly as recipe stated. My family enjoyed it. Great recipe to add to our regulars. Thank you for sharing.

    • Lisa Longley says

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Rachael!

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5 Secrets to Stress Free Dinners



5 Secrets to Stress Free Dinners