Tap here to get 5 Secrets to Stress Free Dinners

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

did you make this

Butter Chicken Recipe

I’d love to see what you made! Tag me @lisasimplejoy and hashtag it #simplejoyrecipes!

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. Doug Lichtenwalter says

    This is a good recipe. I actually make the sauce first and blend it up so I don’t have the chunky onions in it before I add the chicken. This way the sauce is creamier.

  2. SithLordMera says

    2 stars
    Like another said, bland. I was shocked as all the spices and such seemed like it would be great. Followed exactly. Everything was definitely fresh or newly bought. All you tasted was masala powder and chili powder when done. I wanted to love this. I looked forward to it.

    • Lisa Longley says

      I’m so sorry you didn’t enjoy this. It continues to be a favorite with my family.

  3. Patti says

    5 stars
    I just finished making this a few minutes ago, took a sample bit and it is DELICIOUS! (in the past I have had really bad luck with cooking Indian cuisine, but so happy I finally found a recipe I can actually make!)
    Very easy. Used the same amount of spices as the recipe, and it is NOT overly spicy (I’m a caucasian American, if that helps to gauge)
    Serving it with saffron rice and (store-bought) potato-peas samosas.

    • Lisa Longley says

      I’m really glad you enjoyed this!

  4. Elissa says

    5 stars
    Delicious recipe. Far from bland as other people have said. This recipe has a rich flavorful sauce. Butter chicken is not suppose to be spicy. If you want spice, make a curry. Having lived in Europe for almost 10 years, this recipe reminded me of my favorite dish in a London restaurant. 5 stars Delicious!

    • Lisa Longley says

      Thank you so much for these kind words! I’m so happy you like this recipe as much as I do.

  5. Juana says

    Do the calories per serving include the rice?

    • Lisa Longley says

      It does not

  6. Jessica B says

    5 stars
    I was scared to try and copycat Butter Chicken, but I love it so much and it’s too expensive to buy often. This recipe is spot on. So easy to make and tastes exactly like what I order, if not better. Thank you for sharing. I’ll be making this often!

    • Lisa Longley says

      I’m so glad that you liked it, Jessica!

  7. Laura says

    5 stars
    This was my first time eating butter chicken, and it was fantastic! I can’t imagine the professionals doing it much better than this. I loved the freshness of the flavors of the lemon, the ginger, and the spices were outta this world! My very picky eater devoured it! Great recipe!

    • Lisa Longley says

      I’m so glad that you enjoyed this dish as much as we do!

  8. New exciting recipes says

    I can not wait to try this, do you have a recipe to do Naan? I’d like to make that along with this, so excited!

    • Lisa Longley says

      Unfortunately, I don’t have a recipe for Naan. I hope you enjoy this!

  9. Jess says

    ugh I hate to say it but I found it really bland too. I wanted to love it- butter chicken is my favorite Indian dish. I read all the comments prior but decided to give it the benefit of the doubt and make it as written. I think the recipe is a good starting point but needs some amping up, at the very least, salt.

    • Lisa Longley says

      I’m so sorry that you didn’t enjoy this recipe. We love it as is.

  10. Sara Reyes says

    5 stars
    Oh.. my.. gosh! This is the second time ive made this for my family of 5. My husband and I both agree that this needs to be on the weekly rotation. My 11 year old went back for seconds, as well as my picky 9 year old! This is so packed full of flavor and spices… I’ve never had this before I made it, so I have nothing to compare it to, but it is AMAZING!

    • Lisa Longley says

      I’m so glad you liked it! Winning over kids is my favorite!

Broccoli Pasta"Omg! I didn’t think anything so simple could be so good!"
overhead of skillet of Cajun Shrimp Pasta ingredients on a cooling rack with toasted bread sitting beside
Cajun Shrimp Pasta"My family absolutely loved this recipe. Even my finicky eaters."
overhead photo of a gray skillet filled with beef and broccoli recipe, garnished with sliced green onions
Beef and Broccoli Recipe"I have made this a couple or more times. It’s easy & quick to prepare. I like this for a quick meal. It will be my go to recipe."


5 Secrets to Stress Free Dinners



5 Secrets to Stress Free Dinners