Butter chicken offers a perfect blend of creamy tomato sauce, tender chicken, and aromatic spices in this quick and easy 30-minute version. Bring those traditional flavors into your kitchen without sacrificing your entire evening hovering over the stove, and sit down to this dish – loved for generations and now ready in just half an hour – that wraps you in warmth and spice.

Butter chicken is absolutely amazing with homemade garam masala. If you love butter chicken, you have to try chicken tikka masala as well!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Ready in just 30 minutes, fitting perfectly into busy schedules.
  • Offers chicken, paneer, and mixed veggie options for various diets.
  • Spice level is customizable to your liking.
Butter chicken and white rice in black bowl

Ingredients & Substitutions

  • Greek yogurt: Tenderizes the chicken, ensuring it’s soft and juicy. Substitute dairy-free yogurt for a plant-based option.
  • Lemon juice: Adds a bright, acidic note to balance the spices. Freshly squeezed is always best.
  • Heavy cream: Gives the sauce its luxurious texture. Substitution: Full-fat canned coconut milk for a plant-based or lighter option.
  • Butter or ghee: Adds richness and flavor to the sauce. Substitution: Any neutral oil for a lighter or plant-based version.
  • Vegetarian option: Replace chicken with 2 to 3 cups of mixed vegetables like peas, green beans, carrots, cauliflower, and green bell pepper. Skip the marinating process.
  • Paneer Makhani variation: Use one pound of paneer instead of chicken. Brown the paneer with onions before adding it to the sauce.

Butter Chicken Recipe

The secret to an amazing butter chicken is the sauce. Butter Chicken is also known as Murgh Makhani. Makhani sauce is what makes this dish so addicting with its combination of aromatic spices, tomato sauce and cream. You can even find makhani in a few other Indian dishes, dal or paneer makhani; but nothing is quite like traditional chicken makhani (butter chicken). Historically, butter chicken was an accidental concoction, using leftover chicken in a tomato-based sauce, heavy with cream and butter.


  • Mild: Reduce or omit jalapeno and paprika.
  • Medium: Follow the recipe as is for a balanced flavor.
  • Spicy: Add extra jalapeño or a dash of cayenne pepper.

Vegetarian Options

Adding Vegetables: You can easily make this into a vegetarian dish using 2 to 3 cups of fresh or frozen vegetables in place of the chicken. Skip steps 1 and 2 (including the marinade ingredients and instructions) and sauté your chosen vegetables with the onion in Step 3 until tender. We love this dish with peas, green beans, carrots, cauliflower, and green bell pepper.

Paneer Makhani: If you would like a bit more substance, use one pound of paneer – a specialty cheese from India. Paneer should be cut into bite-sized cubes and then cooked in butter or ghee until browned on all sides. Just like the vegetarian option, you’ll skip steps 1 and 2 and brown your paneer with the onions in step 3.

How to Serve Butter Chicken

Would you like naan or rice with your butter chicken? The correct answer is both, please! Really, I love rice with my butter chicken, but naan just can’t be missed! Grill some naan and serve up your sauce and a good-sized helping of Basmati rice in authentic Karahi serving bowls, and you’ll have guests wondering if you secretly got take-out!


  • Sauce Too Thin: Allow the sauce to simmer for a few extra minutes until it thickens to your desired consistency.
  • Chicken Overcooking: Reduce the cooking time slightly if using smaller pieces of chicken to avoid dryness.

Tips From the Chef

  • Marinate the chicken for at least 10 to 15 minutes to enhance its flavor and tenderness.
  • Use fresh spices for the best flavor profile.
  • Garnish with cilantro to add a fresh touch to the dish.
Butter chicken sauce in skillet

When is butter chicken done cooking?

  • Chicken: Fully cooked when it’s no longer pink inside and reaches an internal temperature of 165°F.
  • Sauce: Should be thick, creamy, and able to coat the back of a spoon evenly.

Storage, Freezer & Reheating Instructions

  • Refrigerate: Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
  • Reheat: Warm over low heat, adding a little water or cream if the sauce has thickened too much.

Freezing is not recommended due to the heavy cream in this recipe.

More South Asian Inspired Cuisine

Watch the video below where Rachel will walk you through every step of this recipe. Sometimes it helps to have a visual, and we’ve always got you covered with our cooking show. You can find the complete collection of recipes on YouTube, Facebook Watch, or our Facebook Page, or right here on our website with their corresponding recipes.