Butter chicken (also known as murgh makhani) is one of the most popular Indian curries in the world. Who can resist this mouthwatering dish with chicken simmering in a mild curry sauce rich with butter and spices? It is so incredibly simple to recreate restaurant quality butter chicken in the comfort of your own home in less than 30 minutes all thanks to the instant pot!
There’s no need to grind up whole spices or go to different stores to find the ingredients. Every ingredient on this list can easily be found at the grocery store. I have tested a handful of butter chicken recipes (yes, we ate a lot of butter chicken this month) to give you this tried and true version. My 3 goals were to make it super simple for a weeknight dinner, to use easy to find ingredients, and to not compromise any flavor.
Butter chicken is one of the mildest compared to other Indian curries, making it a great hit for families with young kids. You can adjust the spice level by adding as much or as little chili as you wish. We’ve only started eating butter chicken recently. I was always a little hesitant to make it because my daughter used to think that ground pepper was spicy. I made this spiced down (but still very tasty) version of butter chicken, and she was instantly hooked. This dish is now one of the most requested dinners in our household.
THE HISTORY OF BUTTER CHICKEN
Butter chicken originated in Delhi in the 1950s. During this time, a man named Kundan Lal Gurjal was the owner of a popular restaurant called Moti Mahal. This restaurant was famous for its Tandoori dishes (Tandoor is a charcoal-based clay oven used popularly in northern India). The cooks at Moti Mahal developed butter chicken when they tried to prevent the chicken from drying out by cooking it with butter and tomato. Since then, it has been a worldwide sensation.
WHAT ARE THE INGREDIENTS FOR BUTTER CHICKEN?
- Chicken thighs (boneless and skinless)
- Butter (ghee can also be used)
- Garam masala
- Smoked paprika
- Chicken Broth
- Heavy Cream
- Pureed Tomato
- Salt and Pepper
SHOULD I USE HEAVY CREAM OR COCONUT MILK?
You will see butter chicken cooked differently in different parts of India (north vs. south). Heavy cream is used for this recipe but some parts of southern India will use coconut milk. It all depends on your preference! The coconut milk will add a coconut flavor to the butter chicken. If you can’t eat dairy, then you can substitute coconut milk for heavy cream in this recipe.
HOW TO MAKE BUTTER CHICKEN IN THE INSTANT POT
Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Start with 1 teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of pepper. You can add more, to taste, after it is done cooking.
Using a food processor, puree the onion, garlic, and ginger into a smooth paste
Combine all the spices (cumin, garam masala, turmeric, smoked paprika, and cayenne) into a bowl
Turn the Instant Pot on “Sauté” mode. Melt the oil and butter.
Add the pureed garlic, onion, and ginger and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Then, deglaze the pot with chicken broth. Stir until well combined.
Now without stirring, add chicken thighs, spice mixture, and tomato paste. You will need to layer the ingredients so that you won’t get the “burn” message.
Close the lid and turn pressure knob to “sealing”. Set the instant pot to pressure cook on HIGH PRESSURE for 12 minutes.
Once it is done cooking, QUICK RELEASE the pressure by turning the knob to “venting”. Open the lid and turn it back onto sauté mode. Add heavy cream, and additional salt and pepper to taste.
If you want to thicken up the gravy, you can leave it on “saute” to boil off some liquid. You can also make a cornstarch slurry by adding 1 tablespoon of cornstarch in a small bowl and adding an equal amount of cold liquid. Stir until a smooth paste forms and then add this mixture into the butter chicken.
WHAT TO SERVE WITH BUTTER CHICKEN?
Butter chicken can be served with rice, naan, or roti. Some vegetables that go great with butter chicken are cauliflower or spinach.
HOW DO YOU STORE BUTTER CHICKEN?
Butter chicken needs to be stored in an airtight container and should be consumed 3-4 days after you make it. The amount of time between the food cooling to room temperature and when you put it into your refrigerator is key. It should be refrigerated as soon as it cools to room temperature to minimize bacterial growth.
Can you freeze butter chicken? Yes, butter chicken makes great leftovers and it will last for 4-6 months in the freezer! If you know you’re not going to consume all the butter chicken within 3–5 days, your best option is to freeze the portion you want to save for later. Make sure to move the butter chicken, as soon as it is at room temperature, into an airtight container or freezer bag to be placed in the freezer. Once you are ready to eat it, thaw the frozen butter chicken in the refrigerator overnight (or approximately 8 hours) and then reheat it on the stove or microwave.
Instant Pot Butter Chicken
- 2 pounds chicken thighs, boneless and skinless (cut into 1.5-inch cubes)
- 2 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 1 tablespoon butter
- ½ tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion
- 4-5 garlic cloves
- 1 teaspoon minced ginger
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 3 teaspoon garam masala
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (adjust to taste)
- 1 (6 ounce) can of tomato paste
- 1 cup heavy cream
- Sprinkle salt and pepper onto the chicken thighs (start with 1 tsp salt and ½ tsp pepper, then add more to desired taste at the end). Set aside.
- Using a food processor, puree garlic, onion, and ginger into a smooth paste
- Mix cumin, garam masala, turmeric powder, smoked paprika, and cayenne pepper in a separate bowl
- Press the "sauté" button. Add oil and butter into the inner pot
- Once the butter is melted, add the pureed garlic/onion/ginger mixture and cook it for 1 minute, stirring occasionally.
- Then, deglaze the pot by adding chicken broth. Scrape any bits stuck to the bottom of the pot to avoid the "burn" message.
- Now without stirring, layer in the ingredients in the following order: chicken thighs (spread evenly in the pot), spice mixture (sprinkle evenly over the chicken thighs), and tomato paste.
- Close the lid and turn pressure knob to “sealing”. Press "pressure cook" (newer models) or "manual" (older models) and set the instant pot to cook on HIGH PRESSURE for 12 minutes.
- Once it is done cooking, QUICK RELEASE the pressure by turning the knob to “venting”. Open the lid and press the "sauté" button. Add heavy cream, and additional salt and pepper to taste. Cook for approximately 2-3 minutes (stirring occasionally) or until the butter chicken reaches your desired consistency. If you wish to thicken up the gravy even further, you can use cornstarch as described in the notes below.
- Leave the instant pot on “saute” mode to boil off some liquid (approximately 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally), or
- Make a cornstarch slurry by adding 1 tablespoon of cornstarch in a small bowl and adding an equal amount of cold liquid. Stir until a smooth paste forms and then add this mixture into the butter chicken.
Have you tried this recipe? Leave a rating and comment below to let me know what you think!