From Chef To Chef’s

Butter Chicken (Murgh Makhani) – The Big Man’s World ®

Butter chicken involves succulent chicken pieces in a creamy golden sauce everyone will fall for. Learn how to make this iconic Indian dish at home and you will never want to eat it out again. 

butter chicken.

We are a family of curry lovers.

At least once a week, we enjoy this spicy and hearty dish. Our favorites include shrimp curry and chicken curry, but when we want are craving Indian food, we make butter chicken. 

What is butter chicken?

Butter chicken, also known as chicken makhani (Murgh Makhani), is a popular Indian dish. It features tender chicken chunks in a rich sauce made of tomatoes, onions, butter, and a blend of Indian spices.

Why this butter chicken recipe will be a dinnertime staple-

  • Restaurant taste. With authentic spices and fresh cream, this homemade recipe tastes like something from an Indian restaurant. 
  • Quick and easy. With barely any hands on time, this comes together in no time. 
  • Slow cooker option. While we prefer to use a stovetop, this works in a slow cooker or instant pot. 
  • Naturally low in carbs. If you serve it with cauliflower rice or low carb naan, this makes a fabulous keto dinner. 

Ingredients needed

While this recipe may have a longer list of ingredients, they are actually very simple ones that are pantry staples. Here is what you’ll need:

  • Chicken thighs. Skinless and boneless. You can also use chicken breast to make butter chicken though the traditional recipe uses chicken thighs. 
  • Garlic and ginger. Minced garlic and ginger are used to marinate the chicken and create a flavorful base for the dish. 
  • Tandoori paste. Tandoori paste is a popular Indian marinade that contains different spices and herbs. 
  • Spices. We all know what vital role spices play in Indian cuisine. For my butter chicken recipe, I use a blend of cumin, garam masala, and smoked paprika. 
  • Tomatoes and onions. Crushed tomatoes and sliced onion are the main components of the sauce. 
  • Chicken broth. Using chicken broth instead of water is an easy way to make the butter chicken sauce taste richer and more flavorful.
  • Butter. To fry up the chicken.
  • Ghee. I use ghee to start off the sauce for my butter chicken. You can use a combination of oil and butter if you don’t have ghee. 
  • Heavy cream. Heavy cream instantly transforms the sauce into a creamy and rich golden goodness. 

How to make butter chicken

We have broken down the process of making this recipe into a few simple steps. Follow these cooking directions to make a delicious restaurant-worthy butter chicken at home. 

Step 1- Marinate the chicken

Start with marinating the chicken. Cut the boneless and skinless chicken thighs into a bowl. Next, add the minced ginger, minced garlic, tandoori paste, and lemon juice into the same bowl. Mix well to coat the chicken pieces in the marinade.  

marinated chicken.

Step 2- Pan-fry the chicken 

When the chicken has absorbed all the rich flavors of the marinade, add some butter to a non-stick pan and allow it to heat up. When the pan is hot, add the chicken. Cook the chicken on medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes or until it is no longer pink. Remove the chicken from the pan and set it aside. 

pan fried chicken.

Step 3- Cook the onion

Add ghee to the same pan followed by the sliced onions. Next, add the spices and cook the onions until fragrant. 

fried onions with spices.

Step 4 – Prepare the gravy and add the chicken 

When the onions soften, add crushed tomatoes and the cooked chicken to them. Pour in the chicken broth and let it simmer on low heat. 

curry gravy and chicken.

Once the sauce has thickened, add heavy cream and allow it to simmer for another 15 to 25 minutes. You should end up with a bold orange color curry with a rich texture and tender chicken pieces. 

cream and curry gravy.

Serve butter chicken over a bed of rice. Garnish it with plain yogurt and serve with chopped parsley. 

butter chicken with herbs.

Tips to make the best recipe

Don’t skip the marinating step. Marinating helps tenderize the chicken and takes your homemade butter chicken to the next level. Whenever you are making butter chicken, let marinating the chicken be your first step. While you prepare the rest of the ingredients, the chicken will have some time to absorb different flavors and aromas and tenderize. 

Cook the tomatoes long enough. Tomatoes are one of the key ingredients for the butter chicken sauce. Cooking the tomatoes for 10 to 15 minutes will not only thicken the sauce but also deepen the tomato flavor. 

Don’t add all of the heavy cream in one go. To prevent the sauce from becoming grainy, mix the heavy cream with a small amount of gravy first and only then add it to the dish. 

Storage info

To store: Place leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge. Properly stored butter chicken will be good for 3-4 days. 

To freeze: Transfer it into a freezer-safe airtight container, label it with the date, and store it in the freezer for up to 3 months. 

To reheat: Alow it to defrost in the fridge and then reheat it on the stovetop or in the microwave.

chicken makhani.

More chicken recipes to try

Frequently Asked Questions

Is butter chicken sweet or spicy?

This chicken dish is supposed to be mildly spicy. But you can make it as spicy as you like if you enjoy a kick of heat in your food. It is also slightly sweet. The sweetness of butter chicken comes from the tomatoes. If the tomatoes aren’t naturally sweet, you can use a small amount of honey or sugar. 

What is the difference between this and tikka masala?

Both are Indian curry dishes where the key ingredient is chicken. While they may look similar, there are quite a few differences between them.

For butter chicken, the chicken is pan-fried. For tikka masala, it is typically skewered and char-grilled or roasted in the oven. As for the overall texture of the dish, butter chicken is creamier than tikka masala.

butter chicken recipe.
  • 1 piece ginger minced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 small lemon juiced
  • 1 1/4 lbs chicken thighs chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tandoori curry paste
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons ghee
  • 1 small onion sliced
  • 1 teaspoon garam marsala
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes 14 ounce
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • In a bowl, add the ginger, garlic, lemon juice, chicken, and tandoori curry paste and mix well.

  • Add the butter to a non-stick pan and place it over medium heat. Once hot, add the chicken and cook for 3-4 minutes, until no longer pink. Remove from the pan.

  • Add the ghee to the pan and then the onion and spices. Cook until fragrant. Add the chicken back into the pan, along with the crushed tomatoes and chicken broth and bring it to a simmer.

  • Once it has thickened, stir through the heavy cream and let it simmer for 10-12 minutes, or until it has thickened. 

TO STORE: Place butter chicken in an airtight container in the fridge. Properly stored butter chicken will be good for 3-4 days. TO FREEZE: Transfer it into a freezer-safe airtight container, label it with the date, and store it in the freezer for up to 3 months.  TO REHEAT: Alow it to defrost in the fridge and then reheat it on the stovetop or in the microwave.

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 332kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 15g | Sodium: 306mg | Potassium: 313mg | Fiber: 1g | Vitamin A: 1419IU | Vitamin C: 14mg | Calcium: 63mg | Iron: 1mg | NET CARBS: 6g

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