Easy Butter Chicken

by Hannah

I love Indian food. I could eat a curry every day and never get sick of it and this easy butter chicken recipe is one of my favorites. Butter chicken, also known as murgh makhani, is a curry of chicken with spiced tomatoes, butter and cream, similar to a tikka masala.

However, unlike the tikka masala, also known as the national dish of Britain, butter chicken originates from Delhi in the northern part of India. I don’t claim my version of butter chicken is authentic, but I love how quickly it comes together, how flavorful it is and I have to say, it tastes pretty darn close to what I would get from an Indian restaurant.

I have yet to travel to India (which is shocking considering my love for the cuisine) so I have based this recipe on Indian takeout versions. When it comes to cooking, I love to stay authentic, but I also value my time so if there’s an easier way to replicate a flavor, I’ll often take it.

This easy butter chicken recipe only uses ground spices, making it quick to come together. There’s no toasting or grinding and there are only a few simple steps.

Butter Chicken Ingredients

  • Chicken: I used one pound of chicken breast cut into fairly large chunks.
  • Butter: This is, after all, butter chicken. I never said this recipe was healthy!
  • Heavy Cream: Continuing from my previous point, this curry is definitely not the healthiest one out there. If you wanted to try to cut back on the calories you could opt for coconut milk, but I’ve never tried this recipe with that so I can’t guarantee the same results.
  • Tomato Sauce: I use one 15 oz can of tomato sauce from the grocery store. You could make your own, but I like the simplicity of using a can.
  • Onion: Onions truly make everything better and this recipe is no different. If you want the onion to disappear into the sauce just chop it super finely and you won’t even know it’s there.
  • Spices: These are the true star of the show. This recipe uses garam masala, curry powder, turmeric, chili powder, coriander, cumin and one cinnamon stick around 3 inches long.

How to Make Butter Chicken

1. Once you cut your chicken into chunks you’ll add the first set of spices and mix well before browning off in a pan.

2. After you’ve browned the chicken, you’ll remove it from the pan and put it in a bowl or on a plate until after you make the sauce.

Spiced chicken on a plate ready to go into a butter chicken sauce

3. For the sauce, you’ll add the onion, garlic and ginger to the pan and once translucent you’ll add the second half of the spices. After 30 seconds, add the tomato sauce, cream and water, along with the cinnamon stick. This will simmer for a bit to bring all those beautiful flavors together.

4. Add the chicken back into the pot with the sauce and cook an additional 5 to 10 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and then serve.

This recipe seems daunting because of all of the spices, but when you break it down it’s really rather simple.

What to Serve With It

Curry is best served over rice with naan. Basmati rice is the most common, but you could use whatever you have in-house if you didn’t want to go out and buy another kind of rice.

Other sides that go well with this dish are samosas, aloo gobi, saag or roasted broccoli or cauliflower. You could even make this curry heartier by adding potatoes (even though that’s not considered traditional).

Butter chicken over rice topped with cilantro as garnish


You can store this butter chicken in an airtight container for up to 4-5 days. Ideally, you’ll want to store the curry and the rice separately for maximum freshness, but I have found myself sometimes combining into one tupperware with chicken on one side and rice on the other and it works fine.


I actually don’t own a microwave (shocking, I know) so I do all of my reheating on the stove or in the oven. For this, I would just add to a small saucepan and heat over medium heat until heated through, about 5-10 minutes. However, if you have a microwave this would just take a couple of minutes!

Did you make this recipe? Make sure to post it to Instagram and tag me

Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Easy Butter Chicken

A curry of chicken in a sauce of spiced tomatoes, butter and cream.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time35 minutes
Total Time45 minutes
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 4


For the Chicken

  • 1 pound chicken breast
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon butter

For the Sauce

  • 14 oz tomato sauce
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 inch piece of ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1/4 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon butter


  • Preheat your pan (I like to use a dutch oven, but you could use whatever you have). Cut the chicken into fairly large chunks and then mix with the spices. On medium heat, cook the chicken for four minutes on each side.
  • While that's cooking, chop the onion, garlic and ginger.* Remove the chicken and place on a plate for later. Then add the onion, garlic and ginger and let cook until the onion is transluscent.
  • Add the spices to the onion before adding any of the liquid and let it cook for 30 seconds. Then add the heavy cream, water and cinnamon stick. Give it a good stir before placing the lid on the pan and simmering on low-medium heat for 5-6 minutes.
  • Take the lid off, stir once again and turn the heat up to medium and simmer a further 4 minutes before adding the remaining tablespoon of butter and the chicken. Simmer this all together for a further 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through. The larger your chicken chunks are the longer it will need.
  • Remove the cinnnamon stick before serving and then serve over rice and garnish with cilantro.


*I like to use a zester/microplane to grate my ginger. I find it's quicker than peeling and chopping.

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1 comment

Wally December 16, 2021 - 2:27 am

5 stars
Simple, but great recipe for comfort food on a time constraint. It’s didn’t take long at all and the recipe is on point.


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