Delicious Indian Butter Chicken Recipe

Classic & Delicious Indian Butter Chicken Recipe – aka Chicken Makhani

Indian Butter Chicken Recipe - Classic & Delicious!

Many people wish they could cook Indian food at home. It’s so delicious in restaurants, but they don’t have a clue how to bring those flavors into their own kitchen.

With the recipe for Indian Butter Chicken I’m sharing today, however, you’ll see it isn’t so difficult to bring the aroma of a tasty Indian curry into your own home.

History of Indian Butter Chicken

This delicious dish isn’t new by any means. Indian Butter Chicken, better known as Chicken Makhani, has been around since the late 1940s.

It was developed when a couple of restaurant owners in India combined leftover chicken with a creamy tomato-based sauce that was loaded with butter. It was a hit, so Indian Butter Chicken began being served at their restaurant as well as throughout the country!

Indian Butter Chicken Recipe

Through the years, the Indian Butter Chicken recipe has changed greatly between restaurants and regions. Some prefer to use bone-in chicken thighs, but you can’t convince me that boneless chicken isn’t a much easier way to go. 

Besides, most research brings me to believe that the recipe was founded by using leftover tandoori chicken. Tandoori chicken is loved by many in India. It is basically roasting chicken in a clay oven after marinating it in a mixture of yogurt and spices.

Since we (along with probably most home chefs) don’t have such an oven, so our recipe for Indian Butter Chicken has been altered to seared chicken with a sautéed sauce. 

Notes About Our Indian Butter Chicken Recipe

There are a few things I want to mention about my specific recipe for this Indian dish. 

  • Kasuri methi or Dried Fenugreek Leaves is the only ingredient you won’t find in regular grocery stores. You will easily get it in an Indian store or online. This is an optional ingredient. The Butter Chicken will taste divine without it too. Kasuri methi is an aromatic. It does not affect taste but lends an alluring aroma to the curry. If you are a fan of Indian curries, it’s worth seeking it out.
  • I used paprika to keep the curry mild. You can substitute the entire amount of paprika with cayenne pepper for a spicy version or use half cayenne pepper and half paprika.
  • Ginger paste and garlic paste are easily available in regular grocery store now. I get the ones in tubes in the refrigerated produce section where fresh herbs are found.
  • If you are a fan of Indian curries, I would suggest doubling and tripling the sauce recipe and storing it glass jars in your fridge or freezer. You can proceed till Step 6, blend the sauce and bottle it up. And then on a weeknight toss come grilled chicken or even shredded rotisserie chicken with the warmed sauce and cream and dinner will be ready in less than 10 minutes.

How to Make Indian Butter Chicken Recipe


2lbs. Chicken Thigh or breasts, cut into bite sized pieces

For the Marinade

  • ½ cup Greek Yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon Ginger Paste
  • 1 teaspoon Garlic Paste
  • 1 teaspoon Garam Masala
  • ½ teaspoon Paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon Turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons Lemon Juice
  • 2 teaspoon Salt
Indian Butter Chicken Marinade Ingredients

For the Sauce

  • 1 cup chopped Red Onion (yellow or white onion works too)
  • 1 teaspoon Ginger Paste
  • 1 teaspoon Garlic Paste
  • 1 teaspoon ground Coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground Cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Garam Masala
  • 1 teaspoon Paprika
  • ½ teaspoon Turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons Salt
  • 2 teaspoon Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Kasuri Methi or dried Fenugreek Leaves (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon Tomato Paste
  • 1 cup Tomato Sauce or Tomato Puree
  • ½ cup of Heavy Cream
  • ¼ cup of chopped fresh Cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon of Olive Oil
  • 2 tablespoons of Butter, divided
Indian Butter Chicken Sauce Ingredients

To Make the Marinade

In a large bowl, combine yogurt, lemon juice, ginger paste, garlic paste, turmeric, paprika, garam masala and salt. Whisk well.

Add the chicken pieces and mix well to coat each piece with the marinade.

Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes to overnight. The longer it sits, the better the flavor.

To Make the Sauce

Add a tablespoon of oil and a tablespoon of butter to a large pan or a Dutch oven, over medium high heat.

Indian Butter Chicken Step 1

In batches, sear the chicken pieces for at least 2 to 3 minutes each side. Remove to a clean plate and keep aside. Do not discard the marinade.

Add the chopped onion, ginger paste and garlic paste to the same pan and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes on medium heat. Add a tiny splash of water if the spices stick to the bottom of the pan.

Next add the dry spices – ground cumin, ground coriander, paprika, turmeric, garam masala, salt and sugar. Let it toast for a minute to get the raw edge off.
Indian Butter Chicken Step 4
Now add the reserved marinade, tomato paste and sauce. Mix thoroughly. Cover and let it cook for 5 minutes on low heat.
Indian Butter Chicken Step 5

Using an immersion blender, blend the chunky sauce into a smooth one. Alternatively, add the chunky sauce to a regular or hi-speed blender and blend into a smooth sauce. Return the sauce to the pan.

Indian Butter Chicken Step 6
Add the seared chicken pieces to the sauce. Cover and let it simmer for 5 to 6 minutes on medium low heat.
Indian Butter Chicken Step 7
Add the cream and cook for another minute or two.
Indian Butter Chicken Step 8
Take it off the heat and stir in the chopped cilantro, kasuri methi (optional) and a tablespoon of butter.
Indian Butter Chicken Step 9

Serve immediately with rice or naan bread.

Classic & Delicious Indian Butter Chicken Recipe

Hope your family enjoys this delicious Indian Butter Chicken recipe!

Be sure to check out all of my recipes HERE

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