Indian Butter Chicken

This spring marks five years since I had the beautiful opportunity to spend a couple of months in India. I volunteered with Rising Star Outreach, a non-profit organization that aims to help leprosy colonies to become thriving, self-sufficient communities. This experience changed my life and if you would like to learn more about Rising Outreach of India you can read *here*.

Quite honestly, I knew little about India’s culture, history, and people. And, believe it or not, I really hadn’t had Indian food before (gasp). I know. To say the least I became hooked. I have never craved spicy more in my life. We had curries, masalas, chapati, naan, dosa, biryani, iwasinheaven.

     After returning home and getting back into the groove of my typical home-cooked meals, I experienced an incessant craving for Indian butter chicken and looked on Pinterest only to find the *perfect* recipe by one of my now favorite bloggers, Mary, from The Kitchen Paper. This recipe is easy, fresh, and will taste just as delicious as any of the butter chicken recipes hours out there that will take quadruple the amount of prep time. 

Mary’s recipe is simple, easy, and the results are incredible. After cooking this recipe for Indian butter chicken literally dozens of times I have learned a few things:

  1. You can swap olive oil for the butter and it still tastes delicious.
  2. I have made it with and without cream. Heavy cream makes everything more delicious but if you’re looking for a healthy alternative you can go without.
  3. I’m really good at forgetting key ingredients like the garam masala listed in this recipe. If you don’t have garam masala and would rather do anything than take another trip to the store, I’ve provided a “how-to” below for creating your own garam masala.

All in all this recipe for Indian butter chicken is delicious every time, easy, and often times sooo much more affordable than spending $15 for a portion 1/3 this size. Your family is going to love it!

Indian Butter Chicken
Author: Adapted from The Kitchen Paper
  • 6 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 pound chicken breasts, cut into 1″ chunks
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tsp garam masala
  • 1 Tbsp fresh grated ginger
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1½ cups tomato sauce (or one 14 oz can would work)
  • 2 cups cream
  • salt & pepper
  • lime & cilantro, for garnish
  • naan & rice for serving
  1. Using 2 Tbsp of butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown the pieces of the chicken so each side is browned. They do not need to be fully cooked all the way through. Work in batches, and set aside when you’re done.
  2. Melt another 2 Tbsp of butter in the pan over medium heat. Add the onion, and cook until beginning to soften — about three minutes. Add the garlic, garam masala, ginger, chili powder, cumin, and cayenne. Stir to combine, and cook for about 45 seconds before adding the tomato sauce.
  3. Bring the mixture to a simmer and let cook for five minutes before adding the cream. Bring the mixture back to a simmer, add the browned chicken, and let simmer for 10-15 minutes. Keep the heat low here — not a rolling boil — and feel free to cook longer (you may need to add more liquid) for more tender chicken.
  4. Stir in the remaining 2 Tbsp of butter, and season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  5. Serve garnished with lime and cilantro, alongside rice and naan.

Recipe tip: I didn’t have any Garam Masala in my cupboard for this Indian butter chicken so I made my own! It’s a simple mixture of spices that you likely already have in your kitchen. This makes enough for about 6 or 7 teaspoons of Garam Masala.


2 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoon black pepper
3 teaspoon ground cumin
3 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cloves

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    1. JARED! No problem. Hopefully we can both somehow convince her that Indian food is the GREATEST! Let me know how it goes. Hope you’re enjoying the tail end of summer! 🙂