This butter chicken recipe is made all in one pot. It’s creamy, spicy, and delicious! It’s made with only a few simple ingredients, and tastes so much better than ordering out.
Butter chicken is one of the most popular South Asian dishes in the West, especially to be ordered from Indian restaurants. However it’s so easy and delicious to make at home; and better since you can adjust it to your liking!
The best chicken cut to use for butter chicken is boneless, skinless, chicken thighs. Cut thighs to bite size pieces or larger-the size depends on your preference. Just make sure the size is uniform throughout so they all cook evenly.
Marinate the chicken in salt, turmeric, and red chili powder. Flavoring the chicken is a simple way to add depth to the dish.
Heat a heavy bottom pot on high heat. Add a neutral, high smoking point oil, such as grape seed. Add the chicken pieces in one even layer and let it sit for a few minutes to allow the chicken to develop a golden crust. Stir the chicken to get all sides golden. Once the chicken has developed a good amount of color, use a slotted spoon to scoop it onto a plate and set aside.
The Butter Chicken Base
Turn the heat down to medium and keep the same pot and oil—it’s full of flavor! Add cumin seeds and sliced onion. Salt the onions, mix, and cover and cook gently on medium low until it caramelizes and breaks down—this can take up to 30 minutes.
Once the onions are ready, add the spices. For butter chicken, the only spices used are coriander powder and red chili powder—no turmeric or it will ruin the color of the curry. Stir in the spices and fry gently for a couple of minutes, then add chopped tomatoes.
Here’s the long part—turn the heat down to low, cover, and cook gently until the tomatoes completely break down and melt into the onion mixture. The lower and slower the base is cooked, the more flavor is developed and everything marries well together.
Once the tomatoes have reached the desired consistency, use a hand blender or regular blender to blend the base. I prefer to use a hand blender because it’s less dishes, easier, and leaves a slight amount of chunkiness rather than making the base completely smooth; which I prefer.
To finish the gravy, add brown sugar, ketchup, and heavy cream. Simmer gently and add back in the chicken. Once everything is warmed through, add butter. As soon as the butter melts in, the butter chicken is ready! Garnish with cilantro and enjoy with rice, naan, garlic naan, or paratha.
Time: 1 hour
For the Chicken
- 2 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut to bite size pieces
- 4 tbsp grape seed oil
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp red chili powder
- Salt to taste
For the Butter Chicken Gravy
- 1 tbsp cumin seeds
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 2 tbsp minced garlic
- 1.5 tsp coriander powder
- 1 tsp red chili powder (adjust for preferred spice level)
- 2-3 large tomatoes, chopped
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 tbsp ketchup
- 4 tbsp butter
- Cilantro to garnish
1. Marinate chicken in salt, turmeric, and red chili powder
2. Heat a heavy bottom pot on high heat, add oil, and add chicken in one layer. Stir to brown evenly
3. Once the chicken is golden brown, remove from heat with a slotted spoon and set aside
4. In the same pot and oil, add cumin seeds and then onion. Salt, then sauté gently on low heat covered until caramelized
5. Add coriander powder and red chili powder, cook for 2 minutes, then add tomatoes, cover, and cook gently until the tomatoes completely break down
5. Use a hand blender or blender to blend the onion and tomato base to your desired consistency
6. Increase heat to medium, then add in brown sugar, ketchup, and heavy cream. Once it comes to a simmer, add back in cooked chicken. Simmer again, then finish with butter and garnish with cilantro