This Flavorful Butter Chicken Recipe - Murgh Makhani - or whips up quickly and easily, uses fairly basic ingredients, and will hit the spot ... no restaurant needed!
Originally published June 18, 2012. Updated on 5/9/2021
So, I've been nagged to post a recipe over the past few days, so it's time to share my Butter Chicken Recipe!
Last week, I was hit by a fierce craving for Indian butter chicken and dosa.
Not only is Indian food *not* the best thing to be craving when on a low carb diet, neither one of us was really in the mood to go out - though we do have a fantastic local Indian restaurant.
So, we came to a compromise - we'd go to the grocery store and pick up a few items, and I'd make a batch of my best Butter Chicken recipe.
It’s a super easy, delicious recipe, with great results - tender chicken in a rich sauce.
If you've made any other Indian curries - such as my Chicken Shahi Korma recipe, you should have most/all of the spices used in this butter chicken recipe.
If not, go ahead and pick them up - I guarantee you'll find yourself doing Indian cooking more often!
This absolutely hit the spot, and whipped up quickly and easily. Why deal with the drive, parking, a noisy restaurant.. when this homemade version of the popular dish is just as good?
Most of the ingredients in this recipe are things that you can find in pretty much any grocery store. I do have a few notes on some of them, though:
I use boneless, skinless chicken - usually a mixture of chicken breast and chicken thighs. You can use either one, or a combo of the two in whatever proportions you like.
When it comes to the spices, my recipe uses:
Red Pepper Flakes
The I use ground spices for coriander and cumin, but you can start out with coriander and cumin seeds - I’d just recommend grinding the whole spices to a fine powder first.
As for heat, I use crushed pepper flakes, as that’s what I tend to have on hand. You can use chilli powder / red chili powder - to taste - if you prefer.
Ginger and Garlic
I usually use fresh ginger and fresh garlic cloves, but you can “cheat” and use the paste / puree versions if you like.
If using ginger paste, use the same amount. Garlic paste would be about 3 teaspoon / 1 Tbsp.
If you’re using a ginger garlic paste, use 3-4 tablespoon of it.
Use fresh lemon juice whenever possible, as the bottled stuff doesn’t taste right.
Whole milk is best, but 2% works fine also. Coconut or almond milk can be used for dairy free subs.
I use heavy whipping cream, usually around 30-35% milk fat. If you’re looking for a dairy free option, full-fat coconut milk is your best bet.
I just use regular butter, but you can use ghee / clarified butter - or even a vegan butter substitute - if you prefer.
You can use canned or fresh tomato puree. Alternately, tomato sauce or a can of crushed tomatoes - ran through a blender - work in a pinch.
I’ll use plain regular or Greek yogurt.
If you need a dairy free version, just be sure you’re using one without added flavours - vanilla yogurt would be weird in this recipe!
These are the ingredients that I really have nothing else to say about, LOL:
Salt & Pepper
How to Make Butter Chicken
Full recipe follows in the recipe card at the end of this post, here is the pictorial walk through with additional tips and info
Cut chicken into large cubes, place in a large bowl or ziplock baggie.
Put ginger, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and 1-2 teaspoon garam masala into a blender or food processor – process till it’s a thick paste.
Note: You can use an immersion blender & paired container for this
Pour over chicken, toss to coat, and marinate in the fridge for a few hours or overnight.
In a small bowl, measure out the 1 tablespoon garam masala, pepper flakes, cumin, coriander, bay leaf, and fennel seed. Set aside.
In a large pan over medium-high heat, cook chopped onions in 1 tablespoon olive oil until tender and translucent. Add marinated chicken, cook until it starts to brown slightly.
Add butter, tomato puree, spices, yogurt, heavy cream and milk, stir well to form a coherent, creamy sauce. Reduce element to medium heat, simmer for about 20 minutes – sauce will thicken.
After 20 minutes, taste. Season with salt and pepper, stir well, continue to cook for another 5-10 minutes.
Serve over Basmati rice, ideally with a side of naan bread. (Cauliflower rice is a fantastic low-carb alternative!)
Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
More Indian Recipes....
Love Indian food? Be sure to check out these other fabulous Indian - and Indian inspired - recipes!
Chicken Shahi Korma Recipe
Cilantro Chicken Recipe
Cilantro-Mint Chutney Recipe
Mango Lassi Popsicles Recipe
Paneer Burgers Recipe
Tandoori Spiced Chicken Burger with Mango Recipe
Specialty Diet Versions
Looking for gluten-free and/or low carb Indian recipes? Here are a few from my other blogs:
Gluten Free Chicken Pakora
Gluten-Free Mixed Vegetable Pakoras
Gluten Free Paneer Pakora
Keto Chicken Biryani
Low Carb Butter Chicken
Keto Chicken Korma
Low Carb Shrimp Curry
Share the Love!
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Also, be sure to subscribe to my free monthly email newsletter, so you never miss out on any of my nonsense. Well, the published nonsense, anyway!
Finally, if you love this recipe, please consider leaving a star rating and/or a comment below!
- 3 lbs Boneless Skinless Chicken**
- 2-3 tablespoon Freshly Grated Ginger Root
- 5 Garlic cloves peeled
- 1 tablespoon Lemon Juice
- 2 tablespoon Olive Oil
- 1-2 teaspoon garam masala
- 1 tablespoon garam masala
- 1 + tablespoon pepper flakes
- 2 teaspoon cumin
- 2 teaspoon corinader
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon fennel seed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion finely chopped
- ¼ cup butter
- 2 cups tomato puree
- ½ cup plain yogurt
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup milk
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Cut chicken into large cubes, place in a large bowl.
- Put ginger, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and 1-2 teaspoon garam masala into a blender or food processor – process till it’s a thick paste. Pour over chicken, toss to coat, and marinate in the fridge for a few hours or overnight.
- In a small bowl, measure out the 1 tablespoon garam masala, pepper flakes, cumin, coriander, bay leaf, and fennel seed. Set aside.
- In a large pan, cook chopped onions in 1 tablespoon olive oil until tender and translucent. Add chicken, cook until it starts to brown slightly. Add butter, tomato puree, spices, yogurt, heavy cream and milk, stir well to form a coherent sauce. reduce heat to medium, simmer for about 20 minutes – sauce will thicken.
- After 20 minutes, taste. Season with salt and pepper, stir well, continue to cook for another 5-10 minutes.
- Serve over rice.
When are the spices that we set aside used?
Good catch - whoops!
Added it in to the recipe!
Could you use Greek yogurt for the yogurt?
You can definitely use Greek yogurt - just be sure it's unflavoured! (not vanilla!)
Hi Marie. Thank you for sharing your recipe with us! Where can I buy garam marsala?
I'm not sure where you are, but many grocers have it. If not, look for an Indian grocer or a specialty spice shop. Amazon also carries it: https://www.amazon.com/gp/search/ref=as_li_qf_sp_sr_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=celebrationge-20&keywords=garam masala&index=aps&camp=1789&creative=9325&linkCode=ur2&linkId=77d8847bf3395c2f05642350f2c464e2
Yes ,you can use.unflavoured yoghurt.