Butter Chicken Recipe

Welcome to our delicious Butter Chicken Recipe! If you’re a fan of Indian cuisine, you’re in for a treat. Butter Chicken, also known as Murgh Makhani, is a flavorful and creamy curry dish that is loved around the world. With our easy-to-follow recipe, you can recreate the authentic flavors of this classic Indian dish right in your own kitchen.

Butter Chicken Recipe

Key Takeaways:

  • Butter Chicken, also known as Murgh Makhani, is a popular Indian curry dish.
  • It is made with marinated and grilled chicken simmered in a spicy, buttery, and creamy tomato gravy.
  • The dish originated in Northern India in the late 1940s and was created by Kundan Lal Gujral.
  • Marinating the chicken in yogurt and spices helps to tenderize and infuse it with flavor.
  • Serve Butter Chicken with basmati rice or naan bread for a complete and satisfying meal.

The Origins of Butter Chicken

Butter Chicken, also known as Murgh Makhani, is a beloved Indian curry dish with a rich and creamy tomato gravy. Have you ever wondered about the origins of this delectable dish? Let’s delve into the fascinating history of Butter Chicken and discover how it came to be.


Butter Chicken originated in Northern India in the late 1940s. It was created by Kundan Lal Gujral, the owner of a renowned restaurant called Moti Mahal. Gujral innovatively came up with the idea of Butter Chicken as a way to utilize leftover tandoori chicken.

Gujral’s Experiment:

Gujral decided to cook the leftover chicken in a rich and creamy tomato-based gravy. To enhance the flavors, he added butter and a blend of aromatic spices. The result was a dish that was uniquely flavorful and distinct from other Indian curries.

Rapid Popularity:

The delicious flavors and creamy texture of Butter Chicken quickly gained popularity among customers at Moti Mahal and beyond. Its fame spread like wildfire, and soon, it became a beloved dish not just in India but worldwide.

Comparison to Chicken Tikka Masala:

Butter Chicken is often compared to Chicken Tikka Masala, another popular Indian curry. While both dishes feature chicken in a tomato-based sauce, Butter Chicken has a milder and less spicy flavor profile. The creaminess of Butter Chicken sets it apart, making it a preferred choice for those seeking a luscious and indulgent dish.

Whether it’s the rich history or the irresistible flavors, Butter Chicken continues to be an all-time favorite for curry lovers. Its origins in the 1940s and the culinary brilliance of Kundan Lal Gujral have left an indelible mark on Indian cuisine. Next, let’s explore the process of marinating the chicken, an essential step in preparing this iconic dish.

Marinating the Chicken

To make Butter Chicken, the first step is marinating the boneless chicken thighs or breasts. This process helps infuse the meat with flavor and ensures tender and juicy results.

Prepare a marinade using a mixture of yogurt, garlic, ginger, and a blend of aromatic spices. Some commonly used spices include garam masala, turmeric, cumin, and red chili powder. This combination creates a rich and flavorful base for the chicken.

Pro tip: For an extra burst of flavor, add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice or a dash of vinegar to the marinade. This will enhance the tanginess and tenderness of the chicken.

Coat the chicken pieces thoroughly with the marinade, ensuring all sides are well-covered. Place the marinated chicken in a bowl or a ziplock bag and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes. For even more succulent results, marinate the chicken overnight.

During the marinating process, the yogurt works as a natural tenderizer, helping to break down the protein in the chicken and making it more tender. Furthermore, the spices in the marinade infuse into the meat, creating a delicious depth of flavor.

Making the Sauce

Making the sauce for Butter Chicken is a crucial step in creating the rich and flavorful dish. Here’s how to prepare the mouthwatering sauce that elevates this Indian classic:

Sautéing Aromatics

To begin, sauté finely chopped onions, minced garlic, and grated ginger in butter or ghee until they become fragrant. The heat helps to release the aromas and flavors of these essential ingredients, enhancing the overall taste of the sauce.

Adding Spices

Next, add a blend of spices like garam masala, cumin, and coriander to the sautéed aromatics. These spices bring depth and warmth to the sauce, infusing every bite with a delightful flavor. Cook the spice mixture for a short time to ensure the spices are properly toasted and their flavors fully developed.

Simmering Tomatoes

Once the spices are fragrant, it’s time to introduce crushed tomatoes to the mixture. The tomatoes provide the base for the sauce and contribute to its vibrant color. Allow the sauce to simmer gently until it thickens and turns into a luscious, rich orange color. This slow cooking process ensures that the flavors meld together harmoniously.

Adding Creaminess

To achieve a creamy and velvety texture, stir in cream or evaporated milk towards the end of the cooking process. The addition of dairy enriches the sauce, adding a luxurious and indulgent element to the dish.

Ingredients Quantity
Onions 2 medium-sized, finely chopped
Garlic 4 cloves, minced
Ginger 1-inch piece, grated
Butter or ghee 3 tablespoons
Garam masala 1 teaspoon
Cumin 1 teaspoon
Coriander 1 teaspoon
Crushed tomatoes 1 cup
Cream or evaporated milk 1/2 cup

Grilling or Pan-Frying the Chicken

Once the chicken has been marinated to perfection, it’s time to cook it to juicy perfection. There are two great methods to choose from: grilling and pan-frying. Both techniques offer their own unique advantages, so you can pick the one that suits your preferences and cooking setup.

Grilling: If you have access to a tandoor or a stovetop grill, grilling the chicken is an excellent option. The direct heat creates a wonderful charred flavor and beautiful grill marks on the chicken.

Pan-frying: If you don’t have a grill or prefer a stovetop method, pan-frying is a great alternative. Simply heat a frying pan over medium-high heat and add a drizzle of oil or a knob of butter. Cook the chicken in the hot pan until it is just done, being careful not to overcook it. This method ensures the chicken stays tender and retains its natural juices.

Alternatively, if you prefer a hands-off approach, you can also roast the marinated chicken in the oven. Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C) and place the chicken on a baking sheet. Roast it for about 25-30 minutes, or until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C). The high heat of the oven will create a beautiful caramelization on the chicken while keeping it succulent.

Whichever method you choose, the key is to cook the chicken until it is just done. Overcooking can result in dry and tough meat, so keep a close eye on the cooking time and use a meat thermometer to ensure it reaches the proper internal temperature.

Combining the Chicken with the Sauce

Once the chicken is cooked, it is time to combine it with the flavorful sauce. This step is crucial to create the delicious and creamy Butter Chicken dish.

To begin, take the cooked chicken pieces and carefully add them to the prepared sauce. Ensure that each piece is coated with the sauce to infuse them with the rich flavors.

Now, simmer the chicken and sauce together for a few minutes. This allows the flavors to mingle and develop a harmonious taste. The sauce should thicken slightly and cling to the chicken, creating a luscious coating.

For an additional burst of flavor, consider adding some kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves) to the dish. These aromatic leaves add a unique taste dimension to the Butter Chicken. You can also add a touch of sugar to balance the flavors and enhance the overall taste profile.

Finally, before serving, garnish the Butter Chicken with fresh cilantro leaves. Not only does it add a pop of color, but it also imparts a refreshing herbal note to the dish.

The combination of tender chicken and the creamy, well-spiced sauce is what makes Butter Chicken a crowd-pleasing favorite. The careful blending of the flavors ensures a delectable culinary experience that will leave everyone wanting more.

Serving Butter Chicken

Butter Chicken, a delicious and flavorful Indian curry dish, is traditionally served with either basmati rice or naan bread. The combination of the creamy and rich sauce with the fluffy rice or the soft and slightly crispy naan creates a perfect harmony of textures and flavors. Whether you prefer the mild sweetness of basmati rice or the indulgent chewiness of naan bread, both options provide an excellent accompaniment to the succulent chicken and aromatic sauce.

In Indian cuisine, rice serves as a staple and is commonly paired with curries and other savory dishes. The long-grain basmati rice not only complements the flavors of Butter Chicken but also helps to neutralize the spiciness, allowing the creaminess of the sauce to shine through. The subtle nutty aroma and delicate texture of basmati rice enhance the overall dining experience, making every bite a delightful one.

Alternatively, naan bread offers a more indulgent and comforting option. This soft and pillowy Indian bread is perfect for mopping up the luscious sauce of Butter Chicken. Its slightly crispy exterior, combined with its fluffy interior, provides a satisfying contrast to the tender chicken and velvety sauce. The warm and comforting qualities of naan bread make it a beloved choice for many, adding an extra layer of enjoyment to the meal.

Whether you choose basmati rice or naan bread, serving Butter Chicken brings together a delightful medley of flavors, textures, and aromas that are sure to please your taste buds. It is a dish that brings people together, creating a memorable dining experience for family and friends.

Option Description
Basmati Rice Long-grain rice with a subtle nutty aroma and delicate texture that pairs well with Butter Chicken.
Naan Bread Soft and slightly crispy Indian bread that is perfect for mopping up the creamy sauce of Butter Chicken.

Make-Ahead Option

Preparing Butter Chicken ahead of time can be a convenient option, allowing you to enjoy the flavors of this delicious dish with minimal effort when you’re ready to serve. By using the make-ahead approach, you can ensure that the flavors have time to develop and intensify, resulting in an even more flavorful experience.

The process is simple. After cooking the Butter Chicken sauce, allow it to cool completely. Once cooled, transfer the sauce to an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator. The sauce can be kept refrigerated for up to 48 hours, giving you the flexibility to prepare the dish in advance.

When you’re ready to serve, reheat the sauce in a pan or microwave until it is hot and bubbly. Add the cooked chicken to the sauce and simmer until the chicken is heated through. This step ensures that the chicken absorbs the flavors of the sauce and becomes tender and juicy.

By making the Butter Chicken ahead of time, you can save valuable time and still enjoy a restaurant-quality meal in the comfort of your own home. Whether you’re hosting a dinner party or simply planning ahead for a busy weeknight, the make-ahead option for Butter Chicken provides a convenient solution.

Benefits of Make-Ahead Butter Chicken
Enhanced flavors

Variations and Optional Additions

Butter Chicken can be customized according to personal preferences. Here are some variations and optional additions to enhance the flavors and textures of this classic dish:

Add Onions or Cashew Paste

To add sweetness and creaminess to the sauce, consider incorporating onions or cashew paste. Sauté finely chopped onions until golden brown and add them to the sauce for a subtle and delightful flavor. Alternatively, blend cashews with water to create a smooth paste and mix it into the sauce for a rich and velvety texture.

Adjust the Spice Level

If you prefer a spicier Butter Chicken, you can easily adjust the heat by adding more chili powder. Increase the amount gradually until you achieve the desired level of spiciness. On the other hand, if you prefer a milder flavor, reduce the amount of chili powder or omit it altogether.

Include Vegetables for Added Texture

To introduce more texture and enhance the nutritional value of Butter Chicken, consider adding vegetables like bell peppers or peas. Sauté the vegetables briefly before combining them with the chicken and sauce. The vibrant colors and crispness of the vegetables will complement the creamy sauce, creating a delightful blend of flavors.

Get creative with these variations and optional additions to customize your Butter Chicken according to your taste preferences. Enjoy the versatility of this popular Indian dish!

Butter Chicken Nutrition Information

The nutrition information for Butter Chicken can vary depending on the specific ingredients and cooking methods used. However, a typical serving of Butter Chicken (approximately 1 cup) contains the following:

Nutrient Amount
Calories 580
Carbohydrates 17g
Protein 36g
Fat 41g

Butter Chicken is a rich and indulgent dish that should be enjoyed in moderation due to its high calorie and fat content. Its protein content is relatively high, making it a satisfying option for meat lovers. However, those watching their carbohydrate intake may want to be mindful of portion sizes or choose to pair it with lower-carb accompaniments like cauliflower rice.

Tips for Making a Healthier Butter Chicken

  • Use lean cuts of chicken, such as chicken breast, and trim any visible fat.
  • Replace heavy cream with low-fat or Greek yogurt for a lighter sauce.
  • Add more vegetables like bell peppers, spinach, or broccoli to increase the fiber and nutrient content of the dish.
  • Serve Butter Chicken with a side of steamed vegetables or a fresh salad to add more vitamins and minerals to your meal.

Remember, it’s all about balance and moderation. Enjoying a delicious Butter Chicken occasionally can be a part of a healthy and well-rounded diet.


Butter Chicken is a beloved Indian dish that brings together the rich and vibrant flavors of Northern Indian cuisine. With its creamy tomato gravy and tender grilled chicken, it is a true crowd-pleaser. The best part is that you can easily recreate this classic dish in the comfort of your own kitchen.

By following the simple steps outlined in this recipe, you can unlock the secrets of Butter Chicken and impress your family and friends with your culinary skills. The marination process ensures that the chicken is tender and flavorful, while the sauce, with its combination of aromatic spices and tomatoes, adds a burst of richness to every bite.

To complete the experience, serve Butter Chicken with fragrant basmati rice or warm, pillowy naan bread. The combination of the creamy sauce and fluffy rice or crispy naan creates a perfect harmony of textures and flavors. Whether you’re hosting a dinner party or simply enjoying a meal with your loved ones, Butter Chicken is sure to be a hit.


What is Butter Chicken?

Butter Chicken, also known as Murgh Makhani, is a popular and flavorful Indian curry dish made with marinated and grilled chicken simmered in a spicy, buttery, and creamy tomato gravy.

Where did Butter Chicken originate?

Butter Chicken originated in Northern India in the late 1940s and was created by Kundan Lal Gujral, the owner of a restaurant called Moti Mahal.

How do I marinate the chicken for Butter Chicken?

To marinate the chicken, mix yogurt, garlic, ginger, garam masala, turmeric, cumin, and red chili powder. Marinate the chicken for at least 20 minutes or overnight for more tender results.

How do I make the sauce for Butter Chicken?

Melt butter or ghee in a pan, sauté onions, garlic, and ginger until fragrant. Add spices like garam masala, cumin, and coriander, then add crushed tomatoes and simmer until the sauce thickens. Stir in cream or evaporated milk for richness.

Can I grill or pan-fry the chicken for Butter Chicken?

Yes, after marinating, you can grill the chicken in a tandoor or cook it on a stovetop grill or pan until it is just done and has a nice charred flavor.

How do I combine the chicken with the sauce for Butter Chicken?

Once the chicken is cooked, add it to the prepared sauce and simmer together for a few minutes to allow the flavors to meld. The sauce should be thick and coat the chicken pieces evenly.

What can I serve with Butter Chicken?

Butter Chicken is traditionally served with basmati rice or naan bread. The creamy and flavorful sauce pairs well with the fluffy rice or the soft and slightly crispy naan.

Can I make Butter Chicken ahead of time?

Yes, Butter Chicken can be prepared ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours. Simply cool the sauce completely and store it in an airtight container. Reheat the sauce and add the cooked chicken when ready to serve.

Can I customize Butter Chicken?

Yes, you can customize Butter Chicken by adding onions or cashew paste to the sauce for added sweetness and creaminess. You can also adjust the spice level and add vegetables like bell peppers or peas for added texture and flavor.

What is the nutrition information for Butter Chicken?

The nutrition information for Butter Chicken can vary, but a typical serving contains approximately 580 calories, 17g of carbohydrates, 36g of protein, and 41g of fat.

Can I make Butter Chicken at home?

Yes, with simple ingredients and step-by-step instructions, you can easily make authentic Butter Chicken at home and enjoy the rich and delicious flavors in the comfort of your own kitchen.

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