Who can resist creamy, spicy Indian chicken curry? Make it at home with this easy recipe for Instant Pot Butter Chicken! This is a rich, aromatic, and comforting one-pot meal that’s family-friendly and ready in an hour or less.
Easy Indian Butter Chicken Recipe
Curry night has just become a thing in our house. I owe it entirely to this easy Instant Pot butter chicken. I’ve used my Instant Pot to make some of my favorite chicken recipes, from Instant Pot Chicken Thighs to Salsa Verde Chicken. This curry was a revelation!
There are so many chicken curry recipes out there, but they always seem to demand a billion different spices and specialty ingredients, and hours on the stovetop. Your gal gets overwhelmed.
And this pressure cooker butter chicken recipe turned out AMAZING. This Indian-inspired butter chicken is savory and satisfying, cooked in a rich, buttery tomato gravy with warm spices and a touch of cream. It’s so simple and the flavors are wonderful. Plus, everything comes together right in the Instant Pot. This is a perfect “entry-level” Indian dish, in my opinion. It’s super popular for a reason, and my whole family really enjoys it!
What Flavor Is Butter Chicken?
Indian butter chicken, a.k.a. murgh makhani, is a curry dish from New Delhi. Butter chicken sauce is a rich and savory gravy made with tomatoes, butter, cream, and a combination of spices. It’s warming and flavorful, a bit like a milder version of tikka masala with a hint of sweetness.
Ingredients You’ll Need
Below is a quick overview of the ingredients you’ll need to make this Instant Pot butter chicken. Remember to scroll to the recipe card for the full details:
- Chicken: Boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs are best. Dice them up into smaller pieces before you start.
- Oil: For sauteeing. Alternatively, you can use ghee, a type of clarified butter used in Indian cooking.
- Onion: I use red onion, but you can use any mild onion variety you’d like.
- Garlic and Ginger: Minced garlic and freshly grated ginger enhance the flavor of the butter chicken sauce. If you don’t have fresh ginger, use a pinch or two of ground ginger instead.
- Spices: Nothing too crazy. You’ll need garam masala, cumin, coriander, paprika, turmeric, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. Garam masala is an Indian spice blend that you’ll find in the international food aisle at many grocery stores.
- Tomatoes: Canned is perfect. Use diced or crushed tomatoes, and remember to drain them.
- Butter: Salted or unsalted, cut into cubes so that it will melt smoothly into the sauce.
- Heavy Cream: Or full-fat coconut milk, to enrich the sauce at the end and make it ultra-creamy. You can also use coconut milk and leave out the butter to make this recipe dairy-free.
- Cilantro: Freshly chopped cilantro makes a nice garnish before serving, but that’s optional.
Can I Use Frozen Chicken?
Yes! Unlike a slow cooker, it’s totally safe to cook frozen chicken in your Instant Pot. The Instant Pot will just take a little longer to come to pressure, that’s all.
How to Make Instant Pot Butter Chicken
Don’t you just love a good one-pot recipe? There’s basically the same amount of cleanup as if you had takeout. Here’s how to make the easiest butter chicken in your Instant Pot:
- Sauté: Begin by setting the Instant Pot to Sauté, heating up some oil (or ghee), and then cooking the onions until softened. Next, you’ll stir in the garlic and ginger and cook for another minute or so until fragrant. Finally, sprinkle in garam masala along with coriander and cumin, stirring to get the spices lightly toasted.
- Combine: Dump in the tomatoes, and follow that with turmeric, cayenne, and a pinch of salt and pepper. After a few minutes, drop in the chicken pieces and stir to coat. If you find there’s not enough sauce to completely cover the chicken, go ahead and add a bit of water to the pot.
- Cook: Now, switch the IP off Sauté mode, close the lid, and seal. Set the pot to Pressure Cook for 6 minutes. Once the cooking time is up, naturally release the pressure for 10 minutes before venting the remaining pressure manually.
- Finish and Serve: Open the lid and stir in another teaspoon of garam masala, along with your cubed butter, and lastly, the heavy cream. Switch the pot to Sauté again and let the butter chicken simmer until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Dish up your homemade curry with a classic side of rice and naan, sprinkled with fresh cilantro. See below for more serving ideas.
Tips for Success
This butter chicken recipe makes homemade curry a breeze. In case you’re new to pressure cooking, here are some additional tips for the best IP butter chicken:
- Adjust the heat levels. Add more or less cayenne pepper to taste depending on how hot you like your curry, or if you’re making this recipe for kids. You can also use different types of garam masala. Different blends range from mild to spicy, so choose one that suits your tastes.
- When using crushed tomatoes, I recommend pureeing them before adding them to the pot or using an immersion blender. If your canned tomatoes are on the acidic side, stir in a teaspoon of sugar before pressure cooking.
- Save time. If you really wanted, you can definitely make this butter chicken as a “dump-and-go” recipe (adding all the ingredients to the pot at once, apart from the butter and cream). I like to sauté the aromatics first to bring out the extra flavors, but it’s not 100% necessary.
- Add the butter and cream at the very end. Adding the cream before pressure cooking can cause it to separate.
- Garnish with fresh herbs. Cilantro, fresh mint, or parsley are all good options.
Wondering what to serve with butter chicken? Indian curry is traditionally served with a side of basmati rice and naan bread (flatbread) for sopping up the extra sauce. If you don’t have naan, just about any bread will do. Mix it up and serve Instant Pot butter chicken with homemade Cornbread or Skillet Biscuits, and whip up some fluffy white rice or Instant Pot Butter Rice and steamed veggies to have on the side.
Storing and Reheating Leftovers
I love having leftover butter chicken in the house because it tastes SO GOOD for days after it’s made. Store leftover butter chicken airtight in the fridge for up to 4-5 days. This saucy chicken reheats well in the microwave or on the stovetop. I like to add a bit of water to help loosen up the sauce again.
Can I Freeze Butter Chicken?
Yes, this homemade chicken curry also freezes well for up to 3 months. Store it in a freezer-safe container or freezer bag, and defrost the butter chicken in the fridge before reheating.
Instant Pot Butter Chicken is a savory and satisfying one-pot chicken curry recipe, cooked in a rich, buttery tomato gravy with warm spices and a touch of cream.
- 1 1/2 – 2 pounds Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs or Breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 2 Tablespoons Oil or Ghee
- 1/2 Cup Red Onion, diced
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh Ginger
- 5 cloves Garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoon Garam Masala, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon Cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon Coriander
- 1 can (14 oz) Diced or Crushed Tomatoes, undrained
- 1 teaspoon Paprika
- 1 teaspoon Turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper
- 1/2 Cup Butter, cut into pieces
- 1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
- Fresh Cilantro, for garnish
- Turn on the Instant Pot and press the “Sauté” button. Once it is hot, add the oil or ghee and let it melt. Add the diced onion and cook until it is soft and translucent, about 5-7 minutes.
- Add the garlic and ginger to the onions and cook for 1 minute more stirring constantly, being careful not to burn the garlic.
- Add 1 teaspoon garam masala, coriander and cumin, cook for about 30 seconds stirring constantly.
- Add the tomatoes, paprika, turmeric, cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes. If you’ve used crushed tomatoes, puree the mixture with an immersion blender.
- Add the chicken pieces to the pureed tomato sauce. Make sure to completely cover the chicken with liquid. If there isn’t enough liquid add 1?4 cup of water.
- Cancel the “Sauté” mode and close the Instant Pot lid. Set the valve to “Sealing” and press the “Pressure Cook” button. Set the timer for 6 minutes.
- Once the timer goes off, let the Instant Pot naturally release pressure for 10 minutes, then use the quick release to release any remaining pressure.
- Open the Instant Pot lid and stir in the remaining 1 teaspoon garam masala, butter and heavy cream. Turn on the “Sauté” mode again and let the sauce simmer for 5 minutes until it thickens slightly. Stirring occasionally.
- Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve hot with rice or naan bread.
Keywords: instant pot butter chicken, butter chicken recipe, indian butter chicken