Instant Pot Butter Chicken – chicken thighs with Garam Masala, cumin, turmeric and a creamy buttery sauce – is a delicious and easy way to make a classic Indian dish.
» You might also like this Instant Pot Dal.
This recipe comes from Twosleevers.com. It’s very popular and I’ve been wanting to try it for a while to see what all the fuss is about. I’ve always loved butter chicken but haven’t made it a lot myself at home. I have to say, while the Instant Pot version takes some short cuts and isn’t exactly “authentic”, it’s also one of the easiest preparation methods and it turns out so good.
It takes just minutes to prepare, making it the perfect weeknight meal. The butter chicken is creamy and flavorful, and a great way for those of us who don’t make a lot of Indian food to enjoy this dish at home. Serve it with rice or naan for a complete meal.
What is Butter Chicken?
Butter chicken is one of the most popular Indian dishes in restaurants around the world because of its mild spice and creamy curry sauce.
The dish originated in Northern India in the 1950s and was created by Punjabi Hindu migrants from Peshawar. It’s known as murgh makhani in India (meaning chicken with butter) and was created by accident, as many great dishes were, when leftover tandoori chicken was mixed with a tomato gravy, rich in butter.
Ingredients You Need
- Chicken thighs – Boneless, skinless chicken thighs are the best to use in this recipe for texture and flavor.
- Crushed tomatoes – Use crushed tomatoes in a can with no added preservatives or sugar. I prefer Cento San Marzano brand, but you can use any brand you like.
- Onion – Use white or yellow onions. I often prefer to use sweet onions because I like their flavor and low bitterness.
- Garlic – Always use fresh garlic that hasn’t been kept in the refrigerator for too long. This has the best flavor and no bitterness that comes from older garlic.
- Ginger – Fresh ginger packs a punch in any recipe.
- Spices: Garam masala, cumin, turmeric, cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, salt – these spices are fairly typical in Indian cuisine. Garam masala can be store bought or homemade, and the Twosleevers have a recipe for that too.
- Butter – I always use salted butter in savory dishes to add an extra boost of flavor.
- Heavy cream – This will give the sauce a nice creamy texture and a bit of added fat. Avoid milk, which isn’t creamy enough.
How to Make Instant Pot Butter Chicken
Combine the first 9 ingredients in the Instant Pot and stir it all together. Place the chicken thighs on top of the sauce in the pot.
Close the lid and set the vent to sealing (if necessary for your model). Set it to cook on high pressure for 10 minutes. When the time is up, allow a 10-minute pressure release, then release the remaining pressure. It might even be fully released by then.
Remove the chicken from the pot and set it aside.
Puree the sauce in the pot with an immersion blender. I love my immersion blender for how easy it is to puree soups and sauces in the Instant Pot.
If you don’t have an immersion blender, this will be a little more difficult. You can put it in a blender, but since it’s really hot you have to be very careful. Hot liquid will explode when trapped in the blender. So when you put the sauce in the blender, be sure to take the little top off the blender lid to vent, and loosely cover the whole with a kitchen towel.
Once the sauce is pureed, add in the butter, heavy cream, Garam Masala, and cilantro. Stir to combine. Just a note, if you choose to skip the puree step, give the sauce a few minutes to cool down before you add the butter and cream. If it’s still very hot, the sauce will become soupy if you add it right away.
Break the chicken into smaller pieces with a fork – not shredded, just broken up a bit – and return it to the pot. Allow it time to heat the chicken through again. Then serve it over rice.
How to Store & Reheat Leftovers
Once the butter chicken is cooked, there are a few different options to store any leftovers. It can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days, or frozen for up to three months. Since this makes a lot of sauce, it’s pretty likely you will have some left over. It’s great the next day.
When reheating butter chicken, make sure any frozen portions are completely thawed before heating. The best way to do this is by placing it in the refrigerator overnight or microwaving on the defrost setting until completely thawed.
Once butter chicken is defrosted it can be reheated using either a microwave or stovetop method. When reheating butter chicken in the microwave, cook on high for 2-3 minutes stirring halfway through; when using a stovetop reheat over medium heat stirring regularly until heated through thoroughly.
Substitutions We Made
If you’ve made butter chicken before, you might have already realized that this recipe is already using some simple substitutions. It’s not a typical Indian recipe.
Instead of the typical yogurt marinade, we use heavy cream to add the creaminess. The problem with using yogurt is that you’d have to add it to the chicken beforehand and yogurt does not pressurize well. It would turn clumpy and weird. But if you wanted to, you could substitute the cream in the end for plain Greek yogurt.
In Indian cooking, it’s much more common to use Ghee (clarified butter) rather than regular butter. You can make that adjustment too, if you want. This recipe uses regular butter because that’s typically what people have in the fridge.
The recipe uses cayenne pepper for spice and heat. If you don’t like hot stuff, you can substitute the cayenne with mild chili powder.
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Instant Pot Butter Chicken
Note: Made in a 6-qt Instant Pot
- 14 ounce (397 g) can crushed tomatoes
- 5-6 cloves garlic
- 2 teaspoons (4 g) minced ginger
- 1 teaspoon (2 g) turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon (1 g) cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon (2 g) smoked paprika
- 1 1/4 teaspoons (7.5 g) salt
- 2 teaspoons (5 g) Garam Masala divided
- 1 teaspoon (2 g) ground cumin
- 1 1/2 pounds (680 g) boneless skinless chicken thighs chopped
- 4 ounces (113 g) butter cubed
- 4 ounces (113 ml) heavy cream
- 1/4 cup (4 g) chopped cilantro
- Combine the first 9 ingredients in the Instant Pot and stir well. Place the chicken thighs on top of the sauce.
- Close the lid and set the vent to sealing (if necessary for your model). Cook on high pressure for 10 minutes. When the time is up, allow a 10-minute pressure release, then release the remaining pressure.
- Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside.
- Puree the sauce in the pot with an immersion blender. Once the sauce is pureed, add in the butter, heavy cream, remaining Garam Masala, and cilantro. Stir well.
- Break the chicken into smaller pieces with a fork and return it to the pot. Allow it time to heat the chicken through again.
- Serve over rice.
Laura is a passionate home cook and the owner of A Pressure Cooker Kitchen. She is dedicated to helping people create delicious Instant Pot meals with ease. Laura is an expert at developing recipes that can be prepared quickly and easily using a pressure cooker.