Butter Chicken (Indian Chicken in Tomato Cream Sauce)

A rotisserie chicken stands in quite well for the original tandoori chicken in this version of the simple north Indian dish. In just a few[ simple steps with a handful of spices, an ordinary chicken become an exotic, family-pleasing meal with a richly spiced sauce that melds right into the chicken. The dish is done when the meat is ? as Indian cookbook author Julie Sahni describes it ? "meltingly tender." Serve with spinach, quickly cooked in oil and garlic to complete the meal.]

Total Time:
35 min
5 min
30 min

4 servings

  • Spice Blend:
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala seasoning
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • Sauce:
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 2 teaspoons jarred minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 1 skinless rotisserie chicken, boned out and pulled into 1 1/2 by 1/2-inch chunks
  • 1 (10-ounce) box frozen peas, placed in a colander and run under hot water to thaw
  • 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
  • Hot basmati rice, for serving
  • Pita bread, warmed according to package directions, for serving

To make the spice blend: Stir the ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.

To make the sauce: Melt the butter in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until the pieces just begin to turn gold, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, tomato paste and spice blend, and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly to prevent burning. The spices will be fragrant. Add the tomato sauce and diced tomatoes and stir will. Add the chicken pieces, spoon the sauce over the top and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat to low and cook, uncovered, until the chicken is warmed through and the sauce is flavorful, about 10 minutes. Stir frequently. Remove the chicken to a serving dish and cover to keep warm.

Shake any excess water from the peas. Add the peas and cream to the sauce in the pan, stir well and heat through. Do not boil. Spoon the sauce over the chicken. Serve with rice and warmed pita bread.

Variation: If you prefer shreds of chicken to whole pieces, remove the skin from the chicken and pull the meat into large chunks by hand. Add to the pan along with the garlic, tomato paste and spice blend. Cook for 3 minutes and then add the tomato sauce and continue with the recipe. Serve over basmati rice.

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    Pretty good, but because I like my curry stronger, I made the following changes: doubled all the spices, except for the garlic (3x) and curry powder (2.5x), used fresh ginger, added the chicken in with the garlic and another few tablespoons of butter to give it a chance to soak some of the flavors. I never took the chicken out of the sauce, and I skipped the peas because I didn't have them. I also eyeballed the cream. With those changes it wasn't bland and was a pretty acceptable way to use the roast chicken i had from the night before.
    I baked two Corning hens and then pulled them apart for the chicken pieces, and I used 8 oz of sour cream instead of the boring heavy cream. It came out absolutely delicious, and I will be using this recipe for years to come.
    Sorry, CORNISH hens. Brain got too far ahead of fingers, LOL! 
    I almost made this until I showed the recipe to two Indian guys I work with, one laughed at it and said that's NOT Butter Chicken, the other shook his head in disgust. That's enough for me.
    Bland...not worth the effort
    Not restaurant quality. There are not enough spices. The rotisserie chicken ruins it.
    Not as buttery as my local Indian restaurant. I agree with a previous rater regarding the fresh ginger which I used in my version.
    Pita bread is Arabic, naan bread is Indian. You would serve naan bread with butter chicken, not pita. Giving this recipe a rating of 1 star because the chef should know the difference.
    People like you are why you can't count on looking at how many stars a recipe has - you have to read to see if there are reviewers like this and take that into account. Frustrating.
    You don't have to read through the reviews to figure out this recipe is bad. Just look at the ingredient list. This is the worst butter chicken recipe I've seen, I don't need to try it to know it's not going to taste good. Rotisserie chicken? no ginger? jarred garlic? and served with Arabic pita bread? The latter alone should indicate this recipe is a pathetic attempt, and showcases the chef's inexperience at cooking ethnic foods.
    This dish was one of the best meals I've ever made! It tastes just like the butter chicken my boyfriend and I order for take out. I did make a couple adjustments from recommendations from other reviewers. I used 6 tbsp of butter, and only 1/4 tsp of cinnamon, since there's cinnamon in the garam masala, it really doesn't need more. I was able to find the garam masala easily in my grocery store as McCormick makes it as part of their gourmet collection. I also added 1/4 tsp of curry powder, since i omitted half the cinnamon and omitted the peas because I didn't have any. I used greek yogurt instead of the cream as others suggested. Next time I think i'll try the cream because the sauce wasn't as creamy as regular butter chicken and was a dark red color instead of the pink that i'm used to. I will also drain the can of tomatoes next time to make the sauce thicker.This was so so easy! Now that I have the garam masala on hand I will be making this dish on the regular. I served this with rice and garlic naan and my boyfriend and I loved it! If you like butter chicken, you will love this recipe!!
    My husband talked me into going to an Indian buffet a few years ago - my first venture into Indian food - where I first had Butter Chicken, and after that I was hooked. This is the first recipe I found and the only one I use. The flavor is unbelieveable, with heat but not too spicy. I leave out the peas because I don't like them and it gives the dish a different flavor. When guests try this at my house they always ask for the recipe. Garam Masala is sold at gourmet food markets and farmers markets. If you like in eastern Pennsylvania, they sell it at Reading China and Glass.
    Good recipe, and we really enjoyed it - but something, don't know exactly what, just isn't perfect... Here are my tweaks, all of which worked out very nicely:
     1) Used 5 TBS butter - great
     2) Substituted 7oz greek yogurt for cream - great (I think this cuts down tomato flavor a bit) - great
     3) Eliminated the tomato paste - great
     4) Grated fresh (frozen) ginger instead of dry ground ginger - mmm, much better
     5) Used half the cinnamon it calls for - great (could even use slightly less?)
     6) Used cubed raw chicken tenderloins and just cooked it in the sauce... - awesome and easy.
    There's too much tomato and too little Indian flavor. It's a little like Italian spaghetti sauce with chicken.
    I agree that it should have a little more butter, probably 5 Tbsp or so. I also used yogurt in place of cream, and recommend it that way (and i used a little more than called for as well.) I also used boneless skinless chicken breast, and either recommend using the rotisserie chicken, or what i did was cook the chicken breast in a skillet on low-med heat, covered, after i dredged them in a yogurt/olive oil mixture, then shredded the meat and put it in the pan with the onions to lightly brown and crisp before adding the garlic, etc. A little more work, but nearly authentic tasting. Also, I'd cut back a little on the peas and add in other vegetables.
     Overall a pretty delicious dish, although the flavors need more time to cook together, and i recommend letting it cook longer (up to an hour or more) before adding the cream/yogurt.
    I highly recommend this recipe! I used a rotisserie chicken from publix and it was wonderful. I was very doubtful and almost bought raw chicken breast as others had done but being that I was running low on time I decided to go with the rotisserie chicken and I was very impressed. The rotisserie chicken definitely adds to the flavor and texture. Don't try and take the chicken out as the receipe suggests...there's no need and it really makes it much more complicated than is necessary. I did add quite a bit more butter and a little more garam masala and cayenne pepper than it calls for. I have an Indian friend and she suggested that I add approximately 8 tablespoons of butter rather than the 3 that it called for. My husband was highly impressed. We take turns cooking and his only question was "How am I going to top this tomorrow night?!" LOL
    Ok, perhaps I shouldn't comment b/c I did change the recipe up a little, I used 2 pounds of boneless skinless chicken thighs and cut them into large chunks,browned them first,removed them from a pot and used that same pot to create the sauce - and instead of separate tomato sauce and diced tomatoes, I just used a larger box of diced tomatoes...the step that was very different was that I used an immersion blender to blend the sauce and make it smooth - this made the sauce similar to what you get in many Indian restaurants.
     But the main components, i.e. the spices, and listed items are perfect in making a flavorful and delicious dish. So easy to make, I'll probably stop ordering take out Indian.
    We all loved this dish. Big fans of Indian food and this was perfect (followed spice amounts exactly). I did shred the chicken, but next time would prefer cubed. Perfect with a bit of rice and some naan.
    This recipe has become one of my favorites to make (good thing, since my honey requests it fairly often), especially when I'm short on time and/or money. I usually add a chopped jalapeno in with the onions to give it even more kick! LOVE IT!!
    I loved this recipe. I just chopped up some chicken breasts and flavored with onion powder and garlic before I sauteed it. Otherwise followed the recipe. Makes a lot!
     Oh, I just used curry powder in place of garam masala. From the recipes I have seen it seems to be similar.
    I too added an extra can of sauce, plus some hot curry powder, red peppers, baby corn and used Purdue short cuts.....real easy!
    This recipe was awesome! If I were to change anything, I would double the sauce. Overall, it was delicious and easy to make!
    I made this exactly as directed. My only confusion was the garam masala seasoning - I couldn't find it anywhere. I considered asking my neighborhood Indian restaurant for it, but ended up Googling it and there are several recipes for the spice blend - very easy to make!
    This a pretty good recipe, but if you want the REALLY authentic Butter Chicken the exact way they make it in the restaurants, go to this site. He shows a video on how to make it, it's the best stuff I've ever had.
    I made this for my daughter and her college roommate. They loved it! It has since been a recipe shared around the family and well loved. I didn't have the g. marsala and substituted a good quality prepared curry powder. I lived in India for a while and loved the food. This isn't it exactly but it is a delicious family meal.
    I didn't have quite the same ingredients (I cooked up some chicken while making the sauce), but it was easy to tweak and tastes delicious. I think next time I'll try a crock pot version to make the chicken really tender. If you like Indian food, try this!
    I prepared this for a family from India. Everyone had seconds and nothing left but the empty plates.
    After finding this recipe, I was eager to make it but found it difficult to find the garam masala seasoning. Since I work in Silicon Valley, I was going to ask one of my coworkers to pick some up when they go to the Indian market. I ended up finding it at a farmer's market, however. I would think it would be difficult for a lot of people to find the seasoning depending on where they live. Anywho, I finally made it last night with a Costco chicken. It was very simple to make and the results were very satisfying. Not so much like the butter chicken I eat at all the Indian restaurants, but a great Indian dish nonetheless. My bf doesn't like chicken so much and doesn't care for Indian food, but he said it was delicious. I like spicy food so the little "kick" was ok for me, I would think it would be a little too spicy for most.
    My husband and I enjoy eating at Indian restaurants, but have wanted to try to cook some of the foods we've come to love. This recipe tastes very much like the one at our local restaurant. I went with Naan though instead of pita to get a slightly more authentic taste.
    This was my first time attempting to make "murga makhanwala" also known as, butter chicken. Me and my wife tremendously enjoyed this recipe however we did make a few changes. We omitted the ground ginger because we did not have any at the time. We also followed the suggestions of a previous reviewer and did not use as much cinnamon. Instead of using a rotisserie chicken we cubed raw chicken breast and let it cook in the tomato base. I urge anyone who likes butter chicken to try this recipe - it's easy, fast and delicious!
    I made this dish for my finicky family and everyone loved it. It tasted just like the butter chicken we had at a local restaurant. Double the masala and use about half the recommended amount of cinnamon and it will come out divine
    We make this all the time, totally hooked! I add more veggies, less chicken and sub non-fat plain yogurt for the heavy whipping cream and it tastes great!
    This chicken recipe doesn't taste or look anything like Butter Chicken that you would find in a restaurant. Too much Garam Masala.
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