Instant Pot butter chicken is savory and saucy and perfect with rice and naan for soaking up that delicious tomato-y buttery sauce.

Butter chicken is one of those dishes that holds a special spot in my heart. It was one of Mike and I’s go-to dishes to make and eat when we first moved in together. I wasn’t much of a cook back then but we both had a love of Indian food and when we wanted to stay in and play house, we would buy jarred butter chicken sauce and heat up some chicken and naan and have a cute night in of “cooking” even though it was more like heating up.

I’m much more adept at cooking now and Indian food is still one of those things we love to make and eat. Sometimes I’ll go all out and make a 24 hour dal and homemade naan but sometimes we’ll want something quick, easy, and flavorful without much fuss. For those days, it’s always Instant Pot butter chicken.

instant pot butter chicken | www.iamafoodblog.com

Urvashi Pitre’s Instant Pot butter chicken is perfection:

What is butter chicken?

Butter chicken, known as murgh makhani, is a chicken curry made with tomatoes, spices, butter, and cream. It’s mild and creamy and so incredibly delicious. It’s a fairly new curry, developed by a restaurant group called Moti Mahal in India.

butter chicken | www.iamafoodblog.com

Is this authentic butter chicken?

Yup, I would say so! This recipe is based off of Urvashi Pitre’s butter chicken and she has had a whole lifetime of making and eating it. Butter chicken is an Indian dish, very popular in North India and also widely eaten in South India.

Why does butter chicken taste so good?

Curry chicken is the ultimate comfort food and butter chicken is the most comforting curry because it’s warm and cozy, full of savory flavors that aren’t too spicy. The cream and tomatoes play off each other perfectly. The tomatoes add umami and acidity and the cream counters the acidity and adds a lovely texture and the added bonus of tempering the the heat of the spices.

instant pot butter chicken sauce | www.iamafoodblog.com

What is the difference between butter chicken and chicken tikka masala?

Butter chicken and chicken tikka masala are very similar with distinctly different flavors. Butter chicken is creamier and not as spicy. Chicken tikka masala is more tomato-y and doesn’t have as much dairy. They’re both delicious!

Ingredients

  • Diced tomatoes. Tomatoes are the base of butter chicken. Please use diced tomatoes and not tomato paste or sauce – diced tomatoes tend to have a lot more liquid in them which is key for the Instant Pot. You’ll want to add in the ENTIRE can of diced tomatoes, juice and all.
  • Garlic. Fresh garlic adds so much flavor. Use a garlic press for extra ease.
  • Ginger. Fresh ginger adds heat and a bit of warming spice.
  • Spices. Turmeric, cayenne pepper, ground paprika, cumin. These are spices that you’ll probably have hanging out in the pantry. Make sure they’re fresh!
  • Garam masala. This is a mix of spices that varies greatly from spice mix to spice mix but usually contains: fennel, bay leaves, peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, cumin, coriander, and red chili powder. You can make your own, but you can also buy a mix at the store.
  • Chicken. Chicken thighs are best because they cook up juicy and tender.
  • Butter. It wouldn’t be butter chicken without butter. Go for unsalted so you can control the saltiness of your butter chicken.
  • Heavy cream. Full fat whipping cream adds luxurious creaminess and mixes with the redness of the tomatoes to butter chicken its iconic golden color.

butter chicken sauce | www.iamafoodblog.com

How to make Instant Pot butter chicken

  1. Add. To the insert of the Instant Pot, add a can of diced tomatoes along with the garlic, ginger, and spices. Stir everything together, then nestle in the chicken pieces, whole.
  2. Pressure cook. Pop the lid on and pressure cook on high for 10 minutes, then let the pressure naturally release for 10 minutes. Use a pair of tongs to take the chicken out and set it aside on a plate.
  3. Blend. Use an immersion blender and blend the sauce until smooth. Or, carefully transfer to a blender and blend. When the sauce is smooth, let it cool slightly, 3-5 minutes.
  4. Stir. Stir in the butter, cream, then an extra bit of garam masala. The sauce should be lovely and thick, able to coat the back of a spoon.
  5. Simmer. Chop up the chicken into bite size pieces and add it back to the sauce in the Instant Pot. Set the pot to sauté on low and heat the chicken through and let the sauce bubble.
  6. Serve. Enjoy with freshly chopped cilantro!

instant pot butter chicken | www.iamafoodblog.com

Tips and tricks

  • There no need to add extra water. Lots of water will cook out from the chicken so you don’t need to add extra water to the pot. If you do, your sauce will be thin.
  • Let the sauce cool slightly before adding the butter and cream
  • Finish with garam masala. Adding garam masala at the end makes all the difference. The garam masala added at the end adds a fresh burst of spice.
  • If you’re getting a “burn warning” it’s probably because your diced tomatoes don’t have enough liquid. In this case, adding 1/4 cup chicken stock will help, but making sure you use a 14 ounce can of diced tomatoes, including all the liquid in the can, is best!

instant pot butter chicken | www.iamafoodblog.com

What to serve with butter chicken

instant pot butter chicken recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com

Instant Pot Butter Chicken

Instant Pot butter chicken is savory and saucy and perfect with rice and naan.
Serves 4
4.89 from 9 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 30 mins

Ingredients

  • 14 oz diced tomatoes 1 can, undrained
  • 6 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tbsp ginger minced
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 lb chicken breast boneless skinless, or thighs
  • 1/2 cup butter cubed
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro chopped

Special Equipment

Instructions

  • Add the tomatoes, garlic, ginger, turmeric, cayenne, paprika, 1 teaspoon of garam masala, cumin, and salt in the Instant Pot. Stir throughly and nestle the chicken in.
    instant pot butter chicken sauce | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • Put the lid on and set the pressure to high for 10 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes, then depressurize.
    instant pot butter chicken | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • Carefully open the lid and remove the chicken. Use an immersion blender and blend the sauce until smooth. Alternately, carefully transfer to a blender and blend until smooth. Let cool slightly for 3-5 minutes then stir in the butter, cream, the last teaspoon of garam masala. The sauce should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
    butter chicken sauce | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • Roughly chop the chicken then add back into the sauce. Set the Instant Pot to sauté on low, letting the chicken heat through. Top with the cilantro and enjoy with basmati and naan!
    butter chicken | www.iamafoodblog.com

Notes

Estimated Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Instant Pot Butter Chicken
Amount Per Serving
Calories 419 Calories from Fat 285
% Daily Value*
Fat 31.7g49%
Saturated Fat 18.1g113%
Cholesterol 154mg51%
Sodium 865mg38%
Potassium 515mg15%
Carbohydrates 8.2g3%
Fiber 2.4g10%
Protein 25.9g52%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

18 Comments

  1. Gina J. says:

    This was great and easy! My first time using the Instant Pot and it’s a game changer! I’ve halved the garlic for my little ones so it was savory with a touch of heat. Thanks!

    1. Stephanie says:

      yay! so happy you and your family liked it :)

  2. Rachel says:

    5 stars
    I tried this tonight and I can’t wait to make it again! It came together so quickly and the flavor was incredible. The perfect use of the instant pot IMHO.

    1. Stephanie says:

      yay so happy you liked it! it’s one of my faves :)

  3. Katie says:

    Will this work with frozen chicken?

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi katie,
      from what i hear about the instant pot, yes, but i’m not sure what the timing on it would be. please let me know if you try it out!

  4. Danielle says:

    5 stars
    I’ve made this several times. My family loves it! I had to search for this specific recipe again today because my 12 year old asked if he could make it tonight. So good!

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi danielle,
      that warms my heart :) thanks so much for sharing!

  5. S says:

    5 stars
    This was really tasty! I have tried a few recipes for butter chicken in the instant pot and this was the best by far. Thanks! I’ll definitely make this again.

    1. Stephanie says:

      so happy you liked it :)

  6. Staci Saurus says:

    I’ve tried to do this a few times and every time the instant pot gives me the “food burn” error message halfway through, the bottom of the pot is all burned & the chicken doesn’t get cooked through :(
    Help?

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi staci,
      you probably need to add a touch more liquid if your diced tomatoes aren’t very liquid-y or if your can of tomatoes isn’t 14 oz. try adding an extra 1/4-1/2 cup liquid (chicken stock or water). hope that helps!

  7. Anne says:

    5 stars
    This was SO GOOD, thank you!!! Could this be doubled (would I need to do anything with the extra chicken, like put it on a trivet)? Totally new to the Instant Pot and so grateful for this treasure trove of recipes!

    1. Stephanie says:

      you can double it and you don’t need to put the chicken on a trivet, just pop it into the instant pot, same as the other chicken :)

  8. Emily says:

    5 stars
    Delicious! Any tips on how to get the sauce a little thicker if it is kinda runny?? It was amazing though!

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi emily,
      if you blend the sauce then let it simmer down a bit before letting cool slightly and adding the cream, it should thicken up a bit more!

  9. Jessie says:

    Can I use tomato sauce instead of tomatoes for this? It’s what I have on hand

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi jessie, it will come out a bit different depending on what kind of tomato sauce you’re using but it will work!

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