Butter Chicken

An easy Butter Chicken recipe which the whole family will enjoy! Make this delicious curry with step-by-step photos.

butter chicken in white cast iron pan

Easy Indian Food at Home

There are many things I miss about Australia, and one of them is good Indian take-away. Lamb Korma, Chicken Tikka Masala, Lamb Biryani … you name it, I miss it.

I often lament about all of the food which I miss from home, especially during the long bouts between visiting my home country (and 2020 has felt like a particularly long year for the obvious reasons). But then I have to remind myself that my longing for foods which are not readily available where I live is precisely what got me into cooking in the first place.

butter chicken with fresh coriander

Easy Butter Chicken

One of my favourite Indian take-aways is the classic Butter Chicken, also known as murgh makhani.

Butter Chicken is typically a mild curry consisting of chicken pieces marinated in yoghurt and spices, and cooked in a creamy tomato-based sauce.

butter chicken in pan with fresh coriander

Butter Chicken Recipe

My Butter Chicken recipe is a relatively easy one. I marinate the chicken pieces in a mixture of yoghurt and spices which will both tenderise the chicken, as well as add flavour to the sauce later.

And the Butter Chicken sauce itself is a simple tomato sauce with heavy cream to add the necessary creaminess and richness.

My children love this Butter Chicken; it’s not too spicy for them, so it’s the perfect introduction for kids to the world of curries and Indian food!

butter chicken in pan with sliced lemons

How to Make Butter Chicken

Step 1

In a large bowl, whisk together all of the marinade ingredients.

marinade for butter chicken in white bowl

Step 2

Add the chicken pieces to the marinade and give everything a good mix. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave to marinate in the fridge. If you are pushed for time, 30 minutes is fine.

But it would be preferable to marinate the chicken for at least 3 hours, and overnight is even better.

marinated chicken for butter chicken in white bowl

Step 3

Heat some oil in a non-stick pan over medium-high heat, and brown the chicken in batches until they are nicely golden and caramelised. The chicken pieces do not need to be cooked through fully at this stage (you will continue to cook the chicken in the sauce later).

cooking the chicken in non-stick pan for butter chicken

Step 4

In a large clean pan, heat some oil over medium-high heat and sauté the onions and garlic until they have softened.

sauteed onions and garlic in cast iron pan

Step 5

Add the Butter Chicken sauce ingredients and stir lightly. At this stage, the sauce will look quite pink in colour.

butter chicken sauce in cast iron pan

Step 6

Add the chicken pieces to the sauce, and simmer gently for about 30 minutes until the chicken is fully cooked through and the sauce has thickened. At the stage, the sauce should be a lovely golden colour. Taste for seasoning.

This Butter Chicken recipe produces a generous quantity of sauce, but I find that you need a lot of sauce for each person to drizzle on their rice or to have with their naan bread. The sauce also thickens quite a bit on reheating (should you have any leftovers).

butter chicken simmering in cast iron pan

What to Serve with Butter Chicken

Served simply with some steamed Basmati rice, this Butter Chicken becomes comfort food in a bowl.

But some naan bread or Yoghurt Flatbreads to dip into the delicious Butter Chicken sauce will make this dish extra satisfying.

{Easy Yoghurt Flatbread recipe with step-by-step photos}

More Indian Recipes

For more Indian recipes, you might also enjoy:

Indian Chicken Curry with Lentil Dahl

Yoghurt Flatbreads


Butter Chicken

5 from 20 reviews

  • Marinating Time: 30 mins
  • Author: Thanh | Eat, Little Bird
  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 40 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: Serves 3 to 4
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: Indian

An easy Butter Chicken recipe which the whole family will enjoy! Make this delicious curry with step-by-step photos.


For the marinade

  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) natural yoghurt
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground chillies (i.e. pure chilli powder)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, coarsely grated
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely grated
  • 1 kg (2 lb) chicken breast fillets, cut into large cubes

For the sauce

  • vegetable oil for frying
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely grated
  • 500 ml (2 cups) tomato passata
  • 500 ml (2 cups) double cream or thickened cream
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 23 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 chicken stock cube, crumbled

To serve


Make the marinade

  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all of the marinade ingredients.
  2. Add the chicken.
  3. Mix well to ensure that all of the chicken pieces are well coated.
  4. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave to marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, 3 hours if you have time, or overnight is best.

Cook the chicken

  1. Heat some oil in a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat.
  2. Cook the chicken in batches until they are lightly brown all over. The chicken pieces do not need to be cooked through completely at this stage.

Make the sauce

  1. Heat some oil in a large skillet or pan.
  2. Sauté the onions and garlic for a few minutes until they have softened.
  3. Add the remaining sauce ingredients. At this stage, the sauce will look pink in colour.
  4. Let the sauce simmer gently for a few minutes.
  5. Add the cooked chicken pieces to the sauce and give everything a good stir. The marinade from the chicken will start to mix with the sauce to give a nice golden colour.
  6. Simmer on low-medium heat for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  7. Taste for seasoning.

To serve

  1. Sprinkle the Butter Chicken with coriander (cilantro) just before serving.
  2. Serve with steamed Basmati rice and/or Yoghurt Flatbreads.

Kitchen Notes

Omit or reduce the ground chillies, and maybe serve some Pickled Chillies on the side for the adults.

To convert from cups to grams, and vice-versa, please see this handy Conversion Chart for Basic Ingredients.

Did you make this recipe?

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  1. Chef Mimi 4 December 2020

    This is a bit different than what I’ve made before, so I printed the recipe! We’re going to love this!!! Thanks.

  2. Mark 20 January 2021

    Awesome recipe! I didn’t have time to marinate the chicken but it still tasted great. Will make again for sure.

    • Eat, Little Bird 22 January 2021

      Hi Mark,
      So glad you enjoyed this recipe! Yes, you can skip the marinating time without it affecting the overall taste 🙂

  3. Jane 22 March 2021

    Delicious recipe!! My children don’t like curries but they couldn’t get enough of this butter chicken. I added broccoli to the curry which is not traditional but tasted great altogether.

  4. Brad 26 March 2021

    Great recipe! I’ve tried other butter chicken recipes which were a bit more complex, but this was a pretty easy recipe with almost the same results. Delicious served with steamed basmati rice and garlic naan.

  5. Anna 13 May 2021

    Beautiful recipe! Lovely and mild butter chicken curry. The family loved it.

  6. Dan 16 May 2021

    Made this Butter Chicken for dinner with my in-laws tonight, together with your flatbreads. Awesome recipe. Everyone loved it!

  7. Ethan 12 July 2021

    This is by far the best butter chicken recipe. I’ve made it at least half a dozen times and everyone always loves it.

  8. Karen 8 September 2021

    Absolutely brilliant recipe. Everyone loved this butter chicken, my son wants to eat it every night now!

  9. Natascia 9 October 2021

    Lovely recipe. I’ve already made it three times!

  10. Kimberly 21 October 2021

    My go-to recipe when I am craving Indian flavors. They go perfectly with your flatbread recipe. In fact, my kids won’t let me make one without the other!

  11. Jodie Collins 3 November 2021

    This butter chicken is so tasty and simple!! Absolutely will be making again!

  12. Philip 18 November 2021

    This recipe was very easy to make and came out tasting like a restaurant-quality butter chicken! Scrumptious!

  13. Tracy 19 January 2022

    This is my go-to recipe for butter chicken now. So easy and utterly delicious.

  14. Amy Chen 9 February 2022

    Great recipe! Not too spicy for the kids. We all loved it.

  15. James 1 March 2022

    This was excellent homemade butter chicken and fairly quick. My family loved it! Winning recipe!

  16. Melissa 14 April 2022

    So delicious! I made this butter chicken with your yoghurt flatbreads and everything tasted so good together. Loved this recipe!

  17. Sarah Bancroft 27 April 2022

    By far my family’s favourite meal. They ask for this Butter Chicken whenever they can, and I agree that it is absolutely delicious.

  18. Julia 12 May 2022

    This butter chicken is so tasty and delicious! My kids practically licked the bowls!

  19. Cindy 4 June 2022

    Very delicious butter chicken recipe. Easy to make and everyone loved it.

  20. Jennifer 22 June 2022

    We all loved this butter chicken recipe. I will make this one again for sure!

  21. Natalie 1 July 2022

    Really yummy recipe! I will be making this again soon.

  22. Stanley 25 July 2022

    I always order butter chicken when we go to an Indian restaurant but I never thought to try and make it at home. I always thought you needed a tandoor oven? But I see how you have adapted this recipe to make and home and it is rather delicious, although it is different to what you get at a restaurant. Still tastes very good though! I’m going to make it for my friends this weekend and also try your flatbread recipe. Wish me luck!

  23. Nitin 16 August 2022

    This is a very good recipe! The flavours were quite mild so my kids really enjoyed it, but it is full of flavor like an Indian curry should have.

  24. Maggie 24 August 2022

    This is the only curry my family will eat. Great recipe!

  25. Chloe 1 September 2022

    This is a family fave! Everyone loves this curry 🙂

  26. Genevieve 1 September 2022

    Hi there! Just wondering how far in advance I can make this butter chicken? I want to make it for some friends on the weekend but I don’t want to be stuck in the kitchen when they are here. Thanks!

    • Eat, Little Bird 1 September 2022

      Hi Genevieve,

      You can make this butter chicken recipe several days in advance (maybe even 3-4 days in advance) and keep it in the fridge with no problems. On reheating, you may need to thin the sauce with some water or some more cream.

      You could also freeze this butter chicken – I freeze it in portions for 1-2 for easy defrosting. But for serving friends, I would opt to cook it fresh, even if it might be a few days in advance. Hope you will enjoy this recipe!