Butter Chicken

Indian Butter Chicken on a white plate

5 from 2 reviews

A braised chicken dish with yogurt, coconut milk, ginger, tomatoes and spices.




  • 1 cup plain yogurt (regular or Greek)
  • Zest and juice of ½ medium lemon (about 1 ½ Tbsp.)
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala*
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 ½ pounds chicken thighs or breast, cube

Butter Chicken:

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons ground almonds (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 15-ounce can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup full fat canned coconut milk or heavy cream
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

For serving:

  • 2 cups cooked Jasmine or basmati rice
  • Chopped fresh cilantro


  1. In a medium glass bowl, whisk together yogurt, lemon and spices until combined. Stir in cubed chicken. Marinate for 1 hour or overnight (if you want to cook right away, you can).
  2. In a Dutch oven or large stock pot, heat butter to medium heat. Once melted, add onion and saute 3-4 minutes, until soft. Add ginger and garlic and saute 30 seconds, until fragrant. Stir in spices, through cinnamon. Stir in ground almonds (if using). Add chicken and yogurt mixture and stir to combine, bringing to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper, then stir in tomato paste and diced tomatoes. Bring to a simmer again, then cover with the lid and cook 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in coconut milk or cream, allow to cook 2-3 more minutes, then stir in cilantro. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.
  3. Serve with Jasmine or basmati rice and top with cilantro.


Cooking Tip: Garam masala is a mixture of cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, cumin, coriander, nutmeg, and/or peppercorns.


Keywords: chicken, butter chicken, garam masala, coconut milk, braised chicken