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Butter Chicken

Posted by in Step-by-Step Recipes

Note: By popular demand, we’re featuring this recipe again. Great reports across the board!

I originally loved the looks of this recipe, submitted by Tasty Kitchen member lillieknits, because I knew I had almost all the ingredients in my kitchen (important, since I don’t live around the corner from a grocery store)…and because the sauce contained both tomatoes and cream. Yum. My favorite.

But after I made it…oh, boy. Was I a believer. Definitely delicious and flavorful, but also extremely easy to throw together. It’s a great addition to any dinner rotation!


You need these spices…AND ground coriander, which I didn’t have in my pantry.


Chop up several cloves of garlic.


And throw everything in a mixing bowl! Chicken breasts, garlic, all the spices…and the juice of a whole lime. Cover the bowl and stick it in the fridge for several hours, just to let everything meet and fall in love.


After marinating the chicken, dice up a whole onion.


Heat 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter in a large skillet.


Let the onions cook for several minutes…


…Until they’re golden brown and translucent.


Next, Add the chicken breasts to the pan. I sort of scooted the onions over so the chicken would go right against the pan.


Cook the chicken for a couple of minutes, then flip it to the other side.


Pour in the tomato sauce…


And the diced tomatoes. Now cover the pan and cook it for 30 minutes.


Right before serving, pour in the cream. Of course.


Try to pour it all around the edges of the pan to make it easy to stir together.


Come on. This is absolutely too much for me. And you should smell it!


Just slowly stir around the chicken—you could even remove the chicken for a minute or two to make it easy to stir.


When it’s all combined, throw in a bunch of chopped cilantro.


Stir it to combine, and make sure the sauce heats back up.


And that’s it!


The recipe says to serve it over Basmati rice, but I didn’t have any…so I just used plain white rice.


The Verdict: It was splendid! The tomato/cream mixture combined with the spices…oh, man. I loved it. (FYI: According to Erika, Butter Chicken is also known as “Chicken Makhani”.)

Here’s the printable recipe:

Butter Chicken

Thank you for sharing, lilliekits!


Comments are closed for this recipe.

Sara on 9.1.2010

mmm…I think I might try this with tofu and with another commentor’s substitution of coconut milk for heavy cream.

Annis on 9.1.2010

I love the look of this! Tomorrow’s dinner – I do live around the corner from a supermarket but I can never be bothered going so bonus that I have all the ingredients.

Linda on 9.1.2010

I made this last winter when you posted it and my family licked the platter clean. I even doubled the rice to serve with it. We love curry and this was a very easy version to make. My family likes chicken thighs and I am going to substitute next time I make it. Followed your recipe to the letter and will do so again. Thanks Ree.

Laurie on 9.1.2010

This dish is absolutely yummy. I had no idea it was so easy to make. I usually by the pre-made jar sauce – which requires me driving to the far side of the next city to one particular store to buy it for an outrageous price. I will definitely be using this recipe instead. There have been so many times I have wanted the dish, but refused to make that drive. Now, I don’t have to. Thanks Ree.

Jenni fer on 9.1.2010

Awesome!!! Made this for dinner Monday Night , so easy to make, and the taste is wonderful. I didnt have the coriander or cardamom but I subsituted curry powder instead and it turned out great!!!!! Will make this again!!!!

Angela on 9.1.2010

Made this recipe a couple of weeks ago. It is awesome, except next time I will use more cayenne and a little less heavy cream. Oh and I’m lazy so I just used minute rice and was very pleased.

Nichole on 9.1.2010

I made this several weeks ago after the first post. It’s very good and the family loved it. Next time I think I will cut back on the cream because it was a bit to thin of a sauce for us but such incredible flavor. I served it with rice and naan. Definitely a make again!

Kiran on 9.1.2010

I make Butter Chicken all the time. It’s yummy!

Katie on 9.1.2010

So funny… made this last night, sort of.

It sounded great, but I was missing A LOT of the ingredients. “My” version turned out great, and my husband even loved it.

Here’s what I changed, out of necessity.

– lemon juice (2 lemons) instead of lime
– cinnamon instead of cardamom
– coconut milk instead of heavy cream
– no coriander (didn’t have any)

I also drained the diced tomatoes – wasn’t sure if you were supposed to or not. There was plenty of liquid.

Tamara Schroeder on 9.1.2010

I will definitely be doing this in next week’s menu plan!

Stephanie Miller on 9.1.2010

I have made this twice now… and delish!
I have heard this as butter chicken in an Indian Restaurant before & it tastes durn close to theirs!

Instead of the whole chicken breasts, I cut my chicken breasts into chunks & then marinate. It cuts down on the marinating time & they are already cut up into bite size bits! Makes it easier to take to work for lunch the next day. All you need is a shovel to get in it in your mouth! =) I gave it a little extra heat by putting more cayenne in.

Also, try not to get too much of the juices from the lime into the pan when you transfer it over from the marinating dish. It just makes the sauce “clump/curdle”. It didn’t happen the 1st time, so I am assuming that it was the excess juices that did it. (heh, or it could have been the fact that I used part lemon juice… or the fact that I used the half & half that I had on hand instead of running out for the heavy cream!)

Next time: follow the directions, Steph! LOL

Sarah Jordan on 9.1.2010

I made this for the first time two weeks ago. I still dream about it. I actually froze the extra sauce we had left over because it was SO good I figured I could mix it with rice another time. I love love love this recipe. The chicken marinates so well with the seasonings and lime juice!

Kim on 9.1.2010

PW! This looks so good! I need you to do another contest to the ranch ASAP. I recently found your blog, and it just so happens, I live near In-the-middle-of-nowhere, Oklahoma. I need to pick your brain on all things food. Please do another contest, pretty please?

Joy on 9.1.2010

The chicken sounds good and all, but PLEASE find a different picture. It looks like someone threw up in the pan! Nasty!

Stacey on 9.1.2010

This has become a permanent part of my dinner rotation – slight changes – I cut the chicken into chunks before marinating & I use less tomato sauce for a thicker sauce. So yummy!

Peachfactor on 9.1.2010

I made this a couple weeks ago and loved it! I’ve added it to my “keeper” list!

Jackie W. on 9.1.2010

Oh! I tried this last week and loved it!

Siggy Spice on 9.1.2010

This is a FABULOUS meal!

beccasaun84 on 9.1.2010

We just made this for the 1,239th time (round about ;-) ) since you first posted this back in the winter. It has been a HUGE hit in our house- and we have absolutely added it to our dinner rotations. If we don’t have it at -least- once a month, my husband and I both start getting cravings. It’s been great through all the months- in the winter it’s a nice warm up from the cold, in the summer, it sits light enough to compliment any hot day. Thank you both Ree and lilliknits for sharing this recipe!

Normajean on 9.1.2010

I’ve made this several times since I first saw this recipe. It is a family favorite! Instead of using the small amounts of coriander, cumin, and cardamom, I use a teaspoon of garam masala, which contains all of these spices. So yummy!!

Katie on 9.1.2010

I was just thinking about this recipe today!!! I am planning on making it again soon, it was amazing!!!

Crystal on 5.30.2010

My family loves this recipe. I make it with bite size chicken breast for easier cooking and better seasoning absorption in a shorter time.

vicky on 5.6.2010

Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart.

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Ashley on 4.28.2010

I didn’t have chicken, but I had pork chops…. Very yummy… I’m on my 3rd helping….. Whoops.

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christinesinclair on 4.13.2010

This was absolutely amazing!!! I’m making it for the 2nd time this month and it fills up my husband, which is hard to do :) Thank you for sharing this absolute wonderful recipe!

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Courtney on 4.12.2010

This was amazing! I actually had a brain fart and forgot to pour in the cream and my friends still loved it. Now I know that next time it will be even better!

Apa on 3.23.2010

I made this two weeks ago and it was amazing. Thank you so much for sharing the recipe!!

NeCole Scott on 3.19.2010

I just made this and it’s fabulous! Thanks lillieknits

Grant's Mom on 3.16.2010

OH MY! This was so good winner winner chicken dinner! LOVE IT! LOVE IT!

kathy in Oklahoma on 3.12.2010

Made this last night. Totally delicious. I substituted the cardamon with a combination of cinnamon and nutmeg. Really, really good.

Betta Sherman on 3.11.2010

Loved this recipe even though I did not have all the same ingredients on hand I improvised:) Inspired me to try something new!

Peter Sward on 3.11.2010

This was really good but not very spicy and mine turned out very pale for some reason and the sauce was very thin. Maybe adding a chile next time and cook down the cream a bit would help.

Tyra on 3.10.2010

I have been wanting to make this since I saw that you put it up here. Even sent my mom the recipe that day, and the next day she made it (and raved about it!!!!). I finally have it in the fridge marinating!

It smelled so good, I ended up taking all of the spices in the marinade, and mixing them w/flour, pounding out two chicken breasts and squeezing lime on them, then dredging them in the flour mixture. Pan fried them in olive oil. Mmmmm….. served w/a baked potato and a big salad. SO GOOD!

Shawna on 3.9.2010

We just made this. My husband tasted a bit and said, “Oh my god…this tastes like something we shouldn’t be eating.” Which means AWESOME.

What’s kind of neat is that we used heavy cream from a local dairy that has “turned” just a wee bit. It’s thickened and kind of sour. And it was the perfect addition to the dish.

Now to go and enjoy it!

Jenna on 3.9.2010

I’ve made this dish a couple of times now and it’s a HUGE hit! I double or triple the spices, lime, add 1-2 extra garlic cloves b/c the original amounts are just not enough for me. It is SUPER saucy, but i just let it simmer down after the 30 minutes (I uncover it then).

I’ve made homemade naan with roasted garlic with it to dip in the sauce. It’s so so so good!! Don’t care if it’s authentic Indian or not. OR what the title is. It’s a must try dish!!

melinda sue on 3.8.2010

when i lived in romania, we went to this indian restaurant all the time. i loved the butter chicken. totally delicious. i dream about it. i have never found a great one since then. but this, i will try. and if it is even remotely close. i may fall in love with you.

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Trish in MO on 3.8.2010

Yum! Thanks for the reminder! It was already in my recipe box.

HEY REE – lillikits doesn’t have a picture for it, perhaps you can share yours!?

Michelle P on 3.2.2010

This was amazing!! The sauce was delicious! Thank you so much for such a yummy easy dish!!!

Moriah Cuda on 3.2.2010

I was so happy find this recipe. I had this dish served from a traditional Indian restaurant last December at a friend’s house and fell in love with it, she called it Makhani chicken. When I read this recipe at first I didn’t realize it was one and the same! So I got really excited when I got to the end :) Thanks for that little tidbit. I will be making this soon

HeyStella on 3.1.2010

I made this the other night and I have to agree with the posters who think it tastes like spaghetti sauce. Not what I was expecting at all! We liked it, I just thought it would taste more Indian-like or something. Maybe because the spices are only used in the chicken marinade and not in the sauce, or maybe it was the tomato sauce I used (Hunts), but it definitely had a spaghetti sauce feel. The next time I will spice up the sauce after I add the cream, and I will not add so much tomato sauce. And I will probably make it with pasta – not really liking the rice with the sauce as is. With a few tweaks, I think we will like this dish even more!

Sandy ( Your Life, Organized ) on 2.26.2010

MMM looks like something we will have to try!

HarleyGirl on 2.25.2010

Definitely going to give this one a try! Thanks!

Milica on 2.24.2010

And to the people criticizing Ree for the recipe – if you actually read the post or the recipe, Ree was recommending and making a recipe by a Tasty Kitchen member lillieknits (minus a spice she did not have)who was generous enough to share a wonderful recipe that she calls “Butter Chicken” that does not resemble any spaghetti sauce I have ever had or made. Another reader suggested that it could also be called Chicken Makhani. If she titled it “Authentic Chicken Makhani” You could complain. Please feel free to post your own authentic recipe – I would very much like to try it- and the hundred other versions that all claim to be authentic. This recipe did not do that, but it has added a new flavor profile to my family dinners that I very much appreciate

Milica on 2.24.2010

This was so amazing my Indian food hating husband (he actually gags at even the smell of curry) ADORED this!! He is even willing to eat the leftover sauce with only rice for lunch the next day!! This is a man who would normally scoff at any main dish not containing meat! My very picky 4 year old, for whom I was thinking I might need to make a PB&J, ate every bite and seconds! There was a ton of leftover sauce. It could easily be enough for 6-8 chicken breasts. It is at the top of my dinner rotation for frequent meals!!! Thank you so much!

judy on 2.22.2010

I made this…oh my gosh…it is so incredibly good! I only used about a cup of whipping cream, instead of a pint, and I used slightly less cayenne… (our 96 year old neighbor was coming for dinner). Also, since I reached into my cabinet to get rice…of which there was NONE…I made mashed potatoes and served the butter chicken over that.

It will be one of those recipes I make again and again…it’s even good cold!

I munched on it cold while I was waiting for the Easy Peasy Breadsticks to bake!

Stacy Rausch on 2.22.2010

I made this Friday night, and it was a huge hit with the hubby. It tasted close to my favorite Indian restaurant’s butter chicken, but not quite… It was easy to prepare though, and I did leave out the cardamom since I didn’t have any.
Definitely a keeper in the recipe files.

Andrea on 2.21.2010

Just made this tonight and its delish! My husband loved it too! Thanks for the recipe.

Jeanne on 2.21.2010

Tried Butter Chicken and made is exactly to the recipe. Loved, loved, loved it and so did my husband. I didn’t really think it tasted ethnic, just good food. One of the best I’ve ever made. And there was plenty of sauce left over to serve over spaghetti with some meatballs. Awesome!!! Try it!!!! Definitely could be served for company. Beautiful presentation.

Janet on 2.18.2010

The first time I ever had butter chicken was at a restaurant named Moti in Japan. The sauce is so good, I’d scoop it up with a naan, then be too full to eat the chicken LOL!