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How to Make an Authentic Butter Chicken: Recipe, Tricks and Calorie Count

butter chicken recipe

Butter Chicken, also known as Murgh Makhani, is a dish that embodies the heart of North Indian cuisine. It was accidentally created by the chefs at the Moti Mahal restaurant in Delhi in the 1950s when leftover chicken was cooked with tomatoes, butter, and cream. This happy culinary accident has since evolved into one of the most beloved Indian dishes worldwide, known for its creamy, rich texture and warm, inviting spices.

Butter Chicken offers a perfect balance of sweet and tangy flavors, complemented by a velvety sauce that’s seasoned with traditional spices like garam masala, cumin, and coriander. The dish is not only a staple in Indian households but has also gained international fame, tempting palates with its depth of flavor and aromatic allure.

Ideal for a family dinner or a festive gathering, Butter Chicken can be served with naan bread or rice, making it a versatile choice that’s sure to satisfy a range of taste preferences. Whether you’re a seasoned chef or new to Indian cuisine, this guide will help you create an authentic Butter Chicken that tastes as if it’s straight from the streets of Delhi.

This introduction provides an engaging overview of Butter Chicken, highlighting its origins, flavor profile, and cultural significance. You can proceed to the next sections with detailed ingredients, preparation steps, and tips based on this warm introduction. Let me know if you want to continue with the next part or need adjustments here!

Extra Delicious Reads:
How to Make Massaman Curry – An Authentic Massaman Curry (Recipe Guide)
How To Make Chicken Tikka Masala (Recipe Guide) Tips And Calories

Ingredients List For Butter Chicken Recipe

butter chicken recipe

For an authentic Butter Chicken experience, gathering the right ingredients is crucial. Here’s what you’ll need:

Primary Ingredients:

  • Chicken: 1.5 pounds (about 700 grams) of boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces.
  • Tomatoes: 4 medium-sized ripe tomatoes, pureed, or one can of tomato puree (14 oz).
  • Cream: 1 cup of heavy cream or for a lighter version, use half-and-half.
  • Butter: 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
  • Garlic: 4 cloves, finely minced.
  • Ginger: 2 inches of fresh ginger, peeled and minced.

Spices and Seasonings:

  • Garam Masala: 2 teaspoons.
  • Cumin Powder: 1 teaspoon.
  • Coriander Powder: 1 teaspoon.
  • Turmeric Powder: ½ teaspoon.
  • Chili Powder: 1 teaspoon (adjust according to taste for heat).
  • Kasuri Methi (Dried Fenugreek Leaves): 2 teaspoons, crushed.
  • Salt: to taste.


  • Chicken: Can be substituted with paneer or tofu for a vegetarian version.
  • Cream: Coconut milk can be used as a dairy-free alternative.
  • Butter: Vegan butter or a neutral oil like canola can be used for a vegan version.


  • Sugar: 1 teaspoon (to balance the acidity of the tomatoes).
  • Lemon Juice: A few squeezes for added tang at the end of cooking.

Equipment Needed

Preparing Butter Chicken requires some basic kitchen equipment. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Heavy-Bottomed Pan or Skillet: For cooking the chicken and the sauce. A heavy-bottomed pan ensures even cooking without burning.
  • Blender or Food Processor: To puree the tomatoes for a smooth, creamy sauce.
  • Mixing Bowls: For marinating the chicken and preparing spices.
  • Chef’s Knife and Cutting Board: For chopping garlic and ginger and cutting chicken.
  • Measuring Spoons and Cups: To accurately measure spices, cream, and other ingredients.
  • Wooden Spoon or Spatula: For stirring the ingredients while cooking to prevent sticking and burning.
  • Grill Pan or Broiler (Optional): If you prefer to grill the chicken pieces before adding them to the sauce, for added flavor.
  • Aluminum Foil (if using a broiler): To line the broiler pan for easy cleanup.

Having the right equipment at hand not only simplifies the cooking process but also enhances safety and ensures the best outcomes.

Preparation Overview

butter chicken recipe

Creating Butter Chicken involves a series of well-coordinated steps that blend flavors and textures to perfection. Here’s how you can expect the process to unfold:

Prep Work:

  1. Marinate the Chicken: Mix the chicken pieces with yogurt, lemon juice, salt, and some of the spices. Let it sit for at least 1 hour, preferably overnight in the refrigerator.
  2. Prepare Ingredients: Puree the tomatoes, mince the garlic and ginger, and measure out all your spices and cream.

Cooking Sequence:

  1. Cook the Chicken: Depending on your preference, either grill the marinated chicken pieces until they’re slightly charred or cook them in a pan with some butter. Set aside.
  2. Make the Sauce: In a heavy-bottomed pan, heat butter, then add the minced garlic and ginger. Sauté until fragrant, then add the spice powders. Cook for a minute before adding the tomato puree. Simmer until it thickens and the oil begins to separate.
  3. Combine Chicken and Sauce: Add the cooked chicken to the sauce, letting it simmer together so the flavors meld. Finish by stirring in the cream and crushed Kasuri Methi.
  4. Final Touches: Adjust seasoning with salt and a bit of sugar (if needed) to balance the acidity. Optionally, add a squeeze of lemon juice for a touch of zest.

Key Points:

  • Marination Time: Longer marination leads to more tender and flavorful chicken.
  • Simmering: Allow the sauce to simmer slowly to develop a richer flavor.
  • Finishing Touches: The final seasonings are crucial for achieving the perfect balance of flavors.

Detailed Step-by-Step Recipe

Step 1: Marinate the Chicken

  • Ingredients:
    • 1.5 pounds chicken thighs, cut into pieces
    • 1 cup plain yogurt
    • Juice of 1 lemon
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon chili powder
    • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • Instructions:
    1. In a large mixing bowl, combine yogurt, lemon juice, salt, chili powder, and turmeric.
    2. Add the chicken pieces to the bowl and coat them thoroughly with the marinade.
    3. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour, ideally overnight, to allow the flavors to penetrate the chicken.

Step 2: Cook the Chicken

  • Instructions:
    1. If grilling, preheat your grill to a medium-high heat and lightly oil the grate. Grill the chicken pieces until they are golden brown and slightly charred, about 3-4 minutes on each side.
    2. Alternatively, heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a large pan over medium heat. Add the marinated chicken and cook until all sides are browned, approximately 6-8 minutes. Remove chicken and set aside.

Step 3: Prepare the Sauce

  • Ingredients:
    • 4 tablespoons butter
    • 4 cloves garlic, minced
    • 2 inches ginger, minced
    • 2 teaspoons garam masala
    • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
    • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
    • 4 medium tomatoes, pureed
  • Instructions:
    1. In the same pan used for chicken, melt the remaining butter. Add minced garlic and ginger, sautéing until golden and fragrant.
    2. Stir in garam masala, cumin, and coriander, cooking for about a minute until the spices are toasted.
    3. Pour in the tomato puree, bring to a simmer, and cook for 10-15 minutes until the sauce thickens and the oil begins to separate.

Step 4: Combine Chicken and Sauce

  • Instructions:
    1. Add the cooked chicken pieces back into the pan with the tomato sauce.
    2. Reduce the heat to low and let the chicken simmer in the sauce for about 10 minutes, allowing it to absorb the flavors.

Step 5: Finish the Dish

  • Ingredients:
    • 1 cup heavy cream
    • 2 teaspoons Kasuri Methi (crushed)
    • Salt to taste
    • 1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
  • Instructions:
    1. Stir in the cream and crushed Kasuri Methi.
    2. Season with salt and add sugar if needed to balance the acidity.
    3. Simmer for an additional 5 minutes to meld all the flavors together.
    4. Optionally, add a squeeze of lemon juice to enhance the flavors right before serving.

Serving Suggestions:

Serve hot with steamed basmati rice or warm naan bread for a complete meal.

Yield and Servings

  • Servings: This recipe serves 4-6 people.
  • Total Yield: Approximately 6 servings, with each serving including a generous amount of chicken and sauce.
  • Serving Size: Each serving consists of about 3-4 pieces of chicken with a portion of sauce.

Cooking and Prep Time:

  • Preparation Time: 15 minutes (plus at least 1 hour for marination, ideally overnight)
  • Cooking Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes active cooking, plus marination time

Nutritional Information (per serving)

butter chicken recipe
  • Calories: Approximately 450-500 calories
  • Total Fat: 28 grams
    • Saturated Fat: 15 grams
  • Cholesterol: 125 mg
  • Sodium: 600 mg
  • Total Carbohydrates: 15 grams
    • Dietary Fiber: 3 grams
    • Sugars: 6 grams
  • Protein: 35 grams

Note: These values are approximate and can vary based on specific brands of ingredients used and exact portion sizes.

Tips and Tricks

Marinate Overnight: For the best flavor absorption, marinate the chicken overnight.

Control the Heat: Adjust the amount of chili powder according to your preference for spice. Start with less and add more as needed.

Slow Cook the Sauce: Let the tomato sauce simmer slowly on low heat to develop a deeper flavor.

Finishing with Cream: Add the cream off the heat to prevent it from curdling and to maintain a smooth, rich texture.

Serving Suggestions

Naan Bread: Serve Butter Chicken with warm, buttery naan bread for dipping in the creamy sauce.

Basmati Rice: A side of fragrant Basmati rice complements the flavors and helps soak up the sauce.

Cucumber Raita: Offer a cooling cucumber raita to balance the richness of the dish.

Garnish: Sprinkle chopped cilantro or a swirl of cream on top before serving for an added touch of freshness and appeal.


Vegan Butter Chicken: Use firm tofu instead of chicken and coconut cream in place of dairy cream. Substitute butter with vegan butter or oil.

Nut-Free Option: Replace cream with yogurt if nuts are a concern (as some recipes use cashew paste).

Low-Calorie Version: Substitute heavy cream with Greek yogurt and use less butter.


Q: Can I freeze Butter Chicken?

A: Yes, Butter Chicken freezes well. Store it in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Reheat gently, adding a little cream or water if the sauce is too thick.

Q: What can I do if my sauce is too thin?

A: Simmer the sauce for a longer period to reduce and thicken. Add a small amount of cornstarch slurry to thicken it quickly.

Q: Is Butter Chicken very spicy?

A: Traditionally, it’s more creamy than spicy. However, you can adjust the heat level by increasing or reducing the chili powder.

It’s Your Turn: We Welcome Your Comments and Feedback

We’d love to hear from you! Did you try making this Butter Chicken recipe? Do you have any tips or twists of your own? Please share your thoughts and photos in the comments below!

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