Butter Chicken is cubes of chicken breast marinated in a seasoned Greek yogurt marinade and then cooked in a thick and creamy tomato-based sauce. Try my Copycat Chipotle Chicken for another flavorful marinated chicken recipe.

Butter Chicken

Butter chicken has a distinctive flavor because of the spiced yogurt marinade. Then, it’s generally cooked in a tomato and cream-based sauce that is flavored with even more spices. It is one of the most popular dishes in many Indian restaurants. Serve it with a side of basmati rice or naan bread! This, however, is not authentic Butter Chicken. Truly authentic Butter Chicken is called Chicken Makhani or Murgh Makhani. (Here is a great recipe from Indian Healthy Recipes.)

Butter Chicken in Skillet

Butter Chicken Ingredients

There are two parts to this recipe–the chicken marinade and the butter chicken.

Chicken: I prefer boneless, skinless chicken breasts for this recipe. Cut the chicken into about 1/2-inch cubes.

Greek yogurt: Use full-fat Greek yogurt for the marinade. The yogurt tenderizes the chicken.

Garam Masala: Gram masala spice is used in both the marinade and the butter sauce. It is a blend of spices that originated in South Asia and is used in lots of Indian cuisines. 

Tomato Sauce: Butter chicken is known for its creamy, tomato-based sauce. 

Heavy Cream: Look for a cream with no less than 36% milk fat. It can also be called heavy whipping cream. This gives the sauce a creamy base.

Marinating Raw Chicken for Butter Chicken

Marinating the Chicken

The chicken will need to be marinated for at least one hour, so that is the first thing you will need to do for this recipe. You can also let it marinate overnight if preferred. To make the marinade, simply combine the yogurt, garlic, cumin, garam masala, and kosher salt, in a large bowl.

To the marinade, add the cubed chicken and make sure it is coated on all sides. Cover the bowl and place it in the refrigerator for a minimum of one hour, up to overnight. You could also marinate the chicken in a zipped plastic bag.

How to Make Butter Chicken

How to Make Butter Chicken

After the chicken has had time to marinate, it’s time to get this creamy, flavorful dish on the table. To get started, first, heat up the oil and 3 tablespoons of butter. Add the marinated chicken and cook for just about 3 minutes per side. No, the chicken will not be cooked through; it will be cooked again later. Set the chicken on a plate and tent with aluminum foil to keep warm.

To the same skillet, add the remaining butter and cook the onions. Then, add the spices and cook for about 30 seconds. Pour in the tomato sauce, cream, and sugar; bring to a simmer and stir in the cubed chicken. Cook everything together until the internal of the chicken reaches 165°F.

When done, season to taste and garnish the butter chicken with cilantro.  This is great served hot with basmati rice or naan bread. Butter chicken also goes well with a side of vegetables like asparagus or green beans.

Plate of Butter Chicken

How to Store Butter Chicken

If you have any leftovers, store the butter chicken in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. You can also freeze the chicken for up to 3 months. Reheating it is easy; pop it in the microwave or reheat it up in a pan on the stovetop.

More Chicken Recipes

4.67 from 3 votes

Butter Chicken

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Marinate 1 hour
Total Time 2 hours
Butter Chicken is cubes of chicken breast marinated in a seasoned Greek yogurt marinade and then cooked in a thick and creamy tomato-based sauce.


Chicken Marinade

  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed into 1½-inch pieces
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Butter Chicken

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped for garnish



  • In a large bowl, combine yogurt, garlic, garam masala, cumin, and salt. Mix well.
  • Add cubed chicken to the bowl of marinade and toss to coat. (You could also marinate the chicken in a zipped plastic bag.)
  • Cover and let the chicken marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour (up to overnight).

Butter Chicken

  • When ready, in a large skillet over medium-high heat, add oil and 3 tablespoons of butter. Heat until sizzling.
  • Add marinated chicken in an even layer. (Cook in batches so you don't overcrowd the pan) Cook 3 minutes per side, or until browned. (The chicken will not be cooked through.) Transfer the chicken to a plate and tent to keep warm.
  • To the same skillet over medium-high heat, add the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter. Once melted, add onions and cook (stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon) until translucent (6-8 minutes). Use the spoon to scrape up any browned bits in the pan.
  • Add garlic, garam masala, cumin, ginger,and chili powder. Mix and cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds).
  • Reduce heat to medium and add the tomato sauce, heavy cream, and sugar. Bring the mixture back to a simmer and then add the chicken back into the pan. Stir to combine. Simmer for 12-15 minutes, or until thickened and the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165°F.
  • Season to taste with salt and garnish with cilantro. Serve hot.

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This recipe was inspired by Masterclass.

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Reader Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I’ve made this dish a couple of times and it’s easy and delicious. I recommend making it the day before you plan to serve it as the flavors develop and mellow overnight!

  2. 4 stars
    Chicken is tender! Flavorful, thick sauce of perfectly balanced tomato and cream. It’s a tasty spice blend in the recipe although it fades into a one-note flavor once the tomato sauce and cream are added. I’ll definitely make again and increase the amount of spices to stand up to the sauce better. I’m also thinking about using half and half instead of heavy cream so the sauce is thinner.

    Note: I only had vanilla Greek yogurt (which would be gross here) so I substituted sour cream and a bit (about 1/2 teaspoon) of lemon juice to replicate the yogurt. I’ve done this before with great results.

  3. 5 stars
    So easy and super flavorful! My family devoured it, and gave their highest praise, “this a do again!” I will never buy the jarred butter chicken sauce again.

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