Instant Pot butter chicken is a one-pot dinner that is bursting with authentic flavors that will rival anything you’d order at your favorite Indian restaurant. Making it from scratch at home has never been easier with this 30-minute fragrance-infused recipe!
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Easy Instant Pot Butter Chicken Recipe
Instant Pot butter chicken is made with tender pieces of beautifully seasoned chicken breasts cooked in an aromatic and rich tomato-based cream sauce filled with authentic spices whose fragrances will leave your mouth watering. It’s so good when served with this homemade naan bread!
It’s a satisfying comfort meal that may sound like something you’d only be able to order on a menu, but trust me, it’s simple and can be ready and on your table in 30 minutes. Instant Pot orange chicken and chicken taco bowls are two other easy recipes that we love to make in the Instant Pot.
This pressure cooker butter chicken is seriously one of the most flavorful chicken dishes you’ll ever try and it’s a good thing it makes enough for leftovers because you’ll be wanting to eat it over and over again!
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Spices: The spices in this Indian butter chicken recipe are warm earthy spices such as garam masala, ground turmeric, smoked paprika and cumin. These are widely used in Indian cuisine and are readily available at the grocery store.
- Butter: Since we are making butter chicken, we will saute the ingredients in butter first.
- Chicken: I used boneless skinless chicken breasts, but boneless skinless chicken thighs could be used for a richer taste.
- Vegetables and aromatics: Onion, bell pepper, garlic and fresh ginger.
- Liquids: You will need water and heavy whipping cream which add both taste and help bring the Instant Pot to pressure. The higher fat content in the cream is best for a rich sauce.
- Cornstarch: This helps thicken the sauce.
- Tomato: You will need one can of diced tomatoes, although tomato puree could be used instead.
- For serving: Optional but delicious additional unsalted butter, fresh cilantro and rice.
Most of these spices are what people keep stocked in their pantries anyway or are easily found in your local grocery store. However, if you are looking for some ways to substitute, see below:
- Cumin and allspice is a great replacement for garam masala. Either that or use any of the individual spices in any combination.
- Use curry powder instead of turmeric and cumin.
- Apple cider vinegar can be used in place of cumin as well.
- You can use chili powder instead of smoked paprika.
- Add a bit of sugar into the pot. It’s a great way to cut through the acid from the tomatoes and mellow out the dish.
- Ground ginger can also be added if fresh isn’t available.
- Cayenne pepper for a bit of extra heat.
- Saute: Add the butter to the Instant Pot and turn to the sauté setting. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook until the onions turn translucent. Stir in the salt, garlic, ginger, garam masala, turmeric, paprika and cumin. Cook an additional minute or until fragrant.
- Pressure cook: Add tomatoes, water and chicken. Stir and set valve to sealing. Pressure cook on high for 10 minutes. Natural release for 5 minutes then move valve to venting to release remaining pressure.
- Thicken sauce: Whisk cornstarch into heavy cream. Then add the cornstarch slurry back to the chicken and let cook an additional 2-3 minutes, or until the sauce reaches desired thickness.
- Serve: Taste and adjust with salt and pepper as needed and stir in cilantro if desired. Serve over rice!
If you’re brand new and just learning how to use the Instant Pot, this is a great starter recipe!
- You can use chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts if you prefer.
- Use tomato sauce or tomato puree, like Passata, instead of diced tomatoes or use both.
- Using a cornstarch slurry helps to thicken up the sauce and prevents it from becoming too runny. It’s important to mix the cream and cornstarch outside of the pot first. If you add it directly into the pot you’ll find clumps of cornstarch.
- If you prefer a smooth sauce, remove the chicken and use an immersion blender to combine the sauce into a creamier smoother texture.
- For a buttery note, add 2-4 Tbsp of butter at the end.
- Adjust the spices to suit your taste preferences. Do a little taste test and add any more you’d like.
Traditionally it’s meant to be heavier on the spices in terms of flavor, but not spicy in terms of heat. If it’s the heat you want, you can adjust it to your tastes like adding in some cayenne pepper or chili powder, however, if it’s a flavor you want, this one has it all! It’s a delicious kid-friendly meal.
Although this healthy butter chicken isn’t overly filling, it’s quite creamy. If you want to replace the heavy cream you can use half and half or coconut milk (from a can, not a carton) instead.
You can! Sometimes it’s easier to cut frozen or not quite thawed chicken breast into cubes. You’ll just need to tack on a few extra minutes onto the cooking time to be sure it gets cooked through. As well, the frozen chicken will produce a little extra water so keep that in mind when you’re adjusting any seasoning.
As long as your pot is big enough (either a 6 quart or 8-quart pot) you definitely can. It’s a great way to serve a crowd!
Using full-fat coconut milk and avocado or olive oil instead of butter is all you need to make this a completely dairy-free and gluten-free dish!
What to Serve with Butter Chicken
- Homemade naan bread is great to soak up all the flavorful sauce!
- White rice, basmati rice and jasmine rice are the most traditional way to serve this dish. I love to cook rice in the Instant Pot, too!
- Brown rice adds an extra boost of fiber and nutrition!
- Quinoa a super grain that adds a boost of plant based protein.
- Riced cauliflower is a great option for those wanting to boost the vegetable intake.
- Coconut rice is great for an extra flavor boost!
- Roti is a round flatbread and is similar to naan but unleavened.
Storing & Reheating Leftovers
- Refrigerator: To store leftovers, keep them covered in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. You might notice the sauce thickens as it sits.
- Reheat: Reheat leftovers on the stovetop over medium heat and add a splash of water if needed to thin out the sauce.
- Freezer: Butter chicken can be kept frozen for up to 3 months! What a great way to plan ahead and do some batch cooking for down the road. Thaw in the fridge overnight, reheat, and enjoy all over again.
More Instant Pot favorites include this chicken and rice, Instant Pot meatballs and meatloaf and mashed potatoes.
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Instant Pot Butter Chicken
- 4 Tablespoons butter
- 1 cup diced onion
- 1 small red bell pepper , diced
- 1 Tablespoon minced garlic , about 4 cloves
- 2 teaspoon grated ginger , or 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric , could also use sugar
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin , or apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 14 ounce can petite diced tomatoes
- ¼ cup water
- 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts , cut into bite-sized pieces
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 1 Tablespoon corn starch
For serving: cooked rice, chopped cilantro
- Add the butter to the Instant Pot and turn to the sauté setting. Add the onion and bell pepper. Cook for a for about 3 minutes, or until the onions turn translucent. Stir in the salt, garlic, ginger, garam masala, turmeric, paprika and cumin. Cook an additional minute or until fragrant.
- Dump in the tomatoes, water and chicken. Stir together and close the lid and seal the valve.
- Turn on manual high pressure and set to cook for 10 minutes. It will take about 5-10 minutes to build pressure. When finished cooking, do a natural release for about 5 minutes. Use oven mits to turn the knob. Once it stops steaming, remove lid.
- Turn the Instant Pot back to sauté. Whisk the corn starch into the heavy cream. If there's still a lot of liquid you could dump about 1/4 cup out before hand. Then add the corn starch slurry back to the chicken and let cook an additional 2-3 minutes, or until the sauce reaches desired thickness. It will thicken as it stands. Taste and salt and pepper if desired. Stir in fresh cilantro.
- Serve over rice. Top with fresh cilantro.
Nutrition provided is an estimate. It will vary based on specific ingredients used.
Did you make this recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below!
Hi! This was so good. Making it again today. Noticed in the narrative you say to do a quick release, but in your recipe you mention a natural release.
Trying to decide on a good veggie dish to go with it…
Woops, thanks for pointing that out! So glad you enjoyed the recipe. I bet broccoli would taste delicious served with it!
Nice easy dinner. Thanks for the recipe!
You are so welcome!
This butter chicken looks amazing. I can’t wait to give this recipe a try. DO you think I can use ginger powder here? My son is sensitive to fresh ginger.
Sure! I would use 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger :)