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Instant Pot Butter Chicken

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!

butter chicken in the instant pot with spoon
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Easy 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 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. 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!

cooking spices with onions in instant pot

Let’s Talk Spices

  1. Garam Masala – A blend of warm earthy spices widely used in Indian cuisine. It’s composed of cumin, coriander, fennel seeds, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, anise, and more. This blend is readily available in your local grocery store!
  2. Ground turmeric – A wonderful and highly nutritious spice that provides not only a flavor element but a beautiful yellow color too.
  3. Smoked paprika – Smokiness is a wonderful addition to the dish, however, you can use regular paprika if preferred.
  4. Ground cumin – Although there is cumin in garam masala, we still need a bit more!
  5. Fresh ginger – Also, another popular ingredient in Indian cooking (major health benefits too!).

Spice Substitutions

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.
butter chicken in the instant pot

Tips for Instant Pot Indian Butter Chicken

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 corn starch 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.

FAQs

Is butter chicken spicy?

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.

How can I make a lighter version?

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.

Can I use frozen chicken breast?

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.

Can I double this recipe?

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!

How to make butter chicken dairy free?

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!

butter chicken and rice in bowl

What to Serve with Indian Butter Chicken

Storing & Reheating

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 it on the stovetop over medium heat and add a splash of water if needed to thin out the sauce.

A Freezer-Friendly Meal

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.

butter chicken and rice in bowl

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butter chicken in the instant pot

Instant Pot Butter Chicken

5 from 2 votes
Author: Jamielyn Nye
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!
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins
Total Time: 30 mins
Servings: 6

Equipment

Ingredients 

  • 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

Sauce

  • 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
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts , cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 Tablespoon corn starch

For serving: cooked rice, chopped cilantro

    Instructions

    • 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.
      cooking spices with onions in instant pot
    • Dump in the tomatoes, water and chicken. Stir together and close the lid and seal the valve.
      chicken with pepper in instant pot
    • 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.
      instant pot on
    • 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.
      butter chicken in the instant pot with spoon
    • Serve over rice. Top with fresh cilantro.
      butter chicken and rice in bowl

    Video


    Notes

    Sauce: If you’d like to have a smooth sauce, remove chicken and use an immersion blender to blend the sauce. For a buttery flavor, add an addition 2-4 Tablespoons of butter in with the cream. You can also add in additional spices to taste. 
    For a lighter version: Use half and half or coconut milk in place of cream. 
    Storage: Store leftover in a covered container in the refrigerator up to 3 days. 

    Nutrition

    Calories: 358kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 34g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 144mg | Sodium: 728mg | Potassium: 881mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 1502IU | Vitamin C: 36mg | Calcium: 60mg | Iron: 2mg

    Nutrition provided is an estimate. It will vary based on specific ingredients used.

    Course: Main Dish
    Cuisine: Indian

    Did you make this recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below!

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