You can make this deliciously flavorful Instant Pot Butter Chicken recipe in your pressure cooker in about 30 minutes! A family favorite with melt-in-your-mouth, tender chicken pieces in a spice-filled, buttery sauce.
Oh, my! This Easy Instant Pot Butter Chicken is our family's new favorite dish! It's restaurant quality, so flavorful (but not spicy hot), and is ready in about 30 minutes! It's often requested and made week after week.
Our one recommendation, double the recipe because your family is going to want seconds. Plus, it's incredible reheated for lunch the next day!
Why You'll Love the Recipe
- QUICK & EASY - This one-pot dish comes together in 30 minutes.
- FLAVOR - Oh, that savory, buttery spice-filled sauce and fresh ingredients. Dreamy!
- TENDER CHICKEN - That doesn't require marinating or browning before cooking.
- LOW CARB - If you're on a ketogenic diet, this recipe is a tasty way to eat low-carb.
- SPICES - Along with the garlic, this recipe has some flavorful and healthful spices, including garam masala, ground coriander, ginger, cumin, paprika, chili powder, ground turmeric, and salt.
- CHICKEN THIGHS - we like to use skinless chicken thighs in the recipe because they turn out flavorful and tender, but you can also use chicken breasts.
- BUTTER - this gives this sauce its rich, buttery flavor. We use unsalted to control the amount of salt in the finished dish.
- FRESH GARLIC Cloves - are aromatic and elevate the taste of the curry sauce.
- FRESH GINGER - Ginger has a spicy flavor and an invigorating aroma, so it enhances this Indian dish and gives it a depth of flavor.
- LIQUIDS - Tomato Sauce gives the butter chicken sauce a tomato base. You'll need water and heavy cream. The cream is added at the end of the cooking to make the sauce thick and creamy.
Tips and Swaps
- VEGETABLES - Sometimes, we throw some sliced onions or peppers in the pot while the garlic is simmering to give it more texture and flavor.
- CHICKEN - As an option, you can use skinless chicken breast instead of thighs.
- You can swap the butter with coconut oil and coconut milk for the heavy cream if you're dairy free.
- You can substitute chicken stock for the water in the recipe.
- To make the recipe healthier, swap half of the heavy cream for Greek yogurt or use half and half.
- After pressure cooking, you can stir in more butter in the sauce for an extra creamier texture.
- This Butter Chicken recipe is terrific when topped with fresh cilantro.
- You can find these spices at your local grocery store.
How to Make Butter Chicken In Your Instant Pot
You're going to love this recipe. You can't go wrong when you can have such a great-tasting Indian-inspired meal on the table in 30 minutes.
Tip: If you're new to using your electric pressure cooker, see your manufacturer's guide for detailed instructions on using your Instant Pot.
- SAUTE GARLIC AND GINGER. Turn your Instant Pot to the sauté setting and press start. Place your butter in the pot and let it melt. Now, add the garlic and ginger and sauté for a minute or until the garlic becomes aromatic. (don't overcook your garlic, or it will become bitter.)
- ADD TOMATO SAUCE, PASTE, AND SPICES. Next, add the tomato sauce and tomato paste to the Instant Pot and stir. Add the garam masala, coriander, cumin, paprika, turmeric, chili powder, and salt to the Instant Pot, stir and cook for approximately 3 to 5 minutes.
- ADD CHICKEN AND WATER. Add the chicken thighs and one cup of water, and stir. There should be enough liquid in the pot to cover the chicken. Add more water if needed.
- PRESSURE COOK. Next up, close and seal the Instant Pot lid. Set the Instant Pot to the High Pressure Cook or Poultry setting and set the time for 5 minutes. Keep in mind that the pressure cooker takes around 10 minutes to come to pressure.
- NATURAL RELEASE. Wait until the natural release cycle is finished; it should take roughly 10 minutes. You can also follow the manufacturer's guide for quick release. Open and remove the lid.
- ADD HEAVY CREAM. Now, with the lid off, put the Instant Pot on the sauté setting. Add the heavy cream and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. The sauce will thicken slightly.
- GARNISH AND SERVE. Finally, turn off the Instant Pot and garnish with fresh parsley or cilantro. Serve warm over rice and with naan.
How to Store
- FRIDGE - If you have leftovers, you can store Butter Chicken in an airtight container for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.
- FREEZER - You can also freeze it in an airtight container and keep it in the freezer for about 3 months. To reheat, take it out of the freezer the night before to thaw or thaw in the microwave until the desired temperature.
- TO REHEAT - Place the butter chicken in the fridge to thaw overnight. Then reheat in the microwave or over the stovetop. If the sauce is too thick, add a bit of water and mix.
What is Butter Chicken
You may be asking yourself, what exactly is Butter Chicken? Well, it's a modern Indian dish of tender chicken in a tomato, butter, and cream sauce with a handful of spices. What's not to like about that?!
Butter chicken is an authentic Indian curry. In India, it’s called “murgh makhani.” The dish contains garam masala, a staple of Indian restaurant cooking. They say it was developed in the early 20th century in Delhi to use leftover tandoori chicken. All I know is it's evolved into an American favorite as well. Just ask our family 🙂
Yes! You can use frozen chicken, but your Instant Pot will take a little longer to come to pressure before the cooking time begins. However, the recipe is just as amazing.
Yes, we make this instant pot recipe with both coconut milk and heavy cream, and they are both delicious, so use whatever type of milk you prefer or your diet allows.
Garam masala is a staple spice that, when translated, means “warm spice”. This is because it includes cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, cumin, coriander, nutmeg, and peppercorns. You can make your own gram Masala if you'd like.
More Instant Pot Favorites
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Instant Pot Butter Chicken Recipe
- Instant Pot
- Spatula or cooking spoon
- 3 tablespoons butter (unsalted)
- 6 large cloves garlic (minced)
- 2 teaspoons fresh ginger (finely grated or minced, or paste)
- 1 cup tomato sauce or puree
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 3 teaspoons garam masala
- 1 tablespoon coriander ground
- 1 teaspoon cumin ground
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 pounds chicken thighs boneless and skinless (cut into pieces)
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons parsley (chopped)
- Turn your Instant Pot to the sauté setting and press start. Place your butter in the pot and let it melt. Now, add the garlic and ginger and sauté for about a minute or until the garlic becomes aromatic. (don't overcook your garlic or it will become bitter.)
- Add the tomato sauce and tomato paste to the Instant Pot and stir. Add the garam masala, coriander, cumin, paprika, turmeric, chili powder, and salt to the Instant Pot, stir and cook for approximately 3 to 5 minutes.
- Add the chicken thighs, water, and stir. There should be enough liquid in the pot to cover the chicken. Add more water if needed.
- Close and seal the Instant Pot lid. Set the Instant Pot to the Pressure Cooker or Poultry setting and set the time for 5 minutes.
- Wait until the natural release cycle is complete, it should take roughly 10 minutes. You can also follow the manufacturer's guide for quick release. Open and remove the lid.
- With the lid off, put the Instant Pot on the sauté setting. Add the heavy cream and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. The sauce will thicken slightly.
- Turn off the Instant Pot and top with fresh parsley if desired. Serve warm over rice and with naan.
- VEGGIES: Sometimes, we throw sliced onions or peppers in the pot while the garlic is simmering to give it more texture and flavor.
- CHICKEN: As an option, you can use chicken breasts instead of thighs.
- LIQUID: You can substitute chicken stock for the water in the recipe. You can substitute coconut milk for the heavy cream.
- LIGHTEN IT UP: Swap half of the heavy cream for Greek yogurt to make the recipe healthier.
- These spices can be found at your local grocery store.
This post was originally published on December 9, 2018, and updated on April 25, 2023.