Chicken Butter Masala
This Chicken Butter Masala stands for every meal we have had at many good Indian restaurants. Same flavors – Silky smooth, Creamy & finger-licking good gravy with tender & juicy grilled chicken. My easy recipe will help you make Chicken Butter Masala just like your favorite Indian restaurant, but in the comfort of your home. Serve it with Butter Naan, Parathas, Jeera rice or plain basmati rice.
Chicken Butter Masala is a popular Indian dish of grilled chicken simmered in a smooth, silky and creamy onion tomato and cashew gravy. This finger-licking good curried dish is popular on the restaurant menus. Also known as Butter Chicken Masala, this is a modified version of the authentic North Indian Butter Chicken (Murgh Makhani).
I have eaten versions of this & Chicken Tikka Masala across the country. Some good & a lot bad! In the quest for a delicious homemade butter masala gravy, many years ago I developed my popular Paneer Butter Masala Recipe which has many rave reviews from the readers. I am glad I did it because this actually beats the restaurant versions!
This chicken butter masala is adapted from the same butter paneer. Once you make this I am sure you will love to ditch your restaurant because you know how easy this is to make.
This recipe takes about 45 to 50 minutes from scratch (plus the resting time) and will surprise you with the amazing results.
More Indian Chicken Recipes
Restaurant Style Chicken Jalfrezi
How to Make Chicken Butter Masala (Stepwise Photos)
Cut 600 grams of boneless chicken to ¾ inch pieces and add them to a bowl. Pat dry with kitchen tissues. Add
- ⅛ tsp turmeric
- ½ to 1 tsp red chilli powder
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
- ⅓ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice.
- 1 teaspoon kasuri methi
- ½ cup Greek yogurt / hung curd
- 1 tablespoon oil
Marinate and rest covered for a minimum of 60 mins, overnight is best (refrigerated).
Meanwhile slice 1½ cup onions and peel 15 grams of ginger. Heat a pan with 1 tablespoon oil and saute until transparent (pink), until they lose the raw flavor. While the onions fry, chop 5 cups tomatoes (5 large tomatoes about 650 grams).
Add ginger and 15 grams of garlic. Saute for 2 to 3 mins.
Reduce the heat to low and stir in 1½ to 2 tsp red chilli powder. (reduce for kids)
Add the chopped tomatoes, 22 to 28 whole cashews (¼ cup) and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook covered on a medium high heat until the tomatoes break down to a mush.
Stir in 1½ teaspoon garam masala, 1 teaspoon cumin powder (optional), 2 teaspoon coriander powder, 1½ teaspoon sugar and ¼ to ¾ teaspoon cardamom powder. (If using store bought start with ¼ teaspoon cardamom powder, I use homemade with the skins ground together so I use 1 teaspoon)
Turn off and cool down. I usually transfer to a plate and cool it with fan. It is faster that way.
Pour 1 cup water to the blender and then transfer the onion tomato masala.
Grind to a super smooth puree. If required pour ½ cup more. (Some blenders do the best job with no extra liquid added, while some need only little, so adjust depending on your blender). I add 1 cup first and then half later.
Wipe down the pan with some tissues and heat it with 2 to 3 tablespoons of butter on a low to medium heat. As the butter begins to melt, stir in 1 green chilli (optional) and ¼ to ½ tsp red chilli powder (optional). Taste test the onion tomato puree and add the chilli powder accordingly.
Strain the puree directly to the pan.
Make sure your pan is not too hot else your spices will burn.
Pour ½ cup hot water and begin to cook the butter masala until it reaches a thick and creamy consistency.
While the butter masala simmers, heat a pan/ skillet with 1 tablespoon oil. When the oil becomes hot, layer the chicken pieces on the pan and cook on a high heat.
When the chicken turns brown at the bottom, turn them to the other side and cook until golden and slightly charred. Depending on the size of your pan, you may need to grill the chicken in batches.
When the butter masala turns thick and creamy, pour ½ cup water and 1 tablespoon ghee. You need water a this stage to rehydrate the chicken. The gravy is thick so the chicken won’t soften fast.
Add the grilled chicken and let simmer for a 3 to 4 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the butter masala reaches a thick and creamy consistency.
Taste test and adjust salt. Add ½ tsp garam masala and 2 teaspoon kasuri methi. Stir in 1/3 cup of chilled cream. Turn off the heat. Mix and let rest for at least 5 mins.
Garnish chicken butter masala with a tablespoon cream and fine chopped coriander leaves.
- Chicken butter masala can be made with boneless or bone-in chicken. However the restaurant style dish is made with boneless cubes.
- Marination is the key step to make flavorful, juicy, tender & succulent chicken. So do not skip the marination. You can rest the chicken for at least 45 mins. But over night is recommended for the best flavors & juicy chicken.
- To make the dish creamy & restaurant like, use cream. If you do not have cream then add 6 to 8 extra cashews. This sure will improve the texture of the gravy but will not give the same creamy texture as cream does.
- You can use any cream like whipping cream, cooking cream, heavy cream.
- Kasuri methi is another ingredient that lends a authentic Indian flavor to the chicken butter masala. If you do not have it just skip but you will surely miss out that unique aroma. Kasuri methi are dried fenugreek leaves and are easily available in the Indian stores.
Chicken Butter Masala
For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
- ½ cup Greek yogurt (hung curd, strained yogurt)
- 600 grams chicken thighs (boneless, 21 ounces)
- ½ to 1 teaspoon Kashmiri red chilli powder
- ⅛ teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- ⅓ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
- 1 teaspoon kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice (not lime juice)
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 ½ cup sliced onions (1 large, 120 grams)
- 15 grams ginger (peeled, 1 ½ tablespoons chopped)
- 15 grams garlic (1 ½ tablespoons chopped)
- 1 teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
- 1½ to 2 teaspoon Kashmiri red chilli powder
- 5 cups tomatoes chopped – 625 grams (5 large tomatoes or 14 oz can, 400 grams – fire roasted or diced tomatoes)
- 22 to 28 whole cashews (35 to 40 grams, ¼ to ⅓ cup or ¼ cup cream, refer notes)
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder (optional)
- 2 teaspoon coriander powder
- 1½ teaspoon garam masala (adjust to taste)
- 1½ teaspoon sugar
- ¼ to ¾ teaspoon cardamom powder (refer notes)
- 1½ cups water
For Butter Masala
- 2 to 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 green chilli – optional
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon Kashmiri red chilli powder – optional
- 1 cup hot water (divided, ½ + ½)
- 1 tablespoon ghee
- ½ teaspoon garam masala
- 2 teaspoon kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
- ⅓ cup chilled cream (80 to 100 ml heavy cream or cooking cream)
- Cut chicken to ¾ inch pieces and add them to a bowl. Pat dry with kitchen tissues.
- Add all the ingredients for marinade – Greek yogurt / hung curd, red chilli powder, turmeric, garam masala, salt, ginger garlic paste, kasuri methi, oil and lemon juice.
- Marinate and rest covered for a minimum of 60 mins, overnight is best (refrigerated).
- Meanwhile slice the onions and peeled ginger. Heat a pan with oil and begin to saute the onions until transparent (pink), till they lose the raw flavor. While the onions fry, chop the tomatoes.
- Add ginger and garlic. Saute for 2 to 3 mins. Lower the heat and stir in red chilli powder.
- Add the chopped tomatoes, cashews and salt. Cook on a medium high heat until the tomatoes break down to a mush.
- Stir in garam masala, cumin powder (optional), coriander powder, sugar and Cardamom powder.
- Turn off and cool down (read notes). Pour 1 cup water to the blender and make a super smooth puree. If required pour ½ cup more. (Some blenders do the best job with no extra liquid added, while some need only little, so adjust depending on your blender)
How to Make Chicken Butter Masala
- Wipe down the pan with some tissues and heat it with butter on a low to medium heat.
- As the butter begins to melt, stir in green chilli (optional) and red chilli powder (optional). Taste test the onion tomato puree and add the chilli powder accordingly.
- Strain the puree directly to the pan. Make sure your pan is not too hot else your spices will burn.
- Pour ½ cup hot water and begin to cook the butter masala until it reaches a thick and creamy consistency.
- While the butter masala simmers, heat a pan/ skillet with 1 tablespoon oil. When the oil becomes hot, layer the chicken pieces on the pan and cook on a high heat.
- When the chicken turns brown at the bottom, turn them to the other side and cook until golden and slightly charred. Depending on the size of your pan, you may need to grill the chicken in batches. Chicken may not be cooked fully at this stage.
- When the butter masala turns thick and creamy, pour ½ cup hot water (to rehydrate the chicken) and 1 tablespoon ghee.
- Stir in the grilled chicken and let simmer for a 3 to 4 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the butter masala reaches a thick and creamy consistency.
- Taste test and adjust salt. Add garam masala and kasuri methi.
- Stir in the chilled cream. Turn off the heat. Mix and let rest for at least 5 mins. Garnish chicken butter masala with a tablespoon cream and fine chopped coriander leaves. Serve with Butter naan, Jeera rice or plain basmati rice.
- You may substitute cashews with 1/4 cup more cream (to be added at the last step)
- To make the recipe nut-free, white poppy seeds, sunflower seeds or melon seeds can be used.
- Cardamom powder / ground cardamom : I use homemade powder that is ground with the skin. If using the ground spice made from the seeds, use lesser start with ¼ teaspoon.
- If you prefer more chicken use up to 750 grams.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.
NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)
© Swasthi’s Recipes
I’m Swasthi Shreekanth, the recipe developer, food photographer & food writer behind Swasthi’s Recipes. My aim is to help you cook great Indian food with my time-tested recipes. After 2 decades of experience in practical Indian cooking I started this blog to help people cook better & more often at home. Whether you are a novice or an experienced cook I am sure Swasthi’s Recipes will assist you to enhance your cooking skills.
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Just amazing. Thank you for sharing we love it
1st time making the recipe absolutely loved it! Thank you
Thank you so much Sandra
Thank you for this amazing recipie. But I think few ingredients were removed lately, no?
Yes, I substituted whole spices like bay leaf, cloves and cinnamon with more garam masala.
I would love to have a copy of the previous version – if possible. I’ve cooked it many times and it is so delicious!
I can include that as well in a day or 2.
Great recipe and very clear instructions!
Excellent recipe and easy to make.
Recipe is amazing… But there is a bug in the website…. When I click 2x the measurements don’t change accordingly
Thank you! I have checked and it works for me.
I’m so glad I found your blog, because I made this last night and it was divine! I didn’t have any cardomom or cloves on hand but it still came out delicious and so smooth. Thanks Swasthi
Glad to know it turned out good. Thank you so much!
Great recipe instructions…every time I try your recipes they turn out to be delicious and whole family loves them….thq ur such a great helper indeed to me in my kitchen….
Glad to know!
I tried this recipe tonight and it was the best one ever. The flavor was amazing and your instructions were the best! Thank you so much for sharing.
Glad to know it turned out good. Thanks for leaving a comment
Oh so yummy. I had to make minor changes due to lack of ingredients, but it still turned out delicious!!
I have learnt a lot from ur recipe..They are easy and the dishes turn out to be delicious..
Tried your chicken butter masala with coconut milk instead of cream and glad to say it came out well. This is a recipe I can always make in the future. Thank you for taking the time to share the recipe.
You are welcome! Glad to know it turned out good.
I made this today for my family after marinating the chicken overnight. It was sooooo good! I’ve tried various butter chicken recipes over the years. This one is the best!
I used bone-in chicken pieces for more flavour. I followed the instructions pretty closely. The only ingredients I didn’t have were the cardamom and cloves. This is the first time I’ve used cashews in this recipe and I really think it makes a difference.
Glad it turned out good. Thank you! Yes cashews make a huge difference here.
Hi Swasthi! Your recipes are so easy to follow and the end result is always awesome ? In fact, I refer to your recipes so often that you are actually like an invisible member of my family. Thank you.
So happy to hear that! I’m so honored!!!
Thank you so much.
So this is funny.. and strange, but I marinated my chicken with strawberry yogurt
(I did think through this and it went something like – “S*** I bought the wrong yogurt; but i’ve already chopped up the chicken; i guess i don’t have to marinade it overnight; it’s late; the stores are closed; but i WANT to marinade it overnight; i dont have time to run to the store or marinade tomorrow; i NEED to cook this dish tomorrow; should i? ; i’m sure it’s the effect of the yogurt and less the flavour; should work fine? eeh why not? ok im doing it”)
Any hint of how that might turn out? HAH
Haha! It’s just 2 tbsps of yogurt so shouldn’t be a problem. Wipe off the marinade and discard in the morning before cooking. It would still have the strawberry flavor. But may not be that bad. Hope this helps.
Thanks for your recipe.
How long should I cook the marinated chicken before adding the puree?
Saute until golden.
The actual butter chicken that Moti Mahal of New Delhi developed was using tandoor chicken not marinated chicken. For serving of two 2 chicken tandoor wings can be used and rest recipe remains same. Moti Mahal has credited for developing the recipe. Even Chef Gordon Ramsay acknowledged the same
Thank you for the recipe. I tried it today’s… came out really yummy !!!
I tried your butter masala recipe today and it tasted incredible! Thank you so much, I can’t wait to try more of your recipes. 🙂
First attempt at Butter chicken and it turned our perfectly! Instructions & pictures were so clear made it really easy to follow. It was a little time consuming but good use of my time in quarantine:-)
Wasn’t sure when to add the sugar so I skipped that; also I reduced the chilli powder for the kids but it was still tasty.
Your website is wonderful and I use it several times a week!
Trying your Butter Chicken masala recipe. My first attempt at Indian cookery. I looked at many recipes,this one resonated. Chicken is marinating. I like spicy, wife likes mild. This is for her. I will spice mine when serving.
Thank you! Hope you both enjoy the dish!