Butter Chicken

Butter chicken. How delicious does that sound!?

This wonderful creation originated in India. As the name would imply it has a rich, creamy, buttery sauce that is also flavored with tomato.

Trying Indian cuisine is new territory for me. Hubby wanted to buy a container of Garam Marsala so off I went in search of ideas to use it. To be honest, we don’t have a lot of experience with Indian food, so I certainly can’t speak to authenticity. But we certainly like this recipe.

I was curious after making butter chicken how it differs from Tikka Masala, another popular Indian dish and one I have some familiarity with. From what I understand the difference is in the creaminess. Chicken Tikka Masala is more tomato and spice-based and butter chicken has a creamier sauce. Both are wonderful as far as I am concerned.


Olive Oil: Used to sauté the onion and garlic.

Onion & Garlic: Adds flavor to the sauce.

Fresh Ginger: Fresh ginger adds wonderful fresh, bright flavor to recipes. I buy a piece of ginger root, peel it, and chop it into pieces. Then I store it in a sealable bag in the freezer, and it lasts a long time.

Butter: The title pretty much gives it away, the sauce contains butter and butter makes everything better!

Low Sodium Chicken Stock: The base of the sauce and added chicken flavor.

Tomato Paste: Using paste adds intense tomato flavor. You can find tomato paste in cans or handy little tubes when you only need a small amount. I opened a can and froze the rest, which worked well. You can always make some bolognese with the leftovers. 🙂

Cinnamon: This versatile spice is as delicious in savory recipes as well as sweet. Cinnamon is a primary ingredient in five spice powder which is excellent with everything from stir-fry to oven fries!

Salt: Brings out all the great flavors.

Cumin: Cumin is a staple in Mexican-inspired cuisine but is equally wonderful in this sauce.

Garam Marsala: Garam Marsala is a flavorful, fragrant blend of several spices and, from my understanding, the ingredients vary by region and personal preference.

Turmeric: Adds bright color and pungent flavor.

Chicken Breast: I used one boneless skinless chicken breast for this recipe.

Lemon Juice: Adds a bit of acidity and brightness to the sauce.

Heavy Cream: Heavy cream, or whipping cream as it is sometimes called, makes the sauce rich, creamy, and decadent. I often substitute half & half for heavy cream to lighten up recipes. But I think the heavy cream was worth it for this dish.

Rice: The classic accompaniment. A perfect base for that luscious, creamy sauce.


You will start by sautéing onions. I don’t think onions are a typical ingredient in butter chicken, but I love the flavor onion adds to practically everything. 😉

Once the onions are soft, add garlic and ginger and stir for a minute until fragrant.

Add the butter, stock, tomato paste, and all those spices. This is going to seem like an aggressive amount of spices. I was concerned I was overdoing it. But I don’t find the final product overwhelming at all.

Add the chopped chicken and stir to cover the chicken with the liquid mixture. The chicken will cook in the sauce and be tender and flavorful. After 15 minutes or so, add lemon juice and heavy cream. Stir to heat through.

Butter chicken is perfect over rice. I like to serve with a simple green vegetable like broccoli or Brussels sprouts.

Butter Chicken

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 2


  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • ¼ cup onion minced
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 Tbsp fresh ginger grated
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • ½ cup low sodium chicken stock
  • 3 oz tomato paste
  • tsp Cinnamon
  • ½ tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into cubes
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • cup heavy cream
  • rice for serving


  • Add olive oil to a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and sauté for 3-5 minutes until onions are soft. Add garlic and ginger and sauté for one minute.
  • Add in butter, chicken stock, tomato paste, cinnamon, salt, cumin, garam masala and turmeric. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
  • Stir in chicken and stir until coated. Cover and cook for 15 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.
  • Stir in lemon juice and heavy cream. Return to a simmer and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes.
  • Serve over rice.
Keyword Comfort, Creamy

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