How to Make The Best Indian Butter Chicken

Published on Saturday, March 21, 2020 | Category: Recipes


While many of us are used to cooking Sri Lankan chicken recipes with ease, some people still struggle with mastering Indian recipes. One of the most famous chicken recipes in Sri Lanka – and around the world to be honest – is the creamy and delectable butter chicken. So if you’re looking for a fool-proof way of preparing the best Indian butter chicken, read on to get your hands on a game-changing recipe!

Contrary to a popular belief, butter chicken and chicken tikka masala are not the same. Originally, butter chicken used to be prepared with leftover dry tandoori chicken and the moisture from the dish would come from the creamy spiced tomato sauce along with some generous butter. Chicken tikka masala, on the other hand, was born when restaurants picked up from the popularity of the butter chicken and started making a version of it using boneless chicken specifically for the tikka masala. While the differences in flavour between the two dishes may be subtle in some ways, both dishes sing a different tune in terms of flavour and it’s hard not to fall in love with the mouthwatering deliciousness of both these amazing dishes.

So let’s now get on to preparing the Indian butter chicken. A disclaimer of sorts needs to be laid out beforehand – this recipe might not be like the authentic grandmother’s butter chicken (which would call for way more ingredients and preparing time) but be assured that it would taste just as good. All you would need in order to pull this off is probably the ingredients that you already have at home.

Prep time 10 minutes + cooking time 20 minutes

Serves for four people 


  • 6 tbsp butter
  • 2 lbs boneless and skinless chicken thighs that are cut into one -inch cubes
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp chili powder ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 ½ cups of tomato sauce
  • 2 cups of cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Lime and cilantro to garnish


In a large pan over medium heat, melt two tablespoons of butter and brown the pieces of chicken on each side. They don’t have to be cooked all the way through and be sure to work on batches and set them aside.

Then, melt another 2 table-spoon of butter in the same pan (if you want less dishes) and add in the onions until they begin to soften. This should take about three minutes. Once the onions are cooked through, add in the ginger, garlic, garam masala, chili powder, cayenne and cumin and stir it well to combine. Allow it to cook for about 45 seconds (because you don’t want the spices to burn) before adding in the tomato sauce.

Allow the mixture to come to a simmer and add in the browned chicken and let it cook for five minutes. Then, pour in the cream and bring the mixture back to simmer before adding the browned chicken. You may also add in some water if you want a little more gravy.

After the chicken has been added, let it simmer for a further 10 to 15 minutes under low heat. Finally, add 2 tablespoons of butter and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Garnish the dish with lime and cilantro and serve alongside rice or naan. This dish is best served with naan because let’s face it – the joy of dipping the rotti into the sauce and allowing it to saturate itself in the buttery gravy is the best part about enjoying the butter chicken.