Butter Chicken (better than takeout!)


Total Time:

2 hours 5 minutes



This super flavorful Butter Chicken that is better than any takeout and couldn’t be easier to make! It’s especially delicious served with a warm piece of naan!

The most life changing Butter Chicken from www.whatsgabycooking.com (@whatsgabycookin)

Butter chicken is one of the best chicken recipes I’ve made to date. It’s right up there with Chicken Parmesan and Grilled Chicken with Avocado Tomato Salsa.

At it’s core, it’s cut up chicken thighs marinated in a lemon juice, yogurt and spice mixture and then simmers in a savory sauce made of butter, onion, garlic, ginger, tomatoes and some cream. It’s slowly cooked until the chicken is almost falling apart, majorly tender, and packed full of flavor.

Butter chicken is reminiscent to chicken tikka masala but the difference is that while Tikka Masala is a bit more complex and this tastes more buttery with a delicious tomato based Indian gravy. 

There’s all sorts of delicious juices that come with this recipe so you absolutely MUST eat it with a few pieces of homemade naan

The most life changing Butter Chicken from www.whatsgabycooking.com (@whatsgabycookin)

Some frequently asked questions coming your way:

What does Butter Chicken taste like?

It’s a little reminiscent to a chicken tikka masala but the difference is that while Tikka Masala is a bit more complex and this tastes more buttery with a delicious Indian gravy. It originated in back in the 1950’s in India when some leftover chicken was tossed into a tomato based gravy sauce and it’s been popular ever since! 

Why is it called Butter Chicken?

Because of the butter in the gravy of course!! If you’re hesitant about the butter, don’t be! It’s honestly so delicious in this recipe. You could also use Ghee if you have it on hand – will be just as delish!

What do you serve with Butter Chicken?

I like to serve a warmed piece of homemade naan with it. It’s also great over rice, quinoa, farro or any other grain.

What spices go in Butter Chicken?

Turmeric, garam masala, cumin, and cayenne are the traditional spices you’ll want to have on hand!

Can you freeze Butter Chicken?

You sure can! I freeze smaller portions of this all the time, once it’s fully cooked. In order to reheat it, I just remove it from the freezer, let it come to temp in the fridge and then transfer the mixture to a non-stick skillet and re-heat over medium heat. It’s a great dish to freeze because it re-heats so nicely!

Ok… away we go!

Butter Chicken

This super flavorful Butter Chicken rivals any takeout and couldn't be easier to make!
4.8 from 8 votes
Prep Time 1 hr 5 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Total Time 2 hrs 5 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 4 people


  • 2 pounds skinless boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 cup greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 ½ tablespoons ground turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons garam masala
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 onion small dice
  • 4 cloves garlic roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger grated
  • 1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • Lemon juice to taste
  • Cilantro to garnish
  • Naan bread to serve


  • Combine the chicken, greek yogurt, lemon juice, and spices in a bowl. Marinate for at least 1 hour, or overnight.
  • In a large pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Stir in onion and cook slowly until the onion and cook until translucent. Add the garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes more.
  • Add the tomatoes to the skillet and cook for 5 minutes. Add the chicken and its marinade to the pan and cook for 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock and bring the mixture to a boil - then lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir in the heavy cream, tomato paste and salt and continue to simmer until the chicken has cooked through, about 15 minutes, and the sauce is thick.
  • Taste, adjust seasoning as needed, add lemon juice for a bit of acid. Garnish with cilantro leaves and serve alongside warmed naan.

Photo by Matt Armendariz / Food Styling by Adam Pearson / Recipe from What’s Gaby Cooking

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Recipe Rating


  1. Sandy

    This sounds amazingly yummy! I’m a chicken lover and this sounds fantastic.

  2. Monika

    I definitely need to add this to my meal rotations!! Winner, winner, chicken dinner!!

  3. Erin

    Hi Gaby

    Just to confirm, your description says chicken breasts but the recipe says thighs. Which should we use for the recipe it sounds delicious!!



    Thats amazing, i can imagine the taste, ive been there! lol

  5. Anna Hettick

    YUM! This looks amazing and definitely going on my to make list!

  6. taylor

    looks amazing! definitely making it this week. can you sub something else for heavy cream?

  7. kita

    Butter chicken is soooo good. something I dont get nearly often enough. I will have to add this to my make list for the week to treat myself!

  8. Carole

    This looks lovely. Any suggestions for the lactose intolerant that won’t alter the flavor?

    • Gaby

      coconut cream instead of heavy cream! vegan butter, and lactose free yogurt!!

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    • Verginia

      5 stars
      Can you also add chickpeas? If so, at what stage would you add them?

    • Gaby

      absolutely! I’d add with the heavy cream just so they can heat through!

  10. Samantha Cullen

    I have attempted to make Butter Chicken several times but I aways seem to missing something, A friend told me that it could be the garam masala mix I’m using, what brand (if you don’t mind me asking) do you use? She said that some brands differ on ratios and may even leave an ingredient out depending…?!

    • Gaby

      I use the one from McCormick!! Let me know what you think of this recipe once you make it!! xx

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  12. Sherri Inman

    I just found your site on the Internet and I’m excited to start making many of your recipes. Do you have a calorie count for your recipes?

    • Gaby

      I don’t calculate calories for my recipes – but I know there are a bunch on online tools to do it for yourself if you’re curious!! Thanks!

  13. J. Orszulak

    This looks amazing! Could you make this in the slow cooker and skip the marinating step?

    • Gaby

      I havent tested it in a slow cooker but I’d assume it would work!!

  14. Nisha

    Hi, do you cover it during the simmer period? Or do you leave it uncovered? Thanks!

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  16. Sally

    I am making this for my fourth time–it is SO GOOD. Everyone I have made it for absolutely loves it. So many of your recipes are now in my meal rotation, they are what my husband constantly requests! Thank you for all the yummy food!

  17. Jordan

    How do I get it to thicken up if it is too runny at the end?
    Thank you!!

    • Gaby

      you can marinate for 2 hours and still be good to go

  18. KC

    Made this tonight and it was great! However three cups of heavy cream plus the chicken stock seemed like it would be way too much liquid so I only added about 1/3 cup cream (and stock as written, and it turned out perfectly!

  19. Nancy

    Made this last night. it was very tasty and approved by all. I found it to be a little heavy in liquid. I thickened it up slightly at the end with a little flour/water and but still fished out the content with slotted spoon and served in a bowl with less of the sauce. Also put 1/3 of heavy cream. Added 1/2 c. of frozen peas. Spice/heat was perfect. with 1/2 tsp of cayenne. Would reduce sauce longer next time.

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  21. Lauren Clark

    Do you think the heavy cream could be substituted for coconut milk?

  22. Angelique

    What can i sunstitute the yogurt and heavy cream with?

  23. Heidi

    5 stars
    Another great recipe by Gaby! I will say I had never heard of butter chicken, but I sort of think the name is deceiving. It is certainly more of an Indian/middle eastern dish than a “butter” dish. Still delicious 🙂

  24. Monika

    5 stars
    Oh my – this sounds like the best way ever to eat chicken!!

  25. Amanda

    Just made this tonight and it was delicious! One question though: i found my sauce had kind of a grainy texture from the spices. Any thoughts on how i can avoid that in the future? I simmered it for as long as you mentioned (maybe a touch longer). But overall still really yummy!

  26. Amanda

    4 stars
    This recipe was so delicious! I did find that my sauce was a little grainy, likely from the spices. I simmered the full time (maybe a smidge longer). Any recommendations for next time? Other than that, so yummy!

  27. Barb

    5 stars
    Absolutely love this dish and the spices……..definitely WAY too runny and I did everything right. Kept cooking and it barely thickened. Had to put in cornstarch twice to get it a bit thicker. 3 cups of heavy cream seems too much. 2 cups maybe? Love to have Gaby’s input! Tasted wonderful!

  28. Kate

    My sister has requested butter chicken this week and I would love to use this recipe but she doesn’t like tomatoes do you think I could leave them out?

  29. April

    5 stars
    Amazing!!!! My first time ever making butter chicken and it came out perfectly. Now I’m having to stop myself for going back for thirds…notice I didn’t say seconds…yea that already happened.

  30. Amy

    Hi. Love your recipes. My son is on super restrictive diet – any non-dairy substitute recommendations for the Heavy cream?

  31. Kelly

    4 stars
    Made this tonight. We love all Indian food. 3 cups of cream seemed like a lot? I used half the amount and still turned out great.

  32. Elizabeth

    5 stars
    Delicious!! We are big indian food takeout fans and this was just like what we order for takeout. Easy to make and delicious!