Butter Chicken With Coconut Milk


Hello! If you’re anything like me, you love Indian food. Try this tasty recipe for Butter Chicken With Coconut Milk . Coconut milk adds richness to the sauce, and the chunky tomatoes are delicious. Comforting and exotic at the same time, this chicken dish will become a family favorite.

Easy Butter Chicken

A simplified version of the popular Indian dish, this Easy Butter Chicken recipe has a creamy tomato sauce, all cooked in one pan in less than half an hour!

This easy butter chicken recipe is full of authentic Indian flavors. This is a healthy chicken curry recipe that is quick to make and perfect for a weeknight meal. The curry sauce is mild in spice but big in flavor! This is the best butter chicken recipe!


Final dish for the easy butter chicken plates with rice and cilantro

Do you remember the first time you heard of butter chicken (which is known in India as Murgh Makhani)? I literally just pictured chicken swimming in butter… But then I actually tasted it at a restaurant. It was like a party in my mouth!


Authentic butter chicken is a labor of love. It requires the chicken to be marinated in advance, has more authentic Indian spices than I can probably pronounce, and takes at least an hour to make. I only allot myself 30 minutes for most recipes. So I took a shortcut and made this [still absolutely amazingly tasting] authentic Indian dish. Don’t be scared by the list of ingredients. 7 of them are just the spices and all the rest are simple easy-to-find items.

I promise you all the flavor of traditional butter chicken is still there (thanks to my amazing Indian spice collection!) And I promise you the chicken will come out juicy, tender and unbelievably tasty! Also, the best part is that even though it’s a butter chicken recipe, there’s really only 1 tablespoon of butter in the recipe.


To start, cook the onions with the butter and olive oil. It’s a great idea to finely dice the onions if you can. This helps the onions blends in well with the sauce. When the onions soften, I add some grated ginger and minced garlic.

You know by now this is all happening in one pan, right? So into the pan goes literally everything else! There’s chicken breast, tomato paste, red curry paste and tons of colorful Indian spices.

Once I add the coconut milk to that mixture, it transforms the dish to a beautiful orangey color that’s basically like a velvety butter bath bursting with flavor. Allow it simmer though for 20 minutes. You want the chicken to cook completely and the sauce to thicken.

Easy butter chicken after 20 minutes of cooking in the skillet


  • Be liberal with the spices. Like a lot of Indian recipes, this one is a heavily spiced dish. When you break down the ingredients, you’ll realize that all the flavor comes from the combination of warm smokey spices. Use my recipe below as a guide but feel free to add more and substitute the spices you don’t have with more of the ones you do have.
  • Use fresh ginger and fresh garlic. Yes, we are throwing in a ton of spices in the dish. And it’s tempting to throw in more dried spices like ginger and garlic. But it’s important that you use the fresh versions. They add a ton more flavor to the dish than their dry counterparts.
  • Customize it with vegetables. The chicken is the star of the dish, but you can certainly bulk this up with any other vegetables like carrots, cauliflower or peas to add more servings of vegetables.
  • Substitute the butter if you prefer. You don’t need butter to make this recipe? Nope. This recipe gets all its richness and “buttery” taste from the from cream, or in my case, the coconut milk. So if you’re not a fan of butter, try olive oil or any other cooking oil.



Butter chicken and chicken tikka masala look very similar, but chicken tikka has a more complex taste with more added spices and butter chicken has a milder and sweeter curry sauce or gravy. Butter chicken originates from India, whereas chicken tikka masala is actually a British dish.


Despite the various spices used in this gravy, it is a very mild dish, the spices add flavor to the curry rather than heat. This is a great family meal that the kids will love, and if you are not a fan of spicy food this dish will be for you!


If you order butter chicken in a restaurant, you are likely looking at around 500 calories, sometimes more, per serving, but my lightened up version is less than 300 calories yet still as tasty! Feel free to add extra veggies in as well for an even healthier dish!

Close up of the final dish for the easy butter chicken plates with rice and cilantro

That, my friends, is the whole recipe. It’s the fast and convenient recipe for us butter chicken lovers that have 30 minutes to get dinner ready on the table. By the way, while that is simmering for 20 minutes, it’s the perfect time to make rice to go along with this meal. You can also serve it with naan, quinoa, or brown rice. But long grain white rice or basmati rice is the best. It’s the way it’s served traditionally.

Butter Chicken with Coconut Milk

Inspired by the familiar Indian dish, our Butter Chicken with Coconut milk is fragrant, spicy and creamy. Served with warm naan and a sprinkling of cilantro, this dish has become a favourite in our home.

Butter Chicken in Silver Plate with Naan and Cilantro, next to Le Creuset Dutch Oven

how to make our butter chicken with coconut milk recipe

step 1 | marinate the chicken

Ingredients to marinate chicken for butter chicken recipe


Boneless, skinless chicken thighs, garlic, ginger, chili peppers, chili powder, garam masala, cumin, coriander, yogurt.

watch how to make our dairy-free butter chicken (30 sec)

Butter Chicken with Coconut MilkPlay Video

How to Make the Butter Chicken Marinade

Bowl with yogurt and spices for butter chicken marinade

In a medium mixing bowl, combine ¼ cup yogurt, 2 tablespoons of seasoning paste (see below), 2 teaspoons each of garam masala, chili powder, and cumin, and 1 teaspoon of ground coriander. Add chicken, toss to coat and place in the fridge at least 30 minutes to marinate.

Chicken marinating for butter chicken recipe

step 2 | make the butter chicken sauce


Yellow onion, garlic, ginger, chili peppers, chili powder, garam masala, cumin, coriander, fenugreek (optional), tomato paste, ground tomatoes, coconut milk.

Ingredients to make butter chicken sauce

Prepare the Seasoning Paste and Spice Mix

In a container of a blender or food processor pulse 1 chopped onion, 5 cloves of chopped garlic, 2 chopped chili peppers, and a 3-inch knob of chopped ginger. Add a few splashes of water as you pulse until it becomes a paste-like consistency and set aside.

For the spice mix, combine 1 tablespoon each of chili powder, garam masala, and cumin, 2 teaspoons of coriander and ½ teaspoon of fenugreek (optional) in a small bowl and set aside.

Cook the Butter Chicken Sauce

Homemade butter chicken sauce in a mason jar

Heat a deep skillet or medium saucepan on medium-high heat. Add 4 tablespoons of ghee (or coconut oil for plant-based sauce). Once the ghee begins to smoke a bit, pour in the seasoning paste and saute for 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until fragrant and beginning to brown slightly.

Add the spices and cook an additional 5 minutes, while stirring often, until deep in colour, then stir in 3 tablespoons of tomato paste, cooking another 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Pour in a 28oz can of pureed tomatoes, 2 tablespoons of honey, then season with salt and pepper. Bring the sauce to a boil, then lower heat to simmer, cover, and cook for 20 minutes. Uncover the pot and stir in a 14oz can of coconut milk. Adjust seasoning to taste.

step 3 | grill the chicken

For best results, we like to use a bbq to caramelize the chicken marinade and get a good smokey flavour, however, you can saute the chicken as well. To grill the chicken, skewer the chicken and preheat your bbq on high heat. Grill the chicken for 10 minutes, turning the skewers every 2 to 3 minutes until cooked through.

step 4 | finish the butter chicken

Remove the grilled chicken from the skewers and stir into the sauce. Simmer for an additional 10 to 15 minutes to allow the flavours to build.

step 5 | how to style and serve the butter chicken with coconut milk

While our preference is to serve our butter chicken simply in a bowl with naan, flatbread, or roti on the side, you can also serve it with rice or potatoes. Before serving, sprinkle fresh cilantro on top.

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Below are affiliate links to products that will assist you in making our Butter Chicken Recipe. If you purchase an item through the links, Chef Sous Chef Inc. will receive a small commission. There is no additional cost to you.


This Easy Butter Chicken recipe (murgh makhani) can be on your dinner table in just 30 minutes. The sauce is deliciously rich and creamy, just like butter chicken from your favorite Indian restaurant.

Butter chicken is best served with a side of steamed basmati rice (or cauliflower rice for a healthier version). If you love butter chicken, make sure to check out this chicken tikka masala recipe. You’ll love it, too.

Butter chicken in an Indian pot.

Hello, friends. I’ve made a big pot of easy butter chicken, and I’m here to share it with you. Food is always so much better when we share it with friends, isn’t it?

This easy butter chicken recipe is one I’ve been making for YEARS. I feel like I owe you a big apology for holding out on you for so long. Do you know those recipes that you make without using a recipe? The kind that you don’t think to share because it’s just part of your repertoire that you’ve grown so accustomed to making? That’s this recipe for me.

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The sauce is thick and rich, creamy, and full of warm Indian spices. I like that it’s not as sweet as butter chicken that you get at some westernized Indian restaurants; it tastes more like the real thing.

And since it’s made in only 4 easy steps there’s really no reason not to treat yourself to curry tonight


We’ve been making versions of this recipe for many years so we have had plenty of opportunities to tweak the method. Our butter chicken recipe is very easy to make but still every bit as delicious as what you’ll find at your favorite restaurant. We simplify the traditional recipe in 2 ways:

  1. Cook the chicken in the sauce. Rather than marinating the chicken (unnecessary with such a flavorful sauce) and cooking it separately, we cook it right in the sauce. This lets the chicken poach gently so that it stays very tender.
  2. Simmer the sauce. Since we cook the sauce and chicken together we get to skip the time most recipes take to simmer the sauce by itself. To birds, one stone, same result.


Over the many years of making this recipe we’ve refined the method so that it is very simple to make. Here’s what to do:

  1. Cook the onions, garlic, and ginger until deliciously caramelized.
  2. Add the spices and tomatoes then blend the sauce until smooth.
  3. Now cook the chicken in the sauce so that it’s flavorful and tender.

That’s it! You’ve just made your favorite Indian curry!

Full recipe instructions in the recipe card below.


  • Brown the onions well. They add the most amazing flavor and contribute to the sweetness of the curry.
  • When the onions are browning, add all the spices to a small bowl. This will make it quick and easy for you to add the spices once the onions are brown.
  • If you’re serving this with rice, you can start the rice first. It will finish cooking before the butter chicken is ready, but you can remove it from the heat and set it aside until everything else is done.


Yes, and no. Each of the spices adds a layer of flavor and leaving one out will change the taste of this recipe. But sometimes we all run out of spices or don’t want to buy one because we don’t think we’ll use it often. I get it! If you’re craving butter chicken and don’t have any cumin on hand, don’t sweat it, the curry will still taste great.

Garam masala is the most important spice here. It is a mix of different spices and adds the most flavor to the recipe. You could substitute curry powder, but I like garam masala better.


It can be! Most restaurant butter chicken recipes use copious amounts of butter, cream, and sugar. We reduce the amount of butter, have options for the cream (whipped cream, yogurt, or coconut milk – your choice!), and use just enough sweetener.


Yes! We often make a double batch and put leftovers in the freezer. It’s better and easier than takeout. We love these big reusable Stasher Bags for freezing leftovers.

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