I know what you’re thinking: butter chicken with tofu? What on earth? Believe me, I was sceptical too when I first heard of this dish. But let me tell you — it’s amazing! I recommend trying it. It uses ingredients that sometimes go unused in recipes, but if you give them a chance they are absolutely delicious.
Fried tofu is an amazing replacement for meat. In India, we would usually fry the Tofu and then add it to the curry. This recipe gives you an awesome Butter Chicken dish with more protein.
Vegetarian Butter Tofu
Soft tofu, which is similar to the Indian cheese paneer, makes for a vegetarian-friendly variation on the traditional Indian butter chicken recipe. This main course dish features a delightfully spiced tomato cream sauce.
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil or ghee
- 2 medium onions, finely minced
- Sea salt
- 3 tablespoons finely grated ginger
- 5 garlic cloves, finely grated
- 1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
- Seeds from 4 cardamom pods
- One 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 9 ounces soft tofu, cut into bite-size cubes
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons almond butter
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- Step 1In a large frying pan, heat the oil or ghee over medium high heat. Add the onions and 1 teaspoon of sea salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are medium brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add all of the spices and cook for about 30 seconds, stirring constantly.
- Step 2Stir in the crushed tomatoes, scraping the bottom of the pan to remove any browned bits. Add 1/2 cup of water to the pan, reduce the heat to low and simmer slowly for about 15 minutes, or until the sauce thickens and begins to splatter.
- Step 3Remove from the heat and allow the sauce to cool for a couple minutes. Transfer the sauce to a blender and blend for 1 minute, or until very smooth (see Note).
- Step 4Return the sauce to the pan and stir in the tofu over low heat until it is warm. Remove from the heat and stir through the brown sugar, almond butter and cream. Season with salt to taste.
If you are using a regular blender (instead of a high-speed blender) and you want a very smooth sauce, simply strain the sauce through a fine mesh sieve after you blend it.
Basmati rice and naan if desired.
Vegan Butter Chicken (with Amazing Tofu)
This Vegan Butter Chicken will blow your mind and impress your friends! It’s a healthier version of the classic, and so rich and creamy!
I’m on a mission recreate all the things that I loved when I used to eat when I ate meat, ages ago. Not that I miss meat at all, but because you guys specifically asked for it! One of the greatest realisations is that seasonings have a lot to do with why we love the foods we love, vegan food being no exception. I’ve been amazed at the things I’ve been able to recreate, such as vegan fish sticks (like what?!) that taste so much like the real thing that I haven’t felt unsatisfied. We also recently remade vegan saltfish fritters, which is a very popular Jamaican dish, and one I haven’t had in almost 5 years. It felt like a trip back to my childhood, and I promise that recipe is coming soon.
I digress, majorly. All of that is to explain that recreating butter chicken into a vegan butter chicken version was a palate heaven dream come true. All the creaminess and butteriness I got from that dish, once again a part of my life. Friends, I ate this Vegan Butter Chicken for days on end, dreamed about it (no, really), and wondered how I could incorporate it into breakfast. A la breakfast tacos maybe? It’s your kitchen, do you. Treat yo’ self. Live yo’ life. These were all the things I repeated to myself into bites of it during every dinner.
Here’s a question I get asked sometimes and more often nowadays, “if it’s vegan, why give it a meat name?”. Honestly, because Jessica in the Kitchen caters to everyone, which means making recipes very easy to find and relate to. If I called this “Vegan Butter Tofu” you might not even think of the Indian dish “butter chicken”, but instead tofu with butter on it, which is weird.
The point is to make it easier for someone interested in veganism, or a new vegan, or any human really, to be able to find vegan versions of their favourite dishes, and to be able to relate it to something they’ve already had. This is why you won’t see “veggie balls” or “nut balls” or “mylk” “cheez” but instead “vegan meatballs” and “burgers” and “Mac and cheese”. I’m all about making life easier for everyone, instead of making anyone feel like they need to be a part of a special club to “get it”. As an aside, I would definitely wear a T-shirt that says “cheez rulez”, because it does friends, it does. It’s ALL about love here!
Hence, why I named this Vegan Butter Chicken. Instead of chicken, I used tofu, and the way I prepared it, is a must in life. I called it amazing tofu because, well, that flavour! Since I couldn’t find any vegan yogurt for this, so I tried a different method. I marinated the tofu in the spices with some cornstarch, then pan-fried it on each side. That initial pan-frying give it such an amazing texture in the sauce, and it still absorbed so much flavour from it. I would definitely recommend firm tofu which holds up well here. The secret is to press that tofu hard friends. It crisps up better, and leaves more space for the tofu to absorb all of that yummy flavour.
Speaking of the sauce, my GOODNESS!! Spoiler alert, there’s no butter in this. But it tastes just like the butter chicken sauce you know and love. I subbed healthier ingredients that are also more wholesome, and lend for a more filling meal. I guarantee, you’ll be putting this Vegan Butter Chicken on your meal prep list friends. Eat up, and enjoy!
VEGAN BUTTER CHICKEN
This Vegan Butter Chicken recipe dresses crispy fried tofu in a silky Indian spiced butter sauce. It’s a delightfully creamy and gluten free meal with BIG flavor!
Can you believe this Vegan Butter Chicken recipe isn’t made with any butter or cream? This simplified and veganized version of the popular Indian recipe is deliciously creamy and silky smooth. Made with crispy fried tofu instead of chicken, you won’t be able to stop after one bowl!
This easy vegan butter chicken recipe is:
- Made with crispy and tender tofu instead of chicken
- Easy to make in one pan
- Naturally gluten free
- Savory and delectable
If you love Vegan Tofu Tikka Masala, then you’re sure to be a fan of tofu butter chicken as well. Both dishes feature tofu dressed in a creamy sauce and are best served over basmati rice with vegan naan bread on the side. However, if you’re a fan of rich flavors and silky smooth sauces, butter chicken is the dish for you
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WHAT IS BUTTER CHICKEN?
Butter chicken (Murgh Makhani) is a popular recipe from northern India. It’s traditionally made with chicken covered in a creamy butter, cream, and tomato-based sauce. The spice levels are very mild and the flavors are well-rounded, making it a popular family-friendly dinner.
WHAT IS VEGAN BUTTER CHICKEN MADE OF?
- Tofu – Extra firm tofu acts as the “chicken” in this vegan butter chicken recipe. It’s cut into small pieces and pan-fried to get it nice and crispy, but you can easily air fry or bake the tofu instead.
- Cornstarch – The cornstarch surrounds the tofu pieces to help them crisp up as they fry.
- Vegan butter sauce – This creamy sauce is made with a base of vegan butter, vegan yogurt, coconut milk, tomato sauce, green chilies, and a variety of Indian spices and aromatics.
- Indian spices – A variety of Indian spices is the secret to a truly flavorful Indian butter sauce! If you can, use all of the spices listed in the ingredients, especially garam masala. This spice blend is traditional to India and will help the butter chicken recipe taste warm and comforting.
HOW TO MAKE VEGAN BUTTER CHICKEN
Make sure to press the block of tofu before you begin. The more moisture that’s removed from the tofu, the crispier it will become. Once that’s done, you can put the rest of the dish together:
- Prepare the tofu: Chop the tofu into small cubes and place them in a bowl. Toss them in oil, cornstarch, salt, and pepper.
- Pan fry the tofu: Heat some oil in a skillet over medium heat and add the tofu. Fry until the cubes are golden and crispy, then transfer to a plate. Want to save time? Air fry the tofu instead!
- Start making the butter sauce: Melt the vegan butter in the same pan and cook the garlic and ginger. Afterward, stir in the spices.
- Finish the butter sauce: Stir the rest of the ingredients (except the tofu) into the pan. Bring the sauce up to a simmer and cook for a few minutes.
- Bring everything together and serve: Add the tofu into the sauce. Season with salt and pepper, then serve over cooked rice with vegan naan bread on the side. Enjoy! For full ingredients and instructions see printable recipe card below.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What’s the difference between butter chicken and tikka masala?
The difference between the two comes down to the flavor profile. Butter chicken is very creamy and buttery, whereas tikka masala is tomato-based and not as creamy. The flavors are more intense, too!
What can I use instead of tofu?
The tofu “chicken” can easily be replaced with chickpeas, roasted cauliflower, soy curls, homemade seitan chicken, or store-bought vegan chicken.
How long does vegan butter chicken last?
The leftover vegan butter chicken will last for 3 to 4 days when kept in an airtight container in the fridge.
Is it freezer-friendly?
Yes! To freeze vegan butter chicken, transfer the cooled leftovers to a sealed container and freeze for up to 2 months. Let them defrost overnight and reheat on the stove or in the microwave.