This homemade butter chicken is restaurant quality and is made with supermarket ingredients!
Making a curry from scratch can sometimes sound daunting, but this recipe is a breeze – promise! Follow me…
Butter Chicken Marinade
The marinade is key in this recipe. Not only does it inject flavour into the chicken, but it also helps tenderise it. Alongside that, you can add the excess marinade to the sauce for an extra boost of flavour!
For this recipe, we’ll be using boneless skinless chicken thighs. Thighs are much fattier than breast, meaning there’s more flavour AND they tend to dry out less easily. This is important when it comes to cooking the chicken as we want to build up some char/flavour without overcooking the chicken.
The base of the marinade is yoghurt. Yoghurt makes the perfect marinade as it works as a binder for the other ingredients. Its slight acidity also means it also helps tenderise the chicken. Just make sure it’s plain (i.e. no funky added flavours) and it’s full fat.
Butter Chicken Spices
When it comes to the spices in this recipe, they can all be found at a regular supermarket, besides one. You might struggle to find Kashmiri Chilli Powder unless you go to an Asian/Global store. Having said that, it’s not a deal-breaker if you just use regular chilli powder.
How long do I marinate the chicken for?
Aim for 24 hours if you can, with the absolute minimum being 3 hours.
Process shots: add marinade ingredients to a bowl (photo 1), whisk (photo 2), add chicken (photo 3), mix then marinate (photo 4).
When it comes to cooking the chicken we’ll be pan-frying it. I recommend working in two batches as we want to give the chicken room in the pan. Otherwise, it’ll steam and you won’t be able to develop flavour. You’re looking to lightly char the chicken for some authentic flavour.
When it comes to the sauce I like to think of it as two separate components:
- Tomato base – the first component is made with tomato passata, alongside garlic and ginger.
- Creamy sauce – this is when we add in the butter and cream to turn it into a proper butter chicken.
I LOVE adding some cashew nuts into the sauce. These add a lovely creaminess to the sauce and help thicken it up.
Process shots: fry chicken in batches then remove (photos 1&2), melt butter (photo 3), fry onion (photo 4), fry garlic, ginger and spices (photo 5), simmer passata, water and cashews (photo 6).
Butter Chicken Sauce
Once you’ve simmered the tomato base alongside the cashews, you’ll want to blend it up until smooth. You can do this in a blender or in a bowl with a hand blender. It’ll be pretty thick at this point, but you can add a dash of water to loosen it up if you need to.
Creamy Butter Chicken
The sauce will be somewhat creamy from the cashews and butter, but we want it creeeaaaamy. So, in goes some cream alongside the rest of the butter. From there we’ll simmer it with the cooked chicken.
Process shots: blend sauce (photo 1), add to pan (photo 2), stir in sugar, salt, cream and butter (photo 3), stir in chicken (photo 4).
Serving Butter Chicken
Naan or Flatbreads are a must to dunk in that delicious sauce. There will be plenty! I also go with rice and fresh coriander/cilantro.
Alrighty, let’s tuck into the full recipe for this butter chicken shall we?!
How to make Butter Chicken (Full Recipe & Video)
Homemade Butter Chicken
- Sharp Knife & Chopping Board
- Large Mixing Bowl, Spatula & Cling Film
- Large Pan, Tongs & Wooden Spoon
Ingredients (check list):
- 160g / 2/3 cup full fat Plain Yoghurt
- 1 tbsp Lemon Juice
- 1 tbsp finely grated/minced Fresh Ginger
- 3 cloves of Garlic, finely grated/minced
- 2 tsp Garam Masala (see notes)
- 1 tsp EACH: Turmeric, Ground Coriander, Salt, Kashmiri Chilli Powder (see notes)
- 1/2 tsp Ground Cumin
- 640g / 1.4lb boneless skinless Chicken Thighs, diced into large bite-sized pieces
- 1 tbsp Vegetable Oil, or as needed
- 4 tbsp / 60g Unsalted Butter (divided into 4 pieces)
- 1 large White Onion, finely diced
- 2 tsp finely grated/minced Fresh Ginger
- 2 cloves of Garlic, finely diced
- 1 tsp EACH: Garam Masala, Ground Fenugreek, Ground Coriander, Ground Cumin, Kashmiri Chilli Powder (adjust chilli powder to spice preference)
- 500g / 2 cups Tomato Passata (pureed tomatoes in US)
- 160ml / 2/3 cup Water
- 40g / 1/3 cup Unsalted Cashews (see notes)
- 180ml / 3/4 cup Double/Heavy Cream, at room temp
- 1 1/2 tbsp Sugar
- 1 tsp Salt, or to taste
- Rice, Coriander/Cilantro, Flatbreads or Naan, to serve
- In a large mixing bowl whisk together all the marinade ingredients beside the chicken. Mix in the chicken until fully coated, then tightly cover and rest in the fridge for 3-24 hours (aim for the latter if you can). Take out the fridge 30 minutes before needed.
- Heat the oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Use tongs to pluck out half of the chicken and space it out in the pan. Leave to fry until it begins to char, then flip the pieces and continue frying until charred on the other side and cooked through the centre (around 3 mins on each side depending on size). Remove and store in a bowl to one side and repeat with the second batch, adding more oil as needed. Keep the leftover marinade in the bowl!
- Turn the heat down slightly and melt in 1 tbsp of the butter. Add the onion and fry until soft and golden, then add in the garlic, ginger, garam masala, chilli powder, ground coriander, ground cumin and ground fenugreek. Fry for a minute, then pour in the passata. Swill out the carton/jar with 2/3 cup water and add that in too. Use a spatula to scrape in all of the leftover marinade then finally add in the cashews.
- Bring to a gentle simmer and allow to bubble away for 15 minutes until the sauce thickens and the cashews soften. Carefully transfer it to a blender and pulse until smooth, adding a dash of water to loosen it up if needed.
- Pour back into the pan and stir in the cream, sugar and salt. Bring to a very gentle bubble and stir through the rest of the butter, then stir in the cooked chicken alongside all of the resting juices. Gently simmer for around 10 minutes to heat the chicken back through and allow its flavours to seep into the sauce.
- Check for seasoning and adjust if needed (don't skimp on the salt), then serve up with rice, naan and fresh coriander/cilantro if desired!
Quick 1 min demo!
Your Private Notes:
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