by Olena

Instant Pot Butter Chicken

Olena's image
Olena Osipov
5 from 57 votes

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Instant Pot Butter Chicken is easy, healthy and 30 minute restaurant quality dinner you can make whenever you crave Indian food. Many readers give it 5 stars and call this recipe authentic!

Our other favorite curry recipes are this delicious pressure cooker dal, lentil curry or Thai shrimp curry.

instant pot butter chicken

Pressure Cooker Butter Chicken

This Instant Pot butter chicken is of Indian restaurant quality! Pressure cooker makes your favorite take out meal healthy and ready in 30 minutes. If you don’t have one, try this slow cooker butter chicken or even stovetop Thai coconut chicken curry.

Chicken comes out tender, coconut milk sauce flavorful and authentic with a touch of butter and cilantro, served over freshly cooked rice and with a naan bread. Delicious!

instant pot butter chicken in the pot with metal spoon

Butter chicken and yellow chicken curry are the only Indian recipes we make at home because we just love them! Our family is not huge on eating out because it is extremely expensive, hard to eat healthy, and frankly it’s not easy to be wow-ed when you can cook.

Once you learn how to cook easy Instant Pot chicken recipes, your takeout bill drops dramatically. We would rather make $15 pressure cooker butter chicken, serve it over the most fluffy brown rice or cauliflower rice and eat all weekend.

Ingredients for Instant Pot Butter Chicken

  • Chicken: Boneless and skinless chicken breasts or thighs.
  • Coconut milk: From a can and from a carton. I used full fat  and my favourite brand is Thai Kitchen for its ingredients and consistency.
  • Tomato paste should be no or low sodium. If not, use less salt.
  • Cornstarch to thicken the sauce. Substitute with flour or arrowroot powder.
  • Fresh garlic and ginger: I would not recommend to use dried ginger but you can.
  • Spices: Curry powder, garam masala and chili powder. This butter chicken is kid friendly but if you want it spicier, add more curry powder.
chicken breasts, spices, ginger, butter, coconut milk, tomato paste, onion

How Make Instant Pot Butter Chicken

  • Add ingredients in exact order listed in the recipe: onion, garlic, ginger, curry powder, garam masala, chili powder, salt, pepper, coconut milk, maple syrup, tomato paste and chicken. In my photo, spices are on top of chicken and I learnt it’s better to add them first, so they get incorporated in the sauce. Adding tomato products on top avoids Burn.
  • Cook on High Pressure for 12 minutes: Depending on a model, you will need to press Pressure Cook button and make sure Instant Pot is set to High pressure. Or some models have Manual button only which equals to pressure cooking on high. It will take about 15-20 minutes for pressure to build up.
  • Release pressure: Wait for 3 or so minutes and do Quick Release by turning valve to Venting. A few minutes of wait are to make sure bubbling comes down and strong pressure doesn’t pull out moisture from meat. You can also wait for pressure to subside on its own called Natural Release. Doesn’t really matter for this recipe as pot will stay on Keep Warm.
  • Remove chicken and add butter: Add butter into sauce, stir and let melt. Meanwhile, cut up chicken on cutting board. Use forks to remove and hold meat as it’s hot.
  • Thicken the sauce: Press Sauté. In a small bowl, whisk cold (!) water and cornstarch with a fork, then add to the pot, stir and cook until sauce has thickened, for a few minutes. Cold water is important to prevent cornstarch from clumping.
  • Combine: Add back chicken, give a few stirs and I like to add some cilantro into the pot and some over butter chicken served with rice in individual plates.

Do you have an Instant Pot but still not 100% confident around it? Read my Instant Pot guide. Lot of tips and tricks. Still on a fence about Instant Pot? Check out which one I recommend to buy from my experience.

Substitutes, Tips and Variations

  • Frozen chicken: You can use frozen boneless chicken breasts or thighs, just make sure they are separated. Cook time should be 15 minutes, just in case.
  • Bone in chicken: I had this recipe originally posted with 3 lbs of chicken drumsticks. Feel free to use them or chicken thighs as well. Cook time will be 20 minutes.
  • More chicken: You can use up to 3 lbs of meat, there is enough sauce for it. Might adjust salt to taste after.
  • Less tomato paste: If you like more orange and less tomatoey sauce, use 3 tbsp only.
  • Dried ginger powder: I have not tried replacing fresh ginger with dried, but I recommend to start with 1 tsp. It is more concentrated than fresh. Easier to adjust after.
  • Low fat coconut milk: You can use canned (not from a carton) light coconut milk, sauce will be more flat though.
  • Garam masala substitute: Combine 2 tsp cumin with 1 tsp allspice. Or just replace with curry powder.
  • 3 quart Instant Pot: Follow teh recipe, it will fit.
  • Can I double the recipe? Yes, in 6 or 8 quart Instant Pot.
  • If you get a Burn: Release pressure, add 1/2 cup water, don’t stir and start again. Newer models are more sensitive. Could happen. Again it doesn’t mean food is burning. It’s computer that sensors certain temperature above certain level. I have 3 instant pots and it doesn’t happen on any of them.

More Storing and Reheating Tips

Storing: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Or if you have room in the fridge, you can stick entire inner pot covered with glass or silicone fitting lid. Then reheat right in Instant Pot on Saute mode. Ha!

Freezing: You can freeze cooked butter chicken leftovers for up to 3 months. Then thaw in the fridge overnight or on a counter for 6 hours.

How to Make a Freezer Meal

  • Instant Pot: In a gallon size Ziploc bag, add all ingredients (minus butter, water, cornstarch and cilantro). Swoosh it all around with your hands to make chicken breasts separated with other ingredients. Let air out and reseal the bag. Freeze for up to 3 months in an upright position, so frozen blob fits into Instant Pot. Cook from frozen with 1 cup water for 30 minutes, Quick Release.
  • Slow cooker: Thaw in the fridge for 24 hours before cooking. Cook with 1 cup water on Low for 8 hours or on High for 4 hours.
  • After cooking: Open the lid, add butter and press Sauté (cancel Keep Warm if it’s on). In a small bowl, whisk water and cornstarch with a fork. Pour over chicken and stir gently. Cook for a few minutes until sauce has thickened a bit. Serve with cilantro over a bed of brown rice and with naan/pita bread.

Check out my full list of 20 healthy freezer meals. I’m obsessed!

instant pot butter chicken freezer meal

I hope you enjoy this Instant Pot butter chicken as much as we do!!!

More Instant Pot Recipes

instant pot butter chicken served over brown rice and with naan bread in a bowl
Instant Pot Butter Chicken

Instant Pot Butter Chicken

Instant Pot Butter Chicken is easy, healthy and 30 minute restaurant quality dinner you can make whenever you crave Indian food. Many readers give it 5 stars and call this recipe authentic!
4.97 from 57 votes
Print Save Rate
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Indian
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 435kcal
Author: Olena Osipov

Ingredients

  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 4 large garlic cloves minced
  • 2 inch fresh ginger minced
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 14 oz can coconut milk full fat
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup or honey
  • 2 lbs chicken breasts or thighs boneless & skinless
  • 6 oz can tomato paste low sodium
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp cold water
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • Cilantro for garnish
  • Brown rice for serving

Instructions

  • In Instant Pot, add ingredients in exact order as listed above: onion, garlic, ginger, curry powder, garam masala, chili powder, salt, pepper, coconut milk, maple syrup, tomato paste and chicken. *In my photo, spices are on top of chicken and I learnt it's better to add them first.
    Instant Pot Butter Chicken
  • Close the lid, set pressure vent to Sealing and press Pressure Cook on High or Manual for 12 minutes.
    Instant Pot Butter Chicken
  • After 12 minutes is up, wait 3 minutes or so, and release pressure using Quick Release by turning valve to Venting.
    Instant Pot Butter Chicken
  • Open the lid, remove chicken onto a cutting board and cut into bite size pieces.
  • Press Sauté and add butter. In a small bowl, whisk cold water and cornstarch with a fork, pour into the pot and whisk. Cook for a few minutes until sauce has thickened a bit. Press Cancel.
    Instant Pot Butter Chicken
  • Return chicken to the pot, stir and serve over brown rice garnished with cilantro.
    Instant Pot Butter Chicken

Store: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

    Freeze: Fully cook, cool completely and freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw in a fridge or on a counter.

      Video

      Notes

      • Frozen chicken: You can use frozen boneless chicken breasts or thighs, just make sure they are separated. Cook time should be 15 minutes, just in case.
      • Bone in chicken: I had this recipe originally posted with 3 lbs of chicken drumsticks. Feel free to use them or chicken thighs as well. Cook time will be 20 minutes.
      • More chicken: You can use up to 3 lbs of meat, there is enough sauce for it. Might adjust salt to taste after.
      • Less tomato paste: If you like more orange and less tomatoey sauce, use 3 tbsp only.
      • Dried ginger powder: I have not tried replacing fresh ginger with dried, but I recommend to start with 1 tsp. It is more concentrated than fresh. Easier to adjust after.
      • Low fat coconut milk: You can use it, sauce will be more flat though.
      • Garam masala substitute: Combine 2 tsp cumin with 1 tsp allspice. Or just replace with curry powder or any combination of coriander, cumin, black peppercorns, cardamom, cloves and nutmeg.
      • 3 quart Instant Pot: Follow the recipe, it will fit.
      • Can I double the recipe? Yes, in 6 or 8 quart Instant Pot.
      • If you get a Burn: Release pressure, add 1/2 cup water, don’t stir and start again. Newer models are more sensitive. Could happen. Again it doesn’t mean food is burning. It’s computer that sensors certain temperature above certain level. I have 3 instant pots and it doesn’t happen on any of them.
      How to Make a Freezer Meal:
      • Instant Pot: In a gallon size Ziploc bag, add all ingredients (minus butter, water, cornstarch and cilantro). Swoosh it all around with your hands to make chicken breasts separated with other ingredients. Let air out and reseal the bag. Freeze for up to 3 months in an upright position, so frozen blob fits into Instant Pot. Cook from frozen with 1 cup water for 20 minutes, Quick Release.
      • Slow cooker: Thaw in the fridge for 24 hours before cooking. Cook with 1 cup water on Low for 8 hours or on High for 4 hours.
      • After cooking: Open the lid, add butter and press Sauté (cancel Keep Warm if it’s on). In a small bowl, whisk water and cornstarch with a fork. Pour over chicken and stir gently. Cook for a few minutes until sauce has thickened a bit. Serve with cilantro over a bed of brown rice and with naan/pita bread.
      Recipe has been re-tested and updated Nov 2020.

      Nutrition

      Serving: 2cups | Calories: 435kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 35g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 17g | Cholesterol: 107mg | Sodium: 532mg | Potassium: 803mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 307IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 31mg | Iron: 2mg
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