by Olena

Instant Pot Butter Chicken

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Olena Osipov
5 from 61 votes

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Instant Pot Butter Chicken is full of fragrant spices and tender chicken then cooked in a savory sauce topped with a creamy layer of butter. An Indian restaurant classic made at home in 30 minutes.

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

instant pot butter chicken served with  naan and garnished with cilantro

This Instant Pot butter chicken is of Indian restaurant quality but ready in only 30 minutes! Chicken comes out tender, coconut milk sauce flavorful and authentic with a touch of butter and cilantro, serve over freshly cooked rice and with naan bread, delicious!

No pressure cooker? No worries! Try this slow cooker butter chicken or even stovetop Thai coconut chicken curry.

Why Make Pressure Cooker Butter Chicken?

  • Creamy: Coconut milk and tomato paste combine together for a rich sauce that is then topped of with butter, so luscious! 
  • Flavorful: Fragrant and aromatic spices give this Instant Pot Indian recipe authentic taste! 
  • Easy: Only a few easy steps in the pressure cooker and this butter chicken recipe is ready to eat.
  • Quick: 30 minutes is faster than take out can be delivered to your door! 
  • Healthy: Indian spices have been studied extensively for their immune boosting abilities as well as because they are so flavorful you can cut back on using additional sugar, salt and fat when adding them to food. 

Butter chicken is also know as murgh makhani! It is said to be an ‘accidental dish’ created by Kundal Lal Gujral, a restaurant owner in Delhi around the late 1940’s. It was said this chef did not want to waste leftover chicken from tandoori, so he put it in a pot with tomatoes, spices etc and eventually it came to be as what we know as butter chicken!

instant pot butter chicken in the pot with metal spoon

Ingredients for Instant Pot Butter Chicken

  • Chicken: Boneless and skinless chicken breasts or thighs work for this Instant Pot Indian recipe.
  • Coconut milk: From a can NOT from a carton. I used full fat  and my favourite brand is Thai Kitchen for its ingredients and consistency.
  • Tomato paste: Should be no salt added or low sodium. If not, use reduce additional salt.
  • Cornstarch: To thicken the sauce.
  • Fresh garlic and ginger: I would not recommend to use dried ginger but you can.
  • Fragrant spices: Curry powder, garam masala and chili powder. This butter chicken is kid friendly but if you want it spicier, add more spices.

Butter chicken and yellow chicken curry are a few 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.

instant pot butter chicken ingredients with butter chicken ginger garlic

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. Adding tomato products near top avoids Burn.
  • Cook on High Pressure for 12 minutes: Depending on the 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. I like to add some cilantro into the pot and then some over butter chicken when serving with rice on 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!

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!

healthy freezer meal butter chicken

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.

Optional Add-In’s 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 Instant Pot Indian 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 sauce more orange in color and less tomato-ey 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.
  • No cornstarch: Substitute with flour or arrowroot powder.
  • Garam masala substitute: Combine 2 tsp cumin with 1 tsp allspice. Or just replace with curry powder but taste will be different and not quite the authentic butter chicken recipe taste.
  • Cilantro garnish: Try parsley or mint.

Tips for Best Results

  • Fresh spices: If your spices are old, they will be not as flavorful, maybe it’s time to clean out that spice cabinet 🙂 Ground spices tend to start losing their intense flavor after 6 months. 
  • Too acidic? Add 1 tsp of sugar or maple syrup to the sauce. 
  • 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 the computer that sensors certain temperature above certain level. I have 3 instant pots and it doesn’t happen on any of them.
  • Steam diverter: When you Quick Release, it can be a bit messy as the steam releases liquid out of the release valve. I either like to do this outside or inside with my steam diverter Henry! 

steam diverter for instant pot

FAQs

How do I add more flavor to this Instant Pot Indian recipe?

Increase garam masala, add a dash of cayenne pepper or you could even season chicken with cumin, coriander, turmeric etc before adding it to the pot.

How do I make authentic butter chicken recipe less spicy for my kids?

Reduce chili powder and/or curry powder.

Can I make this with tomato sauce vs. paste?

I have not tested that, but you could. Your sauce will not be as thick or flavorful.

Can I make dairy free healthy butter chicken recipe?

You could try a dairy free butter or coconut oil, taste will be slightly different.

Can I make this Instant Pot Indian recipe vegetarian?

I have not tested this, but you could try canned and drained chickpeas with a shorter cook time or add leftover air fryer tofu after ‘just sauce’ pressure cooks (I would add it, close lid and let the sauce soak into the tofu for a few minutes).

Can I add vegetables to healthy butter chicken recipe?

I suppose you could, but you will not want to do this until after as they could turn to mush if added while pressure cooking. Either steam veg separately then add after or use frozen peas, frozen peppers etc and add after (they will thaw from the heat).

What can I substitute for coconut milk?

You can try heavy cream or half and half. Taste might not be as savory.

Is butter chicken keto friendly?

If you opt to serve this plain or with cauliflower rice and use a keto friendly thickener (such as coconut flour), this recipe can be low carb, keto friendly.

instant pot butter chicken in a bowl with rice and nann

How to Serve This Healthy Butter Chicken Recipe?

A cool creamy dessert would be the perfect finisher to this Indian recipe! Try coconut mango ice cream or dairy free vegan vanilla ice cream!

How to Store Authentic Butter Chicken Recipe?

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 authentic butter chicken recipe leftovers for up to 3 months. Then thaw in the fridge overnight or on a counter for 6 hours.

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 full of fragrant spices and tender chicken then cooked in a savory sauce topped with a creamy layer of butter. An Indian restaurant classic made at home in 30 minutes.
4.96 from 61 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

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.
  • Close the lid, set pressure vent to Sealing and press Pressure Cook on High or Manual for 12 minutes.
  • After 12 minutes is up, wait 3 minutes or so, and release pressure using Quick Release by turning valve to Venting.
  • 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.
  • Return chicken to the pot, stir and serve over brown rice garnished with cilantro.

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: Make sure they are separated. Cook time should be 15 minutes, just in case.
      • Bone in chicken: Feel free to use chicken drumsticks or chicken thighs. Cook time will be 20 minutes.
      • 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. 
      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.
      See recipe post for more tips and FAQs.

      Nutrition

      Serving: 2cups | Calories: 435kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 35g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 17g | Cholesterol: 107mg | Sodium: 532mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 12g

      Recipes and images are a copyright of ifoodreal.com. It is against the law to republish recipes without permission. Nutritional info is approximate.

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      161 comments on “Instant Pot Butter Chicken

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      1. 4 stars
        I wasn’t sure how to rate this recipe, because once finished, it’s absolutely delicious.

        I’ve made it several times, and always get a BURN message. I’ve added notes on my paper copy of the recipe to mix all ingredients first before placing chicken on top. Hopefully this will take care of any future BURN messages. Additionally, I cook for a few more minutes than stated on the recipe as chicken breasts seem to always take a little longer to cook than what recipes states.

        1. Notes on how your appliance cooks and what works for you is always a great idea. Glad you enjoy the finished dish!

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