Make Instant Pot Butter Chicken at home in 30 minutes! This Indian restaurant classic is delicious with tender chicken cooked in a fragrant, savory sauce.

For slow cooker version, check out this butter chicken in crockpot. And be sure to try low carb butter chicken spaghetti squash!

Instant pot butter chicken served with  naan, rice and garnished with cilantro.

This Instant Pot butter chicken is of Indian restaurant quality but ready in only 30 minutes! That’s faster than takeout can be delivered to your door.

Chicken comes out tender and coconut milk sauce flavorful and authentic with a touch of butter. Serve over freshly cooked Instant Pot basmati rice sprinkled with cilantro and naan bread on a side. Delicious!

What Is Butter Chicken?

Butter chicken, known as murgh makhani in India, is an authentic Indian curry with a rich sauce and fragrant spices. I have simplified this recipe with ingredients you may already have on hand or are easy to find.

It’s rich and luscious and made in your Instant Pot! Although, you could make this Thai chicken curry or yellow chicken curry if all you have is the stove!

Ingredients for Instant Pot Butter Chicken

Butter, coconut milk, onion, tomato paste, ginger, garlic, curry powder, chili powder, garam masala.

In this Instant Pot butter chicken recipe, coconut milk and tomato paste combined together for a rich sauce that is then topped off with butter, so luscious! This is a perfect Instant Pot recipe for beginners or novices.

  • Chicken: Boneless and skinless chicken breasts or thighs work.
  • Butter: Just two tablespoons add a richness to the sauce! To keep this Instant Pot butter chicken recipe dairy free, try a dairy free butter or omit.
  • Coconut milk: From a can, not from a carton. I used full fat coconut milk and my favourite brand is Thai Kitchen for its ingredients and consistency.
  • Tomato paste: Should be no salt added or low sodium. If not, 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.

How to Make Instant Pot Butter Chicken

Once you learn how to cook butter chicken in Instant Pot, your takeout bill will drop dramatically! Only a few easy steps and electric pressure cooker butter chicken recipe is ready to eat.

Spices, onion, coconut milk, tomato paste and raw chicken breasts inside Instant Pot.

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.

Recipe Tip

For Instant Pots made in 2020 and later I would add at least 1/2 of cold water. I do not have this issue with three of my Instant Pots I test recipes in but I bought them into 2019 and prior. I believe Instant Pot company made new models more sensitive and some readers have reported a Burn notice.

12 minutes on Instant Pot display.

Cook Instant Pot Butter Chicken 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.

Turning lid valve to Venting to release pressure on Instant Pot.

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.

With this Instant Pot Butter Chicken recipe, 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.

Cutting chicken on cutting board.

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.

Cornstarch mixed with water being poured into Instant Pot.

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.

Scooping butter chicken with a ladle from pressure cooker.

Combine: Add back chicken, give a few stirs.

I like to add some chopped fresh cilantro into the pot and then some over Instant Pot butter chicken when serving with rice on individual plates.

Instant pot butter chicken in a bowl with rice and nann.

Tips for Best Results

Here are the top tips for the best Instant Pot Butter Chicken from my kitchen to yours!

  • Newer Instant Pot models – add water: Some readers have reported getting a burn notice. I believe Instant Pots made after 2020 are more sensitive to heat. Add at least 1/2 of cold water before cooking then.
  • Too acidic? Add additional 1 tsp of sugar or maple syrup to the sauce.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Bone in chicken: I had this Instant Pot butter chicken 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.
  • Heavy cream (whipping cream): Or half and half can be used instead of dairy free coconut milk. Sauce will not be as savory or as light.

What To Serve With Instant Pot Butter Chicken?

Storage 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 leftovers for up to 3 months. Then thaw in the fridge overnight or on a counter for 6 hours.

Make ahead: Enjoy this Instant Pot butter chicken as a freezer meal! Add all ingredients to gallon Ziploc bag (minus butter, cornstarch, and cilantro). Cook from frozen with 1 cup of water for 30 minutes, then quickly release the pressure.

Check out all my healthy freezer meals for Instant Pot or slow cooker they make busy nights easier!

FAQs

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 add vegetables to Instant Pot butter chicken recipe?

I suppose you could but you will want to do this after pressure cooking. Either steam veg separately and then add. Or add frozen peas, frozen peppers, or small fresh cauliflower florets after and they should thaw/cook from the heat.

Can I double the recipe?

Yes, in 6 or 8 quart Instant Pot.

Can I use a 3 quart Instant Pot?

Yes, it will fit, just follow the recipe.

What if I get a burn message?

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.

Can I use frozen chicken?

You can use frozen chicken breasts or thighs, just make sure they are separated. Cooking time should be 15 minutes, just in case. And your pot will take longer to come to pressure.

How can I make Instant Pot butter chicken less spicy?

This Instant Pot butter chicken recipe is ‘warming’. If you are worried your kids will think it’s too spicy, reduce chili powder and curry powder.

More Instant Pot Recipes

Also you have to check out 45 healthy Instant Pot recipes!

Instant pot butter chicken in pressure cooker pot with metal spoon.
instant pot butter chicken

Instant Pot Butter Chicken Recipe

Instant Pot Butter Chicken in 30 minutes with fragrant spices, savory sauce and creamy butter.
4.95 from 85 votes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 435
Diet Gluten Free
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

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.

Video

Notes

  • 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.
  • Newer Instant Pot models – add water: Some readers have reported getting a burn notice. I believe Instant Pots made after 2020 are more sensitive to heat. Add at least 1/2 of cold water before cooking then.
How to Make a Freezer Meal:
  • Instant Pot: In a gallon size Ziploc bag, add all ingredients (minus butter, water, cornstarch and cilantro). Make chicken breasts are 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.

Nutrition

Serving: 2cups | Calories: 435kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 35g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 17g | Cholesterol: 107mg | Sodium: 532mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 12g
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Indian
Author: Olena Osipov
Did you make this recipe?Mention @ifoodreal or tag #ifoodreal!

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About Olena

Welcome! I grew up in Ukraine watching my grandma cook with simple ingredients. I have spent the last 11 years making it my mission to help you cook quick and easy meals for your family!

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Made this for supper yesterday as written and got “burn” twice even though I put the tomato paste on top of the chicken. After the second burn, I added one cup of water. Had a little scorching on the bottom and on some of the chicken but not enough to affect the flavour. Will definitely be making this as a freezer meal. It was delicious! Votes of approval from the whole family.

    1. I’m so glad to hear you love this recipe. I’m going to add a note to the recipe that for Instant Pots made in 2020 and later I would add at least half a cup of water. I do not have this issue with three of my Instant Pots I test recipes in but I bought them into 2019 and prior. I believe Instant Pot company made new models more sensitive.

  2. Olena, would love to try this but have a tomato allergy. What does the tomato do in this recipe and can you suggest an alternative? Thanks. We love your recipes!!

  3. I’m in an RV camper for the next month, with only a 3 quart slow cooker. How do I make it in a slow cooker???? I love your recipes!

  4. 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!

  5. 4 stars
    I made this a few weeks ago and although it was tasty and easy, it was WAY too spicy for me. I cooled it off with some sour cream but next time, I’ll really cut back on the chili powder. I love most of your instant ot recipes and I’ll give this one another try.

  6. 5 stars
    This is soooooo delicious! Last time I made butter chicken, I used a sauce that I purchased and it was less than satisfying. This recipe is fantastically delicious and so easy. Thank you!!

  7. 4 stars
    Although I loved the flavors and convenience, it was TOO spicy for me. I added some sour cream to decrease the spiciness . Next time, I’ll cut down on the chile. Had to look for awhile to find garam masala.

  8. 5 stars
    I made this recipe and it tastes amazing. I feel good that it’s healthy too. I made it in the crockpot. I appreciate all of the tips on freezer meals, crockpots, etc. You are very talented. Thank you for this recipe. It’s a keeper!

  9. 5 stars
    I don’t have a particularly developed palate, nor am I so familiar with Indian food to determine if this comes out like the real deal. But it is really delicious, easy to make, and takes to modifications. We were out of onions, and I had some kale which was not going to get used otherwise. I threw half a bag of kale in, and subbed tomato sauce (8 oz) for the 6 oz of paste called for — just because it was in the fridge and needing to be used. It came out as delicious as ever.

4.95 from 85 votes (4 ratings without comment)

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