Now and Later Instant Pot Butter Chicken

January 9, 2018

Author Notes: I set about creating this butter chicken recipe like I do everything else in my life—somewhat obsessively. Many tries later, after many less-than-perfect renditions, I knew I’d nailed it when my husband tried this particular recipe and beamed, and I put it on my blog, where it was super popular. This was the one—and it sparked a book deal. It's also keto-friendly. This recipe, in order for optimal taste, does make too much sauce; save the rest to mix into other ingredients in your next meal (hence the name "Now and Later"). This method also allows you to cook rice in the Instant Pot at the same time.

This recipe relies on one important ingredient—the garam masala. Invest in a bottle, which can be found in a number of grocery chains, Indian shops, and online. You can also make your own.If your butter chicken is bland and flavorless, a lack of garam masala is to blame.

I’ve provided instructions on how to make butter chicken and rice at the same time in your Instant Pot. For vegan and vegetarian variations, see the full article (link below).

Featured In: All-in-One (Instant) Pot Butter Chicken—With a Few Vegetarian Riffs

Serves: 4-6
Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 25 min


  • For the rice:
  • 1 cup aged basmati rice, rinsed
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon ghee or vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • For the butter chicken:
  • 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2-1 teaspoons cayenne pepper (adjust to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons good-quality garam masala, divided
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs, left whole
  • 4 ounces butter, cut into cubes (use coconut oil, if dairy free)
  • 4 ounces heavy cream (use full-fat coconut milk, if dairy free)
  • 1/4-1/2 cups chopped cilantro


  1. Combine all the ingredients for the rice, place in a 6 or 7-inch heat-safe pan, and set aside.
  2. Place tomatoes, ginger, garlic, chicken, turmeric, cayenne, paprika, salt, 1 teaspoon of the garam masala, and cumin into the inner liner of your Instant Pot. Mix the sauce a bit, then place the chicken. You are putting in everything except the butter, cream, cilantro, and 1 remaining teaspoon of garam masala. Mix well.
  3. Place a tall steamer rack/trivet on top of the chicken mixture, and place the uncovered bowl of uncooked rice on the rack.
  4. Press the Manual or Pressure cook button, set the timer to 10 mins, and cook.
  5. Once it is done cooking, allow the pot to cool for 10 minutes, undisturbed. Then, release all remaining pressure and open the pot. Remove and set the cooked rice aside. Remove the chicken and set aside.
  6. Using an immersion blender, blend together the sauce until it is smooth. Let the sauce cool for 5 minutes. Stir in the cut-up butter, cream, cilantro, and garam masala.
  7. Remove half the sauce and freeze or refrigerate for later.
  8. Break up the chicken into bite-size pieces, add it to the sauce. Serve with rice.

More Great Recipes:
Indian|Butter|Cilantro|Cumin|Chicken|Paprika|Milk/Cream|Pressure Cook|Instant Pot|Entree

Reviews (107) Questions (2)

107 Reviews

Kimber C. July 30, 2018
Well-balanced flavors and an easy-to-follow recipe. It's also great with pork.
ifjuly April 6, 2018
Years ago when I first received the Instant Pot as a gift from my mother-in-law, I got really interested in trying to figure out Indian pot-in-pot recipes so I could make delicious Indian food that normally takes over an hour to simmer conventionally (unpleasant in the hot humid climate I live in) AND the rice to go with it as simply and easily as possible, with minimal clean up. I mostly gave up—occasionally got ok but not stunning results, but I mostly lack the trial and error patient spirit the best home cooking recipe developers need—but not before acquiring stackable stainless steel pots, trivet, etc. that fit inside the liner, and with a casual sense probably in a year or so smarter more dedicated home cooks would figure it out and share their wisdom. I mostly forgot about forward to last week when I stumbled on this post, and Urvashi's work in general. My hope came true! This dish is exactly what I was dreaming of years ago. Not to mention Urvashi also granted another wish of mine, a clear method of making yogurt in the IP without the fiddly-time-consuming “heat then wait an uncertain amount of time for the milk to come down to just the right temp”. Needless to say I have since combed her site and acquired her cookbooks and am so, so happy and grateful there are genius people figuring this stuff out and willing to share with the rest of us. Thank you Urvashi and thank you Food 52 for bringing this to my attention! There was an old Toast article about the presumed inventor of chocolate chip cookies that opened with a Brillat-Savarin quote about how the invention of a good recipe has the potential to contribute more happiness to humanity than the discovery of a star. It came to mind when I made this.
Philip M. March 20, 2018
Sorry :( Burnt to bottom of pan...would not come to pressure...followed instructions exactly and I own your book. Where did i go wrong :(<br />
Philip M. March 24, 2018
I figured out where I went wrong. Used crushed tomatoes instead of diced. Made again with diced and turned out perfect :)<br />
Melissa R. March 10, 2018
New to IP use and this was the first or second recipe I made and it turned out awesome. Chicken was super tender! I didn't add any cayenne because some of my kids can't take the heat and they loved it!
Petunia G. February 28, 2018
same person :)
Barbara G. February 28, 2018
Oops. Never mind. :)<br />
Barbara G. February 28, 2018
This sounds amazing and I am making it tonight. However, I wanted to tell you that is using the same recipe and calling it her own. Not sure how ownership of these recipes work, but I thought I would let you know. I'm so excited for dinner!<br />
Susan B. January 26, 2018
I made this tonight and it was really, really good. I used a can of fire roasted diced tomatoes and a pound of boneless chicken cutlets (it's what I had). I didn't puree the sauce and added half the butter and cream. I was able to shred the chicken when it was done and we really enjoyed it. My family really likes sauce so we didn't have enough for a second meal. I cooked brown rice on the side. This will definitely be made again and again in our house. Very easy for a weeknight meal.
Lisa January 23, 2018
I made this for dinner tonight just as specified and it was fantastic!<br />I loved the sauciness of the recipe, more for the rice and naan. <br />Like some, I wondered if I could cut the butter in half just to be somewhat healthier... may try that next time. Will make often!
Deborah January 23, 2018
I am wondering if one could make this with a whole chicken or chicken parts or perhaps from another meat (pork, lamb, beef, or even fish). We aren't vegetarian, but we have rules about what meat we will buy (AWA-certified or from a farmer we know), and it's impossible to find boneless chicken breasts with this limitation, at least where I am, and I haven't figured out how to make them myself.
Diana February 20, 2018
Deborah, you can break down a whole chicken to get boneless chicken breasts.
Embenray January 22, 2018
Is there any way to adapt this recipe for those of us without an instant pot? Would love to try, looks delicious!
Kelly D. January 21, 2018
Delicious! Used half the amount of butter (4T total) per other’s comments & to lighten dish. Would consider doubling (or 1.5x) the chicken next time — for better chicken to sauce ratio. (Although apparently author’s blog says "no" because the chicken releases so much liquid it will dilute the sauce.) (Since using my home-canned diced tomatoes, added 1c water bc worried not enough liquid. Mistake. Sauce too thin & had to cook it down/add a bit of cornstarch to thicken).
Lynn January 21, 2018
What are you using for a tall steamer rack? Do I need to buy one or is there a hack? Thanks
Lorraine G. January 21, 2018
If you don't have one you can just make the rice separately. Probably easier to do them together (I never do) but if it means waiting till you can find something on Amazon....well, don't wait that long to make this recipe! Make them separately for now, later you can try them together. :)
W January 18, 2018
Can this recipe be made without an IP? If so any changes I should make?
Hollis E. January 18, 2018
I want to make this in my crock pot. Has anyone done that and, if so, how long should it cook?
jmh January 19, 2018
Well, I would follow the steps but start in the morning and let the chicken cook in the gravy all day. Then at dinnertime, cook the rice and finish the gravy with the butter, cream and cilantro. Just a guess but that's what I'd do.
arcane54 January 18, 2018
I also used the spices as a dry “marinade of the chicken overnight, then cooked the chicken in the tomatoes until falling apart, added cream and butter, the rest of the garam masala and cilantro.
Karen M. January 19, 2018
That sounds like a Very good idea. Bet it worked well for you
arcane54 January 18, 2018
Fantastic dish! The only thing that kept me from my beloved butter chicken was the two-step tandoori chicken to butter chicken process. I made this without an IP, but now want one.
jmh January 16, 2018
For those of us who do not own an IP, this recipe still works great. I have an electric pressure cooker (actually a multifunction machine with slow cooker, pressure, rice and similar settings). I followed the instructions but since I have no extra steamer rack for cooking the rice, I improvised. After putting all the chicken and gravy ingredients in the pot, I nestled a steel bowl holding the rice and water right on top of the raw ingredients. I could have just cooked the rice on the stove, but I am lazy and wanted to see if this would work since clean-up would be easier. It did! I set the pressure cooker on high for 10 minutes, then let it sit for 10 minutes and then released the little bit of remaining pressure. Came out just great. And as I commented below, I used half the butter called for and it was a hit. This recipe is definitely a keeper.
btglenn January 18, 2018
Thank you JMH for writing how to cook this with a pressure cooker. Not every cook has rushed to buy yet another addition to his or her batterie de cuisine, andI believe that the folks at 52 should have recommended that this information should have been included along with the ones for a vegetarian delight. I made this in a Dutch oven since I often find that pressure cookers or Instant Pot under pressure often takes about the same time as on the stove cookery. I followed the instructions, but placed the ingredients for sauce and chicken in a heavy Dutch oven. I placed a little steamer on top for the rice. Replacing the instructions for IP cooking, I first brought the ingredients up to a boil and then lowered the heat to low. Then I covered my pot first with aluminum foil and then placed the regular cover over it, for a tight seal. After half an hour(my estimated time for cooking the thighs and rice) I opened the pot and found the chicken and rice fully cooked. If it needed a little more time, I would have just recovered the pot and cooked for another 5 to 10 minutes. I then finished the recipe according to the instructions for pureeing the sauce, etc.
jmh January 16, 2018
I made this as written, but with half the amount of butter and it was amazing.
Robyn January 15, 2018
OMG! This is the best Indian recipe I have ever made. I can never get the Indian flavor profile dead on, but this nailed it. The results are delicious and may be better than a restaurant. I used half cream and half coconut milk in the finishing stage. I did make two changes - I thought I had garam masala in the pantry, but could only find curry powder, so used that. I doubled the recipe as I had a two pound block of frozen chicken and when it came to adding a whole brick of Kerry Gold butter, I just couldn't do it. And I love butter. I ended up adding 5 ounces, and the result was perfect.