Urvashi Pitre's "Now & Later" Instant Pot Butter Chicken

January 9, 2018

Test Kitchen-Approved

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 & 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.
Urvashi Pitre

Food52 Review: Featured in: 9 Instant Pot Indian Recipes for Rich, Comforting Flavor Fast.The Editors

Serves: 4 to 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
In This Recipe


  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|Chicken|Cilantro|Cumin|Paprika|Milk/Cream|Pressure Cook|Instant Pot|Entree

Reviews (125) Questions (6)

125 Reviews

J. January 1, 2019
Super good! Only changes were half and half instead of cream, half the butter amount, and chicken breasts instead of thighs due to personal preference. Will definitely be making this again!
Marcie December 30, 2018
Looks like a great recipe. Please translate for those of us who don't have instant pots. How long to cook, any adjustments? <br />I actually got one and returned it after opening, calling it the gadget that ate my kitchen. Most of how I cook would not work in an instant pot, and I don't have room for something so big that I'd rarely use. I work from home, so checking on a slow Dutch oven braise is easy.
Christopher R. December 19, 2018
We just got an Instant Pot about a month ago. The first recipes we tried were just eh. We tried this two weeks ago and loved it so much our daughter had us make it again a second night. Excellent.
Matt H. December 11, 2018
If half the sauce is to be saved for later, can't we just double the chicken?
Matt H. December 11, 2018
Also a problem I've always noticed with my sister's instapot (which precludes me from wanting to buy mine own) is that no matter what you're cooking, the sauce is just too full of water. There's no reducing taking place. I assume that cooking the rice in the same vessel helps rid this issue, since the rice would presumably absorb the steam? Which would really mean that cooking indian food is sort of the instapot is good at.
Matt H. December 11, 2018
the only thing
Author Comment
Urvashi P. December 17, 2018
I think a lot of that has to do with recipes that are not well written. Cooking the rice at the same time doesn't affect the amount of sauce, as the rice has it's own water that it cooks in. I have a lot of followers who do double the chicken but not the other ingredients. To me, this dilutes the flavor of the dish considerably. BTW, I'm probably in the minority when I say it's too much sauce. Most people have zero trouble slurping up all the sauce :)
Kit S. December 11, 2018
Absolutely fanatastic results. Followed exactly and bought some high quality garam masala in London recently that probably elevated the results. A bit put off by the amount of butter and cream but what the heck. Thx for a great recipe.
Kit S. December 11, 2018
And was blown away by the rice!
Amaliamar December 8, 2018
Fantastic and so easy! Butter chicken and rice in one pot. I couldn't believe it!<br />
luise M. December 8, 2018
Delicious! I used 10 percent cream and it was still amazing. Can only imagine what 35 percent would be like!
Krysta G. December 5, 2018
I also needed more liquid to get to pressure. I added water, but next time I will add a second pint jar of home canned diced tomatoes. And just in case you are wondering, it turns out well even if you accidentally put in 1 tsp of ground cinnamon instead of 1 tsp garam masala, then add all the garam masala at the end ;)
Whats4Dinner December 9, 2018
Hi Krysta,<br />I too have issues with getting to pressure because of too little liquid. I have the IP Ultra, which IP do you have? I'm just wondering if it's specific to the type of IP. I've found that I must use at least 1.5 cups of liquid at a minimum to get to pressure. TIA.
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 it...fast 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 https://twosleevers.com/now-later-butter-chicken-pressure-cooker/ 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 />
Suman S. December 6, 2018
Urvashi Pitre and Two Sleevers are the same person :)
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).