Instant Pot

Instant Pot Butter Chicken by Urvashi Pitre

January  9, 2018
4.7 Stars
Photo by Rocky Luten
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 (that's why I like to call it "Now & Later" Butter Chicken). 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

Test Kitchen Notes

This Instant Pot Butter Chicken from Urvashi Pitre—a blogger and cookbook author (oh, and a Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology)—has it all: efficiency (we're talking 30 minutes), flavor, fluffy rice, and extra-tender chicken. If you're a vegetarian, there are tons of riffs you can try, Urvashi says. A few easy swaps for chicken: peas and paneer; hearty chickpeas; tofu; and mixed vegetables. Also, don't forget to substitute the chicken broth for vegetable broth or water. To make it vegan, she adds, "swap butter and cream for coconut oil and coconut milk."

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

Watch This Recipe
Instant Pot Butter Chicken by Urvashi Pitre
  • Prep time 5 minutes
  • Cook time 25 minutes
  • Serves 4 to 6
  • 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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Beth Bardin
    Beth Bardin
  • Mindthegap
  • Kellye Rayann Roper
    Kellye Rayann Roper
  • Linda Lee
    Linda Lee
  • Whitney Claire McKim
    Whitney Claire McKim
Dr. Urvashi Pitre is the President of a global marketing consulting firm, and also the author of the best-selling Indian Instant Pot Cookbook, one of Amazon’s Best Books of 2017. She combines her training as a scientist with her desire to make fast, healthy, authentic, global cuisine, and experiments extensively to create the most streamlined recipes that use fresh ingredients. WEBSITE: FB PAGE: FB GROUP: PINTEREST: INSTAGRAM: YouTube:

206 Reviews

inmanfamily March 3, 2022
can anyone advise re: what type of steamer rack or trivet and/or bowl to use for rice - I am new to the instant pot
Beth B. March 3, 2022
I used this one and a pyrex bowl...
Janet B. March 3, 2022
I got two from Amazon a few years ago. Search for racks for your specific size of Instant Pot, and there are wire racks you can order, both on the short side, and also with taller legs so that you can cook in the bottom of the insert and then also put a heat safe bowl on top of the rack. I have them for both my 6-quart and my 3-quart Instant Pot. They were not expensive. Hope this helps!
erika398 January 28, 2022
I make this for my family often. Everyone loves it!
CassieB January 26, 2022
I have been making this recipe for years now! It’s easy, quick, and delicious! I just made it using 4 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken thighs. I didn’t increase the amounts of the ingredients in the sauce though. There was still plenty of sauce.
Beth B. January 13, 2022
I've made this several times. It's so easy and it's always a hit, even with picky teens that I don't usually cook for. I highly recommend this recipe!
Aljohnson67 May 17, 2021
Best ever. My family always asks for this dish. I love it because it is so easy on a weeknight and everyone enjoys. Outstanding flavors.
Mindthegap April 11, 2021
Like others here, this has been a staple ever since I found—at least a year back it seems! Amazingly good, as is or with any slight variations you may think of (I like to toss in some currants which adds a hint of sweetness with the spicy). I usually made it with white basmati but recently used brown which came out a bit crunchy still. Should I lessen the amount of rice when using brown rice or just cook for longer with more water?
Kellye R. March 23, 2021
This recipe is truly amazing. I have recommended it to multiple members of the family. The smell is amazing and the method for cooking rice is so genius. I'm actually making another chicken dish exactly the same way as we speak. Cook this recipe tonight! You won't regret it.
Barbara L. March 15, 2021
I found this recipe beginning of COVID and I think I have made it monthly ever since. Absolutely delicious, so simple and so versatile if you are missing an ingredient. The only thing I really recommend is getting a very good Garam Masala. I have also made with B/S chicken breasts in a pinch and still perfect. I cannot thank you enough for this recipe
Mungo February 17, 2021
I made this recipe for the third time for my family; the first two times, it was magical, and this time, something went wrong and my instant pot never came to pressure. I let the heat go too long, and too much liquid evaporated out of the tomato sauce, and there was burning on the bottom of the pan. I added butter and cream anyway and my family STILL said it was delicious and they would eat it every night! So, even when this recipe fails, it's better than most other recipes!
[email protected] December 28, 2020
I've been trying to make a decent butter chicken at home for years without success. Jars, pre-mixes and recipes have all fallen short of expectations. This recipe has broken the drought and delivered a quick, easy and tasty butter chicken my whole family loves. I will never buy butter chicken in a jar again.
Robin A. December 26, 2020
We made this last night, used coconut oil and coconut milk because my husband is sensitive to dairy, it was excellent.
Norwegianne December 22, 2020
AMAZING flavors!!!!! I have a 6 qt instant pot and I doubled the recipe. It was WAY too much sauce. Next time I would make the recipe as is but use 2 lbs of chicken thighs.
Courtney M. December 18, 2020
This was loved by all three generations in our house! Quick question, when using the second batch of sauce to make another meal, do you cook the chicken in the instant pot in the completed sauce or cook the chicken separately and add to warmed sauce?
Linda L. December 6, 2020
Easy, simple ingredients. Flavors are good. Love that you can make the rice at the same time.
jgasque September 23, 2020
Do you think this would work to double and use a whole chicken (shread after cooking)?
Author Comment
Urvashi P. January 15, 2021
I think it wouyld be quite messy to have to shred a whole chicken that's covered with sauce. On the other hand, if you wanted to cut up pieces and take the skin off, then you could use all the chicken parts. That chicken skin on top of the butter and cream will make it quite greasy.
aimlessprais September 13, 2020
This is a fantastic recipe! I am not a great cook, but it turned out really well. It has great flavor, I loved the spice level, chicken was tender, and not rubbery, salt level was perfect. I cooked the rice in our rice cooker because I didn’t have a heat safe dish to use for the rice, and I left the cilantro on the side because my kids don’t like it. I love that I can serve this with cauli rice when we are doing low carb. We ate up all the sauce instead of saving half. Love this recipe; I know it will be a staple. The whole family liked it and I will check out more of Urvashi Pitre’s recipes.
jennc September 13, 2020
Hi there! I don't own an Instant pot, so is there any way I can make this in a dutch oven or slow cooker? I know it will take a lot longer, but it seems like it will be worth the wait!
Margo S. September 13, 2020
You should be able to just make the chicken part in the dutch oven or slow cooker, adding the coconut milk and additional spices at the end of cooking. Make the rice separately. It is worth it!
Author Comment
Urvashi P. September 13, 2020
Hey there. Yup totally doable. Here you go
aliciaa August 3, 2020
Incredible, full flavor with bright notes - it is a new favorite at our house. It is easy to make even though it was my first instant pot attempt - I am truly no expert.
Whitney C. June 24, 2020
I’ve made this recipe several times and every time I get a “burn” notice half way through the cook time. Anyone know what I’m doing wrong? Or how I can adjust? I’m following all the instructions and cooking on high. I have a large Instant Pot.
pranav86 September 2, 2020
Hi Whitney - I was worried about it too but if you use the whole can of tomatoes with juices, and use pressure cook option for 10 mins- it doesn’t “burn”. Not sure if your IP has a different setting.
Abigail T. October 3, 2021
Mine usually has the same problem but thumbs out fine. Tonight it did just that, and when I went to open it up and the rice wasn’t cooked, which has never happened before and I can only chalk it up to the burning..
43sox March 17, 2020
Hard to improve but I made a few adjustments and was really happy with the results. I made the sauce and the rice on their own, cooking for ten minutes. After the ten minute wait, I removed the rice, blended the sauce and then simmered the sauce with coconut milk, butter and garam masala for a few minutes. I removed half the sauce, added diced chicken and an equal amount of cauliflower florets and pressure cooked for 2 minutes. Did a quick release, added some frozen peas and it was perfect. There were a few extra steps, but worth it to me to have some veggies and sauce for another meal. Not a drop left over.
Author Comment
Urvashi P. March 18, 2020
I have a different suggestion for you to try. I don’t know 100% how it will Work. But take frozen cauliflower florets and peas. Wrap them in foil. Cover the rice with a lid and put the veggies on top and cook as directed. The veggies should steam well. Hopefully they won’t overcook since I haven’t tested it that way. But theoretically it should work.
43sox March 18, 2020
Thanks Urvashi! Totally made my day to see your response : )
I'll try your suggestion next time around, was just trying to work with the diced chicken I had on hand and was happy with the work around.