Instant Pot

Instant Pot Butter Chicken

January  9, 2018
78 Ratings
Photo by Rocky Luten
  • Prep time 5 minutes
  • Cook time 25 minutes
  • Serves 4 to 6
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

What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
Instant Pot Butter Chicken
  • 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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Beth Bardin
    Beth Bardin
  • Mindthegap
  • Kellye Rayann Roper
    Kellye Rayann Roper
  • Linda Lee
    Linda Lee
  • Urvashi Pitre
    Urvashi Pitre
Dr. Urvashi Pitre is the President of a global marketing consulting firm, as well as the author of several best-selling cookbooks.

212 Reviews

twohoundtrain February 4, 2024
Right flavors, right spice level. But my sauce was pretty runny. Suggestions for creating a thicker/creamier sauce?
Kathleen September 26, 2023
If I wanted to add fenugreek to this dish, how much would you recommend?
Kathleen S. March 30, 2023
Simple, fast and delicious! I make the recipe as is, except I double the amount of chicken. Works perfectly.
James H. March 15, 2023
this is an easy fantastic recipe. i have made a few times, both with and without dairy, and you really can't tell the difference. i do cook the rice separately because i don't own an insert for my pressure cooker. the best part of this dish is that my teenagers ask for it on the regular. if you want to take it up a notch, serve it with plain yogurt or riata, and mango chutney on the side. it really makes the dish pop.
Nan November 2, 2022
Love this recipe! Love the book Indian Instant Pot Cookbook by Urvashi Pitri too. Highly recommend both, if you’re a lover of quick and delicious food of any kind, but especially Indian! Yum!
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!
Nan November 2, 2022
I use the rack/trivet that came with my Instant Pot. I use a small stainless steel bowl that fits right on top. Works well.
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)?
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.