Instant Pot

Archana Mundhe's Instant Pot Butter Chicken

October 12, 2018
34 Ratings
Photo by Colin Price
  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 25 minutes
  • Serves 4 to 6
Author Notes

Reprinted with permission from The Essential Indian Instant Pot Cookbook, copyright © 2018 by Archana Mundhe. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Photograph copyright © 2018 by Colin Price.

Butter chicken, also known as chicken makhani, is more like a treat than an entrée—and quite possibly the most popular dish at any Indian restaurant. This heavenly, creamy curry highlights the robust flavors of Kashmiri chile, dried fenugreek leaves, and garam masala. Served with classic basmati rice and naan, this dish evokes excitement on any menu. —Food52

Test Kitchen Notes

Featured in: 10 Instant Pot Chicken Recipes for Comforting Dinners All Week Long and 9 Instant Pot Indian Recipes for Rich, Comforting Flavor Fast. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • Butter chicken
  • 2 tablespoons ghee
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely diced
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, halved and patted dry
  • 1 cup canned tomato puree
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons Kashmiri red chile powder or another mild red chile powder
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 cup canned coconut cream (see Note)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons dried fenugreek leaves
  • 2 teaspoons sugar (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Rice
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  1. Select the high Sauté setting on the Instant Pot and heat the ghee. Add the onion and cook until translucent, 4 to 5 minutes. Press the Cancel button to turn off the Instant Pot. Add the chicken, tomato puree, water, ginger, garlic, chile powder, salt, garam masala, and turmeric and stir to combine.
  2. To make the rice: In a 1 1/2-quart stainless-steel bowl that will fit in the Instant Pot, stir together the rice, water, and salt. Place a tall steam rack in the pot, making sure its legs are resting on the bottom. Place the bowl of rice on the rack.
  3. Secure the lid and set the Pressure Release to Sealing. Select the Pressure Cook or Manual setting and set the cooking time for 5 minutes at high pressure.
  4. Let the pressure release naturally for 5 minutes, then move the Pressure Release to Venting to release any remaining steam. Open the pot. Using heat-resistant mitts, place the bowl of rice on a trivet and remove the tall steam rack. Add to the pot the coconut cream, tomato paste, fenugreek, and sugar and stir to combine. Select the high Sauté setting and cook until the curry comes to a boil and is heated through, about 2 minutes. Press the Cancel button to turn off the Instant Pot.
  5. Spoon the rice onto plates and ladle the curry over the top. Sprinkle with the cilantro and serve.
  6. Note: The unsweetened coconut cream used in the recipe (not to be confused with the sweetened coconut cream used primarily in cocktails) can be found canned in grocery stores. It can be replaced with the cream from a can of regular full-fat coconut milk. Put the can of coconut milk in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 hours or in the freezer for 5 minutes to separate the cream from the water, then open the can and scoop off the cream from the top of the coconut water. 

See what other Food52ers are saying.

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30 Reviews

Puspa T. September 27, 2022
The Pressure Cook temperature setting is not given. Should it be Less, Normal, or More?
AntoniaJames December 29, 2021
Excellent recipe - so good it is now in my "Keepers" collection. I used a can of fire roasted tomatoes + 1/4 cup of water instead of tomato sauce. After adding the coconut cream, etc., I also added a cup of chopped frozen organic spinach (with 1.25 pounds of chicken) to make this, over, rice, a one-bowl meal. I'm looking forward to making this again, and again. ;o)
Gini March 9, 2021
I have a question. not a review. I would love to make this but coconut fat is not healthy so I wonder if substituting a coconut almond milk would work. I'm Sure the taste would be changed but would love to know your ideas. Thank you.
Windischgirl January 2, 2022
I haven’t made this but have friends who sub cashew milk for other milks in savory applications since it seems to have the right texture and creaminess without a competing flavor. I’ve certainly made other Asian Indian dishes that called for cashew purée as a thickener and creamy component.
neenagoswamy January 15, 2021
This receipe was great! I didn't have tomatoe paste so I used ketchup and I also added two thai green chilies for a spicier/savory taste. I would probably skip the sugar bc it came out a bit too sweet for me but otherwise great recipe!!
Kathleen November 3, 2020
Absolutely delicious! I did not cook the rice in the Instant Pot (I don't have the additional equipment) instead I made the rice separately. The flavor of the sauce is just outstanding. I followed the recipe other than using ground fenugreek rather than dried leaves, which I could not locate at my local store. I will definitely make this again. I have shared the recipe with numerous friends and recommended that they try this recipe asap!
Athena P. November 12, 2020
How much ground fenugreek did you use? Thank you!
Kathleen January 15, 2021
I used 2 tablespoons.
anna January 31, 2020
Nice, thank you. I use the silicone trivet with heat-resistant handles and it's so much better than the metal trivet that came with the instant pot. I got it on Amazon:
Laurie January 8, 2020
This is delicious and my husband asks to make it all the time. I never do the rice in the Instant Pot and often serve cauliflower rice with it. So happy to have found it and thank you!
Holly December 26, 2019
I got an instant pot for Christmas. This will be my first time using it. Can I double this recipe?
Kari F. November 1, 2019
Made this for my MIL and she said it’s than anything she’s ever had in a restaurant. Didn’t modify the recipe in any way. It’s absolutely delicious!!
sefox October 27, 2019
I made this last night and it was amazing! Super easy (after I managed to collect all the ingredients over the week). I accidentally bought fenugreek seeds instead of leaves and so I ended up omitting it, and it was still super delicious.
Yayita October 18, 2019
Made this for a weekday dinner...and it was simple and quick despite not having the insert they use to make the rice. I ended up making the rice separately. At first I felt the amount of canned tomatoes was too little but trust me it’s plenty so resist adding more. After I blended the sauce, it appeared to be too soupy and I thought I would need to simmer it but it wasn’t fine once I added the chicken. Overall, a simple and quick way to make butter chicken.
Ethan S. October 2, 2019
Truly a great recipe. (It doesn't surprise me that the author is known as "the butter chicken lady" in some circles.) In response to a few comments...I would urge everyone NOT to omit the fenugreek, since more than anything else (including the garam masala) it's what gives butter chicken its unique flavor and distinguishes it from lesser curries. Just search "fenugreek leaves" on Amazon and you'll find plenty of inexpensive options. Also, if you're finding the sauce a bit thinner than you'd like, the usual trick of adding a cornstarch slurry (one tsp of cornstarch, one tsp of water) before bringing to the final boil can definitely help. Have fun!
Windischgirl January 2, 2022
I’ve also thickened sauces using flours that match the cuisine, so in this case I’d put the Instant Pot on sauté setting and sprinkle in some rice flour, stirring and adding to the desired thickness.
Sara R. May 29, 2019
I have made this several times and it has amazing flavor, but the sauce is very it supposed to be so soupy? It looks like a fairly thick sauce in the picture. I follow the recipe exactly except for the rice, which I cook on the stove since I don’t have a steam rack for the Instant Pot.
Lynda March 22, 2019
This was the best recipe I’ve made in s long time—-nothing short of outstanding. I followed the recipe exactly, but found I needed to add more water because the burn warning came on. The second day the flavors had blended even more, so a terrific make ahead meal for family or company.
laura March 16, 2019
This is a revelation, to have a luscious butter chicken ready so quickly! I skipped step #2, since I didn't have a stainless steel bowl to fit inside the instant pot, and just cooked rice separately on the stovetop. I also omitted the fenugreek since I didn't have any. Delicious as is, and I will surely make it often.
Steve January 24, 2019
These directions are beyond unclear regarding the rice and chicken as others have noted. Enough to make the recipe unusable. The author may be a great cook, but she needs an editor.
midgeb February 16, 2019
Perhaps you are not familiar with Instant Pot gear, so you can't relate to those instructions. And because it's an aftermarket purchase, like other purpose made instant pot pans and vessels, it's not in the instruction manual. Google a tall wire steaming rack for an instant pot. The rack allows for cooking on two levels during one cooking cycle and keeps the upper level vessel out of the liquid from the lower level ingredients. I got the one made by Guestway, about 3" legs from amazon. Works great.
M January 23, 2019
This recipe might be tested, but it needs editing, as it over and under explains the process and is clearly confusing to anyone who hasn't begun to cook multiple foods in the IP at the same time.

"2. In a 1 1/2-quart stainless-steel bowl that will fit in the Instant Pot, stir together the rice, water, and salt. Place a tall steam rack in the pot over the chicken, making sure its legs are resting on the bottom and top is higher than the mix below. Place the bowl of rice on the rack. .... "
Sarah L. January 19, 2019
Made this tonight using chicken breasts instead of thighs. Worked great! Used 3 breasts because it was what I had - it was about a pound and a half. The sauce to chicken ratio favored the sauce but I wasn’t mad about that! It was delish! I didn’t have fenugreek so subbed a couple dashes of mustard powder (per the internet!) seemed fine to me! This is a pretty forgiving recipe if you don’t have all the exact ingredients. I used the cream from reduced fat coconut milk - also totally good! I loved it and so did my husband! The instructions about the rice were a bit confusing - does that mean make the rice in the pot with the chicken mixture? I had some rice in the freezer so didn’t bother with that... anyway, highly recommend!
Tina F. December 15, 2018
Made this and it was amazing! Agree more chicken. Can you substitute breast for thighs?
Arom C. December 6, 2018
can you recommend a tall steam rack size to hold the rice? i'm assuming the steam rack included with purchase is too short.
Brigitte H. December 7, 2018
I hv the same question Arom
midgeb February 16, 2019
I bought the tall wire steaming rack made by Guestway on amazon. It fits a 6 qt Instant Pot. The legs are just over 3" tall, so perfect for cooking rice or steaming a vegetable separately.