Archana Mundhe's Instant Pot Butter Chicken

October 12, 2018

Test Kitchen-Approved

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 Review: 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

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


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


  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
In This Recipe


  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. 

More Great Recipes:
Indian|Chicken|Pressure Cook|Instant Pot|Weeknight Cooking|Dinner

Reviews (12) Questions (3)

12 Reviews

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.
Lynn October 23, 2018
So amazingly delicious! Used Fenugreek powder, 2t, as that is what I had. Other than that, made recipe to a T. Hubby raved and raved!!! Will be making this one over and over again. Only thing I will change is adding more chicken. This made alot of sauce....Yay!
Shital L. October 15, 2018
OMG I LOVE this recipe and Archana's blog. This recipe is a staple in our home and definitely the most requested by my young children. It has all the authentic Panjabi restaurant flavor minus the excess oil and heavy cream. For any new Instant Pot users I highly recommend having all the ingredients prepped and ready to go - Its that FAST! I recently had the honor of testing her recipes along with 14 other testers (fans) for her new book and all I can say is WOW. Please keep more amazing recipes like this coming!
George R. October 19, 2018
Thanks for the great review... I made this for my kids, loved it.
Instapot makes it easy for me to cook for the kids !