Instant Pot Butter Chicken
See my guide on how to use an Instant Pot.
Instant Pot Butter Chicken is a comforting dish filled with tender bites of chicken in a creamy curry sauce. This easy Instant Pot recipe gives you the deep, satisfying flavors that you crave in a butter chicken recipe, with less time and effort.
The name “butter chicken” immediately conjures up thoughts of comfort food. This classic Indian favorite, called Murgh Makhani, consists of tender bites of chicken served in a rich and creamy curry sauce.
The tomato-based sauce is made with garlic, ginger and spices. The butter chicken sauce is finished with coconut milk (or cream), making it luxuriously rich and creamy. The luscious sauce is perfect for dunking chunks of naan bread or spooning over rice.
Indian cuisine is full of layers of flavor and spices, and it can take time to develop those flavors. By making butter chicken in the Instant Pot, you can achieve the same complex flavors with less time and effort.
This homemade butter chicken recipe is saucy, full of warming flavors, and made from scratch. This dish is richly flavored with warming spices, but it isn’t spicy in the sense of being hot. If you want a spicy curry, you can add cayenne pepper along with the other spices.
In my healthy butter chicken recipe I add a chopped bell pepper to bring more veggies into the meal. I also use creamy coconut milk in place of the heavy cream that you’ll find in most butter chicken recipes. While my recipe might be a variation on the traditional, I guarantee you it’s downright delicious.
If you are new to Instant Pot cooking, my guide on how to use an Instant Pot can help you to get started.
Butter Chicken Ingredients
- Butter: The sauce starts with butter for richness and flavor.
- Onion, Garlic and Ginger: These aromatic ingredients provide the first layer of flavor in the dish.
- Red Bell Pepper: This is not a traditional butter chicken ingredient, but it is an easy way to sneak a vegetable into the meal.
- Water: A small amount of water is used to deglaze the pot after sautéing.
- Spices and Salt: The spices you’ll need for butter chicken are garam masala, cumin, smoked paprika and turmeric. You should be able to find all of these spices at your local grocery store. Garam masala is a blend of spices that is often used in Indian recipes. If you don’t have garam masala, I highly recommend purchasing it for this recipe. Adding garam masala to your butter chicken allows you to add many spices with just this one spice blend. I guarantee you’ll be using your garam masala again!
- Tomato Sauce: I used canned tomato sauce, which is made with tomato puree and water.
- Chicken: You can use either boneless, skinless chicken breast or boneless, skinless chicken thighs.
- Full Fat Coconut Milk: Adding coconut milk after cooking makes the sauce rich and creamy. You can use heavy cream if you prefer.
How to make Instant Pot Butter Chicken
To make this Instant Pot butter chicken recipe, I recommend first getting your ingredients ready. Once you start sautéing ingredients in your Instant Pot the recipe moves quickly, so it helps to have everything ready first.
- Press the Sauté button on your Instant Pot. Add the butter to the pot and let it melt. Then add the onion and sauté.
- Add the garlic, ginger and bell pepper. Cook, stirring, for just 30 seconds, then press the Cancel button to turn off sauté mode.
- Deglaze the pot by pouring in 1/4 cup water, stirring, and scraping up any bits that might be stuck to the bottom of the Instant Pot. Stir in the spices.
- Add the tomato sauce and chicken and close the lid. Turn the steam valve to the sealing position and pressure cook for 10 minutes plus a 10 minute natural release.
- Quick release any remaining pressure and then open the Instant Pot. Remove the chicken, chop it, and stir it back into the sauce in the pot along with some coconut milk.
- Serve your Instant Pot butter chicken with Instant Pot white rice or Instant Pot brown rice (also see how to cook brown rice on the stove), naan bread and fresh chopped cilantro. Enjoy!
Can I use frozen chicken?
- Yes, you can make this butter chicken with frozen chicken. That’s the beauty of the Instant Pot! It can be a lifesaver when you forget to defrost your protein.
- To make this recipe with frozen chicken breasts, first make sure that your chicken breasts are separated and not frozen together in one large mass (as that would affect the cooking time). Increase the recipe cook time to 14 minutes at high pressure, followed by a 10 minute natural release.
- Use an instant read thermometer to check that the chicken has reached an internal temperature of 165° F at the thickest part. If the chicken is not cooked through you can finish cooking it in the sauce using sauté mode.
- You can use boneless, skinless chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts to make butter chicken. Chicken thighs are especially moist and flavorful in this recipe. The cook time will stay the same.
- For best results, use full fat, unsweetened coconut milk in this recipe. Light coconut milk will make the sauce watery. You can use heavy cream in place of the coconut milk, if you prefer.
- To make the butter chicken spicy, add cayenne pepper, to taste. Start with 1/8 teaspoon and add more as desired.
- It’s easy to sneak extra veggies into this Instant Pot butter chicken recipe! Try adding a second chopped bell pepper or half a head of chopped cauliflower. Sweet potato would also be delicious – peel and chop into 1/2-inch pieces.
- You can make this recipe dairy-free, but it won’t be “butter” chicken anymore. To make dairy-free butter chicken, replace the butter with 2 tablespoons of coconut oil. This butter chicken recipe is already gluten-free.
More Instant Pot Chicken Recipes
- Instant Pot Orange Chicken
- Honey Garlic Instant Pot Chicken Breasts
- Instant Pot Whole Chicken
- Instant Pot Chicken Thighs
- How to Cook Frozen Chicken in an Instant Pot
- 28+ Instant Pot Chicken Recipes
Instant Pot Butter Chicken
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 small onion (chopped)
- 5 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
- 1 red bell pepper (chopped)
- 1 tablespoon garam masala
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup water
- 28 ounces tomato sauce
- 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or boneless, skinless chicken thighs)
- 1 cup full fat coconut milk (or heavy cream)
- For serving: cooked rice, naan bread, chopped fresh cilantro (as desired)
- Turn the Instant Pot on saute mode and add the butter to the pot. Once the butter has melted, add the onion. Saute for 2-3 minutes, until softened.
- Add the garlic, ginger and bell pepper to the pot and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Press cancel to turn off saute mode.
- Stir in the garam masala, smoked paprika, cumin, turmeric and salt.
- Pour in the ¼ cup water and stir, scraping up any bits that may be stuck to the bottom of the Instant Pot.
- Add the tomato sauce and the chicken to the pot.
- Close the Instant Pot lid and turn the steam valve to the sealing position. Press the Pressure Cook/Manual button and set the cook time to 10 minutes at high pressure. The Instant Pot will take about 15 minutes to reach pressure and then the cook time will begin counting down.
- When the cook time ends, allow the pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes by leaving the Instant Pot alone. Then, carefully move the steam valve to the venting position to release any remaining steam and pressure. When the pin drops down, open the Instant Pot lid.
- Remove the chicken to a clean cutting board and let it rest for a few minutes. Meanwhile, stir the coconut milk into the sauce in the Instant Pot.
- Cut the chicken into bite size pieces and return it to the Instant Pot.
- Serve chicken and sauce over rice, with naan bread and chopped cilantro if desired.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- To make the butter chicken spicy, add 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, to taste.
- Nutrition information assumes that all of the sauce will be consumed, which it may not be.
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