Instant Pot Butter Chicken
See my guide on how to use an Instant Pot.
Instant Pot Butter Chicken is a comforting main dish filled with tender chicken in a delicious curry sauce. This easy Instant Pot recipe gives you the deep, satisfying flavors that you crave, with much less effort.
The name “butter chicken” immediately brings up thoughts of comfort food. This classic Indian favorite consists of tender bites of chicken served in a rich and creamy curry sauce. The tomato-based sauce is made with garlic, ginger, spices and cream and it’s perfect for dunking chunks of naan bread or sopping up with extra rice.
In my healthy butter chicken recipe I add in a chopped bell pepper to get 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.
Indian cuisine is full of layers of flavor and spices, and it can take time to develop those flavors. With Instant Pot Indian recipes, you can achieve the same complex flavors with less time and effort.
This Instant Pot butter chicken recipe uses simple ingredients and takes only 15 minutes of active prep time. Then you’ll set your Instant Pot and let it finish the cooking for you while you prep other parts of the meal, clean up your kitchen, play with your kids, or whatever else it is that you want to do. 🙂
Instant Pot Butter Chicken: Better than Takeout
The next time you get a craving for butter chicken, skip the takeout and make this easy Instant Pot butter chicken at home.
- You won’t have to leave your house, and you can adjust the ingredients to your liking.
- Making Instant Pot butter chicken in your pressure cooker is quick and easy. The amazing thing about the Instant Pot is that it develops rich layers of flavor in a fraction of the time.
- This homemade butter chicken recipe is healthier than most takeout. You can even sneak in extra veggies!
How to make Instant Pot Butter Chicken
Before you get started, if you are new to Instant Pot cooking, check out my guide on how to use an Instant Pot. If you are looking to buy an Instant Pot, this post can help you decide which Instant Pot to buy. Get my most-used Instant Pot accessories here.
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 most things ready first.
- To prep the butter chicken ingredients, you’ll chop a small onion, peel and mince five cloves of garlic (I use my garlic press), peel and mince some fresh ginger, and chop a red bell pepper.
- Once you have that prep work done, press the Sauté button on your Instant Pot to turn on sauté mode. Add the butter to the pot and let it melt, then add the onion.
- While the onion softens in the pot, measure out your spices. I like to measure the spices out into a small bowl so that I can just dump them into the Instant Pot when it’s time.
- After the onion has cooked for a few minutes, you’ll add the garlic, ginger and bell pepper to the pot. Cook these, 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. Also stir in the spices.
- Add the tomato sauce and boneless, skinless chicken breasts 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!
What spices go in butter chicken?
You should be able to find all of the spices for this butter chicken recipe at your local grocery store. You will need garam masala, cumin, smoked paprika and turmeric for the butter chicken curry sauce. 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!
What is butter chicken sauce made of?
The sauce for butter chicken starts with, of course butter. Onions, garlic and ginger add layers of flavor in addition to the butter chicken spices. To all of this you add tomato sauce. The butter chicken sauce is finished with coconut milk (or cream, if desired) so that it is luxuriously rich and creamy.
Can I use frozen chicken in this Instant Pot butter chicken recipe?
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 degrees F at the thickest part. It should be cooked through, but if not, you can finish cooking the chicken in the sauce using sauté mode.
Can I use chicken thighs in butter chicken?
Yes! The dark meat on chicken thighs is delicious in butter chicken. You can substitute boneless, skinless chicken thighs for the chicken breasts. No need to change the cooking time or anything else.
Can I cook the rice in the Instant Pot with the butter chicken?
You can cook white rice in the Instant Pot at the same time as you cook the chicken and sauce. Be sure to use a long grain white rice, such as jasmine or basmati. Brown rice will not work since it takes too long (22 minutes) to cook in a pressure cooker and the chicken would be overdone.
How to make butter chicken with rice using the pot in pot method:
- You will need to halve the butter chicken recipe ingredients, to allow room for a trivet and bowl to fit above the chicken and sauce. (A full recipe may fit under the trivet and bowl in a 6 quart Instant Pot, but I haven’t tested this. If you have an 8 quart Instant Pot you can fit the full recipe ingredients as well as the rice.)
- Rinse and drain 1 cup of long grain white rice.
- Cut each chicken breast into three smaller pieces for large breasts or 2 smaller pieces for small breasts. You need to cut the chicken smaller because we will be reducing the cooking time to accommodate the rice.
- After putting the tomato sauce and chicken into the Instant Pot, put a tall trivet in the pot. Be sure that the top of the trivet is above the sauce and chicken.
- Place a 7-inch oven safe bowl (this is the bowl I use) on top of the trivet and add 1 cup of rinsed rice and 1 cup water to the bowl.
- Close the Instant Pot lid and pressure cook for 4 minutes at high pressure, followed by a 10 minute natural release.
Can I make dairy-free butter chicken?
Yes, 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.
Tips for Making Butter Chicken in your Instant Pot
- To make cooking this butter chicken easy and stress-free, gather and chop your ingredients before you start cooking in the Instant Pot.
- 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.
- For best results, use full fat, unsweetened coconut milk in this recipe. You can use heavy cream or half and half in place of the coconut milk, if you wish.
More Instant Pot Chicken Recipes
- Instant Pot Orange Chicken
- Honey Garlic Instant Pot Chicken
- 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)
- ¼ cup water
- 1 tablespoon garam masala
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 28 ounces tomato sauce
- 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 cup full fat coconut milk
- 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.
- Pour in the 1/4 cup water and stir, scraping up any bits that may be stuck to the bottom of the Instant Pot.
- Stir in the garam masala, cumin, smoked paprika, turmeric and salt. 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.
How to cook butter chicken and rice together in the Instant Pot using the pot in pot method:
- If using a 6 quart Instant Pot, you will need to halve the butter chicken recipe ingredients, to allow room for a trivet and bowl to fit above the chicken and sauce (use the full 1/4 cup of water). If you have an 8 quart Instant Pot you can fit the full recipe ingredients as well as the trivet and bowl with rice.
- Complete steps 1-4 of the recipe. Rinse and drain 1 cup of long grain white rice (such as jasmine or basmati).
- Cut each chicken breast into three smaller pieces for large breasts or 2 smaller pieces for small breasts.
- Put the tomato sauce and chicken into the Instant Pot. Put a tall trivet in the pot. Be sure that the top of the trivet is above the sauce and chicken.
- Place a 7-inch oven safe bowl on top of the trivet and add the rice and 1 cup water to the bowl.
- Close the Instant Pot lid and pressure cook for 4 minutes at high pressure, followed by a 10 minute natural release. Quick release any remaining pressure and then continue with the recipe as directed in steps 8-10.
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