Butter chicken or murgh makhani is one of the most popular Indian chicken curry all over the world. It is the dish everyone orders when in an Indian restaurant. Instant Pot Butter Chicken is a flavorful dish with chicken cooked in a mildly spiced curry sauce or gravy. This is a restaurant style recipe, where you indulge with lots of butter and cream. This butter chicken is such a breeze to make in the Instant Pot.
I have shared a Paneer Butter Masala before, which is the exact same sauce made with onion, tomato, ginger, garlic and lots of aromatic spices. I just replaced paneer, and added chicken while cooking the sauce. I add cashews and top with cream to thicken the gravy. Many recipes for butter chicken skip onions, however I find that to be too tangy to my taste. Give this a try and I am sure you will love this butter chicken. My daughter is a very picky eater, but loves this sauce with chicken or paneer, so I can attest that it is very kid friendly.
There is another popular Indian Chicken Curry - Chicken Tikka Masala. For tikka masala, you marinate the chicken and grill the marinated chicken (called chicken tikka) before adding it to the gravy. Here is Salmon Tikka Masala recipe for the instant pot.
How to make Instant Pot Butter Chicken? – A different preparation
The preparation for this Butter Chicken is very different than the usual onion-tomato gravy. Usually to make gravy, we first sauté onions and then sauté tomatoes. However this one is done in a completely different way.
Add all the ingredients, except cream and honey in the instant pot. Place the chicken on top of the ingredients and pressure cook for 8 minutes. You don’t need to finely chop the onions and tomatoes, as we are going to blend them later. This is also the reason, I suggest to add the whole spices in a pouch made from thin cheesecloth or a spice bag. This helps to get the flavor, but you can also remove it before blending.
Once the pressure cooking is done, remove the cooked chicken and cut it into pieces. Blend the cooked ingredients using an immersion blender or in a regular blender. I used my immersion blender, which I could use directly in the pot. If using a regular blender, you would have to pour the contents into the blender and may need to let them cool before blending. Then pour them back to the instant pot after blending. The sauce is now ready. Stir in the cream, honey and chicken pieces. Garnish with lovely cilantro, and enjoy it!
Isn’t it a lovely color? And the most easy dish to prepare? This is my go to dish when I have not done much preparation…and oh, perfect to serve if you have guests coming over.
Love this gravy? Make it a dip with naan and serve it as an appetizer. This used to be a complimentary appetizer served at an Indian restaurant I frequently visited in Chicago. You can also do vegetarian variations with this gravy - Paneer Butter Masala, Butter Tofu, Matar Paneer or add Roasted Cauliflower. If you like to meal prep, make a big batch of this sauce and freeze it for later.
Instant Pot Butter Chicken Recipe
- 1.5 lb Chicken thighs
- 2 tablespoon Butter (replace with oil for dairy free)
- 1 Green chili pepper (optional)
- 1 teaspoon Cumin seeds (Jeera)
- ½ Onion large, cut in large pieces
- 1 tablespoon Ginger minced
- 1 tablespoon Garlic minced
- 4 Tomato cut in large pieces
- ¼ cup Cashews
- 2 tablespoon Dried Fenugreek leaves (Kasoori Methi)
- ¼ cup Water
- ¼ cup Cream heavy whipping or coconut cream
- 1 tablespoon Honey
- Cilantro to garnish
- ½ teaspoon Ground Turmeric (Haldi powder)
- 1 teaspoon Coriander powder (Dhaniya powder)
- 1 teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder adjust to taste
- ½ teaspoon Garam Masala
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 2" inch Cinnamon (Dalchini) stick
- 5 Green Cardamom (Elaichi)
- 2 Black Cardamom (Moti Elaichi)
- 1 teaspoon Black Peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon Cloves (Laung)
- Make a spice pouch by adding the whole spices to a cheesecloth. Tie it such that the spices cannot come out of it.
- Except chicken, cream, honey and cilantro, add all ingredients and spice pouch to the Instant Pot including the spices. Place chicken thighs on top of the ingredients. Close lid with vent in sealing position.
- Set the instant pot to manual or pressure cook mode for 8 minutes. After the instant pot beeps, do a 10 minute natural pressure release. This means let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes, then manually release the pressure.
- Remove the spice pouch and chicken carefully. Blend the contents in the instant pot with an immersion blender or regular blender to a smooth paste. If using regular blender, you may need to cool the ingredients before blending. Get the contents back to the instant pot.
- Add the cream and honey. Stir into the sauce.
- Cut chicken to smaller pieces and add back to the sauce. Stir them into the sauce.
- Butter Chicken is ready to be served. Garnish with cilantro.
- The sauce thickens as it cools, and taste even better the next day. If you want a more reddish color sauce, you can reduce tomatoes and add some tomato paste.
- This sauce freezes well. Skip adding the chicken and keep this sauce handy to prepare this or other curries.
- Variations: Butter Paneer / Matar Paneer / Mushroom Matar / Roasted Cauliflower - You can also add different veggies to this sauce and make delicious curries. All of the veggies can be added after making the sauce. Simmer for 3-4 minutes on saute mode to cook the veggies.
- Love this gravy? Make it a dip with naan and serve it as an appetizer.
- Vegan Variation: To make this curry vegan, replace cream with coconut cream, butter with oil and chicken with tofu or vegetables (add them after making the sauce).
- Make it a meal: Cook white basmati rice pot-in-pot (PIP) when pressure cooking the curry. Check measurements here.
- This recipe has been updated to make it even easier to make in the Pressure Cooker.
Note: Nutrition values are my best estimates. If you rely on them for your diet, use your preferred nutrition calculator.
Check out other Instant Pot Indian Curry Recipes you might enjoy:
I absolutely love this recipe and have made it several times. I’d love to make it for a friend, but she is allergic to tree nuts (so no cashews😕). Any suggestions for substitutes? Thank you!!