Butter chicken or murgh makhani is one of the most popular Indian chicken curries 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.

Pressure Cooker Instant Pot Butter Chicken
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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 the 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 for 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 kid-friendly.

There is another popular Indian Chicken CurryChicken 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.

Watch How to Make Instant Pot Butter Chicken

How to make Instant Pot Butter Chicken? – A different preparation 

Pressure Cooker Instant Pot Butter Chicken

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, to 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 adding 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 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 into 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!

Butter Chicken Instant Pot Pressure Cooker - Close up with butter chicken in a fork

Isn’t it a lovely color?  And the easiest 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. Here you can find 20 easy sides to serve with butter chicken.

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 Indian 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.

Check out other Instant Pot Indian Curry Recipes you might enjoy:

4.82 from 50 votes

Instant Pot Butter Chicken Recipe

A creamy and delicious Butter chicken or Murgh Makhani made in the Instant Pot. Chicken cooked in a mildly spiced tomato gravy with aromatic ginger, garlic and spices. 
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 5

Ingredients 

  • 1.5 lb Chicken, thighs
  • 2 tablespoon Butter, (replace with oil for dairy free)
  • 1 Green chili pepper, (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon Cumin seeds (Jeera)
  • 1/2 Onion, large, cut in large pieces
  • 1 tablespoon Ginger, minced
  • 1 tablespoon Garlic, minced
  • 4 Tomato, cut in large pieces
  • 1/4 cup Cashews
  • 2 tablespoon Dried Fenugreek leaves (Kasoori Methi)
  • 1/4 cup Water
  • 1/4 cup Cream, heavy whipping or coconut cream
  • 1 tablespoon Honey
  • Cilantro, to garnish

Spices

Whole Spices

Instructions 

  • 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.

Video

Notes

  • 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.
  • VariationsButter 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. 

Nutrition

Calories: 369kcalCarbohydrates: 14gProtein: 17gFat: 27gSaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 117mgSodium: 627mgPotassium: 520mgFiber: 2gSugar: 7gVitamin A: 1365IUVitamin C: 17.4mgCalcium: 39mgIron: 2mg

Additional Info

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: North Indian
Diet: Gluten-free
Tried this recipe?Mention @pipingpotcurry or tag #pipingpotcurry!

About Meeta

I strongly believe that each one of us has a chef inside us, we just need to explore the ingredients and create great food. My passion is to share easy, healthy, and wholesome recipes made using Instant Pot & Air Fryer, that are well tested, so you can cook with confidence.

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4.82 from 50 votes (23 ratings without comment)

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60 Comments

  1. I want to try this recipient, but I am confused. perhaps it’s a typo, but when do you cook the chicken? it says to keep it out of the pot when you make the sauce, and then strain it out of the sauce before blending.

  2. Tried this recipe with my son today, it was so easy to make. He said it came out very good, I will try the recipe with paneer as I’m vegetarian

  3. Loved it, Smooth,velvety sauce with subtle flavours and sweet notes.My 1st ever meal cooked in my brand new Instant Pot.Whole family loved it including little Gracie, our 2 year old grand daughter, she said it was ” much yummy yummy!”

  4. I love your recipes! I wanted to try your suggestion of adding tomato paste and reducing the number of tomatoes, what is your suggestion to the amount of paste and number of tomatoes to reduce?
    Thank you

    1. Hi Priya – Thank you! One tablespoon of tomato paste is about 1 medium tomato, so you can reduce the amount accordingly.

  5. I made the recipe last night, and it was delicious. But I had the same problem that I had with the Chettinad Chicken recipe: even though I intentionally used more water than the recipe called for, and even though I used an entire 14-1/2-oz. can of crushed tomatoes to get plenty of liquid in the pot (more than the equivalent of the 4 tomatoes cut in large pieces that the recipe called for), still I got the “food burn” warning, and the pot never pressurized. As the instruction manual calls for in that case, I opened the pot and deglazed as much as I could; but again I ultimately got the “burn” warning and again the pot didn’t pressurize. So ultimately I just cooked the recipe longer, and it turned out fine. Afterwards I checked that the plastic ring in the pot was properly installed, and not cracked; I did the initial water test to be sure, and the pot pressurized just fine. So it seems that when there are a lot of ground spices, and lots of other solid materials, I have a hard time getting the pot to pressurize. (I did use a spice bag for the solid spices, BTW, as the recipe called for.)

    Another thing I wondered about: the dish wasn’t “mildly spiced” as the recipe stated; it was actually quite spicy. I almost wondered whether that really is a butter chicken recipe. It seemed more like a fairly intense curry. But it was delicious all the same!

    1. Hi Donald – We discussed over email, but adding my response here as it might be helpful to other readers. It is possible the tomatoes could be the reason for the burn in this case. If using canned tomatoes, I would suggest to add them at the top of other ingredients and not stir before pressure cooking.

      I have added a note to the recipe too. You can reduce the red chili powder or use the mildly spiced Kashmiri red chili powder. That would give a great color to the curry, but not make it as spicy.

      Glad that you enjoyed the curry!

  6. I love butter chicken! My late husband showed me how to make it. It was the first meal he ever cooked for me. We usually had it with jasmine rice, the wonderful nutty flavor of the jasmine rice blends perfectly with the sauce. That being said…recently my dr mentioned that I needed to cut some starch from my diet. I found it to be just as fabulous if you serve it over riced cauliflower. Its just the right consistency and a ton less starch and calories.

    1. Hi – So happy to hear that. Thank you for sharing your experience. You have some wonderful memories to cherish with butter chicken 🙂

  7. SIMPLE!!! I’m veg and I make this for my family regularly – it’s amazing and I know it’s going to be delicious every time, even though I can’t taste it! SO SIMPLE, looks so professional, smells yummy; it’s a crowd pleaser!

  8. Hi,
    I dont have a pressure cooker, should I just cook all the ingredients minus the chicken, cream, honey and cilantro, in a pot for about 20 mins to get the flavour and then add the chicken to cook and then add the rest when chicken cooked?
    It sounds delicious so I’d love to make it. Thanks so much, Ruth.

    1. Hi Ruth – To make this on stovetop, I would recommend to saute the onions, ginger and garlic until the onions are golden. Then add the tomatoes, spices and saute for 2-3 minutes. Then you can blend this sauce, and add the chicken to cook along with the blended sauce in a large pan. Then once the chicken is cooked, add the other ingredients as in the recipe. Hope you enjoy the curry!

    1. Hi Lucas – I would not pressure cook for longer, as that can overcook the chicken and dry it out. Hope you enjoy the curry!

  9. Hey- I made this last night and it was wonderful! Thank you for this recipe and the all the others on your site! And I just need to add that I love all the “extra” info you add about the regions where some foods are from and the personal stories about what you loved growing up and the cultural background you include. It’s a nice little mini education for me that I really appreciate.
    Just a question though- in this recipe it calls for 2″ sticks of cinnamon. Can you clarify that for me? Is that two 1 inch sticks of cinnamon? Or is it two 2 inch sticks of cinnamon? Does it not really matter?

    1. Hi Mel – I can see the reason for confusion. I updated the recipe to mention 2″ inch Cinnamon stick. I hope that clarifies. Just one 2 inch stick would work well. I am so glad that the cultural details about the recipe are interesting to you. Hope you enjoy the butter chicken.