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This creamy, saucy, and flavorful chicken is so easy to make in your instant pot. Serve on traditional rice or cauliflower rice to take advantage of every drop of the rich tomato sauce.

Instant Pot Butter Chicken is a popular curry dish that smells incredible as it cooks. It’s filled with amazing spices but it’s not actually burn-your-mouth-spicy! It has a lot of flavor but very little heat.

The spices that give this dish that big authentic Indian flavor are likely all available in your grocery store. The spice that may be new to you if you don’t typically prepare Indian food at home is garam masala. It’s actually a blend of spices such as cumin, cardamon, cloves, and cinnamon. The one you find may also have nutmeg or cloves – every brand is a little different. (I buy mine at Walmart on the baking and spice aisle.)

The tomato based sauce is the real winner in my opinion. It’s thick and amazing over rice. Feel free to use regular white rice or cauliflower rice (if you want to keep it low carb and Whole30).

So why is it called butter chicken? When this dish was originally created in the 1950’s it included plenty of butter and cream. That’s likely what you’ll be served if you order this in a restaurant today as well. My version is dairy free but you’ll still get every bit of that rich flavor, friend.

You can use whatever cooking fat you like to get this dish started. Ghee is my personal favorite but olive oil, avocado oil, and coconut oil all work great too. Sauté the onion and garlic in the Instant Pot using the sauté setting. Then stir in all the other ingredients except for the coconut cream.

Cook in the Instant Pot on high pressure for 10 minutes. Once it’s done stir in your coconut cream and serve!

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4.50 from 6 votes

Instant Pot Butter Chicken

By Christina
This creamy, saucy, and flavorful chicken is so easy to make in your instant pot. Serve on traditional rice or cauliflower rice to take advantage of every drop of the rich tomato sauce.
Servings: 6 people

Ingredients 

  • 1 tbsp ghee or oil of choice
  • 1 white or yellow onion, diced
  • 1 1/2 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 2 lb chicken breasts, boneless, skinless, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 28 oz canned crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 1/2 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 cup canned unsweetened coconut cream, Do not use lite.

Optional: Chopped cilantro to garnish

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    Instructions 

    • Turn your Instant Pot to the sauté setting. When it’s hot, add your olive oil (or another cooking fat of choice) and then your onion. Stir and let the onion get a bit translucent, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the minced garlic and saute for one minute or until golden. Once done press the cancel button to stop sautéing. 
    • Add chicken, crushed tomatoes, water, garam masala, curry, ginger, paprika, salt, coriander, cumin, and chili powder. Stir to combine.
    • Seal the Instant Pot. Set it to Pressure Cook (or Manual, depending on the model Instant Pot you have) on high pressure for 10 minutes.
    • Carefully release the steam once done and remove the lid.
    • Scoop 1/2 cup of the solidified cream from the top of a can of coconut milk or coconut cream. Stir into your butter chicken. Garnish with chopped cilantro and a drizzle of coconut milk (optional) when serving. Ladle over white rice or cauliflower rice.

    Notes

    You can use canned coconut milk or coconut cream for this recipe. After opening the can do not stir it. The solidified cream will be on the top. Scoop it out and add it to your sauce. You should have about 1/2 cup of cream. 
    What if your canned coconut milk is already stirred so you don’t have any solidified cream at the top? You can still use it – although I’d recommend using at least 3/4 cup instead of just 1/2. (I’ve used 1 full cup of the stirred coconut milk with no problem before.) Your sauce won’t be as thick because of the higher water content but otherwise there isn’t much of a difference.
    Do not use the coconut milk found in a carton, jug, or box. These contain a lot more water than the canned kind and will not help create a creamy sauce. They’ll actually just thin the sauce out further.

    Nutrition

    Calories: 307kcal, Carbohydrates: 15g, Protein: 36g, Fat: 12g, Saturated Fat: 6g, Cholesterol: 97mg, Sodium: 941mg, Potassium: 1082mg, Fiber: 5g, Sugar: 7g, Vitamin A: 717IU, Vitamin C: 17mg, Calcium: 71mg, Iron: 4mg

    Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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    6 Comments

    1. Varusha says:

      Easy to make but it tasted very tomatoey (might have just been the brand of tomato sauce I used). Also it was watery despite using the coconut cream only – any tips to combat that? I tried a corn starch slurry.

    2. Mimi says:

      Soooo comforting and flavorful! It makes excellent leftovers and I can’t wait to make it again once it cools down outside!

    3. Amanda H. says:

      Super flavorful and delicious. I served with white rice and it was just so good. Next time I may add some roasted broccoli or another veggie on the side just to bulk it up a bit for my family of all boys.

    4. Jaci says:

      So much flavor…
      Will definitely make again

    5. Amber says:

      This dish could not be any easier to prepare and it is packed full of flavor!!! Incredible!! This will definitely be a repeat meal in our home! 

    6. Alex says:

      We love this recipe but our instant pot hates it. Our instant pot always stops and says “burn” I’m guessing because it thinks this recipe isn’t watery enough and then we have to restart and it ends up taking forever and probably longer than it would if we cooked over the stove. We haven’t tried adding more water because we are afraid to make the recipe too watery. This has happened to us on multiple machines – not sure what we can do to but it’s very unfortunate.