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Indian butter chicken or murgh hakhani, is delicious and easy to make.

Indian Butter Chicken (Murgh Makhani)

In this Indian favorite, a flavorful spice, tomato, and yogurt-based sauce enrobes chicken cubes. Perfect with rice and/or naan (Indian bread.)
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 4


  • 3 tablespoons unflavored oil (grapeseed canola or similar), divided
  • 1 small onion and 1 shallot both chopped (total - 1 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons garlic ginger paste made from 2-3 cloves of garlic and a knob of garlic mashed together in a small food processor or by hand
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1-2 pinches cayenne pepper ground hot red
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice about 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 cup tomato sauce 8 ounces
  • 1/3 cup ground cashews
  • 1 cup half and half can substitute or 1/3 cup heavy cream + 2/3 cup nonfat milk
  • 1/4 cup unflavored yogurt regular or Greek
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt kosher or sea salt
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless chicken breast or thighs cut into bite size pieces
  • 1+ cups chicken broth Optional - for thinning out the sauce, which tends to be thick.


  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large, heavy skillet. Add the chopped onion and shallot and cook under medium-low heat for about 5 minutes, until the pieces start to become transparent.
  2. Add the butter, ginger garlic paste, bay leaf, garam masala, chili powder, cumin, coriander, cayenne, and lemon juice. Cook for another 1-2 minutes, stirring to mix all the spices. Add the tomato sauce and cook, stirring frequently for 2-3 minutes more.
  3. Stir in the ground cashews, dairy (half and half or cream/milk and yogurt), and salt. Simmer the sauce under a low heat for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Cool the sauce down slightly and blend, either in a blender or with an immersion blender in a tall glass or bowl. Set aside.
  4. Either clean the skillet or use another one. Add a tablespoon of oil (the second of three) and sauté half the chicken cubes on medium-high heat. Leave enough room around each cube so that they do not touch and turn them to brown on each side. Once those cubes are seared on all sides, remove them from the skillet to a plate, add the third tablespoon of oil, and sauté the rest of the chicken cubes the same way.
  5. Once all the chicken cubes are finished cooking, add the sauce back into the skillet and simmer the sauce on a low heat for 20 minutes. If you prefer the sauce thinner, add in small amounts of chicken broth until you get the consistency you want.

Recipe Notes

If you intend to prepare the chicken ahead of time, reheating it later, then simmer the sauce in the last step for only 10 minutes and keep additional chicken broth in reserve for thinning out the sauce upon reheating.