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I wasn’t a fan of Indian food growing up, but my family and friends love it, so it’s been slowly winning me over. This quick and easy keto butter chicken recipe definitely did. And when I served it for a group of friends a couple months ago, it was the first thing on the table to go. Everyone was asking me how to make butter chicken that tastes just like the takeout they were used to!
With a simple marinade, easy butter chicken sauce, common ingredients from your pantry (you’ll just need to pick up garam masala if you don’t cook Indian food often!), and an authentic restaurant taste, there’s no reason not to make this dish ASAP.
Serve with sauteed cauliflower rice and keto naan bread for an authentic Indian feast. And if you have family or friends that are not quite ready to give up carbs, it’s easy enough to make rice to serve it with for them.
What Is Butter Chicken?
Butter chicken is an Indian dish of chicken in a buttery tomato sauce with curry flavor. Garam masala is the most common spice used, but others often included include cumin, ginger, chili powder, cardamom, cloves, coriander, and fenugreek.
Typically, butter chicken is marinated in yogurt with garlic and spices first, then cooked with sauce. (I used full-fat Greek yogurt for my keto butter chicken, for the richest flavor and low carbs.)
The dish can be cooked in a clay oven (tandoor), regular oven, or stovetop. My easy butter chicken recipe is pan fried, which makes it a quick one pot meal.
What Does Butter Chicken Taste Like?
As you might expect, butter chicken tastes like pieces of chicken in an Indian tomato sauce, somewhat similar to a curry, with a touch of creaminess. Garam masala provides the primary flavor profile.
How To Make Butter Chicken
Once you see how to make this butter chicken recipe, I think you’ll have it on regular rotation. It’s just a few simple steps and less than 30 minutes of active cook time:
- Make the marinade. In a large bowl, stir together Greek yogurt, garlic, garam masala, cumin, salt, ginger, and chili powder. Add chicken thighs, stir to coat, and cover with plastic.
- Caramelize onions. Melt the butter in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add sliced onions and saute until soft and browned. Make a well in the center and add minced garlic. Saute until fragrant and then stir in with the onions.
- Make easy butter chicken curry sauce. Stir in tomato sauce, heavy cream, garam masala, cumin, ginger, chili powder, and salt.
- Prep chicken. Remove chicken from marinade and use kitchen shears to cut into pieces.
- Cook the chicken. Add the chicken pieces into the pan, nestling them into a single layer. Cook for 8-10 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. Season with salt if desired, and sprinkle with cilantro.
Easy Butter Chicken Recipe Ingredients
This easy Indian butter chicken has simple ingredients that you probably already have in your kitchen:
Butter Chicken Marinade Ingredients
- Greek yogurt – This serves as the base of the marinade, but a lot of it is discarded and not used in the actual cooking. Buy full-fat and make sure it’s plain!
- Garlic – Adds great savory flavor.
- Spices – In this butter chicken curry recipe, we’re using garam masala, cumin, ground ginger, chili powder, and sea salt.
- Boneless chicken thighs – It wouldn’t be keto Indian butter chicken without the chicken. Both chicken breasts or chicken thighs would work, but I opted for thighs.
Butter Chicken Sauce Ingredients
- Butter – A must for this butter chicken dish, sautéing the onions and garlic help give this dish the traditional richness.
- Onions & garlic – Caramelized aromatics add sweet and savory flavor.
- Spices – Most of the same spices in the marinade make it into the butter chicken sauce as well.
- Tomato sauce – The base of this Indian butter chicken recipe is made from tomato sauce.
- Heavy cream – Instant creamy flavor. You can substitute coconut cream if you like.
Note: I kept the variety of spices in this butter chicken recipe to a minimum to keep the ingredient list low. Indian recipes are notorious for having a long list of spices and wanted to keep it simple for you. If you like, you can add a teaspoon of cumin and/or fenugreek to the marinade and/or sauce, as these are common additions to butter chicken. I left them out, because they are commonly already present in garam masala.
Can I Use Chicken Breasts or Bone-In Thighs?
Yes, any cut of chicken will work. I made my butter chicken with chicken thighs that were boneless, but you can also use breasts, bone-in thighs, or really any other chicken pieces. The cook time will be about the same if you use bite-size chicken pieces.
If you use whole pieces of chicken that are not bite-size (either bone-in or boneless), it will take a few minutes longer for them to cook through.
Is Butter Chicken Keto?
Yes, this butter chicken keto recipe is low carb and keto friendly!
A 3/4 cup serving has 8.6 grams net carbs, the majority coming from the tomato sauce. It makes a great keto dinner option. Depending on how much cauliflower rice you serve it with, you could also reduce the serving size to 1/2 cup instead, reducing a serving to 5.7 net carbs.
Is Butter Chicken Healthy?
Yes, keto butter chicken is healthy. This dish is packed with protein (over 30 grams) and natural ingredients, while being low in carbs and sugar. It’s also a good source of vitamin A (995 IU), vitamin C (11 mg), and calcium (48 mg).
Is Butter Chicken Spicy?
This easy butter chicken recipe is easy to customize to be spicy or not. The spice comes from the chili powder, which you can adjust to your liking.
As written, it only has a mild kick and is not very spicy. Add more chili powder to the butter chicken sauce to taste if you like more heat.
What Makes Butter Chicken Orange?
Butter chicken gets its orange color from the spices in it, especially garam masala, chili powder, and cumin. The tomato sauce also helps contribute to the bright color.
What To Serve With Butter Chicken
I love to serve butter chicken with sauteed cauliflower rice and keto naan bread! Of course, those who aren’t keto can opt for traditional rice and naan.
How To Store Butter Chicken
Store this easy butter chicken recipe in the fridge for 3-4 days. Reheat it in the microwave or a hot skillet until heated through.
Can You Freeze Butter Chicken?
Yes you can freeze this keto butter chicken recipe. Store in a freezer safe container or freezer bag for 3-6 months.
Let thaw in the refrigerator overnight and reheat in the microwave or hot skillet until heated through.
More Keto Chicken Dinner Recipes
If you like this easy butter chicken recipe, you might also like these other keto chicken dinner recipes:
- Crispy Chicken Legs – The best and easiest way to get crispy chicken legs.
- Mexican Stuffed Poblano Peppers – Mexican flavors, chicken, and plenty of melty cheese!
- Coconut Curry Chicken – Another Indian keto recipe! If you love this quick butter chicken recipe, you’re sure to love this coconut curry. Or, if you really like curry, try chicken korma.
- Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore – Let the slow cooker do all the work, using pantry ingredients.
- Chicken Zucchini Casserole – This one dish meal is filling, packed with veggies and protein.
- Crock Pot Whole Chicken – Another easy slow cooker recipe, with common ingredients you probably have right now.
Tools To Make Butter Chicken
Tap the links below to see the items used to make this recipe.
- Glass Bowls – I love these nesting glass bowls, they have a size for everything! I use the large bowl for marinating the keto butter chicken.
- Saute Pan – This butter chicken keto friendly recipe needs a big saute pan so that it fits all the chicken. This one is really high quality and I use it often.
- Kitchen Shears – Cut up the chicken thighs quickly with kitchen shears. These are affordable and you’ll use them frequently.
- Garam Masala – Probably the most important spice for Indian cooking, including this keto butter chicken recipe.
Keto Butter Chicken Recipe
Easy Keto Butter Chicken Recipe
This easy keto butter chicken recipe features a simple, quick marinade and rich butter chicken sauce! Learn how to make butter chicken for an Indian feast at home.
Recipe VideoTap on the image below to watch the video.
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Tap underlined ingredients to see where to get them. Please turn Safari reader mode OFF to view ingredients.
Butter Chicken Sauce:
Tap on the times in the instructions below to start a kitchen timer while you cook.
In a large bowl, stir together all the marinade ingredients. Add the chicken thighs, stir to coat, and cover with plastic wrap. Chill for at least an hour, or overnight.
Melt the butter in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the sliced onions and saute for 8-10 minutes, until soft and browned.
Make a well in the center and add the minced garlic. Saute for about 30 seconds, until fragrant, then stir in with the onions.
Stir in the tomato sauce, heavy cream, garam masala, cumin, ground ginger, chili powder, and sea salt. Adjust salt to taste; other flavors will develop as it cooks afterward.
Remove the chicken from the marinade and use kitchen shears to cut into bite-size pieces. No need to wipe the marinade off the chicken, but leave behind what isn’t stuck to it.
Add the chicken pieces to the pan, nestling them in the sauce in a single layer. Spoon additional sauce over the chicken to cover. Increase heat to high and bring to a simmer, then simmer for 8-10 minutes, stirring every few minutes, until sauce is slightly thickened and chicken is cooked through. Adjust salt to taste if desired.
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Serving size: 3/4 cup, or 1/6 entire recipe
Nutrition info includes only 1/2 of the Greek yogurt in the marinade, because the majority is discarded after marinating.
Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy. Have questions about calculations or why you got a different result? Please see our nutrition policy.
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A little too spicy for me but very good I think next time, I’ll cut back on the chili powder, though.
I bought half and half by accident instead of heavy cream. Can I use that instead?
Wholesome Yum D0
Hi Pauline, Yes, that should work for you.
I had buttered chicken (actually chicken tikka masala) from this one restaurant years ago and I absolutely love it. Everytime I go to an Indian restaurant, I order their buttered chicken or chicken tikka masala hoping to taste the original one I tried before. But it just isn’t the same. I came across a random store that sold garam masala and decided to make some. I have to say, this recipe is the closest to that one unforgettable chicken tikka dish I tried! Even my brother-in-law who does not like trying out new cuisines loved it. I will definitely make this again, adjusting the ratio of spices to my liking (maybe a tad less tomato sauce and a little more garam and/or cream for me). Grateful for finding this recipe!
My husband and I love authentic Butter Chicken, so we were skeptical of this simplified recipe. It turned out AMAZING! I added a bit more heavy cream to smooth out the tomato tang. I also added a bit more garam masala and some cayenne pepper for some heat. We could not believe how good this was, considering the simplicity and ease of the recipe. This is definitely going into the dinner rotation!
Love this recipe …. Made a few times now and always have some for future meals. Freezes well.
My changes ….I use my homemade canned San Marzano Tomatoes and some coconut milk to marinade – I replace the cream with Coconut Milk …. YUM!
Love your recipes! Thank you
I have seen this recipe & always wanted to try it. SO SO GOOD! Loved it!
How do you eat or what do you eat butter chicken with? It’s good but it’s like a think creamy soup with chicken
Wholesome Yum D0
Hi Michelle, I suggest eating this with cauliflower rice or zucchini noodles.
Wouldn’t it be easier and less messy to chop chicken before adding to the marinade?
Wholesome Yum D0
Hi Donna, You can do that if you prefer.
Just finished having this for dinner – SO good! I somehow missed that I needed a can of tomato sauce, so I tried to use up the tomato paste I had leftover from another meal (5oz tomato paste and 5oz water) and ended up quite short. I Googled what else I could use and found a recipe that used some tomato sauce and some pumpkin purée which I also happened to have leftover in my fridge (about 1 cup)… then I noticed the sauce would be super thick, so I doubled the amount of heavy cream. Probably not the healthiest/keto-ist meal, but it did the trick and I will absolutely make this again and again (but properly next time!). Thank you for this recipe 🙂
I made this recipe last night and it was delicious.
So yummy have made it 4 times!!
Delicious! I marinated the chicken thighs overnight. I used a dutch oven instead of a saute pan, but otherwise followed your recipe to a T. Very easy to make, and will definitely make again.
I made this for the first time last night and it was an immediate keeper! I love Indian food, and my favorite dish is Chicken Tikka Masala. Well, this Butter Chicken tastes and looks just like it! It is so tasty and flavorful, and the cauliflower rice finishes it off perfectly! Even if you’ve never liked Indian food, I encourage you to try this! Im not a fan of spicy food, so I went easy on the chili powder, and it was perfect! There are so many wonderful spices in this recipe, it really won’t matter! I think the Garam Masala is more important. I marinated the chicken thighs overnight, even though it says you could do it for as little as an hour. I wanted the spices to really get into the chicken, and they did! Plus, then the next day half the work is done! Give this recipe a try. You won’t be sorry!
This was fantastic. I had a hard time knowing when the thighs were finished cooking, because they’re so tender it’s too good to be true. But I’m pretty sure I’m not eating raw chicken… I simmered it for 45 minutes or so. Put in LOTS of Garam Masala and Chili Powder, almost triple what the recipe called for. It’s got a ton of flavor!
Made your Butter Chicken recipe tonight for the first time. It was delicious. Left out the cumin since neither of us care for the taste of it. Also made your Naan Bread for the first time and it was also delicious. Thank you so much for these wonderful recipes!
WOW!!! I did not expect for this to turn out so good! I have been searching for a good recipe for butter chicken for a long time and all of the ones I have tried never turned out this good. Definitely a keeper! Love it
This has got to be one of the best recipes I have ever made. It is absolutely delicious and has become a family favorite!
I love Indian food and we have an amazing restaurant in our town (rated one of the best in MA)…. but I will say this recipe blows that place out of the water! It was amazing! My husband and I are on the keto diet, so I cut the recipe in half and used chicken breasts (prefer white meat). I also simmered it’s for a couple hours, while I enjoyed my vodka soda (or three) on the deck. I am loving ALL you recipes! Thank you!
Can I use coconut cream instead of heavy cream?
Wholesome Yum M0
Hi Roz, Yes, that will work great!
This is amazing. It tasted really good and it was easy to make.
Hello, can this recipe be made in a slow-cooker? And if so, would you know how long it might need?
Hannah in England.
Wholesome Yum D0
Hi Hannah, I have never made this in the slow cooker, but you would have to cook the dish until the chicken reaches 165 degrees F.
Oh how I’ve missed Indian food so badly. This butter chicken recipe is AMAZING!! It was the first time I’ve ever cooked (or ate) organic chicken thighs and let me tell you- do NOT substitute. Chicken thighs come out incredibly tender and taste amazing with the sauce of this recipe. If you like this (or Indian food in general) definitely try the coconut curry chicken. Another fav!
To add: I skipped the cauliflower rice and made a side salad instead. This is delicious no matter what you pair with it.
This was excellent. I went a little heavier on the spices (slightly heaping measurements) and put a little ethryol sugar in during the simmer to taste to balance the very acidic can of tomato I got. Also added a thinly sliced small red bell pepper with the onions (non-traditional, but try it!). Something came up, so I had to leave the chicken marinating for 2 days – didn’t hurt it at all and came out very tender and juicy (and well-marinated)! Thank you for another great recipe!
So delicious and so easy to make!
Omg! This was some very tasty! And easy to boot! I love all your recipes Maya!! Thank you!
I cut the chicken into large cubes _before_ marinating overnight.
Added 8oz rough cut button mushrooms to the sauce just before serving over cauliflower rice.
I only used 4 chicken thighs… I am freezing the leftover sauce and putting it on plain chicken at a later date (if I can keep from just spooning it straight into my mouth!!!). This is definitely going in the rotation!!!
This is delicious, thank you! Our whole family loved it.
Looks amazing! Have you tried it substituting sour cream for the yogurt?
Wholesome Yum M0
Hi Naomi, I have not tried this, but it should work fine.
Very tasty recipe. But my butter chicken didn’t turn out like your photos. It is not a nice thick rich looking sauce. More like a pale orange/light pink cream sauce and I used everything as per the ingredients. What am I doing wrong 🙁
Wholesome Yum M0
Hi Liezel, Did you use the correct amount of tomato sauce? The recipe calls for a 29oz can. It should be enough to create a nice red butter sauce.
The Keto diet is hard for me because I can’t ever find foods that I actually like eating, but this butter chicken recipe is so yummy!
No need for takeout with this easy and delicious butter chicken recipe! It’s a family favorite at our house!