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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 extremely 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
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.
- 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:
Click 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.
Reader Favorite Recipes
The recipe card is below! Readers also made these similar recipes after making this one.
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 VideoClick or tap on the image below to play the video. It's the easiest way to learn how to make this recipe!
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Butter Chicken Sauce:
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Click 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.
Video Showing How To Make Butter Chicken:
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Nutrition Information Per Serving
Where does nutrition info come from? Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy, sourced from the USDA Food Database. You can find individual ingredient carb counts we use in the Low Carb & Keto Food List. Net carb count excludes fiber, erythritol, and allulose, because these do not affect blood sugar in most people. (Learn about net carbs here.) We try to be accurate, but feel free to make your own calculations.
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