Instant Pot Butter Chicken is a classic Indian dish made with chicken in a richly spiced tomato sauce. This recipe delivers all the traditional flavors of Butter Chicken, also known as Makhan murg, just in a fraction of the time thanks to the pressure cooker!
One of my closest friends shared with me her authentic recipe for Butter Chicken several decades ago. It came straight from her grandmother’s kitchen in India, and I have to say, it was better than any Butter Chicken I have eaten at any Indian restaurant.
The downside to my friend’s recipe is that it takes FOREVER to make. And her recipe called for whole spices that are first toasted and then ground up. And many ingredients that may be difficult to find at local grocery stores.
So I decided to try to replicate my friend’s authentic recipe for Makhan murg using ingredients that are easy to find at most grocery stores, and cutting the time it takes to make this recipe down drastically.
And friends, I succeeded! I have created a recipe for Instant Pot Butter Chicken that even my friend gave her seal of approval on. The sauce is perfectly spiced with all the authentic flavors you crave in Butter Chicken, just minus the hard work and hard to find ingredients.
How to Make Butter Chicken in the Instant Pot
Step One: Toast the Spices
The key to Butter Chicken is the blend of aromatic spices, garlic, and ginger. Traditionally, recipes for Butter Chicken call for toasting full spices and then grinding. However, by simply toasting the ground spices, you can achieve incredible flavor.
This recipe does require a lot of spices, but most of them you may already have in your pantry. Just be sure your spices have not been sitting in your pantry for years–they will lose their potency after 6 months.
I begin this recipe by sauteing up ginger, garlic, and the spices in melted butter. I add in minced onion as well, as that is how my friend showed me how her grandmother made Butter Chicken, but the onion can be omitted if desired.
Step Two: Prepare Butter Chicken
Once the spices have been toasted, you want to add in chicken stock to deglaze the pan. This helps prevent any burn warning from occurring. Then add in the remaining ingredients and pressure cook for 5 minutes.
That’s right–it only takes 5 minutes to cook this Butter Chicken. And because the Instant Pot seals in all the flavor, incredible flavor is achieved in just minutes, versus hours of simmering. Another Instant Pot Win!!
Step Three: Add in Cream
Once cook time has elapsed, let the pressure release naturally, to keep your chicken tender.
When pressure is released, open the lid, turn the Instant Pot Off. Then hit saute. Add the cream and saute until the sauce is just thickened, stirring constantly.
Once the sauce has thickened slightly, serve with Instant Pot Brown Rice or cauliflower rice and Naan bread, and chopped cilantro if desired.
Can you make Instant Pot Butter Chicken Dairy-Free?
Absolutely. While it may seem weird for the dish with the term butter in it to be able to be made dairy-free, this is actually one recipe that still tastes delicious when dairy-free counterparts are used.
To make this recipe for Butter Chicken dairy-free, use coconut oil in place of butter and canned coconut milk in place of heavy cream.
Can you use Frozen Chicken?
Yes, you can use frozen chicken thighs or breasts. If using frozen cubes of chicken, cook on high for 8 minutes. If using a full chicken breast/thigh that is frozen increase cook time to 10 minutes on high pressure. Once cook time has elapsed and pressure has been released, remove chicken from the Instant Pot and shred or chop up and return to the sauce to finish
Storing Butter Chicken
Leftover Instant Pot Butter Chicken will last for in the fridge for 3 days. You can also freeze for one month. Just let the butter chicken defrost overnight in the fridge and warm in 30-second intervals in the microwave. I have had no issues freezing this recipe when I have used heavy cream.
More Instant Pot Chicken Recipes
- Instant Pot Rotisserie Chicken
- Instant Pot Chicken Breasts
- Instant Pot Chicken Noodle Soup
- Instant Pot Chicken Tacos
- Instant Pot Chicken Wings
- Instant Pot Chicken Thighs
Instant Pot Butter Chicken
- 3 tbsp butter unsalted
- ¼ cup minced onion optional
- 5 cloves garlic minced
- 2 teaspoons fresh ginger grated
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 1 teaspoon coriander ground
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 15 ounces crushed tomatoes (tomato sauce)
- 1 pound chicken breasts or thighs, boneless and skinless cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- Cilantro for serving
- Turn your Instant Pot to the saute setting and let heat until it reads hot.
- Add the butter and onion and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add in the garlic, and ginger and saute for one minute longer.
- Add the spices and tomato paste and saute for 1-2 minutes, or until spices are fragrant. Be careful not to burn. Turn the Instant Pot OFF.
- Add in chicken stock, and scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the inner pot.
- Add the tomato sauce and chicken cubes. Stir to combine.
- Close the lid and set to cook on high pressure for 5 minutes. (Hit Manual or Pressure Cook and adjust time to 5 minutes using +/- buttons.)
- Once cook time has elapsed, let pressure release naturally for 10 minutes. Do a quick pressure release of any remaining pressure to open the lid to the Instant Pot.
- Turn the Instant Pot back to saute.
- Add in the heavy cream and simmer for 3- 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce begins to thicken. Turn the Instant Pot Off.
- Serve warm over rice and with naan.
- To make Dairy Free Butter Chicken, use coconut oil in place of butter and full fat canned coconut milk in place of heavy cream.
- When using an 8 quart Instant Pot, you may want to add in an additional 1/4 cup stock to prevent a burn warning. I have made this many times in a 6 quart and 8 quart with no issues, but have found some 8 quart models are a bit more finicky.
- Be sure your spices are fresh and pungent for the best flavor.