Made with tender chicken and a richly spiced tomato sauce, this recipe for Instant Pot Butter Chicken, also known as Makhan Murg, delivers flavor with ease!
Instant Pot Butter Chicken allows you to enjoy the traditional flavors of Butter Chicken using easy-to-find ingredients in a fraction of the time the classic recipe takes!
One of my closest friends shared with me her authentic recipe for Butter Chicken, also known as Makhan murg, 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 had ever eaten at any Indian restaurant.
The downside to my friend's recipe is that it takes FOREVER to make and features many ingredients that may be difficult to find at local grocery stores.
I have taken that authentic recipe and changed it up a bit to deliver very, very similar flavors using ingredients you can find at any grocery store and in record time. Even my friend approves of my recipe for Instant Pot Butter Chicken.
It delivers authentic classic flavors with ease! The sauce is perfectly spiced with all the authentic flavors you crave in Butter Chicken, just minus the hard work, lengthy time, and hard-to-find ingredients.
Notes on Ingredients
- Chicken: Use boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs to make this butter chicken recipe.
- Spices: The spices in this recipe for butter chicken are easy to find in any grocery store and include, ground coriander, ground cumin, turmeric, paprika, and garam masala.
- Aromatics: Diced onion, minced garlic, and grated peeled gingerroot all work to add immense flavor and dimension to the rich sauce.
- Butter: Unsalted butter is best to control the level of sodium in the final dish. While you can replace the butter with nondairy butter, butter is classic in butter chicken 😉
- Tomatoes: This recipe calls for both tomato paste and crushed tomatoes. The crushed tomatoes help to create a luscious, thick sauce, and the tomato paste helps to deliver a really rich tomato flavor.
- Chicken Broth: Use your favorite low-sodium store-bought or homemade chicken broth. Keep in mind this recipe uses less broth than most of my other instant pot chicken recipes. The liquid from the melted butter and onions will help to give this recipe the liquid it needs to maintain pressure.
- Cream: Use heavy cream, not half and half or milk to finish the butter chicken. It will help to balance out the acidity of the tomatoes, thicken the sauce, and give the dish a rich, creamy finish.
How to Make Instant Pot Butter Chicken
While this is an incredibly simple recipe, if you are unfamiliar with cooking in an Instant Pot or the functions of your Instant Pot, be sure to start with How to Use an Instant Pot for the best results on this and future recipes. You will find the full recipe in detail in the recipe card below.
Step One: Toast Aromatics and Spices
The key to developing the authentic flavor of Butter Chicken quickly is to toast the onions, ginger, garlic, spices, and tomato paste in butter. This will help to enhance the flavor of the dried spices and aromatics.
- Turn the Instant Pot to saute, add in the butter, and allow the butter to melt as the Instant Pot heats up.
- To the melted butter, add the minced onion and saute for just a couple of minutes or just to start to soften the onion.
- Once the onion has begun to soften, add in the minced garlic and ginger and saute briefly. You want to just begin to smell the garlic and ginger, but be very careful to not burn them--burnt garlic and ginger will ruin a dish FAST!
- To the inner pot, add the tomato paste and spices. Saute them together for 1-2 minutes.
Step Two: Deglaze the Inner Pot
Any time you use the saute function on the Instant Pot, you must scrape up any browned bits off the bottom of the inner pot to prevent a burn notice from occurring.
- Turn the saute function off on the Instant Pot by hitting cancel.
- Add the chicken broth into the inner pan and use a spatula or wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits off the bottom of the pan.
Step Three: Add Chicken
I find it is best to not sear the chicken before pressure cooking. This allows the chicken to really absorb all the flavors of the sauce. Not to mention, it speeds up the recipe, making Instant Pot Chicken perfect for any day of the week.
- Add in the diced, raw chicken and crushed tomatoes and gently fold the mixture together.
Step Four: Pressure Cook
This recipe cooks extremely quickly, but you will need to account for an additional 10 minutes for the pressure to release naturally after the cooking time has elapsed. This will ensure that your chicken stays tender!
- Seal the Instant Pot and set it to cook on HIGH pressure for 5 minutes.
- Once the cooking time has elapsed, let the pressure release naturally for at least 10 minutes.
Step Five: Thicken the Sauce
After pressure cooking, the Butter Chicken is NOT quite ready. While already delicious, by finishing the sauce with heavy cream, the sauce becomes thickened, richer, and perfectly balanced.
- Turn the Instant Pot back to saute.
- Add the cream and saute until the sauce is just thickened, stirring constantly. It will only take a couple of minutes.
Step Six: Serve
Serve Instant Pot Butter Chicken with Instant Pot Brown Rice, Instant Pot White Rice, Instant Pot Quinoa, cauliflower rice, and/or Naan bread, and chopped cilantro if desired. You want something to soak up all that delicious sauce.
Preparing Rice with the Butter Chicken
I love serving Instant Pot Butter Chicken with a side of rice to soak up the rich sauce. While you can prepare rice separately, the timing of this recipe allows you the option of cooking white rice using the pot-in-pot method at the same time as the butter chicken cooks. Talk about an easy dinner!
To do this, place rinsed long-grain white rice (not brown rice!) in a stainless steel bowl with an equal amount of water. Place a trivet above the chicken mixture and set the bowl with the rice on the trivet. The rice needs a bit longer to account for the stainless steel bowl, so the cooking time of 5 minutes with at least 10 minutes of natural pressure release works perfectly to cook the rice.
YES! Traditionally, recipes for Butter Chicken call for toasting whole spices and then grinding them. However, by simply toasting the ground spices, you still can achieve incredible flavor. But if you skip the step of toasting, the resulting dish will lack flavor.
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.
Yes, you can prepare Instant Pot Butter Chicken using frozen chicken thighs or breasts. If using frozen cubes of chicken, increase the cooking time to 8 minutes on HIGH pressure. If using frozen whole pieces of chicken breasts/thighs, increase the cooking time to 10 minutes on high pressure. Once the cooking time has elapsed and pressure has been released, remove the chicken from the Instant Pot and shred or chop it up and return to the sauce to finish simmering with the heavy cream.
More Instant Pot Chicken Recipes
- Instant Pot Chicken Breast
- Instant Pot Sweet and Sour Chicken
- Instant Pot Chicken Tacos
- Instant Pot Teriyaki Chicken
- Instant Pot Chicken and Rice
- Instant Pot Chicken Cacciatore
- Instant Pot Whole Chicken
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If you tried this recipe for Instant Pot Butter Chicken, I would love for you to leave a comment and review below.
Instant Pot Butter Chicken
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ¼ cup minced onion optional
- 5 cloves garlic minced
- 2 teaspoons fresh ginger grated
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 15 ounces crushed tomatoes
- 1 pound chicken breasts or thighs, boneless and skinless cut into 1-inch pieces
- ¼ 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 the spices or tomato paste. Turn the Instant Pot OFF.
- Add in the chicken broth and scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the inner pot.
- Add the crushed tomatoes and chicken and stir to combine.
- Close the lid and set to cook on high pressure for 5 minutes. (Hit Manual or Pressure Cook and adjust the time to 5 minutes using +/- buttons.)
- Once the cooking time has elapsed, let the 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. Hit cancel and then 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.
This recipe was originally published in 2019 and updated in 2022 with a new video.