Instant Pot Butter Chicken

published Oct 27, 2021
Instant Pot Butter Chicken Recipe

This tender and perfectly creamy Instant Pot butter chicken comes together in under an hour.


Prep15 minutes

Cook25 minutes

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Butter chicken in a silver pot with parsley on top and fresh naan on the side.
Credit: Shilpa Uskokovic

With chunks of juicy chicken in a creamy, mildly spiced tomato sauce, butter chicken is a popular dish for a reason. Cooked in the Instant Pot, it becomes an easy weeknight-friendly recipe. While there are very popular recipes out there for Instant Pot butter chicken that are super-streamlined, a little extra effort yields a vastly better dish.

Taking a few more minutes to purée the sauce in a blender will give you the silkiest, creamiest result and allow the full flavor of the spices to really come through. Plus, the cashews make the sauce extra rich without an excessive amount of heavy cream. But the biggest flavor upgrade you can make is to use kasuri methi or dried fenugreek leaves. Easily available in Indian grocery stores or online, kasuri methi adds an intriguing note that gives you restaurant-quality results. If you can’t find it, don’t let that stop you from trying this recipe — it’ll still taste good without it!

What Is the Difference Between Butter Chicken and Tikka Masala?

  • Butter chicken tends to be mildly spiced and enriched with butter and cream for a luxurious sauce.
  • Chicken tikka masala is generally spicier and less saucy than butter chicken.

Should I Use Chicken Breast or Chicken Thighs?

Because pressure cooking is intense, chicken thighs will perform better in this recipe than breasts. Chicken breasts have a tendency to become too tough and dry when cooked under pressure. 

Can I Use Frozen Chicken?

Certainly! Simply add them to the sauce without thawing and increase cook time by two minutes. Even if the chicken is slightly undercooked when the pressure is released, it will finish cooking after it’s had time to simmer in the sauce.

What to Serve with Butter Chicken

Warm, buttered naan or steamed rice are the ideal pairing for butter chicken. Plain white rice will allow the flavor of butter chicken to shine through best. Choose a mildly fragrant variety like Indian basmati or Thai jasmine rice. 

Instant Pot Butter Chicken Recipe

This tender and perfectly creamy Instant Pot butter chicken comes together in under an hour.

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 25 minutes

Serves 4

Nutritional Info


  • 1

    large yellow onion

  • 8 large cloves


  • 1 (1-inch) piece


  • 4 tablespoons

    (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

  • 3 tablespoons

    sweet paprika

  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon

    cayenne pepper

  • 1 teaspoon

    ground coriander

  • 1 teaspoon

    garam masala

  • 1 teaspoon

    kasuri methi (dried fenugreek, optional)

  • 1/4 cup


  • 1 (28-ounce) can

    whole, peeled tomatoes

  • 1/4 cup

    salted or unsalted roasted cashews

  • 1 tablespoon

    granulated sugar

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt, plus more as needed

  • 1 1/2 pounds

    boneless, skinless chicken thighs

  • 1/4 cup

    heavy cream, plus more for garnish

  • 2 medium


  • 1/2 bunch

    fresh cilantro

  • Warm naan or flatbread, for serving


  1. Dice 1 large yellow onion. Thinly slice 8 large garlic cloves. Peel 1-inch fresh ginger and coarsely chop.

  2. Heat a 6-quart or larger Instant Pot or electric pressure cooker on the Sauté setting. Add 4 tablespoons unsalted butter and cook until melted. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, 3 tablespoons sweet paprika, 1/2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon ground coriander, 1 teaspoon garam masala, and 1 teaspoon kasuri methi if using. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions begin to soften and the mixture is fragrant. Pour in 1/4 cup water and stir vigorously, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot.

  3. Add 1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes and their juices, 1/4 cup roasted cashews, 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. (No need to stir.) Nestle 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs into the sauce.

  4. Lock the lid on and make sure the pressure valve is set to seal. Set to cook for 6 minutes on HIGH pressure. Meanwhile, juice 1 to 2 medium limes until you have 2 tablespoons juice, then cut the remaining lime into wedges for serving. Coarsely chop the leaves and tender stems of 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro until you have 1/4 cup.

  5. When the cook time is up, quick release the pressure. Using tongs, transfer the chicken to a clean cutting board. Transfer the sauce to a blender and add 1/4 cup heavy cream. Blend until smooth, then return to the pressure cooker. (Alternatively, add the cream to the sauce and blend directly in the pressure cooker with an immersion blender.)

  6. Cut the chicken into 1-inch pieces. Return to the sauce and stir to combine. Cook on the Sauté setting, stirring frequently, until simmering, about 5 minutes. Add the lime juice and stir to combine. Taste and season with more kosher salt as needed.

  7. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with the cilantro and a drizzle of heavy cream. Serve immediately with warm naan or flatbread and lime wedges.

Recipe Notes

Storage: The butter chicken can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Garnish with heavy cream and cilantro just before serving.