Finger Lickin’ Butter Chicken (Murgh Makhani)

Finger Lickin' Butter Chicken Closeup Cropped Final Shot Something other than sugar. Something other than chocolate. Something other than butter.  No, no… that’s a sin one should never commit.

Something with butter, always something with butter! So why not make butter chicken?

Ironically, my butter chicken recipe doesn’t contain that much butter! I know, silly huh?

I use what’s called ghee (clarified butter) for this recipe but you can use regular old butter if you please, the results will be the same. Instead of churning cream to make butter, ghee is made by heating and removing the milk solids.

This recipe is a lot easier than some of the recipes that are out there which call for all sorts of whole spices and what not. Skip them, this one is quick and to the point but it’s packed with all the delicious flavors of a restaurant-style butter chicken.

The gravy in this recipe is quite delish. I would go so far as to have it as a soup in the winter months with some sautéed veggies? Hmmm.. that’ll have to be another post!

Until then, happy butter chickening!

Finger Lickin' Butter Chicken Prep Ingredients Here’s what you’ll need. We’re trying to keep the ingredients to a minimum and going for 100% flavor.

Finger Lickin' Butter Chicken Shan Masala CloseupI used Shan’s Tandoori Chicken masala, it is quite easy to find in most Indian/Pakistani grocery stores, if for some reason you can’t find it, don’t stress it, any Tandoori Chicken Masala will produce similar results.

Finger Lickin' Butter Chicken Chicken Masala Closeup Start by letting the chicken bathe in the yogurt, ginger garlic paste, and the tandoori masala. It’s up to you how long you let this stuff hang around and marinade, but I generally recommend at least 15-20 minutes if you’re in a hurry or up to 24 hours for some super tender chicken.  Finger Lickin' Butter Chicken Cooked Tandoori Chicken Closeup Cook the chicken in 1 tablespoon of oil along with all of that yogurty goodness. We’ll add that to the gravy later.

This recipe uses 1 can of crushed tomatoes and Fenugreek leaves which give it that authentic flavor. Crush the leaves between your fingers to release the aroma, before adding it to the butter chicken as the final step. Also, what I like to do is double the recipe for the sauce and store half of it in an airtight container in the freezer for an easy dinner. Just add sautéed chicken and you’ve got yourself an easy weeknight dinner!

Finger Lickin' Butter Chicken Closeup Vertical Shot Final Scene 

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  • To make the ginger garlic paste:
  • ¼ cup ginger, cut into small pieces
  • ¼ cup garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • To make the butter chicken:
  • 1 lb. boneless chicken breast cut into 1-1/2 inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoon Shan Tandoori BBQ Mix
  • 3 teaspoon ginger garlic paste
  • ½ cup yogurt (I used greek, but regular yogurt works just fine too)
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon ghee (butter)
  • 2 medium onions (or 1 large), thinly sliced
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder (optional - see notes)
  • 1½ tablespoon coriander powder
  • 1½ teaspoon cumin powder
  • ½ cup whipping cream
  • ½ teaspoon garam masala
  • ¼ teaspoon Fenugreek leaves, crushed between fingers
To make the ginger garlic paste:
  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and turn into a smooth paste. Paste can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks and can be frozen for up to 3 months.
To make the butter chicken:
  1. In a medium bowl, combine the yogurt, 2 teaspoons ginger garlic paste, and Shan Tandoori BBQ Mix, allow chicken to marinade in the mixture for at least 15-20 minutes covered and refrigerated.
  2. In a dutch oven on medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of canola oil along with the butter and sauté the onions until they turn translucent and start to sweat. About 5 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste and cook for an additional minute. Add the can of crushed tomatoes along with the chili powder, coriander powder, and cumin powder and continue to cook for another 5 minutes. Turn the stove off and allow mixture to cool for at least 10 minutes.
  3. While the sauce is cooling, heat a sauté pan with 1 tablespoon of oil, add the marinaded chicken along with all the yogurt sauce and cook the chicken for just 6 minutes. Do not overcook.
  4. Add the contents of the onion and tomato mixture to a blender and blend until it turns into a smooth paste. You may need to add a couple tablespoons or up to ¼ cup water to help blend things together. Once blended, return to the dutch oven and continue to heat the sauce. Add the chicken and the yogurt from the sauté pan to the tomato mixture and heat everything thoroughly.
  5. Once heated, add the whipping cream and garam masala. When the sauce starts to simmer, add the crushed up Fenugreek leaves. Serve with naan (flat bread) or basmati rice.
Marzia's Notes
The Tandoori Chicken BBQ Mix does contain some chili powder, if you prefer a more mild flavor, hold off on the additional chili powder until the very end so that you can taste and adjust according to your preference.


    • Marzia says

      A dutch oven is a cast-iron, thick bottomed cooking pot. If you don’t have a dutch oven, you can use any heavy bottomed pot or a large saucepan

  1. samo says

    hi the fenugreek leaves can you use ground fenugreek as in Australia its very hard to find and if so is it the same amount needed.

    • Marzia says

      Yes, ground fenugreek is absolutely fine! I’d replace it with 1/8 teaspoon first, you can always adjust to preference later. Fenugreek is quite pungent so you don’t want to use too much to start with.

  2. Syrah Fox says

    Hi Marzia! Recipe sounds great but we dont have any of tandoori masarla type mixes here in Oz (that we can find). Do you have a recipe for how we could make that component from scratch?

    • Marzia says

      Do you perhaps get tandoori masala paste? That can be used instead of the my mixture. I unfortunately don’t have a recipe on how to make the tandoori masala from scratch but you can search for it online. Just make sure your tandoori masala recipe has red chili powder, turmeric, and garam masala amongst other ingredients. Hope that helps!

    • says

      Hi Syrah,
      I’m from New Zealand and our products are very similar, often the same, as what you have. Do you have Pataks brand over there? I use the Pataks tandoori spice paste and although I have no comparison to Marzia’s mine turns out just as good as, if not better than, the restaurant version. If you don’t have Pataks I’m sure there’d be something the same as we have here that you could use. It’s a fabulous recipe!

  3. says

    Used the National Butter Chicken spice packet instead of Shan Tandoori, didn’t have cream so used some more yogurt and evaporated milk, cooked the onions longer until almost golden, and it was lovely. With homemade naan, my husband was so excited. This is the only butter chicken recipe that’s ever worked for me!

    • Marzia says

      Shehla, you’re going to combine the ginger and garlic in the food processor with the vinegar. Once blended, use the paste as it’s called for in the recipe. Hope that helps!

    • Marzia says

      You can use fresh tomatoes if you’d like but the flavor will be slightly different. To replace with fresh tomatoes, use about 5-6 Roma tomatoes. Boil them in water until the skin bursts, peel, and pulse them in a food processor. Hope that helps!

  4. Anita says

    Hi Marzia

    I would like to make your recipe for about 25 people how do I increase the
    ingrediants please help

    Thanks Anita

    • Marzia says

      Hi Anita,
      This recipe comfortably feeds 5-6 people. If your serving just butter chicken then I’d suggest multiplying the recipe ingredients by 6. If you’ve got side dishes (at least 2-3 other sides) I would say just multiply this recipe by 4 (so 4 pounds of chicken, etc).

      I hope that helps! :)

  5. Peter desouza says

    Thank you for your recipe. Just wanted to confirm that the stated proportions were for 1 lb of chicken or 1 kg of chicken?

    • Marzia says

      Yes that’s correct, 1 lb. of chicken. You can get away with using up to 1 1/2 pounds but anything more than that wouldn’t leave you with enough gravy.

        • Marzia says

          Hi Andy,
          I haven’t tried making butter chicken in the slow cooker yet, but my suggestion would be to prepare/marinate the chicken as directed, prepare the sauce as directed (without adding the cream, garam masala, and fenugreek leaves) and add both to the slow cooker (let the chicken cook completely in the slow cooker). The boneless chicken may dry out if you cook it then add it to the crockpot. I would cook it for 2 hours on high and 4 hours on low. Since the chicken pieces are smaller, they won’t take as long too cook. Hope this helps!

  6. says


    The recipe was absolutely delicious 😀 My family couldn’t help licking their fingers! I’m always hunting for easy-to-cook dishes and this one was just that. So glad I stumbled upon it..will be trying other recipes soon.



    • Marzia says

      Hi Cindy,
      You can use coconut milk if you like but the flavor will be a little different then if you use whipping cream. It will be more like a coconut curry with the tandoori flavor. I think it would be delicious, just a different flavor than authentic butter chicken. Another option is half and half if it’s not a lactose issue. Or even fat free half and half if it’s the fat you want to avoid.
      Hope that helps! :-)

  7. Sarah says

    I stumbled on your website looking for a butter chicken recipe. This one is awesome. I will be putting it on regular rotation. Thanks!

  8. says

    I just found this recipe today and made it for lunch! YUM. We went to our favorite Indian restaurant last week and evidently the chef had changed, because the butter chicken was not as good as it normally is. So, when I saw this recipe, I had to try it.

    Sure am glad I did. I did not have the tandoori spice mix, so I used fish curry mix and both my husband and I LOVED it.

    I made a full recipe, when normally I cut them in half and am sure glad I did. Leftovers Baby, Leftover!

    • Marzia says

      Hi Arla!
      I hate it when there isn’t consistency in a restaurants food. But with that said, i’m so glad you made this recipe and loved it! Thanks for commenting! =)

  9. Amanda says

    Made this for dinner tonight and it is almost done! I’ve gotta say, I am extremely excited to taste it! The color and smell are both perfect. My husband and I are serious Indian cuisine lovers and I really hope that it tastes as good as it smells and looks! I’ll post back after we eat! Thanks for posting!

  10. kim says

    Hi Marzia,
    I tried your butter chicken recipe for dinner tonight (found it by googling) and it turned out great! Pretty much followed the recipe except for halving the butter and omitting the cream. My husband loved the result. It’s so time-saving to use a jar of tandoori paste instead of making everything from scratch. No harm in a little short-cut! Anyway, just wanted to let you know, and to thank you for putting the recipe online.

  11. says

    Thank you so much for this recipe!!! It takes way less time than my other recipe where I had to make the tandoori chicken the night before and leave it to marinate. This is so much quicker and easier, plus I think it was actually even better – the chicken turned out even more tender than ever! And yes, it tastes totally authentic. I will most definitely be using this recipe from now on. Thanks again!

    • Marzia says

      Sorry you feel that way Ram.

      Most Indian restaurants use a tandoori masala to flavor the chicken prior to preparing the gravy. Therefore this recipe calls for Tandoori Masala to flavor the chicken. We’re not using butter chicken spice mix. Give it a try, you might be surprised!

    • says

      ya im gonna take my chances with the recipe that calls for the many many ingredients. Before i read this post I didnt like the idea of that Shan Masala.. im not a chef and im sure its good.. but just dont like that package.

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