Food. Life. Travel

Not Your Mama’s Butter Chicken Recipe

butter chicken recipe with naan

I am half Indian and half Arab, but the majority of the recipes I make are anything but! I always joke that I can make an Italian or a Mexican mom proud with my cooking – but how about an Indian one? More specifically, can I endeavor to make an Indian dish that would make my own mom proud?

I am obsessed with butter chicken. If I was on death row, my last meal would most likely be butter chicken with butter naan and butter rice. Are you sensing a trend here with the word butter? I figure, that if I am to make an Indian dish that will make my mama proud, then it has to be butter chicken. Here is a fun drinking game – take a shot of whatever, everytime I say butter chicken. I guarantee you will be drunk before you even make it to the recipe LOL 🙂 !

To give you some context, the butter chicken my mom makes is pretty tasty. In fact it is so so tasty that I go for seconds and thirds even if I am already stuffed. See? What did I tell you about my butter chicken addiction? I can’t control myself.


“Hi my name is Lulu and I am addicted to butter chicken”


So this butter chicken recipe is pretty simple. There aren’t a lot of ingredients or steps involved which is great. And you can have dinner ready in less than 45 minutes. The longest part is cooking the chicken. But then again, isn’t cooking always the longest part about cooking? In any case, it is well worth it. 

Now if you are anything like me, you will have skipped this entire part and scroll down straight to the recipe. Don’t worry I am not judging you, I do the same. However, you may have noticed that I use a “packaged ingredient” *cue dramatic music* You may be thinking


1) “How can this be an authentic butter chicken recipe if it involves a prepackaged spice?”

2) “I was under the impression that all ethnic foods involved freshly made ingredients!!”

3) “Lulu I highly doubt this butter chicken recipe is going to make yo’ mama proud.”



Well, I am going to let you in on a little secret. Are you ready to hear it?

1. You can omit the pre-made spice if you want too, but I think it adds a little something something. It’s just ready-made for me because that is way more convenient.

2. In this day and age ain’t nobody got time to make everything from scratch. And since the ethnic diaspora is pretty massive, not everyone has access to the ingredients they need all year round. Hence the need for pre-made spices. No Indian woman is going to tell you this but I guarantee you they have an array of different pre-packaged spice mixes in their pantry 😉 !

3. To be fair, the title of this recipe is called Not Your Mama’s Butter Chicken Recipe. But it most certainly made her proud!

homemade butter chicken recipe


A Look Into the Ingredients

The premise for butter chicken is cream and butter. So if you’re looking for a low-calorie dish – this ain’t it. However, the ingredients to this dish are incredibly delicious and wholesome. A little cream and butter have never ever killed anybody. And I am a firm believer that moderation is everything. Furthermore, I think you would go crazy if you couldn’t have a little cream and butter in your life! The cream and butter add the richness we look for in butter chicken.

Honey is used as the sweetener. Traditionally, butter chicken ( murgh makhni a Punjabi dish) is not known to be sweet. It involves cream and butter for sure – but no honey! When the dish was brought to the West, the flavor was altered to adhere the taste palettes of the Western dinner guests. Hence the birth of the sweet butter chicken you and I have come to know so fondly today.

The spice mixture in this butter chicken recipe is known as garam masala. If you have your own garam masala mixture you can substitute it for the spices in the recipe (in equal parts).  You don’t need a lot, just enough to enhance the flavor of this dish.

Traditionally, the chicken part of butter chicken is made with the dark meat of left over tandoori chicken. I don’t like dark meat that much and I don’t have time to make tandoori chicken and butter chicken. If you are feeling fancy (and have time), you can totally make tandoori chicken and add it to the butter chicken!

And now without further ado, here is my Indian butter chicken recipe.


This butter chicken recipe isn’t like your mama’s but I am sure it will make her happy! Creamy, buttery and a touch sweet, this butter chicken recipe will be a sure crowd pleaser. Serve it with some rice and naan!


butter chicken recipe with naan



  • 5 chicken breasts (cut into small bite sized pieces)
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 1 tsp each cumin seeds, cumin powder & coriander powder *
  • freshly cracked pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup yogurt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 small sweet onion, chopped finely
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp each cumin seeds, cumin powder & coriander powder *
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 small packet of powdered butter chicken spice (optional)
  • 2 tbsp honey (can add more to taste)
  • 1/3 cup full cream (can add more to taste)
  • chopped fresh cilantro for garnish


  1. In a small bowl, mix the chicken with the spices, salt, pepper, ginger, 1 clove of crushed garlic, lemon juice, and yogurt. Set aside for at least 30 minutes
  2. In a sauce pan, heat the olive oil and butter on medium-high heat. Throw in the chopped onions and cook until golden brown (10 minutes). Add the 2 cloves of chopped garlic and cook until brown.
  3. Afterwards, add the other set of spices and salt to the onion-garlic mixture, stirring until mixed. Then add the can of crushed tomatoes, chicken stock and, if using, the butter chicken spice. Taste the mixture to ensure there is enough salt and spices. If your mixture is a bit too thick, you can add 1/4 cup more chicken stock.
  4. Next, add the honey and taste the sauce. You can sweeten it to your liking. Then add the chicken to the sauce mixture and cook on medium heat, stirring often, until the chicken is cooked through.
  5. Once the chicken is cooked add the full cream and stir. Add the chopped cilantro and serve with rice and chicken.

Recipe Notes

* If you have your own garam masala mix, you can add the garam masala in place of the spices in this recipe at an equal ratio. For example 3 tsp total of cumin seeds, cumin powder and coriander powder = 3 tsp garam masala.


pinterest butter chicken recipe

See? That wasn’t so hard, was it? The essence of an incredible butter chicken recipe comes from a combination of spices, cream, butter and most importantly LOVE. Just kidding! Although love is important, the real secret is using quality ingredients and taking your time in cooking the dish.

It is totally okay to use a pre-packaged spice mix, but take care in reading the ingredients. If there is the addition of MSG, preservatives and mysterious things called “other spices” just avoid it altogether. In reality, you don’t need a pre-packaged spice mix, everything can be made from scratch. But you are not a fraud if you use one, trust me!

And on a side note – this recipe definitely made my Indian mama proud!

Let me know how making this dish goes for you! If you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask 🙂

Until next time!


2 comments so far.

2 responses to “Not Your Mama’s Butter Chicken Recipe”

  1. Sabo 😉 says:

    I love the new take you have on Thousand Caminos and the go with the flow vibe!

    Was looking for a recipe and am so proud of the list of recipes that you’ve posted on your recipe index!

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