Shredded chicken thighs made incredibly tender in a rich tomato sauce with hints of Indian spices…oh yes! This Instant Pot Butter Chicken is an easy family dinner that everyone at the table (babies on up) can enjoy.

Instant Pot Butter Chicken

If you love Chicken Tikka Masala, you will love this incredibly flavorful (yet mild) Indian chicken recipe. The combination of shredded chicken and tomatoes with just enough cream and butter to add richness really is something special—and it’s a wonderful way to introduce the kids to new flavors.

Let the kids try a very small portion and don’t push if they’re not into it—the exposure still counts.

We love to have this Butter Chicken with basmati rice, naan or pita bread, and a simple veggie side. I’ve made this chicken recipe so many times now—I double it each time since we love it so much.

This recipe is adapted from the Multi-Cooker Baby Food Cookbook, from my friend Jenna Helwig—who you may know from her previous books Baby Led Feeding and Real Baby Food. I love that the methods are straight forward and they can all be eaten by babies.You can buy this awesome new cookbook.

TIP: Surrounding a potentially new dish, like this one, with “safe” foods such as rice, bread, and/or a favorite veggie, is an easy way to have a low-pressure family dinner.

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Why is butter chicken called butter chicken?

Butter chicken (also known as “murgh makhani”) is one of the most popular Indian dishes that you can find all over the world. It has flavors similar to tikka masala, is laced with cream and butter, and is actually easy to make at home. It was originally created by Kundan Lal Gujral as a way to soften leftover chicken.

This recipe here is a somewhat simplified (and less spicy) version of the original that’s family-friendly…and super delish.

(I usually don’t provide that kind of culinary history, but I love knowing those tidbits!)

Ingredients You Need

To make this Instant Pot chicken recipe you’ll need:

ingredients in instant pot butter chicken
  • Crushed fire-roasted tomatoes: Just be sure they don’t have chiles in them. You can also use regular crushed tomatoes if that’s what you find at the store.
  • Garam masala: This adds the classic flavor you’ll be expecting from butter chicken. Look for it near other spices at the store.
  • Salt (optional)
  • Ginger, garlic, and salt: Each adds flavor. You can use ground, dried ginger and garlic, or grate frozen ginger, peel and all, on a microplane.
  • Chicken thighs: These cook quickly in the recipe and are seriously moist and tender—which makes it very easy for babies and toddlers to chew and enjoy.
  • Butter and cream: We stir these into the cooked chicken to add flavor and richness. You can omit the butter and use coconut milk to make this dairy free.
  • Rice: Use any variety of cooked rice you prefer. You can also use fully cooked rice from the store to save a step.
  • Lime, cilantro, cucumbers, and naan bread, optional

TIP: If you can’t find or don’t have garam masala, you can use cumin for a less authentic, but still delicious option.

Dairy-Free Butter Chicken

To make this dairy free, you can omit the butter and use full-fat coconut milk in place of the cream.

how to make instant pot butter chicken step-by-step

Step-by-Step Instructions

Here’s a look at the simple steps involved in making this easy chicken recipe. Scroll down to the bottom of the post for the full recipe.

  1. Mince the garlic and grate the ginger.
  2. Add to the multi-cooker with the tomatoes and spices.
  3. Nestle in the chicken. Cook!
  4. Remove chicken and shred.
  5. Melt butter and cream into the sauce. Simmer to thicken.
  6. Stir the chicken back in. Serve over rice.

TIP: Keep a knob of fresh ginger in a zip top storage bag in the freezer and grate it with a microplane frozen, skin and all, to make grating easier and to never waste fresh ginger—it won’t go bad before you have a reason to use it again!

How can I thicken Butter Chicken in an Instant Pot?

The easiest way to thicken this Butter Chicken is to simmer it for a few minutes when you add the cream and the butter. (Though to be honest, the first time I made this I actually forgot to do that step and it was still delicious!)

Can I make this in a Slow Cooker?

You sure can! You’ll simply combine the ingredients in the slow cooker as you would in the Instant Pot and slow cook for longer. See the Notes section of the recipe below for the information.

butter-chicken-on-kids-plate

How to Store

Store any leftovers in an airtight container and reheat to serve. You can also freeze this in a freezer bag for up to 6 months.

Best Tips for Success

  • If you don’t have or can’t find garam masala, you can use cumin. (It will have a less distinctly Indian flavor, but it will still be good!)
  • To make this dairy-free, omit the butter and use full fat canned coconut milk in place of the cream.
  • If you can only find diced fire-roasted tomatoes, you can puree the sauce smooth in Step 4 right before you add the chicken back in.
  • Feel free to double the recipe to make a larger portion (or to ensure leftovers!)
  • Pureeing the sauce, either with an immersion blender or in a regular blender, makes the sauce smooth and eliminates large pieces of tomatoes—which many kids may prefer.
  • Serve over your favorite type of rice. Basmati rice is particularly good. You can make the rice ahead of time, or cook it while the chicken is cooking.
  • Chop the shredded chicken up into tiny pieces for babies who are learning to feed themselves finger foods.

Related Recipes


I’d love to hear your feedback on this recipe, so please comment below to share!

instant-pot-butter-chicken

Easy Instant Pot Butter Chicken

Forget takeout—deliver this popular Indian dish to your table instead. Shredded chicken thighs are coated in a rich, buttery sauce with hints of tomatoes, ginger, and garam masala—a messy but very flavorful finger food. Adapted from The Multi-Cooker Baby Food Cookbook.
4.94 from 31 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Cuisine Indian
Course Dinner
Calories 409kcal
Servings 6

Ingredients

  • 14.5 ounce can fire-roasted crushed tomatoes (without chili peppers)
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger (from about 1 1/4-inch piece)
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced; or 1 teaspoon garlic powder)
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (optional)
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs (trimmed)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (cut into cubes)
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups fully cooked rice
  • Fresh lime juice, chopped fresh cilantro, and/or naan bread, optional

Instructions

  • Stir together the tomatoes, ginger, garlic, garam masala, and salt (if using) in the multi-cooker.
  • Nestle the chicken into the tomato mixture. Lock the lid and set to cook on high pressure for 10 minutes.
  • When cooking is complete, press "cancel" and let the pressure naturally release for 10 minutes, then carefully quick-release any remaining pressure. (There may not be any.)
  • Chop the chicken in the pot with a pair of kitchen scissors, or shred with two forks.
  • Stir in the butter and cream.
  • Serve over rice with plain yogurt, chopped or thinly sliced cucumbers, lime juice, cilantro, and/or naan bread as desired.

Equipment

Notes

  • If you don’t have or can’t find garam masala, you can use cumin. (It will have a less distinctly Indian flavor, but it will still be good!)
  • To make this dairy-free, omit the butter and use full fat canned coconut milk in place of the cream.
  • If you can only find diced fire-roasted tomatoes, you can puree the sauce smooth in Step 4 right before you add the chicken back in.
  • Feel free to double the recipe to make a larger portion (or to ensure leftovers!)
  • Pureeing the sauce, either with an immersion blender or in a regular blender, makes the sauce smooth and eliminates large pieces of tomatoes—which many kids may prefer.
  • Serve over your favorite type of rice. Basmati rice is particularly good. You can make the rice ahead of time, or cook it while the chicken is cooking.
  • Chop the shredded chicken up into tiny pieces for babies who are learning to feed themselves finger foods.
  • Store any leftovers in an airtight container and reheat to serve.
  • SLOW COOK IT: Stir together the tomatoes, ginger, garlic, garam masala, and salt (if using), in a slow cooker. Add the chicken. Cover and cook on Low for 6-8 hours or until the chicken is tender and cooked through. Remove the chicken and shred it, then cover to keep warm. Stir in the butter and cream, then stir in the shredded chicken.

Nutrition

Calories: 409kcal, Carbohydrates: 55g, Protein: 20g, Fat: 11g, Saturated Fat: 6g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 3g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 95mg, Sodium: 553mg, Potassium: 474mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 428IU, Vitamin C: 7mg, Calcium: 57mg, Iron: 2mg
Tried this recipe?Rate in the comments and tag @yummytoddlerfood on IG!

Recipe shared with permission from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. This post was first published November 2019.

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Hi Amy, this recipe sounds perfect. I really want to make it tonight but don’t have any cream or coconut milk. I do have some full fat Greek style yoghurt, I’m thinking adding some of this may add the fat content that the cream provides? I know it won’t be identical but I’m thinking it’ll help the sauce keep a similar consistency? Maybe add more milk or liquid to stop it thickening to much? You’ve added so many alternative options, so I’m sorry to ask another question!

    1. Hi- I would make it and just skip the part about adding the cream and then top with the yogurt. I wouldn’t stir it in, just add it on top to each serving since I’m not sure whether it might separate a little or not. Should be delish though!

  2. 5 stars
    This recipe ticked all the boxes for us: easy to make, delicious and toddler approved. So glad I ran across your instagram! This recipe will definitely be in our routine. Thanks for sharing!

    1. I’ve done it with frozen thighs for the same time and it’s great. For breasts, which are usually thicker, I would do 12 minutes to be safe. Enjoy it!

  3. 4 stars
    Very easy to make but didn’t taste like butter chicken to my fiancé and I. Kind of just tastes like pasta sauce with ginger in it. We do eat authentic butter chicken so that might be the issue. My toddler didn’t love it but had a few bites.

  4. 5 stars
    Highly recommend. My 14 month old devoured this whole batch in like 4 days. And it took 5 min to prep. This is going to be a go to recipe, for sure

  5. 5 stars
    Both my picky toddler and husband love this recipe! I double the garlic but otherwise follow the directions. Sooo good!! This is the second time I’ve made it this week haha!

  6. 5 stars
    One of our new favorite go-to dinners! Definitely a great addition to our dinner rotation. Thank you!’

  7. We love this recipe! I’m new to using my pressure cooker, do I have to adjust the cooking time if the chicken is frozen?

    1. The cook time for frozen is the same. It will take a little longer to heat up to pressure cook, but otherwise it’s the same!

  8. 5 stars
    This recipe was a hit at my house! My 9 month old son LOVED it along with my husband and I. Literally craving this again.

  9. Just wondering if you have any tips on how to not get the “burn notice” while cooking this in an instant pot? It’s happened to me several times, and I end up having to scoop everything into a pot and cook on the stovetop anyways (still delicious, but not too convenient!) any tips would be great!

  10. 5 stars
    I keep forgetting to review this but Amy knocked it out of the park on this one! It’s subtle enough for little taste buds but so yummy for adults. I doubled the recipe this time and I did 4 teaspoons of garam masala because I like a little extra spice and my kids didn’t notice! The best thanks again!

  11. 5 stars
    My 1 year old, husband and self all enjoyed this recipe!!! The chicken was delicious! I made with basmati rice. This meal will become a staple in our household!

  12. 5 stars
    Highly recommend giving this a try. My almost 4 year old said “two thumbs up!” The hubs and I loved it as well.

  13. 5 stars
    Love it. My not-at-all picky 6 yo enjoyed it, my very picky 2 yo says “I yuv it.” Only edit was to add a little more cream to amplify the buttery creamy flavor/texture. Otherwise it’s absolutely a great introduction to these flavors. Highly recommend.

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