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.

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.

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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.
4.98 from 71 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
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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
    This is a go-to recipe in our house. It’s fast, it’s tasty, it doesn’t dirty a bunch of dishes, and everyone loves eating it. An absolute favorite!

  2. 5 stars
    I’ve never eaten butter chicken before – mainly because I never understood why it was called butter chicken but it’s red 😆 But looking at the ingredients and how easy it is I figured I’d try it!

    Super easy and pretty tasty! One of my two kids tried it – one bite – and said it was ok, the other refused. But my sister and I both really enjoyed it.

    Thinking I might put a couple batches together in freezer bags so I can have a quick dinner to throw in the instant pot some nights!

  3. 5 stars
    My toddler refused to eat this but the rest of the family absolutely loved I’m going to make it one of our regular meals now and hopefully my little guys will warm up to it and try it some day!

  4. 5 stars
    Thank you for this delicious recipe! My toddler, husband, and I love this with naan, yogurt, and cucumbers and paired with potatoes and mixed veggies as well.

    Do you have advice on whether we can put in raw cut potatoes and frozen mixed veggies with the raw chicken in the Instant Pot? I currently cook the veggies separately then mix together with the sauce in the end. I am always looking for more ways to make 1 pot wonders!

    Thanks!

  5. 5 stars
    Did the slow-cooker version, and it was fantastic. Really delicious and really easy—the perfect combination. And if I ever get over my mental block about using the pressure cooker function on the instant pot, it’ll also be really fast!

  6. 5 stars
    Great flavor and my 22m boys inhaled it. But for me, in the instant pot, it came out quite watery, which didn’t work great for toddlers, so i thickened the rest with a cornstarch slurry. Thanks for another great and easy family recipe!!

  7. 5 stars
    I’ve made this twice now – once in the instant pot and once in the crockpot. Both are so easy! Each time I’ve made it, I think to myself, “this is SO good!” We will be adding this to our regular dinner rotation! Thank you, Amy, for another great recipe!!!

  8. This did not taste anything like a traditional butter chicken. However, it was still good and my 14 mo and husband liked it! It was also incredibly easy which is always appreciated. I doubled the recipe for 2.25 lbs of chicken thighs, but found it to be a lot of sauce and would probably not double the sauce ingredients next time.

  9. 5 stars
    This is a go-to for us. Both my young kids love it. Sometimes my 3-year old prefers to have it without the sauce. The recipe is so versatile and the chicken comes out great every time. My husband and I love it too and we serve it up over basmati rice and sautéed spinach or steamed broccoli. We love your recipes!

  10. 5 stars
    I very rarely leave comments (like this is my second time in more then a decade) because most recipes I try and think “that tasted fine but not worth it to make it again”…NOT this recipe! Wow this was delicious AND easy to make!! Thank you so much for sharing this recipe with us! My 12 month old daughter, my husband, and myself all thoroughly enjoyed this dinner! My daughter was literally sticking her fingers in the sauce and licking her fingers, she’s never done this before! It was so cute (insert little smiley face holding back tears). I threw this meal together so quickly and I loved that it didn’t need a million different ingredients to taste delicious. My husband asked that I add this to our menu rotation; he is very picky so I knew this was a winner as soon as he said that. Make this tonight, you will not be disappointed! Divine!!

  11. 5 stars
    This was delicious! My husband and 14 month old loved it. My 3 year old ate only the cucumber and naan. 😂🤷‍♀️ Thank you for yet another great recipe (and so easy!).

  12. 5 stars
    Everyone in my family loved this dish, kids and adults! My picky 5 yo even had seconds! I used thin-sliced chicken breasts, and it cooked beautifully in about 5.5 hours in the slow-cooker. Also used your mango frozen yogurt recipe as “mango lassis” to go with the dish!

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