Instant Pot Butter Chicken

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Instant Pot Butter Chicken made in a pressure cooker yields tender pieces of chicken breast, loaded with authentic Indian spices. To add bold flavor to the creamy tomato-based sauce, an aromatic combination of garam masala, ginger, garlic, coriander, paprika, and turmeric is used.

Instant Pot butter chicken in a bowl over white rice

When you’re in the mood for Indian food, break out your pressure cooker and make some butter chicken! The fragrant and creamy tomato sauce turns a bland piece of chicken into a flavorful feast. A combination of pungent and bold spices like garam masala, coriander, paprika, and turmeric adds vibrant colors and authentic flavors to the dish. Once you build up your pantry of spices, you’ll be ready up to make this recipe whenever the craving hits.

Chicken makhani, for those ordering it at a restaurant, is prized for its rich texture and alluring spices. I typically make this chicken recipe on the stove top, however, it can be seamlessly prepared in an Instant Pot with just a few adjustments. To ensure that the lean poultry stays moist and tender, whole pieces are cooked, chopped, then tossed in the sauce.

sautéing onions and Indian seasonings in the Instant Pot

How to make butter chicken in the instant pot

  1. Cut prep time down and prevent dry meat by using whole boneless skinless chicken breast.
  2. Use the saute function to cook the onion, garlic, and ginger for more flavor from the Maillard reaction.
  3. Bloom the dried spices in the butter to unleash more aroma and flavor into the sauce.
  4. Use “natural release” to reduce splattering of the sauce and allow for carryover cooking in the chicken.
  5. Use a hand immersion blender to puree the sauce for a smoother texture.

I used to get a little nervous when making chicken in an electric pressure cooker because I wasn’t sure of the right cooking parameters and settings. However, after learning how to use the Instant Pot and testing multiple chicken recipes I’ve been able to figure out the process. Don’t worry, you got this!

Tongs holding up a chicken breast in front of an Instant Pot

Butter sauce ingredients

  • Butter (of course!)
  • Garam masala (often a mixture of cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper, cumin, and more)
  • Coriander
  • Paprika
  • Turmeric
  • Crushed tomatoes
  • Aromatics: Ginger, garlic, and onions
  • Coconut milk or heavy cream

The hallmark of a great Indian dish is the plethora of bold spices, and not being afraid to use them. These ingredients are essential for the sauce to balance the seasonings.

Cubed pieces of chicken inside the Instant Pot cooking in a sauce

To create a smooth consistency, an immersion hand blender to puree the sauce works swiftly right in the Instant Pot. A blender or food processor is a nice backup, just carefully transfer the hot mixture to the container and process until a creamy texture is achieved.

When the chicken is chopped into bite-sized pieces, it’s ready to be tossed back into the silky pureed sauce. I like to serve the curry with basmati rice or cauliflower rice to soak up the delicious sauce. Sweet peas and cilantro add a pop of color to this traditional Indian meal, making each bite even more irresistible!

Bowl of butter chicken and white rice topped with peas

More Instant Pot recipes

Indian spices taste best when cooked first in oil

Bloom the fat-soluble spices in fat, such as oil or butter first. The fat acts as a solvent, coaxing out the fat-soluble flavor compounds from the seasoning. This is especially true in Indian cuisine when spices like cardamom, coriander, cumin, curry powder, and paprika are often used.

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Instant Pot Butter Chicken

Delicious Instant Pot Butter Chicken recipe made in a pressure cooker yields tender pieces of lean chicken breast, loaded with authentic Indian spices.
Pin Print Review
4.64 from 11 votes
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time30 mins
Servings 4 servings
Course Entree
Cuisine Indian


  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 cup yellow onion, ¾-inch dice
  • 2 tablespoons minced ginger
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 ½ teaspoon coriander
  • 1 ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 28 ounces crushed tomatoes, canned
  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast
  • ¾ cup coconut milk
  • ½ cup green peas, canned or frozen and defrosted
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro


  • Select "Saute" on the Instant Pot. Allow pot to heat, it will indicate "Hot" on the display when ready.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of butter and allow it to melt.
  • Add in the onions, ginger, and garlic, saute and occasionally stir until onions are tender, about 5 minutes.
  • Make a well in the center of the pot. Add in 1 tablespoon of butter, garam masala, coriander, paprika, turmeric, and salt.
  • Stir spices with butter and vegetables, cook until fragrant, 1 minute.
  • Add in crushed tomatoes, stir to combine.
  • Submerge chicken breast in the sauce.
  • Make sure that the release valve is in the "Sealing" position. Place the lid on the Instant Pot, turn and lock.
  • Press the "Manual" button on the Instant Pot on high pressure, and then set the timer to 10 minutes using the "+" or "-" buttons. It will take about 10 minutes for the pot to heat and build up pressure. You will see some steam release from the lid, and then the time will start on the display.
  • Once cook time is complete, allow pressure to naturally release for 10 minutes.
  • Use an oven mitt or towel to slowly and carefully twist the steam release handle on the lid to "Venting" position. The initial release will spray some moisture around the pot so be careful.
  • Remove the lid, opening the top away from you as steam will be released from the pot.
  • Remove the chicken and transfer to a cutting board.
  • Chop the chicken into chunks, about 1-inch in size.
  • Add 1 tablespoon of butter and coconut milk to the sauce, stir to combine.
  • Use a hand-held immersion blender or transfer to a blender to process the sauce into a smooth puree.
  • Add chopped chicken and peas to the sauce, stir to combine until warmed through.
  • If needed, turn the Instant Pot to "saute" to reheat the chicken.
  • Taste the sauce and add more salt as needed.
  • Garnish with chopped cilantro.


  • Serve butter chicken with basmati rice or naan bread.
  • Heavy cream can be substituted for coconut milk for a richer sauce.
  • MAKE IT WHOLE30 AND PALEO: Substitute ghee or coconut oil for butter, and sea salt for kosher salt.
  • MAKE IT DAIRY-FREE: Use coconut milk and coconut oil instead of heavy cream or butter.
  • MAKE IT KETO: Use heavy cream instead of the coconut milk and omit the peas. 

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Nutrition Facts
Instant Pot Butter Chicken
Amount Per Serving
Calories 421 Calories from Fat 144
% Daily Value*
Fat 16g25%
Saturated Fat 8g40%
Cholesterol 160mg53%
Sodium 982mg41%
Potassium 1309mg37%
Carbohydrates 15g5%
Fiber 4g16%
Sugar 7g8%
Protein 52g104%
Vitamin A 965IU19%
Vitamin C 22.8mg28%
Calcium 62mg6%
Iron 3.1mg17%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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18 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Mike says

    Is there no danger of the tomato burning on the bottom of the instant pot when coming up to pressure in this recipe? I’ve made a curry similar to this in the past, but the crushed tomatos burned on the bottom before it was pressurized, I later learned that tends to happen in tomato-based sauces if they don’t have enough moisture to evaporate first, especially in newer models of Instant Pot.

    One solution I read was to add the tomato last, merely pouring it over the other ingredients and seal the pot without mixing, so that the moisture in the veggies and chicken can evaporate and pressurize the pot before the tomato has a chance to come in contact with the bottom and burn, but with this recipe that would mean the sauce isn’t getting mixed with the spices until after it initially cooks.

    Another solution is to just add more moisture to the pot, perhaps an additional half cup of water, and simmer it to reduce it after the fact, but burning is still a risk here if enough moisture isn’t added.

    I’m not sure why newer Instant Pots are more susceptible to burning with thick sauces than the older ones, but that’s the consensus I’ve read.

  2. Pam witman says

    Thanks so much for the recipe. My house smelled amazing. The butter chicken was terrific even though I literally forgot to add the coconut milk. And everyone quickly polished off so I couldn’t add it late. Lol.
    Mine didn’t burned in the instapot maybe because I used diced tomatoes which may have had more liquid

  3. Angela says

    This turned out wonderful! The chicken was tender and sauce was delicious. I know it depends on the age of the spices, but I felt like they could have been increased for an even better flavour. I used whipping cream. I can’t wait to make it again!

  4. Jim A says

    I do not have instant pot. I would like to try the same recipe on the stovetop. Can you give me the Instructions for making this dish on the stovetop. Thanks. By the way I made your green beans and they were fabulous.

  5. Michele Hyson says

    First of all, you are my new Guru. Since working from home, I have found a lot of time to cook as if it meant something and not just quickly putting something together for sustenance. I only found you two weeks ago and have made four recipes (and bought several of your recommended tools. I’m very grateful! So for this recipe… I did not have an Instant Pot (it’s on my list), but it didn’t matter… I cubed the chicken and let it cook through, then it took a bit of time to ladle the cubes out and transfer the sauce to my small Cuisinart. I added a little more peas (we like peas) and placed it all on a bed of rice. It was PERFECT! Thank you so much!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      I’m so happy that you found me, Michele! I love that you have gotten the chance to really enjoy cooking and try new recipes. Great job improvising! I can’t wait to hear what other recipes you try.

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