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.
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.
How to make butter chicken in the instant pot
- Cut prep time down and prevent dry meat by using whole boneless skinless chicken breast.
- Use the saute function to cook the onion, garlic, and ginger for more flavor from the Maillard reaction.
- Bloom the dried spices in the butter to unleash more aroma and flavor into the sauce.
- Use “natural release” to reduce splattering of the sauce and allow for carryover cooking in the chicken.
- 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!
Butter sauce ingredients
- Butter (of course!)
- Garam masala (often a mixture of cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper, cumin, and more)
- 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.
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!
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.
Instant Pot Butter Chicken
- 4 tablespoons (60 g) unsalted butter, divided
- 1 cup (130 g) yellow onion, ¾-inch dice
- 2 tablespoons (20 g) minced ginger
- 1 tablespoon (10 g) minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon (6 g) garam masala
- 1 ½ teaspoon (3 g) coriander
- 1 ½ teaspoon (1 g) paprika
- 1 teaspoon (4 g) turmeric
- 1 teaspoon (8 g) kosher salt
- 28 ounces (794 g) crushed tomatoes, canned
- 2 pounds (908 g) boneless skinless chicken breast
- ¾ cup (180 ml) unsweetened coconut milk
- ½ cup (67 g) green peas, canned or frozen and defrosted
- 1 tablespoon (1 g) 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.