This Easy Butter Chicken is all made in one skillet and is a healthier version of the restaurant favorite! The chicken is extra tender thanks to the spiced yogurt marinade and the creamy tomato sauce is so good you’ll want to eat it with a spoon!
Thanks to my friends at the American Dairy Association Mideast for sponsoring this post. As always all opinions are my own. For more information about dairy nutrition, to find delicious new recipes and to meet Ohio and West Virginia dairy farmers, visit www.Drink-MIlk.com.
Eating and cooking meals that originated in other countries is a great way to discover new flavor combinations, cooking techniques, and a way to learn about the origins of that meal.
I’m particularly drawn to the combination of different spices. It’s amazing to me the way they can take a recipe to the next level. Indian cuisine uses some incredibly flavorful, colorful, and delicious spices. Those spices vary from warm and earthy in flavor, like garam masala and cumin, to vibrant and peppery like turmeric.
Being a big fan of the garam masala blend, try these garam masala and honey roasted carrots if you haven’t already, I knew I wanted to try my hand at making butter chicken.
This is by no means an authentic version, but it does use many of the same spices and cooking techniques. The result is an easy butter chicken that’s approachable, full of flavor, and it’s a slightly healthier version as far as butter chicken goes.
What Is Butter Chicken?
Butter chicken, also referred to as murgh makhani, originated in northern India. It was a recipe that was stumbled upon by two owners of a restaurant in Delhi, India. They took leftover tandoori chicken and combined it with a tomato gravy that included lots of butter and cream. It’s a similar dish to chicken tikka masala.
Why Greek Yogurt Is An Excellent Marinade For Chicken
Greek yogurt and yogurt in general, contain both calcium and lactic acid. Together they are able to break down the proteins in chicken and meat leaving you with a tender and moist result.
The lactic acid in Greek yogurt makes this type of marinade more gentle compared to acid based marinades. Marinades with an acid base such as citrus or vinegar can leave meat either tough or mushy if not used properly.
If you are using Greek yogurt for a marinade versus regular yogurt, you’ll want to thin it slightly with water, some sort of fresh citrus juice such as lemon, or a little olive oil. This will allow the yogurt to properly coat and absorb into the chicken. Since regular yogurt is thinner, you wouldn’t need to do this step.
When using Greek yogurt as a marinade, you’ll want to use a 1/2 cup per pound of meat. You can use full fat, 2%, or non fat. My personal preference is to use 2% or full fat. You can add as many spices or fresh herbs as you’d like to the yogurt marinade to give it plenty of flavor.
Ingredients For Easy Butter Chicken
- boneless skinless chicken breasts
- plain Greek yogurt
- garam masala, ground cumin, turmeric, coriander, smoked paprika, and cayenne
- yellow onion
- tomato sauce or tomato paste, tomato paste will yield a thicker sauce
- half and half or cream
- rice and cilantro for serving
How To Make Easy Butter Chicken
Be sure to allow at least 30-60 minutes of marinating time before starting this recipe. In a large bowl whisk together the yogurt, water or lemon juice, grated garlic and ginger, all of the dried spices, salt and pepper. Add in the diced chicken and stir everything together until the chicken is thoroughly coated in the yogurt marinade.
If you are only planning to marinate the chicken for 30-60 minutes you can leave it on the counter, otherwise cover the bowl and refrigerate until you’re ready to cook it.
When the chicken is ready, heat some olive oil in a large skillet. Add in the chicken and don’t scrape off any of the excess marinade sticking to it. Sauté until it’s cooked through and then remove it from the skillet and onto a plate.
Add the butter to the skillet along with the diced onion, garam masala, turmeric, and cumin. Sauté until the onion is tender and then pour in the tomato sauce. Lower the heat and let the sauce simmer for 5-10 minutes so that it thicken slightly and the flavors marry together.
Slowly pour in the half and half or cream stirring the sauce as you pour. If you’re using half and half be sure that you aren’t adding it to a sauce that’s been boiling or you’ll run the risk of it curdling. I also suggest that it be at room temperature, this applies to cream as well.
Once the sauce has warmed through, remove it from the heat and add the chicken and Greek yogurt into the sauce. Stir everything together until the chicken is coated and you can’t see any white streaks from the yogurt.
Adding Greek yogurt in at the end is optional, but I highly recommend it. You’ll want to use either 2% or full fat as non-fat tends to curdle easier when combined with hot ingredients.
The Greek yogurt adds extra creaminess and tang to the sauce, which is nice if you choose to use half and half versus cream. Greek yogurt is also loaded with protein to help keep you full longer.
Frequently Asked Questions
Butter chicken is best served over white or brown rice or with warm naan.
I suggest using 2% or full fat Greek yogurt for the richest flavor and because it’s the least likely to split/curdle in the tomato sauce. If you want to use non-fat for the marinade that would be fine.
I don’t recommend doing this because the sauce will be runny and likely split.
More Easy Chicken Recipes
- Chicken Cheesesteak Skillet
- Creamy Mustard Chicken
- Salsa Verde Baked Chicken
- Mexican Chicken, Sweet Potato, and Black Bean Skillet
- Skillet Chicken Fajitas
- Parmesan Chicken and Brussels Sprouts
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
- 1/2 cup plain 2% or full fat greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice or water
- 2 cloves of garlic, grated (1 teaspoon)
- 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
- 2 teaspoons garam masala
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
- Salt and pepper to taste (I used about 3/4 - 1 teaspoon of salt)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup diced yellow onion
- 1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 8 ounce can tomato sauce
- 1 cup half and half or cream, room temperature
- 1/2 cup plain 2% or full fat Greek yogurt, room temperature
- In a large bowl whisk together all of the ingredients for the marinade and then add in the diced chicken. Stir everything together until the chicken is thoroughly coated in the yogurt marinade. Let the chicken marinate for 30-60 minutes.
- Heat a tablespoon of olive oil (or additional butter) in a large skillet. Add in the chicken leaving the excess marinade sticking to it. Sauté until it's cooked through and then remove it from the skillet and onto a plate.
- Over medium heat, add the butter to the skillet. When the butter is melted add in the diced onion, garam masala, turmeric, cumin, salt and pepper. Sauté until the onion is tender, about 3 minutes, and then pour in the tomato sauce. Lower the heat and let the sauce simmer for 5-10 minutes so that it thicken slightly.
- Slowly pour in the half and half or cream stirring the sauce as you pour. If using half and half be sure the sauce isn't boiling or you'll run the risk of it splitting.
- Add the chicken back into the skillet and remove it from the heat. Off the heat, add in the Greek yogurt. Stir everything together until the chicken is coated and you can't see any white streaks from the yogurt. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve over white or brown rice.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 424Total Fat: 18gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 156mgSodium: 387mgCarbohydrates: 14gFiber: 2gSugar: 8gProtein: 50g
Nutritional information is an estimate. Please consult a registered dietician for the most accurate nutritional information.