Pressure Cooker Indian Butter Chicken

Instant Pot / Pressure Cooker Indian Butter Chicken is a classic restaurant favorite that is easy to make at home. You’ll love the combination of tender chicken thighs and a creamy, buttery tomato sauce. 

Pressure Cooker Indian Butter Chicken from Pressure Cooking Today

There’s something special about butter chicken—flavorful chicken thighs marinated in yogurt and spices and smothered in a delicious tomato sauce. Traditionally, butter chicken is made with chicken cooked in a tandoor oven and marinated in a creamy curry to make it tender. However, when you make it in your electric pressure cooker, you can have tender butter chicken on your table in just 30 minutes. 

This recipe has been on the blog for nearly five years now, and it’s still one of my favorites. It’s such a forgiving recipe—I never measure the cilantro, use what peppers I have on hand, often eyeball the spices, and add more cream (never less!). As long as I serve it with naan and basmati rice, and my family is happy!

Recently, Barb from Creative Culinary mentioned that she was making Indian Butter Chicken with a great friend from India who is a terrific cook and blogs at Spice Roots. Her recipe looked like it would be easy to convert to a pressure cooker recipe, and it was! I made a few changes to accommodate my family’s tastes, and, of course, I served it with homemade naan. (When I’m in a hurry, I’ll use frozen naan from Costco or Trader Joes.)

Is Indian Butter Chicken the Same as Chicken Tikka Masala?

Neena, one of my favorite food bloggers and my go-to expert on Indian food, has an excellent recipe for Instant Pot Chicken Tikka Masala. In her post, she says:

People often wonder what the difference is between the two most popular dishes at Indian restaurants: Butter Chicken and Chicken Tikka Masala. They’re very similar. And ever-evolving. Every Indian restaurant probably has its own take, and opinions vary on what constitutes an ‘authentic’ version of this curry. But this much is true: Butter Chicken (Murgh or Chicken Makhani) originated in North India, whereas Chicken Tikka Masala is a British adaptation of Butter Chicken. Both dishes are popular because they are relatively mild dishes and are a great introduction to Indian food.

I’ve found them to be very similar as well. My favorite local Indian restaurant serves both Butter Chicken and Tikka Masala, and the only difference I can see is that their Tikka Masala includes onion.

Still, no matter what you call it, you’ll love the results you get from this Pressure Cooker Indian Butter Chicken recipe!

Making Indian Butter Chicken in an Instant Pot / Electric Pressure Cooker

An Instant Pot is one of the most popular brands of electric pressure cookers. They are easy to use, and your Instant Pot can help you create this Pressure Cooker Indian Butter Chicken!

Browning Your Chicken

They don’t call this butter chicken for nothing! While I enjoy a lightened-up version of butter chicken, my family insists on making this full-flavored version. Technically, you can reduce the butter and sub in half-and-half for the heavy cream, but I don’t recommend it—you’ll lose out on the flavor and thickness of the sauce. (This flavor is worth the calories, I promise!)

Also, don’t skip the step of browning the chicken in the butter, since this adds quite a bit of flavor to the meal. If you’re in a hurry, brown just one side of the chicken thighs. The sauce will still get the flavor of the browning, but you’ll be out of the kitchen in half the time.

Ingredients to make Pressure Cooker Indian Butter Chicken in the Instant Pot

Choosing Your Spices

The spices you choose will make or break your Indian Butter Chicken. The secret to a great butter chicken is garam masala, a blend of classic Indian spices. While my local grocery store carries this spice, I prefer to get this one from a specialty spice store or an Asian food market. In a pinch, you can also make a quick garam masala at home.  

While this dish is mild by Indian standards, if you prefer to keep things extra mild side, substitute the fresh ginger for 1 teaspoon ground ginger and reduce the jalapeno peppers to just one. (This is the way my grandkids like it; when I’m cooking for them, I’ll make a batch this way and add a bit more spice to my own bowl. )

If you haven’t tried Indian Butter Chicken before, you’re in for a treat!


Update: This Pressure Cooker Indian Butter Chicken is a family favorite and the perfect comfort food in the fall and winter. I put together a video to show you how easy it is to make.


Yield: 6 - 8 servings

Pressure Cooker Indian Butter Chicken

Pressure Cooker Indian Butter Chicken
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Additional Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


  • 10 boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 (14-ounce) cans diced tomatoes and juice
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger root, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons ground roasted cumin seeds (roast on the stovetop in a small pan)
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed minced cilantro


  1. Cut the chicken pieces into quarters.
  2. Put tomatoes, jalapeno and ginger in a blender or food processor and blend to a fine puree.
  3. Add butter to pressure cooking pot, select Browning. When butter is melted and foam begins to subside, add the chicken pieces, a few at a time, and sear until they are nicely browned all over (about 2-3 minutes per batch). Remove them with a slotted spoon into a bowl and put aside.
  4. Add ground cumin and paprika to the butter in the pot and cook, stirring rapidly, for 10-15 seconds. Add the tomato mixture, salt, cream, yogurt and chicken pieces (with any juices that have accumulated in the bowl) to the pot. Gently stir the chicken to coat the pieces. Cover and lock lid in place. Select High Pressure and 5 minutes cook time. When timer beeps, turn off and use a natural pressure release for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes use a quick pressure release to release any remaining pressure.
  5. Stir in the garam masala and roasted cumin. Whisk together cornstarch and water in a small bowl. Stir in to sauce in the pot. Select sauté and bring to a boil. Turn off pressure cooker and stir in minced cilantro.
  6. Serve with rice and naan.


Adapted from Spice Roots

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