Instant Pot Butter Chicken by Urvashi Pitre

Photo by Rocky Luten
  • Prep time
    5 minutes
  • Cook time
    25 minutes
  • Serves
    4 to 6
Author Notes

I set about creating this butter chicken recipe like I do everything else in my life—somewhat obsessively. Many tries later, after many less-than-perfect renditions, I knew I’d nailed it when my husband tried this particular recipe and beamed, and I put it on my blog, where it was super popular. This was the one—and it sparked a book deal. It’s also keto-friendly. This recipe, in order for optimal taste, does make too much sauce; save the rest to mix into other ingredients in your next meal (that’s why I like to call it “Now & Later” Butter Chicken). This method also allows you to cook rice in the Instant Pot at the same time.

This recipe relies on one important ingredient—the garam masala. Invest in a bottle, which can be found in a number of grocery chains, Indian shops, and online. You can also make your own.If your butter chicken is bland and flavorless, a lack of garam masala is to blame. —Urvashi Pitre

Test Kitchen Notes

This Instant Pot Butter Chicken from Urvashi Pitre—a blogger and cookbook author (oh, and a Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology)—has it all: efficiency (we’re talking 30 minutes), flavor, fluffy rice, and extra-tender chicken. If you’re a vegetarian, there are tons of riffs you can try, Urvashi says. A few easy swaps for chicken: peas and paneer; hearty chickpeas; tofu; and mixed vegetables. Also, don’t forget to substitute the chicken broth for vegetable broth or water. To make it vegan, she adds, “swap butter and cream for coconut oil and coconut milk.”

Featured in: 9 Instant Pot Indian Recipes for Rich, Comforting Flavor Fast. —The Editors

  • Test Kitchen-Approved

Watch This Recipe

Instant Pot Butter Chicken


  • For the rice

  • 1 cup

    aged basmati rice, rinsed

  • 1 cup


  • 1 tablespoon

    ghee or vegetable oil

  • 1 teaspoon


  • For the butter chicken

  • 1

    (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes

  • 1 tablespoon

    minced ginger

  • 1 tablespoon

    minced garlic

  • 1 teaspoon


  • 1/2-1 teaspoons

    cayenne pepper (adjust to taste)

  • 1 teaspoon


  • 1 teaspoon


  • 2 teaspoons

    good-quality garam masala, divided

  • 1 teaspoon

    ground cumin

  • 1 pound

    boneless skinless chicken thighs, left whole

  • 4 ounces

    butter, cut into cubes (use coconut oil, if dairy free)

  • 4 ounces

    heavy cream (use full-fat coconut milk, if dairy free)

  • 1/4-1/2 cups

    chopped cilantro

  1. Combine all the ingredients for the rice, place in a 6 or 7-inch heat-safe pan, and set aside.
  2. Place tomatoes, ginger, garlic, chicken, turmeric, cayenne, paprika, salt, 1 teaspoon of the garam masala, and cumin into the inner liner of your Instant Pot. Mix the sauce a bit, then place the chicken. You are putting in everything except the butter, cream, cilantro, and 1 remaining teaspoon of garam masala. Mix well.
  3. Place a tall steamer rack/trivet on top of the chicken mixture, and place the uncovered bowl of uncooked rice on the rack.
  4. Press the Manual or Pressure cook button, set the timer to 10 mins, and cook.
  5. Once it is done cooking, allow the pot to cool for 10 minutes, undisturbed. Then, release all remaining pressure and open the pot. Remove and set the cooked rice aside. Remove the chicken and set aside.
  6. Using an immersion blender, blend together the sauce until it is smooth. Let the sauce cool for 5 minutes. Stir in the cut-up butter, cream, cilantro, and garam masala.
  7. Remove half the sauce and freeze or refrigerate for later.
  8. Break up the chicken into bite-size pieces, add it to the sauce. Serve with rice.

Dr. Urvashi Pitre is the President of a global marketing consulting firm, as well as the author of several best-selling cookbooks.

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