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Homemade Coconut Butter Chicken

Updated: Jun 17, 2023

In my opinion, Indian food is some of the best on the planet. It's so full of spices and deep flavours, and every bite warms through your heart and straight in to your soul. One day, I'll take a legitimate Indian cooking class and learn, but for now, this is the best homemade Butter Chicken recipe I've made - by Half Baked Harvest! It's pretty quick and easy, you could make it on a weeknight.

I want to reiterate, this is NOT my recipe! It's by Tieghan Gerard of Half Baked Harvest. A lot of the recipes I share are my own, but there are also many I've tried by other creators that are absolute keepers. This is one of them. Apparently, Tieghan's family loves butter chicken, and by the sounds of it she took a long time to develop this recipe and perfect it. Until I take those Indian cooking classes, I won't be able to make any truly authentic dishes, but I do love that this one comes together fast enough to make on a weeknight.

From my understanding, Indian cooking gets a lot of its flavour from a really long slow simmer. This recipe, on the other hand, is packed with spices. You'll think it's too much when you're putting them in, but trust the recipe! The reason this one comes together so fast and tastes so good is that it uses so many spices. There are a few tricks you could use to make this more authentic, like using Ghee instead of butter, and taking the time to simmer this overnight or keep it in the fridge for a day or two before actually eating it if you have the time. If I were to do that, I'd just make a massive batch and have leftovers or freeze some, but usually when my Indian food craving hits it comes on hard, so I kind of like that this one will be ready within the hour!

A note on Tieghan and Half Baked Harvest - maybe I shouldn't share her page, because if you don't follow her already, you will absolutely get hooked and stop bothering to look at mine! I get so much of my inspiration for my food blog here from hers. I'm sure you'll notice ;) I love how she films her content in a way that unashamedly shows off the food to make it look delicious. That's what we're here for, right?! She turns food in to art in both the way she creates and captures it, which I admire. Of course, I try to put a lot of myself and my own personality in to the way I do it, but she was really the first food blog I got hooked on following. I'm happy to spread that love - enjoy!

This is getting me excited about Indian cooking. I follow a few content creators and chefs who are Indian... I'm thinking maybe I should really commit some time to trying their recipes and learning the skills! I could do a whole little segment here on the favourite recipes I find and skills I learn! My thing is, I want it to be really good and perfect the skillset before I share and feel confident to teach it to others, so give me a couple years lol! Just kidding, it would be a really fun journey to go through and share as I go along. You all could learn with me!

Here's how to make it

In most recipes, chefs will sear the meat in a pan with oil or butter until it gets colour on the outside. In traditional Indian cooking, like this recipe does, you toss the chicken with the yogurt and spices and let that marinade. Normally, you'd let it sit overnight, but again, this is the quick version! Start with that, and let it sit until you're ready to toss it in the rest of your ingredients.

Chop your onion, garlic and ginger. This comes together quickly, so get everything else ready.

I like to use ghee for this recipe, which is used in Indian cooking. You can totally just use normal butter, oil, or buy ghee at the store. To make ghee, it's quite easy. It's really the same as clarified butter - basically, you take a pound (or however much butter... I like to store it in a jar for later). Put it in a pan, and cook it on low until it melts and separates. Milk has lactate, and you'll see the milk solids sink to the bottom, while the remainder of the butter content floats on top. You want to pour only the top part in to your jar, filtering out the milk solids. Because there's no longer anything that can go rancid (aka dairy), ghee can keep in the jar in your pantry for a long time without going off. It has such a delicious nutty flavour!

Add some ghee or butter to a pan, and when it's nice and hot, add your marinaded chicken. Sear it on each side until brown on a high heat, then add your onion. Reduce the heat to medium. Once the onion has cooked a bit, about 5 minutes (stirring so it doesn't burn), add in your garlic, ginger, rest of the spices and tomato paste. Let this cook for another 3 minutes, stirring every minute, to toast the spices.

Stir in the coconut milk, and let this simmer for ten minutes until the chicken is cooked. Finally, add in the rest of the butter (key component to butter chicken!), and finish with chopped cilantro.

I usually serve this over rice, but warm naan on the side is my favourite!


Homemade Coconut Butter Chicken

Servings: 4

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 30 minutes


  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil plus 1 tablespoon ghee or butter

  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into bite-size chunks

  • 1/4 cup plain greek yogurt

  • 6 cloves garlic, minced or grated

  • 2 tablespoons fresh grated ginger

  • 2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon garam masala (the 2tsp gets added to the chicken/yogurt mix, the 1tbsp gets added later when cooking the sauce)

  • 2 tsp, divided, cumin (1 tsp added to the chicken/yogurt mix, the 1 tsp gets added later when cooking the sauce)

  • 1 tsp tumeric

  • 1/2 to 1tsp cayenne pepper, if you want it spicy

  • 1 large yellow onion

  • 1/2 cup tomato paste

  • 1 14oz can full fat coconut milk, or you can use cream

  • steamed rice and/or naan bread, for serving

  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro, plus more for serving

  • salt and black pepper, to taste

  • 4 tablespoons butter or ghee

  1. Start by mincing or grating your garlic and ginger. Chop the onion. Get out one large bowl for the chicken, and another small bowl to make a spice mixture in.

  2. In the large bowl, toss together the chicken, yogurt, 3 cloves garlic, 1 tablespoon of the ginger, 2 teaspoons garam masala, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon turmeric, 1/2 - 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, and 1 teaspoon salt. Let sit 5-10 minutes.

  3. In the small bowl, add your remaining garlic and ginger, remaining 1 tablespoon garam masala and 1 tsp cumin.

  4. Heat the butter/ghee and oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and sear on both sides until browned, about 2 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon butter and toss to coat the chicken. Remove the chicken from the skillet to a plate.

  5. To the skillet, add the onion and cook 5 minutes, until softened. Add 2 tablespoons butter, and the spice mix from your small bowl with the garlic/ginger/garam masala and cumin. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until very fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the tomato paste and continue cooking another 3 minutes, stirring every minute.

  6. Reduce the heat to low. Add 1 cup water and the coconut milk. Stir to combine, bring the sauce to a simmer, cook 5 minutes or until the sauce thickens slightly. Stir in 1 tablespoon butter. If the sauce seems thick, thin with 1/2 to 1 cup additional coconut milk. Add the chicken and any juices on the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens slightly, about 5 minutes.

  7. Remove from the heat and stir in the cilantro. Season with salt and pepper.

  8. Serve the chicken and sauce over bowls of rice with fresh naan. Enjoy!

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