Who doesn’t love butter chicken? It’s easier to make than you might think. This recipe is also low in fat. Yes, butter chicken that’s low-fat! It’s also ridiculously delicious. This may be my favourite savoury recipe.

I used to only have butter chicken in restaurants, but now that I know how easy it is to make at home, I make it quite often. The butter chicken served in restaurants tends to be really high in calories because there’s loads of butter and cream in it. Most of the flavour in butter chicken comes from the spices. You don’t need all of that fat to develop good flavour. This recipe uses only two tablespoons of butter. That’s right, only two. You could add a little more if you want to. I won’t tell.

I have included vegan and dairy-free substitutions. I prefer the dairy-free recipe variation, but all of them are really tasty.

This dish could be served with rice, cauliflower rice or naan. If you want to make your own fresh naan to go with the butter chicken, but you don’t have a tandoor oven like me, you can just make some pizza dough. Divide the dough into 3 inch balls. Roll them out and then fry them on the stove top in a non-stick frying pan with a very small amount of oil on medium heat. The dough will puff up just like naan. If you want my pizza dough recipe, you can find it here.


Butter Chicken
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
45 mins
Total Time
1 hr

Quick and easy healthy butter chicken recipe.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: butter chicken, curry, healthy, Indian food, low-fat
Servings: 3
Dry Spice mixture
  • 2 tsp Garam Masala
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Other Ingredients
  • 4 tbsp olive oil, or vegetable oil
  • 2 Chicken breasts, or 1 1/2 cups tempeh or cauliflower
  • 1 small red onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, cut in half
  • 2 tbsp fresh minced ginger, or 1/2 tsp dry ground ginger
  • 2 cups chicken stock, or vegetable stock
  • 2 bay leafs
  • 3 1/2 cups crushed tomatoes, (28 oz can)
  • 2 tbsp butter, or vegan butter, or olive oil
  • 1/2 cup cream or 1/2 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt (vegan cashew cream variation in notes)
  1. If you have time, you can marinate the chicken overnight with a cup of yogurt, some sliced onions, garlic, ginger and a pinch of cumin. (I usually skip this step). 

  2. Combine all the dry spices and salt. Stir until well combined and set aside.

  3. Cut the chicken breasts (or vegan substitute) into half inch cubes. 

  4. Add 3 tablespoons of oil to a large pan (that comes with a with a lid). Add the chicken to the pan. Cook the chicken on low heat or until it's golden brown on all sides.

  5. Sprinkle approximately one third of the dry spice mixture on the chicken and stir until it's well coated. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside. 

  6. Add one more tablespoon of oil to the pan. Lightly sauté the onions on low heat until translucent, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle the onions with a third of the dry spice mixture. Add the garlic and ginger. Stir until well combined. 

  7. Add the chicken stock and the bay leafs to the pan and stir. (Add the soaked cashews to the pan now if you're making the dairy-free variation).

  8. Add the crushed tomatoes to the pan. Add the remainder of the dry spice mixture. Put the lid on the pan and allow the flavours to meld together for about 20 minutes on low heat. Stir occasionally. 

  9. Turn the burner off.  Remove the bay leafs. Allow the sauce to cool down a little. Carefully ladle the sauce into a blender and blend until smooth.

  10. Put the blended sauce back into the pan. Turn the burner to low heat. Add the cream and butter (or vegan butter, or olive oil) to the pan and stir. Add the browned chicken back to the pan and stir. 

  11. Put the lid on the pan and allow everything to simmer on low heat for about 15 minutes or longer. That should be enough time for the chicken to finish cooking and for all the flavours to come together. Taste for salt. Add more if necessary.

  12. Serve the butter chicken with rice, naan or cauliflower rice. Garnish with some red onion slices and some fresh cilantro. 

Recipe Notes
  • To make the non-dairy recipe variation, bring a small pot of water to a rolling boil. Add 1/2 cup raw cashews. Allow the cashews to soak for 15 minutes. Remove the cashews with a slotted spoon. Rinse with fresh water. Add the cashews to the butter chicken sauce.
  • If you're watching your calories, you can reduce the amount of cream/cashews and butter by half. It will still taste great. 
  • If you find that the sauce is too thick, just add some more water.