Paleo Butter Chicken

Paleo Butter Chicken and Paleo Naan... OH YEAH.

Paleo Butter Chicken and Paleo Naan… OH YEAH.

As a kid, murgh makhani (butter chicken) was the only Indian food that my parents could easily get me to eat. It has been a favorite of mine for as long as I can remember and so, I’m very excited to share this paleo butter chicken recipe with all of you. It’s the perfect blend of tomato flavor, creaminess and masala.

Often, when you make something “paleo” it doesn’t quite taste like the “real” thing. For example, I absolutely love my 3-ingredient paleo naan (and it goes PERFECTLY with this dish), but for those of us who remember what naan actually tastes like… well, let’s just say my paleo naan is “good enough.” This paleo butter chicken on the other hand… well, I’d put it up against any restaurant quality butter chicken. It’s truly THAT good.

crusty naan with saucy chicken

crusty naan with saucy chicken

This paleo butter chicken is delicious and authentic. I have eaten at hundreds of different Indian restaurants during my lifetime and chances are that nearly every time we’ve ordered butter chicken. This paleo butter chicken isn’t lacking in any way. The masala is right on and the full-fat coconut milk adds rich creamy flavor without any hint of coconut taste.

The sauce… oh the sauce… it’s absolutely perfect. It’s great with basmati rice (if you can eat rice) but it’s sooo much better with my paleo naan. The naan sops up the creamy sauce; use it to scoop the tasty chicken and sauce right into your mouth.

easy to make and easily restaurant quality

easy to make and easily restaurant quality

This dish is simple to make. You just need canned full-fat coconut milk (again, you won’t taste the coconut), organic tomato sauce and the right spices. You’ll likely need to go to an Indian store to find some of these spices or you can always order them on amazon. If you love Indian food or butter chicken, then you’ll definitely use them again.

There’s one spice that you may not have used before: dried fenugreek leaves. We call these leaves “kasoori methi.” Most Indian restaurants will include these leaves in their butter chicken or tikka masala recipe. It’s what gives butter chicken it’s distinct taste; it helps enhance flavor. You only need a pinch, but it makes a difference so try to get this if you can.

Butter chicken is typically marinated in yogurt which helps to tenderize the chicken. In order to achieve this, I put a can of full-fat coconut milk in the refrigerator overnight and the next morning, I skimmed the cream from the top (it came out to about ½ cup). I used this coconut cream in the chicken marinade along with some spices and let it sit out while I stir-fried my onions. Make sure you really brown those onions – it’s what creates the base flavor for nearly every Indian recipe.

Butter chicken is usually cooked in a special tandoor oven. Since most of us don’t have a giant tandoor in our kitchens, I decided to briefly pan-fry my chicken and then let it finish cooking by simmering it in the masala tomato sauce. It turned out wonderfully. Sometimes chicken can get a little dry in a tandoor – this chicken was tender, moist and perfectly biteable.

go on, take a bite!

go on, take a bite!

Once you make this dish, you’ll see how easy it is to put together. It’s perfect for a weeknight or for a dinner party. Serve it with some warm naan. You’ll need that naan to wipe every bit of the butter chicken sauce from your bowl. You are going to love this.

And, if you do love it, I’d love it if you’d “like” me on Facebook. I promise I share a lot of cool stuff.

Paleo Butter Chicken

Paleo Butter Chicken

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Place chicken in a bowl and marinate with coconut cream and spices, set aside.
  2. Add ghee to a pan on medium heat. Once ghee melts, add onions and cook until completely dark golden-brown but be careful not to burn them (this will take at least 15-20 minutes. Don’t worry if it’s dark, that’s how Indian people cook their onions ;))
  3. Add ginger and garlic and saute for a few more minutes.
  4. Add spices and let them bloom for a minute. Then add your chicken mixture and briefly stir-fry to coat chicken with the masala you’ve made.
  5. Add green pepper and tomato sauce and cover your pan. Let everything simmer for 12-15 minutes.
  6. Add 1 can of coconut milk and a pinch of kasoori methi - let it simmer for another few minutes.
  7. Garnish with cilantro and serve with paleo naan.
http://myheartbeets.com/paleo-butter-chicken/

Comments

  1. Justin says

    oh. my. goodness. this is getting fixed *tonight*!! thanks so much for bringing my favorite indian dish to paleo form!!! Now, i have some vegetarian roommates… have you ever heard of someone making this dish with tofu instead (or some chicken substitute)? Thanks Ashley!

  2. kohley says

    I LOVE the fact that you post paleo Indian recipes! Indian cuisine is my favourite and Ive missed it so much since becoming paleo. Thankyou! Please keep posting! :)

  3. fiona says

    OMG, Ashley – I have wanted to make this since I started following your blog a few weeks ago, and finally did tonight along with the naan bread recipe. Soooo delicious, I added some mushrooms and spinach to the curry, and had to make the naan garlic!! :) My hubs loved it too. Thank you so much, this will be a part of our paleo lifestyle for years to come!

    • says

      Fiona, I’m so glad you like the butter chicken and naan recipes! I love mushrooms/spinach – I’ll have to try that the next time I make it! Thanks so much for letting me know how it turned out for you :)

    • says

      Hi Monette! I think roasting the onions and spices adds so much flavor to the dish, but if you decide to go the crock-pot route, you’ll get a nicely spiced creamy curry. Just be sure to add the coconut milk toward the end – maybe the last hour.

  4. says

    I absolutely love Butter Chicken but just recently started eating Paleo. I was excited to try this recipe, but a little hesitant since I used to take the easy route with a simmer sauce from Whole Foods – a nice convenience with 3 kids. I am SO happy I took the time to make this! This is the second delicious recipe of yours that I have made!

  5. Diane says

    This is a lot like the Butter Chicken I make except the recipe I have , you have to make your own masala . Yum . Butter Chicken is one of my absolute favorite meals ! I think the secret ingredient is the fenugreek leaves ( I use 2 Tablespoons in the gravy ) and I am very fortunate to have an awesome spice shop downtown that carries them ! I have not made this since going gluten free . I am going to make some this weekend now that you have given me a recipe for naan ! Butter Chicken + Naan = Heaven :0)

  6. Minna says

    I just made your butter chicken and naan recipes the other night and my whole family loved it! My non-paleo husband even said that your naan bread is better than the traditional one! The butter chicken was also better the next day when all the flavors got to meld together. If I could request a paleo tikka masala recipe from you, I would be forever grateful! Thanks for helping me quell my Indian food cravings, Ashley!!

    • says

      Minna, I’m so happy to hear your non-paleo husband likes this naan better than regular naan! Totally makes my day :) And I agree – leftover Indian food is always so tasty! I’ll keep the Indian food recipes coming :)

  7. Lisa says

    Hi Ashley,

    Love, love, love this recipe. My teenage and twenty something sons plus their friends devoured it. I served this with your delicious naan (unfortunately I slightly under cooked one of the naan…..how long is too long?) I will definitely try them again. Your tandoori chicken is next on my list. Thanks for sharing!

    Cheers,
    Lisa

    • says

      Hi Lisa! I’m so happy you that you all loved the butter chicken! As for the naan, it depends on the amount of batter you use as well as your stove. If you’re worried that the naan will burn, just lower the heat and cook it until it is no longer gummy inside. I hope this works for you! Please let me know how you like the tandoori chicken – it’s one of my favorites :)

  8. Natasha A. says

    I’ve made every Butter Chicken recipe I’ve ever come across. Having gone Paleo only a few months ago, this is my first one without dairy, etc. OMG. This is the BEST Butter Chicken I have ever made. My husband took one bite and said to me that I better not lose this recipe!
    Now, if I can only master the Naan, as that was a big fail!! Will try again tomorrow with the leftovers.
    Thank you!!

    • says

      Natasha – so happy to hear you both loved my butter chicken recipe :) Thanks for letting me know how it turned out! As for the naan, try again! It is super tasty when cooked properly – cook it for a long time on low heat (if medium is too hot). It’s perfect with the butter chicken. Hope you’ll let me know if it works out for ya!

  9. Taylor says

    Question, after the spices bloom you say add chicken mixture, is that chicken with marinade or just the chicken?

  10. Catherine says

    This is a WONDERFUL recipe. I did not have the Kasoori Methi, so look forward to trying it again as soon as I get some. My family all agreed that it was restaurant quality – extremely good.

  11. Beth says

    Wow!!! That’s how I feel after making and eating this recipe. I used plain Greek yogurt in place of the coconut cream because I didn’t plan ahead enough to chill it over night, and I used breasts instead of thighs. I am half Indian and have eaten butter chicken since I was a kid but this is by far the best I’ve made for myself at home! I can see this being a regular recipe, thanks!!! :)

  12. Becky says

    Made this last night and it was a huge hit! It tasted just like the butter chicken at our favorite Indian restaurant. I could only find the ground fenugreek seed but it still tasted amazing!! Thanks so much, this will be a staple in our household from now on :)

  13. Cassie says

    After stalking your Butter Chicken recipe on one of my Pinterest boards for a few months I finally called my spice rack to attention and got down to it. I enjoyed cooking this as much as I did eating it. I can eat butter chicken guilt free once again. Thank you so very much. I really appreciate the time and effort you put into this recipe. Looking forward to sampling others you have developed.

  14. Annette says

    Love, this recipe. My kids loved it to. We ate it for lunch and dinner for days. We are already wanting the next batch.

  15. Jen says

    I made this for dinner tonight. I did not have garam masala so I used allspice. My family LOVED it. My husband said, “It’s a keeper” several times. My naan bread was a little chewy but maybe that is how it is supposed to be. I will be making this again!

    • says

      Jen, so glad to hear that you and your family loved the recipe! And yup – as long as the naan is chewy and not gooey then you’re good! You can always cook the naan for a longer period of time on lower heat – it’s hard to overcook the bread when it’s on low. Let me know what you think of any other recipes that you try!

  16. says

    We love Indian food and butter chicken so I HAD to try this recipe. It was a total hit, everyone loved it! Even our two-year-old loved it!

    I used a red bell pepper instead of a green one and I ran out of tomato sauce. It still tasted great!

  17. marisa says

    I find adding cilantro and slivered garlic to the naan and a lot of ghee after taking them off the stove makes them taste a lot more authentic. still delicious either way.

  18. Kendall says

    Very, very good. My husband does not care for Indian food or coconut and he enjoyed this (I omitted the garam masala from the curry portion for him). THANK YOU! I will be making this regularly.

  19. Chrissie Edwards says

    A google search for butter chicken sent me here! I made this tonight and it was so good! I also cooked curried cauliflower rice to complement :)

  20. Dana says

    Your Butter Chicken tastes even BETTER than anything I have had in restaurants where we live! Thank you so much for sharing this.
    The recipe is just a tad bit more involved than the recipe I have used before but very we’ll worth any effort. I am lucky to have an Indian spice store about a mile from home and followed the recipe as is. The flavor is complex and just perfect. I did add frozen cauliflower and green peas because we love veggies in ours.
    This recipe makes a ton, which for the effort, is a great thing because there was enough left over to freeze for later.
    Can’t stop thinking about how yummy this was and can’t wait to have it again!

    • says

      Dana, so happy you love my butter chicken recipe!! Thank you for letting me know how well it turned out for you! Hope you’ll let me know if you try any other recipes on my blog :)

  21. Lesa says

    This is a wonderful recipe! So fragrant & tasty! I made for the first time tonight. My husband loved it. I halved the recipe since it’s just the two of us. We had left overs using 1lb of chicken thighs & everything else halved too. I’m so appreciative of your recipe. Being on the paleo eating plan has been wonderful, thanks to people like you who posted their recipes & write paleo cookbooks. Thank you! :)

  22. Manasi Joshi says

    So happy to have found Indian paleo recipes!!! I try and modify my mom’s recipes too as best I can, but super happy to find your blog (and hopefully be more creative with my recipes!!)
    I have been wanting to make gajar halwa for a while, and want to expand into more Indian recipes as well… so will definitely be looking through your recipes meticulously!!

  23. Marya says

    Oh. My. Word. This is DElicious. I made it with your naan, and my taste buds haven’t been this happy in a looooong time. Thank you so much!!!!

  24. Hannele says

    I looooved your recipe for both the naan and butter chicken, and so did my picky eater husband! Thank you for sharing!

  25. Zoe Arp says

    I made this with cauliflower rice and it tastes just like what you’d get at the best Indian restaurant around here (and there are some great ones here in the DC area) but yours is so much healthier. The trick with the cauliflower rice is to wait to mix rice with the sauce until serving. Once mixed on the plate you really can’t tell the difference! Thank you so much for making my favorite dish easy healthy AND incredibly tasty!

  26. Chris V says

    Okay. Call me crazy but I have never had butter chicken before!!! I have many many food allergies so it has always been out of my reach…..until now! I can’t WAIT to make this recipe to go with my favourite naan bread — yours!!!!

  27. stephofsydney says

    Thank you so much for this recipe! I always feel like I am missing out when we go out and my partner gets Butter Chicken and I can’t have any. I will be making this regularly. It was so delicious and well balanced. I only added half a can of coconut at the end, I think that was enough for us. Really lovely!

  28. Shannon says

    I followed the recipe exactly and found it to be very thin and bland. Where could I have gone wrong? Thanks!

  29. bryony says

    We just had this for dinner. It was amazing so easy to cook and a massive thumbs up from my husband and even my 16month old son. I’ve only had butter chicken a handful of times but this was soooo yummy! I would def be happy to never order from an Indian takeaway shop again! We didnt get fenugreek but it was still yummy! Looking forward to tasting it with it next time. We also made the naan and OMG my husband and I both said we could eat that everyday! Yum im gonna have to try it out as a crepe for breakfast! Thanks for the recipe. It was my first time to your page and I will definitely be back! :)

  30. k marie says

    I am so excited to try this but I needed to buy some of the spices I didn’t have first. My spice Sage had them all and more so as soon as they arrive, I will be making this! I made and love the naan, as well as several other of your recipes, and just thank you so much for posting them all.

  31. says

    Hey Ashley, I made this tonight and it was awesome! I was licking the bowl and pan clean :) I usually don’t ,make recipes from other blogs, but you have so many that I want to try. Thanks for the wonderful recipe and I look forward to trying more :)
    Feed The Clan recently posted…Grilled Orange ChickenMy Profile

  32. Monika says

    Best butter chicken I’ve ever had! I’m loving your recipes! I almost cried tears of joy when I found your flour free and nut free roti. I made it right away for my 2 year old daughter who has all sorts of allergies. Such a quick and easy recipe. I’ve also ebeen making the batter into waffles and experimenting with different spices. You’ve opened up so many options for our family and I’m so happy that I found your site. Thank you!

  33. Sybil says

    Quick question please! I don’t have Fenugreek leaves, but I do have dried fenugreek from Penzey’s spices. Can I substitute the powder form for the dried leaves? I can’t wait to try making this! I love, love, love Indian food and thought I’d have to give it up when I went “Paleo”. Thank you so much for all the awesome recipes you create and share.

    • says

      Hi Sybil! Sorry for the late reply – are these dried fenugreek seeds or dried leaves? I’m assuming seeds and if so, I’d just leave them out. The seeds can be bitter and since you’d be sprinkling them on top of the curry (vs cooking the spice in oil) it may add a strange taste to the dish. Hope you’ll let me know how this turns out for you :)

  34. Melissa says

    I made this recipe tonight – it’s amazing! My family is in our first week of paleo, and my husband and kids loved this (and had seconds)! The sauce is absolutely delicious! Thank you, thank you!

  35. says

    HI there, I am excited to try this tomorrow to serve 8 lucky people. Does the recipe work as well using chicken breast meat? also, when you say in your directions, “add the chicken mixture” do you mean the chicken and all of it’s marinade? or am I to pick out the chicken? Thanks so much for your response!

    • says

      Hi Natalie, I’m sorry for the late reply! Yes, you can use chicken breast but I prefer thighs because white meat can get a bit dry. When I say chicken mixture, that includes the marinade. If you already made this, how did it turn out for you?

  36. Elizabeth Ducote says

    Thank you! The recipe was spot on and my niece, a self-proclaimed picky eater, asked me to give the recipe to her mom. The flavors were fabulous and it is now in the rotation.

  37. Eliana says

    Ashley,
    Butter chicken is my favorite Indian dish and since I got diagnosed with auto-immune disease and was put in a low sodium diet I could no longer go to my favorite restaurant to eat my favorite dish!
    This all changed Sunday when my husband and I took the challenge to go to an Indian store and try to find the spices and make your recipe.
    Honestly, it was the best butter chicken that I ever ate in my life!! We did not add any salt and it was still very tasty! I tried the naan bread but it was with a gooy texture, I don’t know if I did not cook it properly, but I was disappointed since everybody was enjoying it, I will try to make the bread again.
    Thank you so much for your recipes, cannot wait to try other recipes! Keep posting them and hope you are very successful with all your projects!

    • says

      Eliana, I’m SO glad to hear that you liked this butter chicken so much! Now that you have all the spices in your pantry, you’ll have to try some other Indian recipes :)

      Also, the next time you make the naan – if it ends up being gooey, just put it in the oven at 400 degrees for 5-10 minutes or so, hopefully that’ll help. Let me know how any other recipes turn out for you!

  38. AdrianK says

    My mouth was watering the whole time I read this. I’m going to make this this weekend for my girlfriend!

  39. Ana Price says

    The BEST BEST Butter chicken ever! With your paleo naan! Amazing! I’m wondering if I can freeze these (butter chicken)? Let me know. I apologize if this question is repeated in the comments above. I made the butter chicken last night and hope to get an answer today. Hugs!

  40. Shellie says

    This recipe couldn’t be any better! It is so good! I also made the naan and everything was delicious. I will be making both again and again and again!

Trackbacks

  1. […] For those of you who don’t know, roti aka chapati is an unleavened Indian flatbread. While naan is usually served in restaurants, roti is what most Indian families eat at home. It’s usually slathered in ghee and used to scoop up curries. […]

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