Instant Pot Chicken Bhuna Recipe


Get ready to add a new dish to your dinner menu rotation: chicken bhuna masala! 

Chicken Bhuna Masala

This Chicken Bhuna Masala is FINGER LICKING GOOD. I’m a little embarrassed for using that phrase on my blog, but it really is finger-licking good! You will literally be licking your fingers as you eat this. Okay, I think I have emphasized that there will be fingers and licking and chicken involved. Moving on…

Do you guys see how the onion and tomato masala is all up on this chicken? The chicken doesn’t seem to mind one bit. And neither do I.

“Amazing recipe, Ashley! Winner chicken dinner! All your chicken recipes are always amazing, and this was top notch! We thoroughly enjoyed this one! Nice to have a dry chicken curry instead of the usual/traditional chicken curries with a thick gravy sauce.”

Chicken Bhuna Masala

What is Bhuna?

Chicken Bhuna (or Bhuna Chicken depending on what you call it) is a “dry curry,” which means the masala clings onto the chicken (rather than the chicken swimming in sauce). 

Bhuna is a cooking method where you cook onions, tomatoes, and meat over high heat – stirring until all the liquid dries up. We’re making things much easier with an Instant Pot + our pre-made onion masala

(This recipe is part of my onion masala series, where I share how to make onion masala, how to store it, and how to make recipes that call for it).

This chicken bhuna is so aromatic, and the spice combination is just perfect in this dish. There are a couple of spices in the recipe that you may not have in your spice cabinet, but they are worth investing in! Black cardamom, for example, is very different from green cardamom. Black cardamom adds a really nice smoky flavor to this sauce. Star anise adds a hint of licorice flavor. And then I use other common Indian spices like green cardamom, whole cloves, and cumin seeds.

No Water in the Pressure Cooker?

I know I’m going to get questions about this…

Bhuna chicken is meant to be a dry curry, and it does not need additional water because the meat cooks in its own juices. You will be surprised at how much liquid is in the pot once it’s done cooking (meat releases water). If, for some reason, your electric pressure cooker won’t turn on or is unable to reach pressure, then add a tablespoon of water. I have a 6-quart electric pressure cooker (Instant Pot) and have made this recipe many times using frozen and fresh onion masala; I have never needed to add additional water for this recipe.

If you add water, you’ll spend more time boiling it off once the chicken is done cooking. My recipe will require you to boil off some liquid at the end, so some “bhuna” or roasting is required but far less than if you were to make this the traditional way on the stovetop. 

Chicken Bhuna Masala

Bhuna chicken is so, so good. You can eat it with roti or basmati rice or jeera rice. Make this Indian chicken dish and tell me what you think of it! You may even like it more than my butter chicken recipe. 😉

Chicken Bhuna Masala

Chicken Bhuna Masala

Chicken Bhuna Masala

5 from 43 reviews
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  • ¼ cup oil

Whole spices:

Add Later:

  • 1 tablespoon ghee
  • 1 onion chopped into chunks
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • Cilantro garnish


  • Press the sauté button, add the oil and allow it to heat up for a minute. Add the whole spices and once they become fragrant, add the chicken and cook for 1-2 minutes. Then add the coriander powder, salt and cayenne and cook for another minute.
  • Add the onion masala to the pot (do not mix), secure the lid, close the pressure valve and cook for 5 minutes at high pressure.
  • Quick release pressure.
  • Press sauté and adjust heat to the highest setting, add the ingredients listed under ”add later” and cook for 11-12 minutes – be sure to keep an eye on the pot to avoid burning. (You will want to keep the stirring to a minimum at the beginning to allow the liquid to boil off. Most of the liquid will evaporate around the 8-10 minute mark, then stir more frequently until the masala is thick and coats the chicken).
  • Garnish with cilantro and serve.



  • This is meant to be a dry curry and it does not need additional water. The meat cooks in its own juices. You will be surprised at how much liquid is in the pot once it’s done (meat releases water) If for some reason your electric pressure cooker won’t turn on or is unable to reach pressure then add a tablespoon of water. I have a 6 quart and have made this many times and I have never needed to add additional water for this recipe.
  • I have tested this recipe using frozen onion masala cubes as well as thawed onion masala and it works both ways.
  • This recipe is part of my onion masala series – be sure to check it out!
Did you make this recipe?Tag @myheartbeets on Instagram and hashtag it #myheartbeets!

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Chicken Bhuna Masala

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Find out more about my cookbooks Indian Food Under Pressure and South Asian Persuasion.

About Ashley

Hi, I’m Ashley. Thanks for being here! I truly believe that food brings us closer together. Gather around a table with good food and good people, and you’ll have the ingredients you need to create some happy memories. My hope is that you find recipes here that you can’t wait to share with family and friends.


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  1. Dave L says

    5 stars
    I prepared this this evening and it was extraordinarily good. I’m grateful to have found your site and recipes. I’ve tried many of them over the past couple years, the results always great. The chicken bhuna is now standing alongside your chicken biryani as my very top favorites. I made the aloo gobi as a side dish. It was also excellent and a great paring. Thank you for the wonderful dinners.

  2. Swati says

    5 stars
    Hi Ashley,

    Just came here to say I made this and it was outstanding! In fact I made both Bhuna chicken and your famous butter chicken and my father in law said he enjoyed this more than the butter chicken!

    Thanks for another great recipe!

  3. Maneesha says

    5 stars
    Amazing recipe, Ashley! Winner chicken dinner! All your chicken recipes are always amazing, and this was top notch! We thoroughly enjoyed this one! Nice to have a dry chicken curry instead of the usual/traditional chicken curries with a thick gravy sauce

  4. Amara says

    5 stars
    This turned out really good! I had only 1lb of chicken so I subbed in baby potatoes for the remaining 1/2 pound and they were perfectly cooked.

  5. Carol says

    5 stars
    I made your onion masala and this recipe and it was delicious! Came together easily and as always tasted even better the second time!! it was my first time making the masala and will be a regular part of my food prep now.

  6. Theresa says

    If the onion masala is made as written, should any of the spices in this recipe be adjusted or omitted, eg the cayenne, cumin, coriander …? Speaking to your intention for pre-prep, not individual taste necessarily, which I wouldn’t know until after making it. Thanks!

    • Ashley - My Heart Beets says

      Hi Theresa, since this recipe calls for onion masala, you’ll want to use all the spices as written in the recipe. Sometimes recipes call for additional amounts of the same spices that are in the masala. Hope that helps!

  7. upasna says

    5 stars
    excellent and cooked to perfection, just needed to kick it up a notch for my family’s taste so I added more indian chili powder and didn’t have any star anise on hand and was a hit!! love your recipes that use the onion masala since I followed your recipe and made a whole batch that lasts for months in my house!! even my picky teen loved it! that’s always a plus for me 🙂

  8. Flanny A says

    5 stars
    Superb taste! The chicken bhuna was a hit in my family – the kids loved it with rice and yoghurt. Hubby and I also enjoyed it thoroughly. The onion masala recipes really make yummy Indian cooking easy and quick! Thanks once again, Ashley!

  9. Happy says

    5 stars
    Packed with flavor, and also tender – I was afraid this would be overcooked, but it was not. I was craving a dry preparation, like chicken sukka (a different dish, though), and gave this a shot. I’d never associate instant pot with a dry preparation, given how much liquid you usually get, but this did work.

    The last step did take a bit longer than you said; maybe I had too much masala so I need to double check the volume of the freezer tray I got.

    I was also very afraid of having a ‘burn’ issue, given that the bottom of the pot was pretty dry to start, but happily I did not have that problem.

    All in all, you are a magician when it comes to creating recipes for the instant pot.

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