Paleo Butter Chicken


This recipe for Paleo Butter Chicken tastes just like the real thing. You’d never know that this recipe is dairy-free! It’s perfectly spiced, creamy and tastes like authentic murgh makhani! In fact, I’d go as far to say that the flavor rivals what you’d get at an Indian restaurant. It’s that good.

Paleo Butter Chicken by Ashley of

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.

Paleo Butter Chicken by Ashley of

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.

Instant Pot Butter Chicken by Ashley of

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.

Paleo Indian Food eBook by

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.

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 this recipe (which you will) then be sure to check out my Paleo Indian eCookbook: South Asian Persuasion!

It has 100+ Paleo Indian Recipes – all grain-free and gluten-free: Gulab Jamun, Jalebi, Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka, Coconut Milk Dahi, Coconut Flour Naan, Kulfi, Lamb Vindaloo, Rogan Josh, and so much more! Check out the link to see more pictures of what’s in the eBook 🙂

Paleo Butter Chicken

Butter Chicken by Ashley of

Paleo Butter Chicken

4.96 from 61 reviews
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Servings 4 -5



  • 2 pounds chicken thighs boneless and skinless, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • ½ cup unsweetened coconut cream (refrigerate can of coconut milk overnight and use the cream on top of the can or use ½ cup of this coconut cream)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon garam masala
  • ¼ teaspoon coriander powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin powder
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper



  • Place chicken in a bowl and marinate with coconut cream and spices, set aside.
  • 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 ;))
  • Add ginger and garlic and saute for a few more minutes.
  • 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.
  • Add green pepper and tomato sauce and cover your pan. Let everything simmer for 12-15 minutes.
  • Add 1 can of coconut milk and a pinch of kasoori methi - let it simmer for another few minutes.
  • Garnish with cilantro and serve with paleo naan.
Did you make this recipe?Tag @myheartbeets on Instagram and hashtag it #myheartbeets!

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Want to see a few old pictures of my paleo butter chicken? These are from 2013:

Paleo Butter Chicken and Paleo Naan... OH YEAH.
crusty naan with saucy chicken
go on, take a bite!

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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. Bernie says

    I’m going to get the ingredients to make this! Just wondering, how many ounces are there in your 1 can of coconut milk? (In my country, coconut milk comes in 2 sizes , either 200ml or 270ml. I’ll convert ounces to ml.).

  2. Betsy says

    5 stars
    I made this again after my first failed “tomatoey” attempt.. i think I got the instapot recipie mixed up with the stove top! Absolutely my error! Ashley is still the queen of the kitchen!!! This butter chicken is perfect! Not tomatoey at all!! Just perfection! If you follow the correct recipie for stove top – you will be a happy camper!! Yum!!!!

    • Barry says

      So this has become my go to butter chicken for when the family asks for it or whenever there’s a potluck. No changes beyond increasing some of the spices we like most.

      2 christmases ago, did a huge batch for a party at a club I do stand up at, and it was like watching a swarm of locusts hit it. Not sure I liked being referred to as the butter chicken guy for weeks after but it was definitely a hit.

      Thanks for sharing, and sorry it took a few years to get around to saying it 🙂

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