Butter Chicken for Beginners: A Step-by-Step Guide to Making this Delicious Dish at Home

Butter chicken, also known as “murgh makhani,” is a quintessential dish in Indian cuisine that has gained worldwide popularity for its rich flavours and creamy texture. Originating from the streets of Delhi, this dish has become a staple in Indian restaurants across the globe. The succulent pieces of chicken are marinated in a blend of yogurt and spices and then simmered in a velvety tomato-based sauce enriched with butter and cream. The result is a dish that is both comforting and indulgent, perfect for satisfying cravings and impressing dinner guests.

While it’s easy to order butter chicken from a restaurant, there’s something special about making it at home. Firstly, cooking at home allows you to have complete control over the ingredients you use. You can ensure that your dish is made with fresh, high-quality ingredients, and you can customize it to suit your taste preferences. Whether you prefer your butter chicken mild or spicy, you have the freedom to adjust the levels of heat and spices to your liking.

Additionally, making butter chicken at home can be a fun and rewarding experience. It gives you the opportunity to experiment with different techniques and flavours, and there’s a sense of satisfaction that comes from creating a delicious meal from scratch. Plus, cooking at home is often more cost-effective than dining out, so you can enjoy restaurant-quality butter chicken without breaking the bank.

In this guide, we’ll take you through the process of making butter chicken step-by-step. We’ll start by marinating the chicken to infuse it with flavour and tenderness. Then, we’ll prepare the sauce, blending together tomatoes, spices, and cream to create a luscious base for the dish. Finally, we’ll bring everything together, simmering the chicken in the sauce until it’s cooked through and the flavours have melded together beautifully. With our easy-to-follow instructions and helpful tips, you’ll be able to recreate this beloved dish in your own kitchen, impressing your family and friends with your culinary skills. So, let’s get started and learn how to make butter chicken from scratch!


Image of homemade butter chicken ingredients including chicken, tomatoes, onions, spices, and cream, ready for cooking

List of Ingredients:

To make delicious butter chicken at home, you’ll need the following ingredients:

  1. Chicken: Boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces.
  2. Yogurt: Plain, full-fat yogurt for marinating the chicken.
  3. Lemon Juice: Freshly squeezed lemon juice to tenderize the chicken.
  4. Ginger Garlic Paste: A combination of fresh ginger and garlic, finely minced or blended into a paste.
  5. Garam Masala: A blend of ground spices commonly used in Indian cuisine, available in stores or homemade.
  6. Chilli Powder: For adding a kick of heat to the dish. Adjust according to your spice preference.
  7. Butter: Unsalted butter for sautéing and richness in the sauce.
  8. Tomato Puree: Smooth, strained tomatoes for the base of the sauce.
  9. Heavy Cream: To add richness and creaminess to the sauce.
  10. Honey or Sugar: Optional, for balancing the flavours and adding a touch of sweetness.
  11. Salt: Season the dish to taste.
  12. Fresh Coriander (Cilantro): For garnish and added freshness.
  13. Cooking Oil: For sautéing the chicken and aromatics.
  14. Optional: Kasuri Methi (Dried Fenugreek Leaves) for added flavour complexity.

Importance of Fresh Spices and Ingredients:

Using fresh spices and ingredients is crucial for achieving the authentic flavours of butter chicken. Freshly ground spices, such as garam masala, bring out the aromatic richness of the dish, while freshly minced ginger and garlic add depth of flavour. Fresh lemon juice tenderizes the chicken and adds a subtle tanginess to the marinade.

Additionally, using high-quality chicken and dairy products ensures a superior taste and texture in the final dish. While it may be tempting to use pre-ground spices or packaged sauces, opting for fresh ingredients will elevate the overall quality of your butter chicken and enhance your culinary experience.

Substitutions and Variations:

– Chicken: You can use bone-in chicken pieces or tofu as a vegetarian alternative.

– Yogurt: Greek yogurt or dairy-free yogurt can be used as substitutes.

– Lemon Juice: Vinegar or lime juice can be used instead.

– Garam Masala: Make your own garam masala blend or substitute with curry powder.

– Chili Powder: Adjust the amount or use paprika for a milder flavour.

– Butter: Ghee (clarified butter) or vegan butter can be used as substitutes.

– Tomato Puree: Fresh tomatoes or canned tomato sauce can be used as alternatives.

– Heavy Cream: Coconut cream or cashew cream for a dairy-free option.

– Honey or Sugar: Maple syrup or agave nectar can be used as sweeteners.

Feel free to experiment with these substitutions and variations to tailor the recipe to your taste preferences or dietary requirements.


Marinated chicken in a flavourful blend of traditional Indian spices, ready for cooking

Marinating the Chicken

Choosing the Right Chicken Cuts: Selecting the correct chicken cuts is crucial for a successful butter chicken dish. Opt for boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts. These cuts are tender, and juicy, and cook evenly, ensuring a delightful texture in every bite. Trim any excess fat from the chicken and cut it into bite-sized pieces for even cooking and maximum flavour absorption during marination.

Marination Process and Ingredients: Marinating the chicken is a key step in developing the rich flavours of butter chicken murgh makhani. In a medium bowl, combine plain yogurt, freshly squeezed lemon juice, ginger garlic paste, garam masala, chilli powder, and a pinch of salt.

The yogurt tenderizes the chicken while the spices infuse it with flavour. Mix the ingredients until well combined, then add the chicken pieces, ensuring they are thoroughly coated with the marinade. Cover the bowl with cling film and refrigerate for at least 1-2 hours, or preferably overnight, to allow the flavours to meld and the chicken to become tender.

Preparing the Sauce Base

Making Tomato Puree: Start by preparing the tomato puree, which forms the base of the butter chicken sauce. If using fresh tomatoes, blanch them in boiling water for a few minutes until the skins start to peel off. Then, transfer them to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Once cooled, peel off the skins and blend the tomatoes until smooth. Alternatively, you can use canned tomato puree for convenience. Strain the puree through a fine mesh sieve to remove any seeds or pulp, resulting in a smooth texture.

Utilizing Garam Masala and Other Spices: Garam masala is a quintessential spice blend in Indian cuisine, adding warmth and complexity to the butter chicken sauce. In addition to garam masala, you’ll use other spices such as ground coriander, cumin, and turmeric to enhance the flavour profile. Toasting whole spices and grinding them fresh can elevate the dish even further. Incorporate these spices into the tomato puree to create a fragrant and flavourful base for the sauce.

Gathering Equipment and Tools

Basic Kitchen Equipment: Before starting the cooking process, ensure you have all the necessary equipment and tools on hand. This includes a large skillet or saucepan for cooking the sauce and chicken, a mixing bowl for marinating the chicken, a blender or food processor for making the tomato puree, and basic utensils such as a wooden spoon, spatula, and chef’s knife. Having these essentials ready will streamline the cooking process and make it easier to prepare the dish.

Tips for Efficiency: To maximize efficiency in the kitchen, it’s helpful to prep all your ingredients before you begin cooking. Chop the vegetables, measure out the spices, and organize your workspace to minimize clutter and confusion. Additionally, multitask where possible – while the chicken is marinating, you can prepare the sauce base or gather your equipment. By staying organized and efficient, you’ll be able to enjoy the cooking process and achieve delicious results with your homemade butter chicken.

Cooking Process

Sautéing the Aromatics

Onions, Garlic, and Ginger:

Begin by heating clarified butter in a pan over medium heat. Add finely chopped onions, minced garlic, and grated ginger to the pan. Sauté until the onions turn golden brown and the mixture becomes fragrant, releasing its aromatic flavours into the butter chicken sauce. This trio of aromatics forms the flavourful base of the dish, enhancing its richness and depth.

Achieving the Perfect Base Flavour:

Sautéing the onions, garlic, and ginger until they are soft and caramelized is crucial for building the base flavour of butter chicken. This process allows the natural sugars in the onions to caramelize, adding sweetness and complexity to the dish. The garlic and ginger infuse the sauce with their distinct aromas, complementing the spices and enhancing the overall flavour profile of the butter chicken recipe.

Cooking the Chicken

Pan-Searing vs. Grilling:

After sautéing the aromatics, add the marinated chicken pieces to the pan. Cook them over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until they are browned and cooked through. Alternatively, you can grill the marinated chicken pieces on a preheated grill until they develop a charred exterior and are fully cooked. Both methods impart a delicious smoky flavour to the butter chicken, adding depth and complexity to the dish.

Importance of Proper Cooking Time:

Ensuring that the chicken is cooked to perfection is essential for a successful butter chicken recipe. Overcooked chicken can become dry and tough, while undercooked chicken poses a risk of foodborne illness. Aim to cook the chicken just until it is no longer pink in the centre and has reached an internal temperature of 165°F (75°C). This ensures that the chicken is juicy, tender, and safe to eat, resulting in a delectable butter chicken dish.

Making the Sauce

Tomato Puree and Spices:

Once the chicken is cooked, add the tomato puree to the pan, along with the garam masala and other spices. Stir the mixture well to combine, allowing the flavours to meld together. The tomato puree provides a rich and tangy base for the sauce, while the garam masala and spices add warmth and depth of flavour to the dish. Adjust the seasoning according to your taste preferences, adding more spices or salt if needed.

Achieving Desired Consistency:

Simmer the sauce over medium heat until it thickens to your desired consistency. This allows the flavours to intensify and the sauce to develop a creamy texture. If the sauce becomes too thick, you can add a splash of coconut milk or heavy cream to thin it out and balance the flavours. The result should be a luxurious and velvety sauce that coats the chicken pieces perfectly, ready to be served with steamed basmati rice or homemade naan bread.

Serving Suggestions

Bowl of delicious butter chicken curry served with fluffy rice and freshly baked naan bread.

Pairing with Basmati Rice or Naan Bread:

Butter chicken pairs exceptionally well with aromatic basmati rice or warm, pillowy naan bread. Basmati rice, with its fragrant aroma and delicate texture, serves as the perfect accompaniment to soak up the rich and creamy sauce of the butter chicken. Alternatively, naan bread, with its soft and chewy texture, provides a comforting vessel for scooping up the tender chicken pieces and sauce. Whichever option you choose, both basmati rice and naan bread elevate the dining experience, adding depth and dimension to each bite of butter chicken.

Garnishing and Presentation:

Enhance the visual appeal of your butter chicken dish by garnishing it with fresh cilantro leaves or chopped green chillies. The vibrant green colour of the cilantro adds a pop of freshness to the dish, while the spicy kick of the green chillies complements the rich flavours of the sauce. Additionally, you can drizzle a swirl of heavy cream or melted butter on top of the butter chicken for an extra indulgent touch. Serve the dish in a decorative serving bowl or on a platter, garnished with a sprinkle of garam masala for added flavour and flair.

Adding a Refreshing Side Dish or Salad:

Balance the richness of the butter chicken with a refreshing side dish or salad. A crisp cucumber and tomato salad dressed with lemon juice and a sprinkle of chaat masala provides a cool and tangy contrast to the creamy butter chicken. Alternatively, serve a side of raita, a yogurt-based condiment flavoured with cucumbers, mint, and spices, to cool down the palate and complement the spicy flavours of the dish. Whether you choose a salad or raita, adding a refreshing side dish enhances the overall dining experience, leaving you feeling satisfied and satisfied.

Recipe Notes and Tips

Delicious homemade butter chicken recipe

Adjusting Spice Levels:

Butter chicken can be customized to suit your spice preferences. If you prefer a milder dish, reduce the amount of chilli powder or omit the cayenne pepper altogether.

For a spicier version, increase the amount of chilli powder or add fresh green chillies to the sauce. Taste the dish as you go and adjust the seasoning accordingly, keeping in mind that the flavours will continue to develop as the dish cooks.

Storing Leftovers:

Leftover butter chicken can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. To reheat, simply transfer the leftovers to a microwave-safe dish and heat until warmed through, stirring occasionally to ensure even heating.

Alternatively, you can reheat the butter chicken on the stovetop over low heat, adding a splash of water or cream to prevent it from drying out. Avoid reheating the dish multiple times, as this can affect the texture and flavour of the chicken.

Recipe Variations and Experimentation:

Don’t be afraid to get creative with your butter chicken recipe! Experiment with different ingredients and flavour combinations to create your own unique version of this classic dish. For example, you can add vegetables such as bell peppers, peas, or spinach to the sauce for added texture and nutrition.

You can also substitute the chicken with paneer (Indian cottage cheese) or tofu for a vegetarian alternative. Additionally, try using coconut milk instead of heavy cream for a dairy-free option, or add a splash of mango puree for a hint of sweetness. The possibilities are endless, so feel free to explore and make the recipe your own!

Raj’s Corner: The Best Butter Chicken in Newcastle

Raj's Corner: Delicious Butter Chicken - Newcastle's Finest!

Introduction to Raj’s Corner:

Raj’s Corner is a hidden gem nestled in the heart of Newcastle, renowned for serving the best authentic butter chicken in town. Established by Chef Raj, an expert in Indian cuisine with years of experience, this cozy restaurant offers a warm and inviting atmosphere where guests can enjoy authentic Indian flavours and hospitality. Raj’s Corner is a favourite among locals and visitors alike, drawing crowds with its mouthwatering dishes and impeccable service.

Signature Dish Features:

At Raj’s Corner, the butter chicken stands out as the star of the menu. Chef Raj’s secret recipe passed down through generations, combines tender chicken pieces marinated in a fragrant blend of spices with a rich and creamy tomato-based sauce.

The sauce is simmered to perfection, allowing the flavours to meld together and create a harmonious balance of sweetness and spice. Each bite of butter chicken is a culinary delight, leaving diners craving for more. Accompanied by fluffy basmati rice or freshly baked naan bread, this signature dish embodies the essence of Indian comfort food at its finest.

Location and Contact Information:

Raj’s Corner is conveniently located in the bustling streets of Newcastle, making it easily accessible to locals and tourists alike.

For reservations or inquiries, please contact Raj’s Corner by visiting their website at rajscorner.com.au. Whether you’re craving a hearty meal with family and friends or seeking a culinary adventure, Raj’s Corner promises an unforgettable dining experience that will leave you coming back for more.


In conclusion, making butter chicken at home is a rewarding culinary journey that begins with marinating tender chicken pieces in a flavourful blend of spices and yogurt. The sauce, enriched with tomato puree and aromatic spices like garam masala, is simmered to perfection, creating a luscious base for the dish. Sautéed aromatics, such as onions, garlic, and ginger, add depth of flavour, while careful attention to cooking time ensures juicy and tender chicken. Whether served with basmati rice or naan bread, homemade best butter chicken recipe promises a delightful dining experience that transports you to the vibrant streets of India with every bite.

We encourage you to roll up your sleeves, gather your ingredients, and embark on your own butter chicken adventure. Don’t be intimidated by the seemingly complex flavours and techniques – our step-by-step guide and helpful tips make it easy for beginners to master this beloved dish. Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a novice in the kitchen, making butter chicken at home is a rewarding experience that will impress your family and friends. So go ahead, unleash your inner chef, and treat yourself to the tantalizing flavours of homemade butter chicken.

As you savour each bite of homemade butter chicken, take a moment to appreciate the labour of love that went into preparing this dish. From marinating the chicken to simmering the sauce, every step is infused with care and attention to detail. Whether enjoyed as a cozy meal at home or shared with loved ones at a special gathering, homemade butter chicken brings people together, fostering a sense of warmth and connection. So indulge in this culinary delight, relishing the rich flavours and comforting aromas that make butter chicken a timeless classic in Indian cuisine.

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