Restaurant Style Indian Butter Chicken (Chicken Makhani)

Total Time
6hrs 30mins
Prep 5 hrs
Cook 1 hr 30 mins

My friends always ask me to make them my Butter Chicken (Chicken Makhani) when I invite them over for dinner! It's *SO* good that I have stopped ordering it at Indian Restaurants! I use a few drops of liquid smoke to give it a 'tandoori' flavour, and don't skip the dried fenugreek leaves. They are what make it taste as though it's from your favourite curry house! UPDATE: One individual has complained that there is excess chili powder in this recipe. It may be that North American chili powder has less heat? Certainly do not omit this ingredient. I used the usual 'chili powder' found at North American grocery stores, the generic type often used in Chili Con Carne. (I hope this clarifies any confusion!)

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. To Marinade: Place cubed chicken in a nonporous bowl with yogurt, lemon juice, chili powder,salt and liquid smoke. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
  2. Mix in garlic, garam masala, butter, chili powder, ginger paste, lemon juice and oil. Replace cover and refrigerate to marinate for another 3 to 4 hours.
  3. Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C).
  4. Place chicken on an oven sheet and bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes.
  5. To Make Sauce: Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in 1 tbsp garam masala. When masala begins to puff and bubble, mix in ginger, garlic paste and green chile peppers. Saute 5 minutes, then stir in tomato puree, tomato paste, chili powder, salt, 1/2 tbsp garam masala and a couple more drops of liquid smoke. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring in honey, fenugreek and cream.
  6. Place chicken and pan drippings in sauce mixture. Simmer on medium-low heat for about an hour or until liquid is reduced by 1/3.
  7. Salt to taste and garnish with fresh chopped cilantro (optional).
  8. Enjoy!


Most Helpful

This is seriously good stuff! A few observations:
Be careful with the liquid smoke, it can easily overpower the dish.
When you simmer the sauce, be careful not too reduce it too much, or it will become a bit too red and "tomato'y". Butter Chicken should be a nice orange color.

Here's a tip I picked up with a Tikka Masalas recipe as far as the chicken goes:
Thread the cut chicken pieces onto some pre-soaked bamboo skewers to marinade. This makes getting the pieces out of the marinade much easier and less messy. I like to char broil my chicken a bit, too.

You will need to go to an Indian grocery store for the fenugreek leaves though. Standard grocery stores will not carry them. Do NOT use seeds instead of leaves! Fenugreek seeds are very bitter whereas the leaves are more sweet.

BThomson May 29, 2011

First you need to know that my wife and I are food snobs. We can't stomach second rate food. Having said that..., THIS is the BEST butter chicken recipe we've ever encountered and we've tried a few of them. It really does taste as good as the best Indian restaurants make it and you will NOT be disappointed! There is no need to look any further. This is it! Enjoy!

woyke December 22, 2008

Made this for dinner tonight. We've tried a number of the different Butter Chicken recipes floating around... wow do they vary. This was, hands-down, the very very best. Better than restaurant quality. When I was prepping I had the time so I marinated the chicken overnight. I also second the note from another reviewer to be careful not to over-reduce the sauce or it changes color; that happened to me. It still tasted fantastic, but in it's last 5 minutes of simmering went from the mellow orange of Butter Chicken to being a touch too red.

James K. June 21, 2015

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