Butter Chicken Ingredients: Know the Facts

Butter Chicken Ingredients

Butter chicken is an immensely popular Indian dish that has gained fans worldwide for its delectable blend of spices and creamy tomato-based sauce. To create the perfect butter chicken, you need to start with the right butter chicken ingredients. In this section, we’ll guide you through the key components that make up this tantalizing dish.

Core Findings

  • The foundation of butter chicken is tender, boneless chicken pieces.
  • A yogurt and spice marinade is essential to infuse the chicken with mouth-watering flavors.
  • Ghee or butter provides the rich flavor and velvety texture that is characteristic of butter chicken.
  • The tomato-based sauce, seasoned with aromatic spices, complements the chicken perfectly.
  • Adding fresh herbs and garnish enhances the flavor and visual appeal of butter chicken.


The cornerstone of any delicious butter chicken dish is flavorful and tender boneless chicken. Thankfully, choosing the right type of chicken and preparing it correctly are relatively straightforward tasks that can massively improve the end result. For butter chicken, we recommend using boneless chicken thighs or breasts. These cuts are easy to find in most grocery stores, and their tender meat and high-fat content ensure they remain moist and juicy after cooking.

Before marinating the chicken, it’s important to prepare it correctly. Start by trimming off any excess fat or skin, then cut the chicken into small, bite-sized pieces. Doing so ensures that the chicken cooks evenly and absorbs the flavors of the marinade thoroughly. Plus, smaller pieces make it easier to serve and enjoy.

When it comes to marinating the chicken, there are many recipes and variations to choose from. However, for the best butter chicken, we recommend using a marinade made from yogurt, spices, and lemon juice. The acidity in the lemon juice helps to tenderize the chicken, while the yogurt coats the surface area, helping the spices to adhere and absorb into the meat.

Yogurt and Spices Marinade

Marinating chicken in a yogurt and spice mixture is a crucial step in preparing the perfect butter chicken. Yogurt acts as a tenderizer while imparting a creamy and tangy flavor to the dish. The spices used in the marinade, like garam masala, cumin, coriander, and turmeric, add a complex depth of flavor to the chicken.

To make the marinade, combine yogurt with the desired spices and mix well. Add the chicken pieces and coat thoroughly, then refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. For optimal flavor, marinate the chicken overnight.

Plain Yogurt1 cup
Garam masala1 tbsp
Cumin1 tsp
Coriander1 tsp
Turmeric1 tsp

Note: Adjust the spice measurements based on your preference for spice level.

Ensure the chicken is well-coated with the marinade before cooking. The yogurt will help keep the chicken moist and tender. Fry, grill, or bake the chicken as per your preference.

The yogurt and spice marinade is a key ingredient that brings the flavors of butter chicken to life. The combination of these ingredients transforms ordinary chicken into a delicious and flavorful dish that your family and friends will love.

Ghee or Butter

Ghee and butter are two common ingredients used to give butter chicken its distinct richness. They enhance the flavors of the dish and provide a creamy texture to the sauce.


Ghee is clarified butter that has been simmered to remove milk solids. It has a sweet and nutty flavor and can handle high temperatures without burning. The key benefit of using ghee in butter chicken is its ability to add a rich flavor to the dish without overpowering other ingredients.


Butter is another ingredient that can be used in butter chicken. It has a creamy and salty flavor and can be used interchangeably with ghee. However, it may burn at high temperatures, so it is important to pay close attention while cooking.

Higher smoke point, so less likely to burnLower smoke point, so may burn easily
Nutty and sweet flavorCreamy and salty flavor
Can handle high temperatures without burningRequires close attention while cooking

Which One to Use?

Butter Chicken Ingredients

The choice between ghee or butter depends on your personal preference and the recipe you are using. If you want a sweet and nutty flavor, ghee would be an excellent choice. However, if you prefer a creamy and salty flavor, butter may be the better option. You can also combine the two to create a unique taste that suits your palate.

Overall, ghee and butter are important ingredients that give butter chicken its delicious creamy taste. Whether you use ghee, butter or a combination of both, it is a key component that cannot be ignored.

Tomato-Based Sauce

The mouthwatering tomato-based sauce is an essential part of authentic butter chicken.

The perfect sauce is made using juicy tomatoes, cream, butter or ghee, and a blend of aromatic spices. The most critical ingredient is the tomatoes. It’s best to use ripe, plump tomatoes and to blanch and puree them before adding them to your sauce.

The addition of cream gives the sauce a velvety texture and balances out the flavors of the spices. Ghee or butter adds richness to the sauce and brings out the flavors of the other ingredients.

To make the perfect tomato-based sauce for butter chicken, you’ll need a combination of spices like cinnamon, coriander, cumin, turmeric, and garam masala. These spices give the sauce a warm, zesty flavor that complements the chicken and balances out the richness of the cream and butter.

One traditional technique used to prepare the sauce is to cook the spices with the pureed tomatoes and cream until the sauce thickens and the flavors meld together. This method results in a smooth and well-balanced sauce that pairs perfectly with the succulent chicken pieces.

Now that you know the secrets to creating the perfect tomato-based sauce, go ahead and bring your butter chicken dish to life!

Cream or Cashew Paste

Cream or cashew paste is an essential ingredient that gives butter chicken its signature texture. The cream provides a rich and velvety consistency, while cashew paste provides a nutty and creamy flavor for those who are lactose intolerant.

When incorporating cream, you can choose between heavy cream or half-and-half, depending on your preference. Heavy cream will make the sauce thicker and richer, whereas half-and-half will result in a lighter sauce with a slightly less creamy texture.

Alternatively, you can use cashew paste as a lactose-free option that adds a unique flavor to the dish. To prepare cashew paste, soak raw cashews in water for a few hours and then blend them until they become a smooth, creamy consistency. You can then add this paste to your sauce for a nutty and creamy flavor.

Garam Masala and Other Spices

Garam masala is a blend of ground spices commonly used in Indian cuisine, including cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, and cumin. Along with other aromatic spices, it plays a crucial role in elevating the flavors of butter chicken.

To create the perfect blend, you can buy pre-made garam masala or make your own by toasting and grinding the spices yourself. The key is to ensure the spice blend is fresh and fragrant for optimal flavor.

When it comes to adding the spices to your dish, there are a few best practices to keep in mind. Toasting the spices in ghee or oil before adding them to the dish is a common technique that enhances their flavors. Additionally, adding the spices in layers throughout the cooking process ensures an even distribution and depth of flavor.

Other spices commonly used in butter chicken include chili powder, turmeric, coriander, and ginger. Each spice brings a unique flavor profile that contributes to the overall harmony of the dish.

SpiceFlavor Profile
Chili PowderSpicy, with a subtle sweetness
TurmericEarthy, slightly bitter, with notes of ginger and orange
CorianderFresh and citrusy with subtle sweetness
GingerPungent and peppery, with subtle sweetness and earthy notes

Experimenting with these spices and finding the perfect balance of flavors for your palate is part of the fun of cooking. With a little practice and experimentation, you can master the art of incorporating garam masala and other spices to create a butter chicken dish that will impress your taste buds.

Fresh Herbs and Garnish

When it comes to garnishing butter chicken, fresh herbs and delicate spices are key. The right garnish not only adds visual appeal to the dish but also enhances its overall flavor profile. Here are some recommended herbs and techniques to help you garnish your butter chicken to perfection:

CilantroLight, fresh, and citrusy
MintCool, refreshing, and slightly sweet
ParsleyMild, earthy, and slightly bitter

Chop the herbs finely and sprinkle them over the butter chicken just before serving. For added texture and flavor, you can also top with sliced almonds or chopped cashews. Finally, a drizzle of cream, or a dollop of yogurt, can be added as a finishing touch. Serve with steamed basmati rice or naan bread for a complete meal that will delight your taste buds.


In conclusion, crafting the ultimate butter chicken dish requires a careful selection of ingredients and a thorough understanding of the cooking techniques involved. By following our guide to the perfect butter chicken ingredients, you’ll be able to achieve the rich, creamy flavors that make this popular Indian cuisine so irresistible.

From selecting the ideal chicken cuts to marinating them in yogurt and spices and creating the tomato-based sauce, every step is crucial in achieving a perfectly balanced dish. Incorporating butter or ghee, cream or cashew paste, and a blend of aromatic spices such as garam masala can elevate the flavors of your butter chicken to new heights.

Don’t forget the importance of garnishing your dish with fresh herbs to enhance its appeal and flavor. By putting all these ingredients together, you’ll have a dish that will tantalize your taste buds and impress your loved ones.

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