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butter chicken over rice in bowl 1
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4.83 from 46 votes

Indian Butter Chicken (Sous Vide or Regular)

The star of this scrumptious Indian Butter Chicken is a rich, creamy, Indian-spiced sauce with tomatoes, onions, garlic, cream and butter. You can cook the chicken with any method including Sous Vide.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Servings (change as needed): 4
Author: Cheryl


  • 1 1/4 pound (0.56kg) chicken breasts, boneless skinless
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt + 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder


  • 3 tablespoon butter
  • 1 large onion, minced (or pulse until very fine in processor; drain liquid if needed)
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced (3 garlic cloves)
  • 1 3/4 cup tomato sauce (15 oz) (or Marinara sauce)
  • 1 cup (240ml) heavy cream or light cream (I use 10% cream)
  • 3 cups fresh baby spinach, roughly chopped optional

Seasonings for Sauce

  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper or more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 tablespoon Tandoori Masala (or curry powder)
  • GARNISH: chopped parsley or cilantro


  • MAKE CHICKEN: Mix together olive oil, salt, pepper and curry powder. Rub mixture over chicken breasts. To cook Sous vide: Heat water in sous vide machine to 145F (63C). Vacuum seal the chicken breasts. Or place in a ziploc bag, submerge into water until just the top edge of bag is above water, then seal the bag. Cook sous vide for 1 1/2 hours (maximum 4 hours). See Note 1 to bake, grill or use a shortcut.
  • MAKE SAUCE: While chicken is cooking, melt butter in large pan on medium heat. Add onions and garlic and cook 5-7 minutes until onions are soft. Add tomato sauce, cream and seasonings for sauce. Mix to combine. Lower heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • FINISH DISH: Stir chicken into sauce. Taste and adjust seasonings. Garnish with chopped parsley or cilantro if desired. Serve over hot white rice like basmati or jasmine rice with Naan bread for dipping.


Cooking options for boneless chicken breast:  The timing for the recipe is under 30 minutes if you bake or use a pre-cooked chicken. You can also sauté chicken pieces on the stove top if you like. Sous Vide will take longer (but the chicken is deliciously moist and tender). 
  • Bake option: Preheat oven to 400F (204C). Bake chicken for 10-15 minutes or until instant thermometer reads 160F.
  • Grill option: Heat grill to medium high. Grill for 3-5 minutes per side depending on thickness.
  • Shortcut option: Buy a cooked rotisserie chicken, remove from bones and cut into bite size pieces. If chicken has just been cooked, let it rest for 10 minutes, then cut into bite size pieces.
  • For a dairy-free version: Instead of cream, use 1/2-1 cup full-fat coconut milk - and margarine
  • For a vegetarian version, try a chicken substitute, vegetables or tofu
  • To make 1 teaspoon of garam masala, combine: 1/4 teaspoon cumin, 1/4 teaspoon paprika, 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1/8 teaspoon crumbled bay leaves.
  • Substitute Tandoori or Garam Masala with curry powder.
  • Flavors:
    • Add a 1/2 tablespoon of fresh grated ginger while cooking the onions (several recipes used ginger)
    • If you like some sweetness in your butter chicken, add a tablespoon of brown sugar.
    • Increase the cayenne pepper or add chili flakes if you like more heat
  • Add-in
    • Add 2-3 cups roughly chopped fresh baby spinach for great color and extra nutrtion.
  • Sauce texture: The sauce looks a bit grainy because of the minced onion (texture is not affected). If you don't like the look, you can
    • chop the onion instead of mincing it,
    • blend the sauce with a handheld immersion stick blender before adding the cream, or
    • quarter the onion, boil in water until soft, then puree in a blender or processor.
    • strain the sauce before adding the chicken
Make Ahead
  • Sous vide
    • The chicken can stay in the sous vide bath for up to 4 hours without overcooking.
    • You can also plunge the sealed bag with the chicken into ice water to cool it down, then keep it in the fridge for a couple of days. 
  • Both the sauce and chicken (or the full dish) can be made ahead then gently warmed on the stove before serving.
  • Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
  • You can also freeze it for up to 2 months.
Nutrition values are estimates. 
Calories: 402kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 35g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 136mg | Sodium: 1137mg | Potassium: 1124mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 3201IU | Vitamin C: 19mg | Calcium: 119mg | Iron: 2mg