Easy Butter Chicken and Saffron Rice (with Dairy-Free option)

Easy Butter Chicken and Saffron Rice

Tender and juicy chicken, cooked in a creamy-buttery tomato sauce, served with Saffron flavored Basmati Rice. Try this recipe for Easy Butter Chicken and Saffron Rice, and, enjoy a restaurant style Indian treat, right in the comfort of your home!

Butter Chicken or Murgh Makhani (literally means ‘buttery chicken’), is an authentic Punjabi dish that was created in the 1950s. It was created in a super popular restaurant in New Delhi called ‘Moti Mahal Delux’. The founder and chef of the restaurant decided to use left-over Tandoori Chicken (Indian-Spiced Grilled Chicken), in a rich and buttery tomato gravy. Little did he know, that he was creating one of the most popular curry dishes from the Indian subcontinent.

Traditionally, the chicken is marinated and grilled before adding to the tomato-cream sauce. But in this recipe, I have skipped that step and made it a Pour-and-Start recipe, with the same incredible taste. The key is using a smaller and thinner cut of boneless skinless chicken, and, adding extra garam masala to compensate for the flavors lost due to skipping marination.  This recipe is my weeknight-friendly, super quick and easy variation that’ll leave you amazed.

Click here to see some of my other POUR-and-START recipes.

Dairy-Free/Lactose-free & Gluten Free:

This recipe can be made dairy-free by substituting the heavy cream with full-fat coconut milk. It’s as easy as that. There is no other substitution required. And, this recipe is Gluten-free, which makes it perfect for entertaining as well.

Make it Vegetarian:

The base sauce that I make this recipe is vegetarian. So, you can easily switch the protein in this dish and make it vegetarian. You can add Paneer (Indian Cottage Cheese), extra-firm Tofu, mushrooms, or, a medley of veggies as well. Check out the recipe for a vegetarian favorite that I make with this sauce,  Paneer Butter Masala, or, Paneer Makhani.

Instant pot paneer butter masala, instant pot paneer makhani

Serving Suggestion:

I love serving this Butter Chicken with Saffron Rice, aromatic and nutty basmati rice cooked in a Saffron infused broth.  Saffron compliments the aromatic and nutty basmati rice and elevates it to an elegant side dish. Another popular pairing with Butter Chicken is Cumin Rice (Zeera Rice). A side of Cucumber Raita really completes this meal. I love how yogurt adds a cooling freshness to this meal, which balances the spices in the Butter Chicken.

Cucumber Yoghurt Dip / Cucumber Raita

Cucumber Yoghurt Dip / Cucumber Raita

Jeera rice , basmati rice flavored with fried cumin seeds

Cumin Rice (Zeera Rice)

POT-in-POT: Cooking Butter Chicken and Saffron Rice in the same pot

In this recipe, I have cooked everything in one-pot, using the pot-in-pot technique in my electrical pressure cooker, Instant Pot. Since chicken and basmati rice have the same cook time (6 minutes on high pressure), it is a great combination to make in one-pot. Watch the video above to see how easy this process is. 

Here is my recipe for authentic and traditional BUTTER CHICKEN, give it a shot, I promise you, it’ll be worth your time!

Easy Butter Chicken and Saffron Rice (with Dairy-Free option)

Print Recipe
Serves: 4 Cooking Time: Prep: 5 mins, Manual: 6 mins, NPR 10


  • Butter Chicken
  • 1.5 lb. boneless skinless Chicken Thighs or Breast, cut in 3 inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable or Light Olive Oil
  • 2 tablespoons ginger-garlic paste (1 inch ginger, 6 cloves garlic, pulsed/grated)
  • 14oz. can Diced Tomatoes, pureed, OR 3-4 ripe Roma tomatoes, pureed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Turmeric Powder
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon Red Chili Powder
  • 2 teaspoons Smoked Paprika
  • 2-3 teaspoons Garam Masala (depending on your spice preferences)
  • 1 tablespoon Coriander Powder
  • Add after cooking
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, OR, Full-Fat Coconut milk for dairy Free option
  • 1-2 teaspoons sugar (optional)
  • 2-3 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro

  • Saffron Rice
  • 1 cup Basmati Rice, rinsed 2-3 times
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon Saffron, soaked in 1 tablespoon water, microwaved 20 seconds
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon light olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons Slivered Almonds (optional)



Rice: Rinse basmati rice 2-3 times, till the water runs clear. In an oven safe bowl, add rice, water, saffron, that has been microwaved for 20 seconds in water, oil, salt and slivered almonds. Keep aside.


Sauce: Turn Instant pot on SAUTE. Turning saute will warm everything through while we assemble the recipe, thereby reducing the pressure building time. Add oil, ginger garlic paste, tomato sauce and spices. I puree diced tomatoes, but you can also use ripe tomatoes and puree them. Add chicken pieces and stir.


Place trivet and put the rice bowl on top of that. Close the lid. Cancel SAUTE. Pressure cook for 6 minutes on Manual/pressure Cook. Vent set to Sealing position.


Wait 10 minutes and release all the pressure by turning the valve from Sealing to Venting position (NPR 10). Open lid after pin drops. Remove rice and fluff with a fork. Turn on SAUTE. Add heavy cream or Coconut milk and saute for 2-3 minutes, till the sauce thickens a bit. Optionally, add sugar and stir. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve with Saffron rice and Naan!


Instant Pot Easy Butter-Chicken-Garam Masala Kitchen



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