Tender and juicy chicken, cooked in a creamy-buttery tomato sauce, served with Saffron flavored Basmati Rice. This recipe for Easy Butter Chicken and Saffron Rice in the instant pot is the super-easy adaptation of my recipe for Authentic Butter Chicken.
Butter Chicken is one of my kids' favorite Indian curries. With this recipe, I simplified the cooking process to be less than 30 minutes, without losing any of that amazing rich flavor.
And to make it a one-pot meal, I cooked saffron rice in the same pot, using pot-in-pot (PIP) cooking method in Instant Pot pressure cooker.
Traditional Butter Chicken Recipe
In my original recipe for Authentic Butter Chicken, I follow the traditional method and marinate the chicken overnight in yogurt and toasted ground Garam Masala. Then, I grill it and simmer it in a tomato-cream sauce.
Marinating the chicken makes the chicken moist, juicy, and flavorful. Grilling it adds a delicious char-broiled smoky flavor to it. Believe me, all that effort is worth the time it takes to make it.
But, I was looking to simplify this recipe, to make it weeknight-friendly, so I would be able to make it more often for my kids. After a few attempts, I finally succeeded, and it was approved by the Butter Chicken connoisseurs, my kids 🙂
Easy Instant Pot Butter Chicken and Rice - Perfect Weeknight Meal
In this easier and time saving Instant Pot Butter Chicken recipe, I skip the marination, add extra Garam Masala to the sauce, use diced boneless skinless chicken and pressure cook it with pot-in-pot rice . Try it and enjoy a restaurant style Indian treat, right in the comfort of your home, even on a weeknight!
The Origin of Butter Chicken
Butter Chicken or Murgh Makhani, literally means 'chicken cooked in a buttery rich sauce'. It is an authentic Punjabi dish (North-Indian) that was created in the 1950s, 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.
Why do They Call it Butter Chicken
The Indian name for Butter Chicken is Murgh Makhani, which means, chicken cooked in a buttery sauce. Back in the 1950's, which is when this dish was invented, people cooked food in clarified butter, called Ghee.
To add a rich and creamy taste to a dish, fresh butter was added in the end. This fresh butter, also called 'White Butter' was made by churning fresh cream. During the churning process, The whey would separate and what would be left behind was pure creamy fresh butter.
In a modern-day adaptation of this recipe, restaurants started using heavy cream instead of fresh butter, which gives this dish its iconic smooth and creamy taste. So, you don't have to add butter to make Butter Chicken! But if you wish, you can replace the ghee or oil with unsalted butter.
Lactose-free, Paleo & Gluten Free Butter Chicken Recipe
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.
To make this Butter Chicken Keto, simply skip the sugar and follow the rest of the recipe. Instead of a rice side, have with some salad.
POT-in-POT Rice: How to Cook Butter Chicken and Saffron Rice in the same pot
In this recipe, I 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 to see how easy this process is.
I assemble the butter chicken in the main pot of Instant Pot. Then, I place a tall trivet and place the rice bowl on top of that. I pressure cook it for 6 minutes. After waiting for 10 minutes, I manually release the pressure. That's it! Butter Chicken is ready to be served over Saffron Rice!
Accessories Needed for This Chicken and Rice Pot-in-Pot Recipe
Make it Vegetarian- Paneer Butter Masala
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.
What to Serve with Instant Pot Butter Chicken
I love pairing Butter Chicken with Saffron Rice! Both these dishes are aromatic and have intense flavor, as a result of which, they compliment each other so well.
Basmati rice is cooked in a Saffron infused broth to make Saffron Rice. Saffron compliments the aromatic and nutty basmati rice and elevates it to an elegant side dish. Click here for the step-by-step recipe of Saffron Rice.
For a low carb or keto option, try this Indian-spiced cauli rice.
A side of Cucumber Raita really completes this meal. Since this recipe uses warm Indian spices, yogurt balances that warmth and adds a cooling freshness to this Easy Butter Chicken meal.
Easy Butter Chicken and Saffron Rice (with Dairy-Free option)
- 1.5 lb. boneless skinless chicken thighs or breast. Cut in 3 inch pieces
- 1 tablespoon ghee or light olive oil or vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons ginger and garlic paste : 1 inch ginger, 6 cloves garlic, pulsed/grated
- 14 oz. diced tomatoes : 1 can pureed, OR 3-4 ripe Roma tomatoes, pureed
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon Turmeric Powder
- ¼-1/2 teaspoon Red Chili Powder
- 2 teaspoons Paprika
- 2-3 teaspoons Garam Masala depending on your spice preferences
- 1 tablespoon Coriander Powder
Add after cooking
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream OR, Full-Fat Coconut milk for dairy Free option
- 1-2 teaspoons sugar optional
- 2-3 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro
- Here is the detailed recipe for Saffron Rice
- 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 on 'saute' will warm everything through while we assemble the recipe, thereby reducing the pressure building time. Add ghee or oil, ginger and garlic paste, tomato sauce and spices. I puree diced canned tomatoes, but you can also use ripe tomatoes and puree them. Add chicken pieces and stir. If your instant pot gives you burn messages often, then add ½ cup water.
- 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 5 minutes and release all the pressure by turning the valve from Sealing to Venting position (NPR 5). 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!
- Heat a saucepan on medium heat. Add ghee or 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.
- Add ½ cup water, cover, and simmer for 15-20 minutes, till chicken is tender.
- 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!