Butter Chicken Recipe (Slow Cooker or Instant Pot Option)

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Instant Pot Butter Chicken Recipe
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I’m a sucker for curried Indian dishes and butter chicken has long been on my list to recreate at home in the Instant Pot. This dish is much more budget-friendly made at home and is a great change of pace from chili, soups, and more common winter staples.

Traditional recipes use heavy cream and butter (as the name implies), but this recipe harnesses the healthy fats of coconut milk to give it that signature richness. Our family also likes this authentic chicken biryani dish.

Dairy-Free Butter Chicken Recipe

If you haven’t had butter chicken before, it’s one of the less spicy Indian dishes and is even mild enough for kids to enjoy. If you have some grass-fed butter and cream around feel free to try the traditional version, but it’s nice to have a dairy-optional version on hand as well.

Coconut milk perfectly mellows the sweetness of tomatoes and warming spices of curry, coriander, and ginger making a creamy rich sauce. For this reason, I always crave this meal when I need something a little decadent and comforting (but still healthy!).

This is a very “saucy” dish, so we serve it over white rice or some riced cauliflower, with some chopped fresh cilantro on top for color (and added health benefits).

Like our other curry family favorite, a stir fry called Pakistani Kima, and other recipes in my cookbook, this meal takes about 30 minutes to make and only dirties one pan (or in this case, the Instant Pot).

How to Make Butter Chicken (Or, Ode to the Instant Pot!)

Oh Instant Pot, let me count the ways I love you…

Ok, it’s too many to count!

If you were looking for a reason to justify springing for an Instant Pot, I’m here to help! I hate to choose favorites, but honestly my slow cooker isn’t getting much use these days, especially since the Instant Pot has a slow cooker option built right in.

Since the Instant Pot works as a pressure cooker, rice cooker, yogurt maker, and sauté pan as well, it takes me one step closer to simplifying my kitchen… always a worthy goal!

I also really notice a better texture and flavor when I cook with the Instant Pot, which isn’t always the case with a slow cooker. As to whether it’s a healthy way to cook, check out this podcast interview with Wardeh Harmon of Traditional Cooking School (she’s also an Instant Pot fan).

That being said, this recipe certainly works just as well in either a traditional slow cooker or in the Instant Pot, but of course with the slow cooker ingredients need to be prepped the night or morning before so it can simmer for at least 5 hours.

Without further ado, here’s how to make a savory, satisfying dairy-free butter chicken in just one pot:

Instant Pot Butter Chicken Recipe

Instant Pot Butter Chicken Recipe

This simple yet decadent butter chicken rivals the restaurant version and is ready in a snap in the Instant Pot! Or, prepare it ahead and let simmer in a slow cooker.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Calories 397kcal
Author Katie Wells


8 servings



  • Turn the Instant Pot on the Saute setting. 
  • Melt the butter/coconut oil in the Instant Pot and add the diced onion and minced garlic.
  • Cook, stirring constantly for 2 minutes.
  • Add the diced chicken and saute for another 5 minutes or until chicken is opaque on the outside. It does not need to be completely cooked as the pressure will finish the cooking. 
  • Turn off the Instant Pot. 
  • Add the curry powder, salt, garam masala, ground ginger, ground cumin, and ground coriander.
  • Stir to combine.
  • Add the tomato paste and coconut milk stir to combine. 
  • Put on the Instant Pot lid and turn to seal it.
  • Turn the knob to “sealing” and set the pressure manually to high for ten minutes. Let come to pressure, cook, and then let pressure release naturally. (This means waiting until the pressure releases on its own and not turning the vent to “venting” to manually release the pressure.)
  • Open the Instant Pot and stir in the greek yogurt.
  • Serve over rice or cauliflower and enjoy!


Nutrition Facts
Instant Pot Butter Chicken Recipe
Amount Per Serving (1 cup)
Calories 397 Calories from Fat 81
% Daily Value*
Fat 9g14%
Saturated Fat 3g19%
Cholesterol 115mg38%
Sodium 488mg21%
Carbohydrates 10g3%
Sugar 5g6%
Protein 66g132%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.


For slow cooker option, combine all ingredients except coconut milk and yogurt and cook on low for 5-6 hours. Mix in coconut milk and yogurt just before serving.
Delicious topped with fresh cilantro.

Like this recipe? Check out my new cookbook, or get all my recipes (over 500!) in a personalized weekly meal planner here!

Do you have a favorite recipe for butter chicken or other yummy Indian dishes? Have you tried making them in the Instant Pot? Please share!

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. WellnessMama.com is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


18 responses to “Butter Chicken Recipe (Slow Cooker or Instant Pot Option)”

  1. Sandy Fowler Avatar
    Sandy Fowler

    I had the same problem Jane and finally found a solution – pot in pot. I have a 3 quart instant pot so I used the inner pot from that. I sautéed the onions, garlic, and chicken as the recipe states but did it in the small inner pot using the duo instant pot base. After sautéing was complete, I removed the inner pot, placed the 6 quart inner pot in the base, set the trivet inside, poured in a cup of water, set the small inner pot inside and followed the rest of the recipe. It turned out great and there weren’t any burn notices.

  2. Karen Howell Avatar
    Karen Howell

    I made it in the crock pot and it was really good! My five year old and two year old ate it, too. Even though I left for the gym and forgot to tell my husband to add the coconut milk. 🙁 I can’t wait to make it again and see how it tastes with all the ingredients.

  3. Bree Anna Avatar
    Bree Anna

    5 stars
    I made this as the recipe states and it came out perfect! I did add peas, cauliflower rice, and chick peas but it didn’t change the flavor, just was a way to sneak extra vegetables for the kiddos ;)…who by the way are incredibly picky eaters, and they both ate it up without complaining. Total win!!

  4. Rebecca Avatar

    I subbed potatoes , carrots and chickpeas to make it vegan … it was very mushy and thick … suggestions ?

  5. Jane Avatar

    Mine went into burn mode as well- so disappointed. Not sure what to do from here…

  6. Lyndsey Avatar

    I’m confused. It says dairy free at the top. But butter and yogurt are dairy products in the recipe.

  7. Auraleah Avatar

    Tried the recipe twice and had to abort and do it on the stove. Went into burn mode. Any tips?

  8. Donna Avatar

    4 stars
    I made this tonight. The only difference was I only had boneless breast and I did not have cilantro. It was wonderful. Thank you for this recipe I wish I had some naan to soak up all the goodness!

  9. Arkay Avatar

    We recently replaced our old stovetop pressure cooker and one crockpot with an Instant Pot (we’re keeping the other crockpot). So far, everything we’ve cooked has come out beautiful and tasty.

    Just added this recipe to the “must try” list, although I’m starting with leftover turkey instead of raw chicken. The pressure time will be shorter, just to blend the ingredients, since the turkey is already cooked.

    1. Rita Avatar

      5 stars
      Oops, I read the recipe again and realized you cook the chicken in the pot before adding everything else. 🙂

  10. JP Avatar

    Do you ever make your own coconut milk for this recipe rather than using the can? If so, is there enough fat in it?

  11. Brooke Avatar

    Doesn’t the Greek yogurt make this NOT a dairy free recipe? I don’t tolerate casein well, so I don’t think I can eat Greek yogurt. I know I can’t eat regular yogurt. Have I missed something?

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar

      It’s dairy optional. You can omit the yogurt if you’re avoiding dairy. It will change the consistency but the flavors will still be there.

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