This Quick and Easy Butter Chicken is great for busy weeknight meals because it uses rotisserie chicken (or leftover chicken). Your family will love it!
Butter chicken is one of those dishes that everyone seems to love. My kids like it because it's full of flavor, but not too spicy. Whenever my family goes for Indian food, this is the first dish they reach for (after the naan bread).
Unfortunately, butter chicken can be high in saturated fat, from large amounts of butter (or ghee) and cream added to the dish. This Quick and Easy Butter Chicken may not be prepared in a traditional way, but the amount of fat (and calories) it contains is much lower, and it is much quicker to prepare. Plus it still tastes delicious and is easy to make on a busy weeknight.
How to make Quick and Easy Butter Chicken:
To make this butter chicken so quick and easy to prepare, it starts with pre-cooked chicken. I love to use store-bought rotisserie chicken because it's the ultimate in fast, already seasoned and usually very affordable ($5 at Costco for a 3lb chicken - how can you go wrong??).
You can buy one, put it in the fridge, and shred it with your fingers (or a fork) once it's cooled down. And if you don't think you're going to use it right away, just put the shredded meat into a freezer bag for later. If you don't have a rotisserie chicken, just cook up some chicken breasts or thighs and use that in your butter chicken. Bonus if it's from planned leftovers.
While this dish is fast and healthier, it's certainly not lacking in flavor, which it gets from onion, garlic, ginger, chili powder, turmeric, and cinnamon. The chopped onions and diced tomatoes are left whole which makes for a chunkier sauce than what I usually encounter in Indian food restaurants. I like chunky, but if you don't, you could always puree the sauce before adding the chicken.
If you're going to serve your butter chicken with rice or quinoa, make sure you get it cooking it before you start cooking the butter chicken, because the dish comes together so quickly, it might be done before the rice. Otherwise, it's great with naan bread (you can buy it in most well-stocked stores) or even tortillas or pitas. Serve with salad or your favorite cooked veggies for a complete meal.
Quick and Easy Butter Chicken Ingredients:
- Rotisserie chicken: or use 1 pound cooked chicken (use leftover chicken for maximum convenience)
- Unsalted butter
- Ginger: pro-tip - always keep a couple of knobs of ginger frozen in a small freezer bag so you always have it. You can grate it right from frozen (a microplane is the perfect tool for this)
- Chili powder
- Ground turmeric
- Ground cinnamon
- Tomato paste: pro-tip - either buy tomato paste in a tube (though it's usually more expensive this way) or freeze leftover tomato paste into cubes using a silicone ice cube tray.
- Canned diced tomatoes
- Brown sugar
- Fresh ground pepper
- Evaporated milk
- Plain Greek yogurt
- Minced fresh cilantro
Want more recipes that use rotisserie chicken?
Quick and Easy Butter Chicken Nutrition Notes:
Butter Chicken is often high in saturated fat (and calories) from large amounts of ghee (clarified butter) and cream. Because this dish uses only a small amount of butter, and swaps cream for evaporated milk and Greek yogurt, it saves you a lot of saturated fat.
The nutrition information in the recipe below is for the butter chicken only, and doesn't account for rice or whatever you decide to serve with it.
This recipe is gluten-free as written. Serve with a gluten-free grain like rice or quinoa to make it a complete gluten-free meal.
Quick and Easy, Healthier Butter Chicken
- 1 rotisserie chicken or 1 pound cooked chicken
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 Tablespoon grated ginger
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
- 14 ounce can diced tomatoes undrained
- 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt see note
- ¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- ⅓ cup evaporated milk
- ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1 Tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
- Remove all the meat from the rotisserie chicken and shred it into bite-sized pieces. Discard skin and bones. Set meat aside. If using cooked chicken, shred it into bite-sized pieces and set aside. Measure out 1 pound of the meat to be used in the recipe. Save the rest for another use.
- Melt 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and cook until soft, about 8 minutes. Add the minced garlic, 1 Tablespoon grated ginger, 1 teaspoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon ground turmeric, ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 2 Tablespoons tomato paste and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Stir in the can of diced tomatoes with their juice, 1 Tablespoon brown sugar ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper. Bring to a simmer, cover and continue to simmer for 8-10 minutes, until slightly thickened. Stir in ⅓ cup evaporated milk, ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt, and shredded chicken. Simmer for 5 more minutes until chicken is heated through.
- Remove from heat and stir in 1 Tablespoon minced fresh cilantro. Serve with white or brown rice, quinoa, or naan bread.