An easy keto recipe for butter chicken, a wonderful Northern Indian dish of intense, complex flavors. I love serving this saucy dish on a bed of cauliflower rice!
I adore Indian cuisine. Going to an Indian restaurant for a buffet lunch is always such a treat for me. The flavors, the spices, the presentation - I'm always amazed at how very flavorful food can be. In recent years, I've been teaching myself to make many of my favorite Indian-style dishes at home.
This easy butter chicken recipe is one of my favorite keto meals. I'm not normally a big fan of chicken, preferring beef or lamb, but this recipe is simply amazing. Like most Indian recipes, it's incredibly flavorful, and in this particular case, it's also wonderfully creamy.
The list of ingredients for making this recipe isn't particularly short - I usually aim for much shorter in my recipes. But that's the thing with Indian cuisine - all these amazing flavors need to come from somewhere. And that "somewhere" is lots of spices and aromatics.
However, don't let that deter you. It takes just a few minutes to assemble everything. And once that's done, the cooking itself is a matter of minutes
The exact measurements are included in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of the ingredients needed to make keto butter chicken:
Heavy cream: Full-fat Greek yogurt can also work to cream the dish up. But heavy cream is better, and then you also have less of a risk of it curdling.
Tomato paste: Not a particularly low-carb ingredient, but used sparingly here. This recipe requires just 2 tablespoons of tomato paste. To avoid waste, you could either use the remaining tomato paste in another recipe (such as this ground beef meat pie) or divide it into small plastic containers and freeze for later use. An ice cube tray with a lid works well for this.
To season: Kosher salt, garam masala, curry powder, paprika, and crushed red peppers. All of these can be found in most supermarkets. If you're unable to find garam masala, you can order it online.
Butter: I love using creamy European butter, but any butter will be great.
Aromatics: Onion, garlic, and ginger. I'm lazy, so I often chop onions in the food processor and use jarred minced garlic and ginger.
Chicken breasts: I use boneless skinless chicken breasts. Boneless skinless chicken thighs would be great too and would be even juicier and more flavorful.
Diced tomatoes: Leave them undrained. It's best to use petite-diced tomatoes. If using regular diced tomatoes, give them an extra chop before using. And if you can find Pomi Chopped Tomatoes, those are amazing.
Parsley: Used mostly for garnish, so it's OK to skip it. Cilantro works too and is more flavorful (though some people can't stand it!).
How to make keto butter chicken? It's easy! The detailed instructions are listed in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of the steps:
You start by mixing together spices, tomato paste, and some water, to create a thick paste.
Next, you cook onion, garlic, and ginger in some butter. Add the seasoning paste too. Then you add the chicken cubes and sauté them.
Now add the diced tomatoes and keep cooking until the chicken is cooked through.
The final step is to lower the heat and stir in the heavy cream. This creates a beautifully silky sauce. That's it! Garnish with parsley and serve.
This flavorful, saucy dish is traditionally served on rice, which serves well to absorb the tasty sauce. For those following the keto diet, cauliflower rice makes a very good substitute. In addition, I often serve this dish with a side of a green vegetable, such as microwave broccoli.
Leftovers keep fairly well for 3-4 days in the fridge, in a sealed container, though they're not as good as fresh. To avoid drying the chicken, reheat the leftovers gently, covered, in the microwave on 50% power.
Frequently asked questions
It's an Indian curry dish of chicken cooked in a well-seasoned sauce of tomatoes, butter, and cream.
They're very similar. The difference is that butter chicken is creamier, while tikka masala is dryer and its flavor profile focuses more on the tomatoes.
Garam masala is a blend of ground spices used in Indian cuisine. It typically contains cinnamon, mace, peppercorns, coriander, cumin, and cardamon. The name garam masala means hot or warm spice, but the spice blend is actually quite mild and focuses on aromatic rather than on hot spices.
As written here, a serving of this recipe has about 12 grams of carbs and 3 grams of fiber. You could lower this to 8 grams (and 2 grams fiber) by using a teaspoon of onion powder instead of chopped onions (mix it with the other spices) and omitting the tomato paste (add more water instead). It won't be as good, though!
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Creamy Keto Butter Chicken
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 small onion chopped (3 oz)
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger root
- 1 ½ lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes undrained (petite-diced is best, or give them an extra chop)
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley for garnish
- In a small bowl, use a small spatula or a fork to mix together the tomato paste, water, kosher salt, garam masala, curry powder, paprika and crushed red peppers, to create a thick paste. Set aside.
- Measure out the cream and remove it from the fridge, to bring it to room temperature.
- Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat, about 2 minutes. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, about 4 minutes, until soft.
- Add the garlic, ginger and seasoning paste and cook 1 more minute, stirring.
- Add the chicken cubes. Stir well to coat. Sauté the chicken on all sides for 2 minutes.
- Add the diced tomatoes. Keep cooking over medium-high heat, stirring, 3-5 more minutes, until chicken is cooked through.
- Lower the heat to low and stir in the heavy cream to create a silky, creamy sauce. Serve immediately, garnished with parsley.