Whole30 Instant Pot Butter Chicken

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This rich and flavorful butter chicken is made in the Instant Pot for a quick meal that tastes like its been cooking all day. You will love the tender chicken and creamy sauce over cauliflower rice for a delicious Whole30 and Low Carb meal!

*Originally posted April 2019

This dish is super easy to put together, which is why I love it for a quick weeknight meal. It is so flavorful and the whole family loves it. It is not spicy so my kids can enjoy it without any issues.

Let’s Make Butter Chicken!

I gather all my spices first when I am making this recipe. I just measure them out and put them in a little bowl so I can dump them in the Instant Pot.

Then I use super sharp kitchen shears to cut my chicken thighs into cubes. This is the easiest way to do it, but you can also use a sharp knife. After that, everything gets tossed into the IP to cook! It is super simple but is truly loaded with so much flavor!

Once the chicken is done cooking in the IP, you can leave it as is or thicken up the sauce a little bit. I prefer to thicken the sauce. I do this by adding a little tapioca starch slurry into the Instant Pot with the chicken and turn it to sauté mode. This will bring it to a slight boil and the sauce will thicken quickly.

How to Serve This Dish:

To keep this butter chicken Whole30, I serve it over cauliflower rice to soak up that beautiful, rich sauce. When we are not doing a round, we love to eat this with my Instant Pot Cilantro Lime Rice. You can also buy some decent naan from the grocery store these days which is extra yummy alongside this dish.

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Photography by Loren Runion of SweetRusticBakes.com

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Whole30 Instant Pot Butter Chicken

This rich and flavorful butter chicken is made in the Instant Pot for a quick meal that tastes like its been cooking all day.
4.90 from 87 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 6 servings
Calories 553 kcal


Seasoning Mixture

  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 2 Tbls Garam Masala
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • 1 Tbls Chili Powder
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick
  • 1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper optional

Butter Chicken

  • 2 lbs Chicken Thighs boneless; skinless cubed
  • 1 can Coconut Milk full fat
  • 14.5 oz. Can of Tomato Sauce
  • 2 Tbls Ghee
  • 2 Tbls Lemon Juice
  • 3 cloves Garlic minced
  • 1 Tbls Fresh Ginger grated
  • 1 Tbls Tapioca Starch optional to thicken**
  • 2 Tbls Fresh Cilantro chopped


  • Mix all the spices together in a small bowl
    Use kitchen shears to cut chicken into cubes
    Place all the ingredients (except the cilantro and tapioca starch) in the Instant Pot and use manual mode
    Hit 'Pressure Cook' button (high pressure) and set the time to 15 minutes. Seal the lid and close the steam valve
  • Once the timer goes off, carefully release the steam and remove the lid. Remove the cinnamon stick and discard
  • To thicken the mixture, combine 1 Tbls of Tapioca starch with 1 Tbls water and whisk. Pour that into the Instant Pot with the cooked chicken and turn to saute mode. This will bring the mixture to a slight boil and will thicken the sauce
    Once thickened, turn IP off and serve with cauliflower rice. Top with fresh cilantro


Calories: 553kcalCarbohydrates: 9gProtein: 28gFat: 45gSaturated Fat: 22gCholesterol: 161mgSodium: 915mgPotassium: 762mgFiber: 4gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 1509IUVitamin C: 9mgCalcium: 56mgIron: 5mg
Keyword dairy free, instant pot, low carb, paleo, whole30
Tried this recipe?Mention @thebetteredblondie


  1. 5 stars
    This has been on our list of favorite recipes for a couple of years now. I make it at least once every couple weeks! I’ve never had authentic Indian butter chicken before, so I can’t speak to how similar it is. But that doesn’t matter to me, it’s absolutely delicious. The only change is that I add the juice of an entire lemon, not just 2 Tbls, and that makes it even better in my opinion. We serve it with basmati rice (I always make 1.5 cups cooked basmati, that seems to be the perfect amount for us.) And I always use my favorite Garam Masala seasoning which is the Rani brand – can be found on Amazon. Highly recommend this recipe!

  2. 3 stars
    Made this tonight and I can say woth certainty this doesnt taste like butter chicken at all. Its still delicious but a bit too much tomato and cinnamon. I think I would use actual heavy cream next time to tone down those flavors.

  3. 5 stars
    My hubby and I loved this. This was the first time I had made red curry and it was a hit! Next time we will add potatoes and carrots.

  4. 5 stars
    This dish is the bomb! It is so delicious and easy 🙂 We’re not currently doing Whole30 so changed to regular rice and used corn starch instead of tapioca (and…um had some homemade naan bread). Other than that, I didn’t change a thing! It makes a load of sauce which some recipes fail to do…and we love lots of sauce! My husband and I have eaten 2 meals from this and there were still leftovers. This is a keeper for sure. Thank you! I will check out some of your recipes 🙂

  5. Thank you for this recipe! You state that this serves 6, but I wanted to know how much a serving size is. Thanks in advance!

  6. 5 stars
    I may have already left a review, but just some updates. We make this on the stove top and use chicken breasts, and add green pepper and onion strips after going to our local indian restaurant and seeing they add pepper and onion to theirs. I mix the spices together and coat and cook the chicken first with about 1/3-1/2 the spice. Once I add the coconut milk, sauce etc then i add the rest of the spice to it. We buy naan bread and coat with melted butter (or ghee) and add some garlic and put it in the oven for 5 minutes. Perfect for dipping in the sauce. We started doing this after going to an indian restaurant also. This has been in our rotation for about a year and it is amazing. It’s so easy to have all the ingredients on hand and is usually our go to for a fast make meal, we use basmati rice for shorter cooking rice. Every time it hits the spot.

  7. 5 stars
    Delicious! I added chopped onions when cooking and some frozen peas at the end to give a bit more vegies to the dish. VERY yummy!

  8. 5 stars
    This was such an easy meal to put together and it came out SO good! I served it with white rice and it was perfect. My daughter (almost 2 years old) loved it too— she ate her own bowl of it and then started stealing mine too lol will definitely keep this in our meal rotation!

  9. Ok I have an 8 or 10 quart crockpot no pressure cooker. What would you suggest how to cook? Also, what can be sub for tapioca? Looks delicious but confused I have about a pound and half of chicken. I dont want to overflow crockpot? Plz help Thanks

  10. 5 stars
    We love this recipe SO much. We have it once every couple weeks, at least. So delicious. So quick and easy. The leftovers taste even better the next day. Highly recommend!!

  11. 5 stars
    So good. We use chicken breasts cut up into cubes and also make it non whole 30 by using basmati rice with some spices. But this has become a recipe in our normal rotation.

  12. 5 stars
    Fantastic recipe. Super easy and very delicious. I did on crock pot (no instapot). 4 hours on low- perfect. I added fresh baby spinach last hour. Repeater for sure! Thank you!!

  13. 5 stars
    This recipe is easy and so delicious! My whole family enjoyed. I made it in a crock pot, and it was so flavorful and blew me away! 10/10 recommend 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 I served it with coconut cauliflower rice but regular rice would work well! Try it now ❤️❤️

  14. 5 stars
    I made this last night for my family and it is amazing! I’m hoping to make it again and send some over to my sister’s house but her daughter is allergic to coconut milk. Any idea what the best replacement would be? Thanks!

    1. Hi Alana! I’m so glad you enjoyed the recipe! You can replace the coconut milk with heavy cream but stir it in after it is done cooking in the Instant Pot so it doesn’t curdle.

  15. Hi! I can’t wait to try out this recipe – it sounds delicious! Do you know how long this would last in the fridge? Thank you!

  16. 5 stars
    Very good and easy! I added broccoli, bell peppers, onion and a sweet potato. I did have to add about a half cup of vegetable broth because I go a burn message on my IP. Easy fix. It was very good. It makes a lot of sauce.

  17. The flavors of this are great, but every time I try to make butter chicken in the instant pot I get the dreaded burn notice. So frustrating! I’m done trying to figure out how to fix it. I have an 8 qt pot which is probably part of the issue. I will just make it on the stove top from now on.

  18. 5 stars
    This is SOOOOOO good! My husband is not a fan of Indian food, but really likes this. It’s so quick and easy in the Instant Pot. Thank you!

  19. Hi! Struggling to find canned tomato sauce that is Whole30 approved (without added sugar). Any suggestions?

    1. Hi Nicole, I have found Hunt’s, Muir Glen, and Contadina all have no added sugar. Are you perhaps looking at marinara instead? The tomato sauce is just pureed tomatoes usually with a few seasonings. I hope that helps!

  20. 5 stars
    This was delicious and sooooo easy! I already had most of the the things on hand. I swapped garam masala for regular curry powder and a cinnamon stick for just a hefty sprinkle of cinnamon, and it still tasted delicious and like the real deal. This will be a new regular. Thank you!!

  21. 5 stars
    Delicious! I didn’t feel like cutting the chicken up, so it ended up taking 30 mins instead of 15. My husband said we should definitely add this to our rotation, so it was a hit!

  22. 5 stars
    A family favorite. It was restaurant quality taste with drive through convenience (lol). Added to our meal rotation!!

  23. It might be a good idea to update step one to read ‘“add all ingredients except cilantro and tapioca starch, if using” I goofed and didn’t read ahead to the step that would tell me I’d need to wait to add the starch!

  24. Does it include the chicken when it says “Place all the ingredients (except the cilantro) in the Instant Pot”? Because after it says to add the chicken in the IP… So I guess the chicken is not cooked in the 15 minutes of high pressure right? Thank you for this recipes and for the reply!

    1. 5 stars
      Hi Jean, the chicken does get added in with the remaining ingredients and does cook in the 15 minutes time. The step later is referring to how to thicken the chicken and sauce – there is no other step to add in the chicken. Hope that helps.

  25. I only have 1 lb of chicken breasts. Will this work if I half the ingredients and use the breasts. Cooking the same way and same amount of time? Thanks!!

  26. 5 stars
    Hi – quick question, when do I thicken the sauce – before or after the instant pot cooking?

  27. 5 stars
    This was AMAZING! My husband said it was one of the best meals he’s ever eaten ?? Thank you for the great recipe!

    1. According to Google one 3 inch stick of cinnamon is equal to 1/2 a teaspoon of ground cinnamon. I don’t see why you couldn’t substitute it.

  28. What would the time change be if I used chicken breast? (I know thigh meat is tastier but the family just won’t eat it.) This looks delicious and I’m looking forward to trying it soon!

    1. 5 stars
      The first time I made this I used chicken breasts instead of thighs. I didn’t change anything else about the recipe, and it came out fine. I think because you’re starting with cubed raw chicken, it doesn’t matter whether it’s dark or white meat.

  29. 5 stars
    This was amazing! My kids even ate it (and they are picky!) literally just throw all the ingredients in the instant pot. Will be in our weekly rotation. Thanks for the recipe!

  30. 5 stars
    Love love love this recipe! It’s our new family favorite. My 7, 4 and 8 month old all can’t get enough!! I double the amount of chicken so the sauce is so good and there is plenty. I also top with parsley since we aren’t cilantro lovers. The spice is perfect for kids! I do about half the amount of cayenne and chili powder to make it kid friendly. Thanks foe this amazing addition to our weekly meal plan!

  31. Hi there! Looking to make this tonight, but I just need clarification on the pressure level. Cook on high or low pressure? Thank you in advance!

        1. Hi Britney, I have not tried this, but I would think that it would be a fine replacement. Please let me know if you try it and how it turns out!

          1. 5 stars
            Dairy allergic, made “Earth Balance” Chicken instead and turned out heavenly! Put a fresh squeeze of lime juice on the top cause why not?!

            Great tasty and easy recipe!

  32. Hi there! This looks super yummy- I’m new to IP and confused about the cubed chicken part – does that mean I need to cook and cube the chicken separately first? Or can I put the full chicken thighs in the Instant Pot? Thanks for your help!

    1. 5 stars
      I have not done this before, but I would think you need need to add some more time. I can’t give specifics because I haven’t tested it, but please let me know if you try it!

    2. I double almost every recipe. I usually just double all the ingredients (unless the water is only used for steam) Never had a problem. I keep the same time. Pressure cookers are funny, usually its the exact same times, occasionally its a few minutes more or even less. This is due to the time is only for cooking, it doesn’t take into account the time it takes to come to pressure, which will change up and down to the amount and type of ingredients.

  33. 5 stars
    This dish was amazing!!! And so easy to make! My husband and I enjoyed it very much! Thanks for sharing! Cannot wait to try more of your recipes!

  34. I loaded mine up with potatoes, onions and cauliflower florets. Didnt have any ghee and omitted the salt, still came out delicious! On a low sodium diet due to an autoimmune disorder that affects my liver and having such a difficult time finding delicious recipes, definitely adding this to the mix!!!

    1. 5 stars
      Thank you so much for sharing Kalena! I am always a fan of loading up on more veggies! I am sorry that you are dealing with an autoimmune disorder, we understand having to make serious dietary changes and it can be difficult. It makes me so happy that you enjoyed this recipe.

  35. How could I do this in a slow cooker, if at all? I haven’t taken the plunge to get an IP yet!

    1. 5 stars
      I haven’t tested it in the slow cooker, so I can’t give exact instructions. But I would follow the same instructions and then try 2 hours on high. Then check the tenderness of the chicken. Let me know if you try it and how it turns out. Hope that helps!

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