Instant Pot Indian Butter Chicken

Mar 3, 2021 | Healthy Living, Recipes

This spiced, creamy recipe from Cristina Curp appears in the Whole30 Slow Cooker Cookbook. I’ve always loved Indian butter chicken, and to make this healthy version at home with organic chicken feels luxurious and totally satisfying. The chicken comes out meltingly tender, the spices are warming and rich, and the sauce is delicious on all variety of vegetables. To stick to a paleo plan, serve this over cauliflower rice. We love it with traditional basmati rice and sautéed spinach or steamed broccoli.

The Instant Pot gives you slow-cooked-style comfort food in a matter of minutes; a brilliant addition to any kitchen. Apparently you can also sauté things in the Instant Pot, but I prefer to use a good old pan on the stove. It has a much larger surface for browning the chicken evenly—and just seems a whole lot easier. But if you want to try sautéing this much chicken and onions in that narrow Instant Pot insert, by all means, give it a go. The original recipe calls for boneless, skinless chicken thighs, but I prefer to use boneless breasts and slice them into halves or thirds. This recipe is so delicious we’ve cooked it almost once a week since we first tried it. It’s a nourishing wintertime delight.


3 tablespoons ghee (or more, as needed)
1 large sweet onion, diced
1 piece (2 inches) of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
2.5 to 3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon garam masala (or substitute curry powder in a pinch)
1.5 tablespoons ground turmeric
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1.5 teaspoons black pepper
Juice of one lemon
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
1 cinnamon stick
1 can (13.5 oz) coconut milk
1 tablespoon grass-fed beef gelatin*
Handful of chopped fresh cilantro

*Beef gelatin thickens the sauce and is good for your gut. I use this brand.


  1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the ghee. When it’s hot, add the onion, ginger, garlic and bay leaves. Sauté until the onion softens, 5 to 6 minutes. Meanwhile, slice the chicken breasts lengthwise into halves or thirds. In a small bowl, mix together the garam masala, turmeric, cumin, sea salt, and pepper.
  2. Add the chicken and mixed spices to the pan: sprinkle about half the spice mixture onto the chicken pieces, then flip the chicken once and add the rest of the spices. Add more ghee if needed to keep the chicken from sticking. Sauté, turning occasionally, until lightly browned, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the lemon juice, vinegar, and cinnamon stick. Stir, scraping up any browned bits from the pan. Stir in the coconut milk, bring to a simmer, then turn off the heat. Add the beef gelatin and stir until dissolved.
  4. Transfer everything from the pan to a 6-quart Instant Pot. Select Manual and cook on high pressure for 20 minutes. Use quick release.
  5. Select Sauté and adjust to low. Let it simmer for a few minutes with the lid off to reduce and thicken the sauce.
  6. Serve over rice or cauliflower rice and top with the cilantro.



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