Tikka Makhani (Butter chicken) – GF,NSF,CF,EF

What’s the difference between Chicken Tikka Masala and Tikka Makhani (Butter Chicken)?

Chicken thigh on tahdig with butter sauce
Butter Chicken Thigh over tahdig (bone-in)

When researching the recipe for this dish, I found that the recipes are often interchangeable. I dug deeper and found that masala is spicier and uses white meat and makhani includes butter and dark meat. Mmmm. Give me the dark meat any day!

Many recipes call for a full can of coconut milk or heavy cream. But some called for chicken stock. I decided to go lighter and use my chicken bone broth and just add a little nut milk at the end. If I had a leftover partial can of coconut milk, I could have also used that.

Butter Chicken Thighs over tahdig (deboned and chopped)
Butter Chicken Thighs over tahdig (deboned and chopped)

The key to making this (or any spicy) dish is balance. You have to taste and see if the spicy, sweet, salty, sour, savory tastes are all in balance. If any one flavor sticks out too much, you know you have to adjust to seasonings until all the elements harmonize together.

My Garam Masala Blend

  • 2 tsp each: coriander, cinnamon, garlic, ginger
  • 1/4 tsp each: cardamon, clove, cumin
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
Customize your own indian spice blend!
Customize your own indian spice blend!

The beauty of garam masala is that the spice blend is as unique as the person doing the cooking! You can make your own custom blend and keep it on hand. Some blend recipes I researched called for fennel seeds, turmeric and cayenne pepper. I didn’t have the two former spices on hand and I don’t like cayenne pepper. I referenced The Flavor Bible to find traditional indian flavorings.

If you decide to create your own garam masala, you might want to consider those spices as well.

4.8 from 5 reviews
Tikka Makhani (Butter chicken) - GF,NSF,CF,EF
Recipe type: main dish
Cuisine: Indian
Serves: 4
  • 4 chicken thighs, skinless & bone-in
  • 1.5 Tbsp garam masala
  • 2 tsps sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp ginger, minced
  • 2 Tbsps tomato paste
  • 1½ cups chicken stock or bone broth
  • 1 Tbsp coconut sugar
  • ½ cup nut milk or coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsps unsalted butter or coconut oil
  1. Rub half of the garam masala blend and the sea salt on the skinless chicken thighs. Refrigerate covered for one hour unto overnight.
  2. Bake the chicken for 30 minutes at 400°F.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a medium hot skillet. When the oil is warm add the onion, garlic, and ginger. Cook until soft (about 3-5 minutes), stirring frequently to keep the garlic from burning.
  4. Add the remaining half of the garam masala blend to the pan and stir the spices in the oil until fragrant.
  5. Add the tomato paste into the pan and stir until paste is lightly caramelized.
  6. Add chicken stock, nut milk, and chicken thighs. If at any point the mixture is boiling or bubbling turn the heat down to low.
  7. Cook until the chicken is heated through.
  8. Add butter at the last minute to finish the sauce. Taste the sauce to make seasoning adjustments. Add sugar, salt, and pepper as needed to balance the flavor.
  9. Serve over rice, quinoa, or noodles.
Cooking the thighs on the bone makes them more flavorful. You can cut the meat off the bone and rough chop before you add back to the sauce, if you like. You can also stretch the meat to make 6 portions this way.


Individual Tahdig Shells

Individual tahdig shell
Individual tahdig shell

For this presentation, I make individual brown rice tahdigs using small pie plates. I wanted them to be crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. Instead of cooking them on the stove as you do with the larger version, I baked them in the oven. Bake 10 minutes at 450°F. Rotate, then 20 minutes at 300°F.


  • Make the shell thicker than you think it should be as it will shrink in the oven.
  • Let them rest for 5-10 minutes. Then, remove from the pie plate carefully while still warm. Otherwise, they stick!

Savoring Saturdays Full Time Mama

I shared this recipe with Clever Chicks, Mix It Up, Munching Mondays, Block PartyInspiration Monday, Round TuitHappiness is HomemadeSew Darn CraftySaturday SparksSweet & SavorySimple LifeRecipe of the Week,  Serenity SaturdayShow Stopper, Simple Saturdays, ShowliciousDare to Share, Weekly ShowcaseCreative Collection, Welcome to the Weekend, Anything Goes, Fancy This, Flaunt It, Inspiration Spotlight, Real Food Friday, Old Fashioned Fridays, Savoring Saturdays, Weekend No Rules, Simple Meals, Natural Family, Favorite Things, Friday Foodie, Friday Finds, Foodtastic WeekendCreative Exchange, Handmade Hangout, Let’s Get Real, Feathered Nest, Craft Frenzy, Kitchen Fun & Crafty, BFF Open House, Gluten Free Fridays, Frugal Friday, Inspired Weekend, Friday Favorites, Foodie Friday-2, Foodie Friends, Foodie Friday-1Tutorial Thursday, Homeacre Hop, Inspire Us Thursday, Simple Lives Thursday, Down Home Hop, Pennywise PlatterFavorite Things, Wildly Original, No Rules Weekend, Full PlateFabulously Frugal, It’s A Party, Mountain Woman RendezvousWildcrafting Wednesday, Fresh Foods, Look What I Made, Wellness WednesdayWFMW, Wednesday Whatsits, Wonderfully Creative, Real Food Wednesday, Winded Down, Inspire Me Wednesday, Wicked Awesome, Yuck Stops HereAllergy Free WednesdayMelt in your MouthAnti-procrastination, Mouthwatering Monday, Caffeinated CraftersDelicious Dish, Tuesdays with a Twist, Too Cute, Southern Special, Wordless Wednesday, Tutorial Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday -1Hearth & Soul, Try a New Recipe, Healthy Tuesday, Tuesday’s Table,  Thank Goodness It’s MondayMotivation Monday, Much Ado About Monday, Sweet & Savory, Real Food RecipeSee Ya in Gumbo, Thoughtful Spot, Turn It Up, Mad Skills, In & Out of the Kitchen, Be Awesome, Simple Supper, Totally Talented, Meet Up Monday, You’re Gonna Love It, Simple Life, Gluten-free DIYHomestead Barn Hop, Inspire Me Tuesday, Inspire Me Monday, Homemade Monday, Mostly Homemade Monday, Handmade Tuesday, Natural Living, Good Tips, Fat TuesdayFood of the World, and What’d You Do This Weekend.
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35 Responses to Tikka Makhani (Butter chicken) – GF,NSF,CF,EF

  1. Carly says:

    I love Butter Chicken, I had it whilst out in India but have never found a recipe as yet to compare to the one I had out there.. bookmarking yours to try out! #turnituptuesday

  2. This looks amazing! Found you at Simple Supper Tuesdays. Thanks for sharing! I’ve pinned this & can’t wait to try it. :o)

  3. Shirley Wood says:

    I prefer the dark meat chicken as well. This dish sounds wonderful, especially with the coconut milk! Great combination of sweet, spicy, salty and savory. Thanks for sharing with us at The Yuck Stops Here. Pinning!

  4. Trina ONeil says:

    Hello, I found you from Sincerely Paula Wednesday Blog Party. Oh Man this is making my mouth water as I am reading it. I have printed it out and will be trying it this weekend. I will do a post about it as well. It is funny because my husband and I were just talking about trying new recipes. Thank you for sharing. Come check out my blog and follow back please.

  5. Mireille says:

    those shells are amazing

  6. Cathy says:

    This looks so good! Thanks so much for sharing this awesome recipe at Wine’d Down Wednesday!

  7. I am loving these recipes. Right up my alley. Yum. Thank you for linking on the Yuck Stops Here party. Also, in case you missed it I did my Leibster award!

  8. Joy says:

    I love Butter Chicken, but I’ve never tried making it. Definitely pinning this for later!

  9. Rachel G says:

    Indian food in general is amazing, but I’ve never had those tahdig shells and I’m intrigued now.

  10. This looks great, I love curry dishes. Thanks for linking up to Sweet and Savoury Sunday, stop by and link up again. Have a great day!!

  11. Those tahdig shells are awesome! I agree in making spicy recipes the key is taste, taste, taste. Thanks for sharing another great recipe (that I can’t wait to try) with Delicious Dish Tuesday.

  12. Anne says:

    The recipe looks good – I’m all about dark meat chicken.

    But – the tahdigs… I’ve never seen them before, and they look wonderful! I am definitely trying that. We eat a lot of rice, but sometimes I do want that crunch… Thanks for posting it!

  13. Michelle says:

    I’ve always wanted to make Butter Chicken, but never have. It looks really good and serving it over the Tahdig Shells makes it extra special. Those shells have my brain coming up with all sorts of appetizers!

    Thank you again for the Liebster award! I answered the questions here http://msenplace.blogspot.com/2014/08/whats-haps-wednesday-mardi-gras-being.html

  14. Ooo love the sound of the Tikka Makhani, especially the butter and dark meat bit! #recipeoftheweek

  15. Claire says:

    Whoo this looks so tasty, yummy I am so hungry now 🙂

    Thanks for sharing at Creative Mondays, pinned and featuring this week at the blog hop…

  16. Swathi says:

    Delicious butter chicken thanks for sharing with Hearth and Soul blog hop. PInning.

  17. My son loves butter chicken, but I have never made it. I am certainly bookmarking this page.

    I love the idea of the shell too, I can just see it piled high with spicy prawns

  18. The recipe I make is the Chicken Tikka Masala and we LOVE it, so I know I’ll love this one too! Can’t wait to try it!
    Thank you so much for sharing with us at Delicious Dish Tuesday! I’m featuring this as my favorite for this week’s DDT!! Feel free to come grab the “Featured Favorite” button from the post (will be posted later tonight), and bring another awesome recipe with you to share too! 😀

  19. Pingback: Delicious Dish Tuesday Recipe Link Up- Indian Cuisine

  20. Miz Helen says:

    I love Buttered Chicken and this looks awesome! Hope you have a great week and thanks so much for sharing your awesome recipe with Full Plate Thursday. Your post has been pinned with the party!
    Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen

  21. This looks so juicy and flavorful. I love the rice dish. Thanks for sharing at Simple Meals Friday!

  22. Lisa says:

    I have never tried Butter Chicken. It looks quite tasty. Thanks for linking up with “Try a New Recipe Tuesday.” I hope you will be able to join us again this week. http://our4kiddos.blogspot.com/2014/09/try-new-recipe-tuesday-92.html

  23. Looks delicious! Thanks for sharing at My Favorite Things party. Co host Theresa @DearCreatives

  24. Danielle says:

    This looks amazing! Thank you so much for stopping by Savoring Saturdays and sharing it with us. Yum! P.S. I love the dark meat too! <3

  25. Looks delicious and have shared in my G+ community 🙂 https://plus.google.com/communities/111324688434162919670?hl=en for #freefromfavourites

  26. Rachel Hirst says:

    What a Delicious looking Dish! I think I will have a try at making this over the next week or so! Thank you for sharing great recipe!

  27. Raia says:

    I LOVE Indian food! This sounds amazing and I am going to have to try it. 😉 Thanks for sharing it at Savoring Saturdays, Jillian! I’m going to feature it at this weekend’s party. Hope to see you back again! 🙂

  28. Pingback: Savoring Saturdays #30 - Raias Recipes

  29. Thanks for linking up at our Gluten Free Fridays party! I have tweeted and pinned your entry to our Gluten Free Fridays board on Pinterest! 🙂 I can’t wait to see what you share this week! Its LIVE!


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