This Whole30 Indian butter chicken is super flavorful and comes together quite quickly and easily. One of my favorite Whole30 Indian recipes, this Whole30 Indian butter chicken is a family favorite that even my toddler will eat! Whole30 Indian recipes are a great way to break up the Whole30 heaviness, and you’ll love this Whole30 Indian butter chicken for sure.
My Indian butter chicken recipe has always been a family fave. In fact, I made it for my father in law the first time I ever cooked for him. I stressed over the right recipe to make, rolled out naan from scratch, dashed to the Indian market days before the day, picking up tiny jars of asafoetida and fenugreek leaves and coriander chutney.
If you don’t know, my husband is half Pakistani, his dad born and raised abroad. I wouldn’t quite consider him a foodie; he’s been focused on his work as a research doctor for way too long to care, I think. But I knew I had to make the dinner feel somewhat authentic – as authentic as I could get it at that early stage in our relationship.
I’ve always been drawn to Indian cooking; I’ll always remember that time I was studying for an exam in college and decided to make homemade samosas instead. I didn’t have a rolling pin then, so I stretched the dough out with a can of tomatoes on its side, dipped the misshapen triangles stuffed with potatoes in peas in oil, started a grease fire, freaked out, and still somehow managed to get an A on the exam. It was one of the times that catapulted my obsession with cooking further than the day-to-day cooking borne out of necessity.
No, it was: I’m making art and I can freaking eat it.
So when my father in law came over for dinner for the first time, I knew I had to impress. My Indian butter chicken recipe is easy and flavorful but not heavy, and my perfect naan recipe is, well… perfect.
The meal started a little awkwardly, him wondering, I think, why in the world we wanted him to eat at our house, and ended with him asking for seconds, leaning back in the chair with his hands on his belly, laughing and lingering. Success.
So I knew I had to create a Whole30 Indian butter chicken version of my beloved dish! It’s quite easy as Indian goes, comes together quickly, and is full of flavor. You don’t miss too much from the original recipe, and the addition of coconut cream makes it so rich and so creamy.
We serve this over plenty of cauliflower rice, and it’d be delicious with a quick dairy-free raita on the side, subbing almond or coconut yogurt for regular yogurt. Or serve it with this Indian sautéed spinach! I’ve made this recipe several times and love it.
To make this Whole30 Indian butter chicken, I used…
Whole30 Indian Butter Chicken
- 6 tablespoons ghee divided
- 2 pounds chicken thigh filets cut into bite-sized pieces
- 2 teaspoons garam masala
- 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 6 cardamom pods bruised with the flat side of a knife
- 15 ounce can tomato sauce
- 1 tablespoon coconut aminos
- 1 cup coconut cream only the solid white part
- 1 1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice plus more to taste
- plenty of salt to taste
- fresh cilantro chopped, for garnish
- cooked cauliflower rice to serve
- Heat a wok or large skillet until very hot. Add 1 tablespoon ghee and swirl to coat. Add half the chicken and stir fry for 4 minutes, or until lightly browned on all sides and no longer opaque. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add remaining tablespoon ghee and stir fry the remaining half of chicken until browned. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Pour out used ghee.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add 1/4 cup ghee to skillet and melt. Add garam masala, sweet paprika, coriander, ginger, chili powder, cinnamon stick, and cardamom pods and stir fry for 1 minute or until fragrant. Return the chicken to the skillet and mix to coat in the spices.
- Add the tomato sauce and coconut aminos and simmer, stirring, for 15 minutes, or until the chicken is tender and the sauce has thickened.
- Add the coconut cream and lemon juice and simmer for 5-10 minutes or until the sauce has thickened slightly. Add plenty of salt to taste; using enough will cut the heavy spice flavor and round out the entire dish. Serve over cooked cauliflower rice with chopped fresh cilantro.
Cheryl Malik is the recipe developer, writer, and photographer behind the healthy, flavorful, family friendly recipes at 40 Aprons. She’s been a blogger for 10+ years and is known for her delicious recipes and detailed recipe instructions. Cheryl is a mom of three who lives in Memphis, TN.