Is Butter Chicken Spicy? Why and how do you make it?

Ever had some delicious butter chicken? No? Well, it is easy to see the appeal. If you have heard good things from friends, you may want to try it yourself. We think you should, but first, you must know what to expect.

Is butter chicken spicy? What is it made of? Keep reading, and we’ll tell you all you need to know about making butter chicken and enjoying your meal.

Is butter chicken spicy?

Well, it’s somewhat spicy. But, of course, it depends on how spicy you like your meals. Butter chicken originates from Delhi, dating back to the 1950s. It has a savory, creamy flavor responsible for the widespread appeal.

It’s definitely very flavorful and lathered in tomatoes, butter, and cream sauce. I think it has just the right tang.

What Makes Butter Chicken Spicy?

The unique butter chicken taste secret is the yogurt marinade made with fresh ginger, garlic, lemon juice, and spices. Other herbs used to prepare butter chicken are turmeric, garam masala, chili powder, and cumin.

If you are particularly sensitive to cinnamon, the taste might be overwhelming, especially if there is a lot of cinnamon in your garam masala. Otherwise, there’s really nothing to worry about.

Read also: Is Enchilada Sauce Spicy And Bitter?

Does Butter Chicken Have Butter?

It certainly does! Butter is crucial in preparing butter chicken (obviously). Butter chicken is traditionally known as Murgh Makhani, an Indian dish that is a type of curry made from chicken with a spiced tomato and butter sauce.

What Does Butter Chicken Taste Like?

Like butter chicken and Tikka masala, some dishes look the same and can only be differentiated by taste. For example, butter chicken has a mildly sweet flavor resulting from the butter base and how strong the curry used in making it is.

Is Butter Chicken and Tikka Masala the Same?

No, butter chicken and tikka masala are not the same. Although these two meals are remarkably similar, butter chicken is a creamy blend of tomato sauce and spices, while tikka masala is a creamy tomato gravy and onion sauce. They look the same but differ in their taste and flavor.

How To Make Butter Chicken

If you’re looking to try making some butter chicken at home, here’s a recipe you can use.

First, you need to get

  • 400 grams of raw chicken,
  • 2 tablespoons of red chili powder,
  • 2 tablespoons ginger and garlic paste,
  • 2 tablespoons salt,
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice,
  • ½ tablespoon garam masala,
  • 2 tablespoons honey, etc. You can see all the ingredients you need here.

Now, onto the fun part. Here are the steps to make butter chicken.

Step 1: Heat a pan with butter and cinnamon, cloves, and cardamoms for a minute.

Step 2: When the pan is heated, pour the tomato cashew puree and add red chili powder, sugar, and salt. Then, add the oil, butter, and onions and cook onions down until lightly golden, about 3-4 minutes.

Step 3: Add ginger and garlic and let cook for 30 seconds, stirring, so it doesn’t burn. After 30 seconds, you can add the chicken, marinated for about an hour, tomato paste, and spices. Cook for 5-6 minutes or until everything is cooked through.

Step 4: When cooked, add any heavy cream and simmer for 8-10 minutes, occasionally stirring to prevent burning. After that, you have your butter chicken ready to eat.

It can be served with various foods, and we’ll tell you all about that later in the article.

Read also: Should You Brine A Butterball Turkey?

How to Thicken Butter Chicken Sauce

If your butter chicken sauce is too light, you have many thickening options you can explore without the sauce losing its flavor. Here are some of them:

Tomato paste

It’s mainly used for tomato-based sauces and is the most common method of thickening butter chicken sauce. You need to add the tomato paste while cooking to thicken the sauce.


This can be used as a cream substitute but is also used to thicken butter chicken sauce. Yogurt can be added to the sauce alone and can also be used with tomato puree depending on the chef’s preference.


Cornflour is my personal favorite for thickening sauces and soups. First, you need to add 1 tablespoon of cornflour to 2 or 3 tablespoons of water and stir. After that, pour the mixture into the butter chicken sauce and allow it to simmer until the sauce begins to thicken.

Simmer down

This method is very effective in reducing spiciness and thickening butter chicken sauce. Also, simmering your sauce on low heat helps prevent overcooking the sauce and losing nutrients.

What Goes Good with Butter Chicken?

As stated earlier, there’s a lot you can serve with butter chicken. Some of these dishes are:

  • Pulao or Basmati Rice
  • Broccoli or Cauliflower
  • Naan Bread
  • Saag
  • Aloo Gobi
  • Samosa
  • Kachumber Salad
  • Daal

Best Fenugreek Substitute in Butter Chicken

If you’re looking for the best substitute for fenugreek in butter chicken, here are some suggestions.

You can use a combination of mustard seed and maple syrup, masala curry powder, fennel seeds, curry powder, and celery seeds.

How to Reduce Spiciness in Indian Foods

Some Indian foods might be too much for people who don’t like spicy food or have health challenges like ulcers that don’t favor spicy foods.

You can reduce spiciness in Indian foods if you fall into those categories. Here’s how.

Adding More Vegetables

This is the easiest way to reduce spiciness in any food. Adding more vegetables, especially starchy vegetables such as sweet potatoes effectively lowers spiciness.

Adding Lemon, Lime, Or Vinegar

Squeezing Lemon, adding lime, or adding some salts can also reduce the spiciness.

Adding sugar or ketchup

Sometimes, adding a pinch of sugar can also help reduce spiciness in food. For example, ketchup is effective in tomato-based dishes like cape Malay and chicken curry.

Adding Yogurt or Soured cream

Yogurts or soured creams help reduce spiciness in some Indian foods. Also, you can add milk to the curry or chili-based dish if the spice is way too much.

By Luong Tan

Luong Tan, the creative and passionate founder of Bourbono, is a multi-talented individual with a deep love for the culinary arts. An accomplished food blogger, cookbook author, and former Ambassador of US cuisine in Vietnam (2015-2016), Luong has been on a mission to share his appreciation for food with the world.

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