This super easy, DELICIOUS New Zealand style butter chicken recipe takes just 20 minutes to make. It uses store cupboard staples – including a secret, very Kiwi ingredient you may be surprised to see!
There’s something SO comforting about a bowl of creamy, fragrant butter chicken. It’s New Zealand’s favourite takeaway dish for a reason!
I’m talking about a creamy, mild sauce stuffed with juicy chicken thigh pieces. It’s just so addictive and truly so easy to make.
I love serving this butter chicken with steamed white rice and garlic naan for a proper takeaway experience. Get everything ready for the curry while your rice is cooking, then cook the butter chicken once it’s ready – it only takes 10 minutes!
You’ll be able to find all the ingredients for this butter chicken really easily at a supermarket – and I bet you’ll already have that secret ingredient in your cupboard!
- Chicken thighs. I prefer chicken thighs here because they’re super juicy – but you could use chicken breast if you prefer. Use skin-on or skinless, it’s up to you!
- Cream. Use a single or double cream – or your favourite dairy-free alternative. I’ve made this with oat cream and it worked wonderfully, so any other dairy-free cream should work well too.
- Tomato paste. This is what gives the butter chicken that gorgeous bright colour and the tomatoey flavour. I love using Mutti tomato puree, but just go for what you can find.
- Tomato sauce. And here’s that secret ingredient! Every Kiwi household will have a bottle of this tomato sauce. It works here because it provides sweetness and acidity to the curry, all in one convenient bottle. I know it might sound strange, but I promise it works.
- The spices. We’re using a mix of ground nutmeg, garam masala, cumin and turmeric along with a little salt. All should be easy to find – but you could also use a curry powder if that’s what you have to hand.
How to make it
Start by chopping your chicken thighs into large chunks – I normally go for about 3cm pieces. Get them in a bowl and add the ground spices and salt. Give the spices a good toss through the chicken so the chunks are coated well.
PRO TIP: You can marinate the chicken in the spices for up to 24 hours in the fridge to intensify the flavour if you’d like.
Get a large pan with high sides over medium heat, then add your butter. Let it melt, then go in with your chicken thighs. Try to spread them out onto one layer so that they brown evenly. Cook for a few minutes (don’t touch them in this time – you want that lovely brown char from the pan). Flip, then cook for another couple of minutes until they’re nicely browned.
At this point, add your crushed garlic and stir it through the chicken. Then add your tomato paste and secret ingredient tomato sauce. Give them a stir through the chicken so that all the pieces are coated well.
Turn the heat down to low then pour in your cream. PRO TIP: Turn the heat down here to stop the cream from curdling when it hits the hot pan – this can happen when the cream has an abrupt temperature change. Don’t worry if it does split, it’ll still taste delicious.
Give the cream a mix through the chicken and bring the curry to a simmer. Simmer, stirring it for about 5 minutes, then you’re good to go.
Got a question?
You can – because this curry cooks quickly you shouldn’t suffer with dry chicken breasts (which can dry out when cooked for too long). I prefer chicken thighs here for the juicy flavour and they’re also cheaper, but breast will definitely work too.
Yes! I’ve made this using oat cream before and it was totally fine, so it should work with a dairy-free cream alternative.
You sure can. Like most curries, this butter chicken actually gets better with time. The flavours have more time to marry and really penetrate into the chicken. It will last 4 days in the fridge, stored in an airtight container. Just reheat it on the stovetop over low heat for a few minutes (you can add a tiny bit of water – start with 1 tablespoon – if it’s looking quite thick, but it will get runnier as it heats up) or pop it in the microwave at 1-minute intervals, stirring as you go.
The classic takeaway pairing is steamed white rice and naan – try my recipe for easy, soft, garlic flatbreads if you’d like to have a go at making it yourself! I also LOVE using leftovers in pies – you can follow my recipe for New Zealand style mince and cheese pies for instructions on cook-time etc.
Yes, you can – store it in an airtight container or zip-lock bag in the freezer for up to 3 months. You can easily defrost it on the stovetop or in the microwave when you’re ready.
Sure! I actually love this as a vegetarian curry with paneer or halloumi, or I like to mix it with roasted cauliflower and chickpeas.
In the UK? Shop this recipe on the Lollipop app
You can easily order all your ingredients through the all-in-one meal planning app, Lollipop. Just head to the app, add the ingredients you need to your basket, check out and then your ingredients will be delivered to your door by Sainsbury’s. Easy peasy!
Do you have my free Fakeaway Favourites e-book?
It’s filled with my absolute favourite takeaway dishes you can make at home!
From a quick pad thai and saag paneer, to Korean fried chicken, beef rendang and chicken satay, you’ll love exploring the book.
Like this recipe? Here are some more fakeaways you might enjoy!
If you make this butter chicken, let me know in the comments below! I’d love to hear how you get on.Print