Low Carb Keto Indian Butter Chicken is every bit as rich and creamy as the original recipe; we lowered the carbs with a few easy modifications to the original recipe, so you can fit this delicious meal into a low-carb lifestyle.
Hands-down, this is our favorite Indian dish! Chicken Makhani is full of flavor with velvety, rich texture and it’s easy to control the heat level because even though it contains a lot of spices, it doesn’t need to have a lot of heat to be packed with flavor. And it comes together in just over half an hour, making it a weeknight-friendly dinner.
What Goes Into Keto Indian Butter Chicken (Aka, Chicken Makhani or Murgh Makhani)
Marinated, cooked chicken (typically cooked in a tandoor (a traditional clay oven) is combined with a spiced tomato-based sauce that’s thickened with cream and rich with butter.
The Method: Making Keto Indian Butter Chicken (It’s easier than you might think!)
You’ll be surprised at how easy Chicken Makhani is to make! Just be sure to plan ahead because the chicken is best marinated for a couple days before cooking.
Chicken is marinated in a mixture of yogurt, lemon juice, and spices for up to two days, and is then grilled or cooked in a hot oven.
Onion, garlic, and ginger are cooked in oil or butter and spiced with garam masala, cumin, coriander, and turmeric, and laced with cinnamon. Tomatoes in some form are added (here we just use tomato paste). The sauce is then cooked for a bit so the flavors can marry, blended in a blender until it’s rich and smooth, and finished with heavy cream.
Making This Recipe Keto-Friendly
Butter Chicken is an easy recipe to make keto-friendly because it’s traditionally rich in healthy fats (helloooo, grass-fed ghee and heavy whipping cream) and fairly low in carbs to begin with. Here are the modifications we made:
- We omitted all added sugar and instead caramelized the onion for natural sweetness
- We skipped the golden raisins
- We reduced the amount of tomato
- We used a combo of sour cream + lemon juice (instead of yogurt) to marinate the chicken
Can I Make Indian Butter Chicken in an Instant Pot?
Our recipe cooks up in just 35 minutes, so this is one of those rare occasions when we don’t find an electric pressure cooker to be needed. Plus, we like to cook the chicken separately (preferably on a grill for a bit of smoky flavor, but in a hot oven will also work fine), because we find it has the best flavor and texture that way (you just won’t get the same deliciously tender, flavorful result with a pressure cooker).
What to Serve with This to Keep it Keto
- Riced cauliflower is our top choice (pro tip: add a little turmeric for “yellow rice”)
- Roasted veggies, like broccoli, cauliflower, or zucchini; add a bit of garam masala spice mix to amp up the flavor
- Keto Wrap-Style Soft Tortilla Flatbread from The Keto Queens
- Keto Naan Bread with Melted Garlic Butter from Diet Doctor
- 1 tablespoon garam masala spice mix
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon coriander
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon fenugreek
- 1 lb (450 g) boneless, skinless chicken breast
- 2 teaspoons Spice Mix (from recipe above)
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 2 large cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons sour cream
- 4 tablespoons grass-fed clarified butter (ghee)
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 3 large cloves garlic, crushed
- 1-inch piece fresh ginger, grated
- Remaining Spice Mix (from recipe above)
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (more or less to taste)
- 1½ cups (355 ml) low-sodium chicken bone broth or water
- 4 tablespoons tomato paste
- ½ cup (120 ml) grass-fed heavy whipping cream
- A small handful of fresh cilantro leaves
- Sliced red onion
- Mix together all of the spices for the mix and set aside.
- Mix together all ingredients for the chicken in a medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours, but up to 2 days. Cook the chicken until fully done (it’s no longer pink in the center) skewered on a grill or in a 400F oven for about 10 to 12 minutes.
- For the sauce, heat the ghee in a medium-large deep-sided skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion and cook until softened and starting to caramelize, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the garlic, ginger, and remaining spice mix and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in the salt, crushed red pepper flakes, chicken broth, and tomato paste. Bring up to a boil, and then reduce the heat to simmer and cook 10 minutes. Cool slightly and then carefully puree using an immersion or regular blender. Return the sauce to the skillet.
- Stir the cooked chicken and heavy whipping cream into the sauce.
- Serve garnished with fresh cilantro and sliced red onion, if desired.