Instant Pot Butter Chicken [whole 30 + paleo]

My house smelled sooo good when this was cooking in my instant pot. We love Indian food, but unfortunately most Indian restaurants don’t have many dairy free options. Enter this instant pot recipe!

I did not have any Garam Masala on hand, so I used this recipe from I also didn’t have any cloves, so I used my mini grater to grate a little bit of Star Anise. Worked great!


  • Coconut Cream: 1 can. My favorite is from Trader Joe’s and it is very economical. I love that it’s entire ingredient list is only organic coconut and water.
  • Tomato Sauce: 1 small 14.5oz can. Use plain tomato sauce, not a marinara or pasta sauce.
  • Tomato Paste: 1 TBLspn. I like to buy my tomato paste in a tube so that I don’t have to waste the remainder in a full can. I have found tubes of tomato paste at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods
  • Chicken Thighs or Breast: 4 pieces or 2lbs, cut up into small-ish pieces
  • Ghee: 2 TBLspns to saute the chicken and an additional 1 TBLspn to add into the sauce.
  • Minced Garlic: 4 cloves
  • Grated Fresh Ginger: 1 TBLspn, grated. Use a small microplane grater to grate the ginger. I don’t like using chopped ginger in this instance because I don’t like having the chunks of the ginger fibers.
  • Garam Masala: 2 TBLspn. I like to make garam masala using this recipe from The only thing I changed was that I grated some Star Anise instead of cloves (I didn’t have any clove).
  • Cayenne Pepper: 1/4 tspn. You can add more or less depending on how spicy you like things. I used 1/4 tspn and my 8 year old son really like it–not too spicy.
  • Chili Powder: 1 TBLspn.
  • Cumin: 1 tspn, ground.
  • Bay Leaves: 2 whole dried leaves.
  • Cinnamon Stick: 1 large piece. If your pieces are small, use 2.
  • Lemon Juice: 1 Lemon. I used the juice of a whole lemon, which came to about 2 TBLspns or so.
  • Pitted, Dried Dates: 3-4 pieces.
  • Salt: 2 tspns or more depending on how salty you like your food.
  • Arrowroot Powder: 1 TBLspn mixed with a little bit of water to make a slurry. This is what we will use to thicken the sauce.
  • Cilantro: A small handful, chopped. We really like cilantro in our house, so we like having a good amount available to garnish and eat.


Instant Pot Butter Chicken [Whole 30 + Paleo]

This butter chicken perfectly hits the spot for my Indian Food cravings.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: Dairy-Free, Whole 30


  • Instant Pot


  • 1 Can Coconut Cream
  • 1 14.5oz Can Tomato Sauce
  • 1 TBspn Tomato Paste
  • 4 pieces Chicken Thighs or Breast
  • 3 TBspn Ghee, 2 TBLspn for saute and 1 TBLspn for later
  • 4 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 TBspn Grated Fresh Ginger
  • 2 TBspn Garam Masala
  • 1/4 tspn Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 TBspn Chili Powder
  • 1 tspn Cumin, ground
  • 1 large Bay Leaves
  • 1 large Cinnamon Stick
  • 2 TBspn Lemon Juice, about one whole lemon
  • 3-4 pieces Pitted, Dried Dates
  • 2 tspn Salt, or more
  • 1 TBspn Arrowroot Powder, to thicken
  • 1 handful Cilantro, chopped


  • Set your instant pot to the "Saute" function. Saute chicken pieces in 2 TBLspn ghee until it browns a little bit. Season with a little salt
  • Add in the Spices (Garam Masala, Cayenne, Chili Powder, Ground Cumin), Garlic, and Ginger and cook until fragrant.
  • Stir in the Tomato paste and cook for about a minute, coating all of the chicken pieces.
  • Add the remaining ingredients (1 more tablespoon ghee, coconut cream, tomato sauce, bay leaves, cinnamon stick, lemon juice, dates, and salt). Stir well.
  • Put on lid and change instant pot function to "Manual". Cook for 12 minutes at High Pressure.
  • After the Butter Chicken has cooked, carefully quick release the valve to allow steam to escape and release pressure.
  • Mix the 1 TBLspn arrowroot with a little bit of water (3 TBLspns or so) and make a slurry. Stir that into the butter chicken and allow to thicken.
  • Garnish with cilantro and enjoy!
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Simple Abundant Life is a lifestyle blog written by Jennifer Evans Beatty. Here we celebrate practical habits and techniques for living a joy-filled simply awesome life.