What Does Butter Chicken Taste Like? Awesome Or Not

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Curious about what does butter chicken taste like, which is popular in Indian restaurants? You’re not alone. If you’re new to this classic dish or just want to savour its taste in words, this post will walk you through the answer and some other butter chicken dishes.

What Does Butter Chicken Taste Like?

Butter chicken has a rich, creamy, and mildly spiced flavour profile. It’s a classic Indian dish (chicken makhani) made with tender pieces of chicken marinated in yoghurt and spices, then simmered in a tomato sauce enriched with butter and cream. 

Some American grocery stores like Trader Joe’s offer pre-packaged butter chicken sauces or frozen meals.

What Does Butter Chicken Taste Like Tikka Masala?

There are 5 options you can choose from when finding butter chicken that tastes like Tikka Masala. 

  • Mughlai Butter Chicken: An indulgent version with additional cream and nuts, resulting in a richer, creamier sauce.
  • Punjabi Butter Chicken: Known for its robust flavours, this variation often includes garam masala and kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves).
  • Keto Butter Chicken: A low-carb version that replaces traditional ingredients with keto-friendly alternatives, such as heavy cream and almond flour.
  • Seafood Butter Chicken: Substitutes chicken with seafood like shrimp or fish, offering a delightful twist on the classic.
  • Vegan Butter Chicken: A plant-based alternative that uses ingredients like tofu, tempeh, or cauliflower in lieu of meat and dairy-free substitutions for the creamy sauce.

Butter chicken and tikka masala, both popular Indian dishes, share some similarities but also have distinct taste profiles.

Butter ChickenTikka Masala
Creamy, mildly spicedRich, tangy, and spicier
Tender chicken piecesTypically marinated meat (chicken, lamb, or paneer)
Mughlai cuisineBritish-Indian cuisine adaptation

For those who don’t know, Tikka masala is a beloved Indian cuisine known for its flavorful, aromatic, and slightly spicy profile. Marinated chicken and grilled pieces of meat, often chicken, lamb, or paneer (a type of Indian cheese) are then simmered in a rich and creamy tomato-based sauce.

What Do Some Butter Chicken Dishes Taste Like?

Peanut butter chicken

Peanut butter chicken is a dish that coated in a rich, creamy peanut butter sauce. The taste is savoury and nutty, with a hint of sweetness. The peanut butter sauce is typically made with ingredients like peanut butter, coconut milk, soy sauce, and a touch of sweetness from brown sugar or honey.

peanut butter chicken
Tasty peanut butter chicken (Youtube: Omnivore’s Cookbook).

It’s often seasoned with garlic, ginger, and chilli flakes for a hint of spice and depth of flavour. The result is a savoury and sweet dish with a creamy texture, making it a popular and comforting choice.

Honey butter chicken

Honey butter chicken is a delectable dish known for its sweet and savoury flavour. It typically features tender pieces of chicken that are coated in a luscious honey-butter sauce. The taste is a delightful combination of rich butteriness and the natural sweetness of honey. The sauce often includes a hint of saltiness to balance the sweetness, resulting in a harmonious blend of flavours. 

honey butter chicken
Delicious honey butter chicken (Youtube: Dont Go Bacon My Heart).

While honey butter chicken is immensely popular in America, especially in Southern cuisine, it’s essential to note that individuals with certain dietary restrictions, such as those watching their sugar intake or following a strict low-carb diet, may need to enjoy this dish in moderation due to its sweet nature.

butter chicken recipe

Butter Chicken Recipe

This dish is a delightful balance of creamy, savory, and mildly spiced flavors, making it a beloved favorite for a satisfying meal. Perfectly paired with fluffy Basmati rice or warm naan bread, it's a comforting and satisfying dish that's sure to please your taste buds.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Indian
Servings 4
Calories 491 kcal


  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 medium diced onion
  • 1 tsp minced ginger (or ginger paste)
  • 2-3 cloves minced garlic (or crushed)
  • 1.5 lbs boneless (skinless chicken breasts, cut into ¾-inch chunks)
  • 4 tbsp tomato sauce
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp paprika (adjust to taste)
  • 1 tsp fenugreek (powder, seeds, or mustard seeds optional)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup half & half (or low-fat yogurt)
  • Hot cooked rice and naan for serving


  • Heat a large skillet or medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the oil and butter, then add the diced onions. Cook the onions until they turn lightly golden, about 3-4 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  • Add the minced ginger and garlic. Cook for an additional 30 seconds, stirring to prevent burning.
  • Add the chicken, tomato sauce, and all the spices (garam masala, paprika, fenugreek, cumin, coriander, cayenne pepper). Cook for 5-6 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked.
  • Pour in the half & half (or yogurt) and simmer for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Serve the creamy chicken over Basmati rice or with naan for a delicious meal.


Is butter chicken spicy?

Butter chicken’s is mildly spiced rather than extremely spicy. The level of heat is often adjusted by the amount of chilli or spices added during preparation, making it customizable to suit different taste preferences.

What does butter chicken smell like?

Butter chicken has a rich and aromatic smell. It is characterized by a blend of warm spices, creamy tomato-based sauce, and the aroma of chicken. The scent is often described as fragrant, with notes of garlic, ginger, and spices like cumin, coriander, and garam masala contributing to its aroma.

What does butter chicken sauce taste like?

Butter chicken sauce is creamy, mildly spiced, and slightly sweet due to the tomato-based sauce and a touch of honey or sugar. The blend of spices like cumin, coriander, and garam masala provides a warm dimension, making it rich and flavorful without being spicy.


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