Makhani Sauce (aka: Butter Chicken Sauce) Recipe

Did you know that butter chicken is the most searched Indian recipe on the internet? (To be fair, butter chicken and biryani are always in a neck to neck race for the top search spot). It’s hard to believe that a dish that is only about 70 years old is recognized worldwide as the ultimate Punjabi food – trumping hundreds of years of culinary history. The best part is, what makes butter chicken so good, doesn’t have much to do with chicken, and everything to do with the makhani sauce! This “butter chicken sauce” is a creamy, tangy, and basically delicious sauce that can easily be used with paneer to create a shahi paneer type effect, and also tastes great over veggies, rice, or even pasta. (I’ve got a great makhani mac & cheese coming up next week!)

My makhani sauce is a favourite in the family, and I’m forever making double batches to store in the freezer.  Honestly though, whenever I make this, we usually end up rolling it over into two dinners in the same week. My recipe started from a rough recipe a friend’s sister shared with me and over the years it’s evolved into this version.

I’ve shared the step-by-step directions with lots of bonus tips in the video below. If you can take the trouble to grind and roast your own spices, that’s really what makes this dish! Pay close attention to the part about cream – taste your tomatoes and adjust the cream to your preference. If you like a really sweet makhani sauce like the restaurants, add more cream, or keep it lighter if you prefer a tang. This is a fully customizable recipe

PS: I usually use my makhani sauce to make butter chicken or shahi paneer and pair with fresh jeera rice and a side of cucumber raita. The best part is the kids can make both of those!

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makhani sauce butter chicken sauce recipe

Makhani Sauce (aka: Butter Chicken Sauce) Recipe

  • Author: Raj Thandhi
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 cups


A creamy tomato and onion based makhani sauce used to create popular dishes like butter chicken and shahi paneer.


Whole Spices (for roasting)

1 inch cinnamon stick
3-4 green cardamom
10 black peppercorn
4 cloves
1/2 tbs coriander seeds

Sauce Ingredients:

2 tbs butter
1 bay leaf
1.5 cups pureed onion
3 cups pureed tomato
8 garlic pods – chopped
2 inch piece of ginger – chopped
1/2 tbs salt (or to taste)

Finishing Ingredients:

3 tbs makhani /whipped butter
1 tsp honey
1/4-1/2 cup of full fat cream
1 tbs ground kasuri methi/fenugreek
1/2 tbs garam masala



  1. Roast and grind whole spices.
  2. Start your sauce with butter, bay leaf, pureed onion & tomato, and chopped ginger, garlic, and salt. Cook on medium-high flame for 4-5 minutes. Do not over cook or caramelize. 
  3.  Puree the sauce with an immersion blender and pass through a sieve.
  4.  Add in roasted spices from step 1, and makhani to the sauce. Blend well
  5.  Add honey to the sauce and test for seasoning and sweetness.
  6. Slowly add cream to the sauce tasting as you go.
  7. (Optional) Add cooked tandoori chicken, paneer cubes, or lightly steamed veggies.
  8. Finish with kasuri methi and garam masala.


Serve with jeera rice or hot naan. 

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Cuisine: Indian

Keywords: makhani sauce, butter chicken sauce, murgh makhani



  1. March 15, 2020 / 5:58 pm

    I have tried so many different butter chicken recipe in hopes to get the restaurant taste, I have come very close but not quite there yet. Your recipe looks very yummy. I am going to try your recipe and will tag you when I do so. By the way beautiful video, Very well done ?

    • March 24, 2020 / 4:12 pm

      Thanks Roya, do let me know what you think!

  2. Jihad Bilal
    March 15, 2020 / 11:00 pm

    We love tour sauce very much. We also like it a little bit spicy so we added a few pinches of Kashmiri chili powder. We used this sauce to prepare chana masala. Love your recipes !!!

    • March 24, 2020 / 4:11 pm

      Thank you! I love the idea of cooking chana in it, I will have to try that.

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