Creamy Butter Chicken Pasta with all the authentic flavors of classic Butter chicken combined with penne pasta for a cozy and comforting weeknight dinner. Indian style chicken pasta for the win!!
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Butter Chicken Pasta
Not just any pasta, it is an ultimate recipe mashup of Classic Indian Butter Chicken and Italian pasta. It is creamy, spicy, no oven, one skillet sauce, satisfying and delicious. Think of this as eating butter chicken with pasta instead of the traditional naan or rice.
Pasta dishes are one of our family favorite weeknight dinner recipes – mostly simple yet satisfying.
Some of my favorite chicken pasta dishes are :
- Chicken Mushroom pasta with cream
- Lemon Chicken Alfredo
- Spicy Chicken Pasta
- Penne alla vodka with chicken
- Instant Pot Chicken Parmesan Pasta
- Creamy Chicken Pasta Bake
- Creamy Pesto Chicken Pasta
- Creamy Chicken Pesto Pasta Salad
- Instant Pot Pasta with Chicken Meat Sauce
What is Butter Chicken?
Butter chicken is a dish that was developed to use leftover tandoori chicken, which is cut up and tossed in a tomato-cream based spicy sauce. Originating in a Delhi restaurant, the original recipe was known as MURG MAKHANI (translates to chicken in butter sauce)
Can I skip food color?
Traditional butter chicken always has an iconic deep orange color that is achieved by adding orange food color. However, the food color can be absolutely skipped and it will not affect the flavor in any way.
How to make cashew powder?
Grind raw cashews into a fine powder using any dry spice grinder or coffee grinder. Stop the grinder every few seconds and give a good shake and continue grinding. This step is important, since cashew powder will start clumping up due to the high fat content.
How to store cashew powder?
Ground cashews adds creaminess, taste and also bumps up the nutritive value to any dish. So, we love making a big batch of ground cashews and keep them stored in the refrigerator or freezer.
Do I use raw or roasted cashews?
Although roasted cashews are delicious for snacking, we recommend using only raw cashews for this recipe. Using roasted cashews will change the taste and not be close to that authentic butter chicken taste that we are aiming for.
Where can I buy raw cashews?
We love to buy them from Costco and always keep them stocked in the fridge for a longer shelf life. They can also be found easily in all all major US grocery stores, Indian super markets or online at Amazon.
What type of chicken to use?
Chicken thighs cooks up tender and juicy, however boneless, skinless chicken breasts can used.
What type of pasta to use?
We have used penne for this recipe, however any bite size shapes like ziti, farfelle, fusilli or even macaroni can be used.
Our favorite method to make ahead
Make the sauce, cool (without any pasta), FREEZE for up to two months. Thaw in the fridge, reheat in very low heat, until warmed and toss with freshly cooked pasta. (try with hot buttery naan or rice instead <— DELISH)
Key ingredients / Tips for success
Chicken – Use boneless, skinless chicken thighs for a juicy and tender chicken. However boneless, skinless chicken breasts can used.
Yogurt – Plain regular yogurt or greek yogurt may be used.
Butter – Unsalted or salted butter.
Lemon juice – Only freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice and not bottled kind.
Spices – Standard Indian spices like coriander, cayenne and turmeric powder.
Food color – Orange food color to achieve that authentic look. Skip if preferred.
Kasoori methi – It is dried methi or fenugreek leaves and is another key ingredient in giving that authentic taste. Skip if you cannot find it.
Canned tomato sauce – Tomato sauce is found in cans in the canned tomato section of your grocery store. DO NOT USE jarred MARINARA SAUCE / PASTA SAUCE / PIZZA SAUCE instead.
Heavy cream – Use heavy cream, half & half for a lighter sauce or canned coconut milk for a healthier twist.
Spicy – If you like it spicier, then increase cayenne pepper.
Cayenne pepper powder– Cayenne is Indian chili powder.
How to make chicken pasta Indian style?
Marinade – Toss chicken pieces with plain yogurt, lemon juice, coriander powder, cayenne, turmeric powder, salt and orange food color. Marinade for few hours in the refrigerator.
Cook chicken – Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet and cook chicken on both sides, until partially cooked. Transfer chicken into a seperate bowl.
Make sauce – Add butter to the same skillet and saute cumin seeds followed by chopped onions, crushed ginger and garlic. Cook until golden brown.
Add kasoori methi, coriander powder, cayenne and turmeric powder, cook, stirring constantly for couple of minutes to toast the spices. Add tomato sauce, cashew powder and cooked chicken (along with accumulated juices).
Stir well, cover, cook on low heat for 10 minutes (Stirring couple of times in between).Stir in heavy cream, honey, salt and orange food color. Add cooked pasta and toss well.
How to store?
The dish can refrigerated in an air tight container for up to 4 days.
To re heat – Re heat in microwave with a splash of water, until heated through (stir once or twice in between).
Can this be frozen?
Creamy pasta dishes do not freeze well. The texture of the pasta changes upon thawing. However, we like to freeze the sauce (cook and cool sauce without tossing with pasta) in a zip lock bag for up to 2 months.
Thaw in refrigerator, re heat until warmed and toss with freshly cooked pasta for a quick dinner.
More Chicken dishes for dinner –
- Air Fryer Garlic Parmesan Wings
- Chicken Parmesan
- Hunan Chicken
- Spicy Chicken Tacos
- Chicken Tacos,
- Chicken Burger Patties
- Sriracha Chicken
- Baked Chicken Burger
Tomato cream based sauces are delicious served with pasta, like Penne alla Vodka, Shrimp Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce or this Healthy Instant Pot Pasta with Tomato Cream sauce. Since Butter chicken is a chicken dish with spicy tomato-based cream sauce, this dish was a no brainer.
More Creative Indian Recipes to try –
- 3 Ingredient Chocolate Kulfi
- Kulfi Ice Cream Cake
- Tandoori Chicken Sandwiches
- Rasmalai Tres Leches Cake
- Easy Kulfi Recipe
- Best Mango Kulfi
- Chickpea Curry with Beets
- 4 to 5 boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite size pieces
- 2 tablespoons plain yogurt
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon Coriander powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper powder, refer notes
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 pinch turmeric powder
- 1 pinch orange food color, optional
Butter Chicken Pasta
- 1 to 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 and 1/2 cups finely chopped onion ( about 1 large)
- 2 large garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 teaspoons crushed ginger
- 1 teaspoon salt, divided (or to taste)
- 2 tablespoons Kasoori methi, refer notes
- 2 teaspoons coriander powder
- 1/2 teaspoon Cayenne pepper powder (refer notes)
- 1/4 teaspoon garam masala powder, optional
- One 15-ounce can tomato sauce
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons raw cashews, made into a fine powder
- 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup heavy cream, refer notes
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 to 2 pinches orange food color (optional)
- 12 ounces penne pasta, cooked according to box directions
Stir chicken and all other ingredients (under chicken marinade) well. Let it marinade in the refrigerator for 1 to 12 hours (If pressed for time, let it marinade on the kitchen counter for at least 15 minutes).
Make Butter Chicken Pasta
1. Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add chicken in a single layer, cook for about 2 minutes, turn over and continue cooking for additional 2 minutes. Remove chicken into a bowl (chicken will not be fully cooked at this point).
2. Reduce heat to medium, add butter to the same skillet and let melt. Add cumin seeds and let sizzle for few seconds.
3. Stir in chopped onion, crushed garlic, ginger and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring often, until onions get golden brown color (4-5 minutes).
4. Add kasoori methi, coriander powder, cayenne and garam masala powder. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until spices are toasted well (don't let it burn).
5. Add tomato sauce, cashew powder and chicken (along with all accumulated juices), stir well, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 10 minutes (stirring every 3-4 minutes to make sure that it does not burn in the bottom).
6. Uncover, stir in heavy cream, honey, orange food color and remaining salt. Let simmer for about 3 minutes.
7. Add cooked pasta and toss well.
Serve piping HOT!
Tomato Sauce - Tomato sauce is found in cans in the canned tomato section of your grocery store. DO NOT USE jarred MARINARA SAUCE / PASTA SAUCE / PIZZA SAUCE instead.
Kasoori methi - Kasoori methi is dried fenugreek leaves and is one the essential ingredient in an authentic butter chicken recipe. However, it can be skipped if you don't have it stocked.
Heavy cream - 3/4 cup heavy cream makes the dish more creamier and less spicy whereas 1/2 cup heavy cream makes it a touch more spicier. So, use according to your taste.
Color : Traditional butter chicken is always in a iconic deep orange color that is achieved by adding orange food color. However, the food color can be absolutely skipped and it will not affect the flavor in any way.
Chicken thighs : Chicken thighs cooks up tender and juicy, however boneless, skinless chicken breasts can used.
Cashew powder – Grind raw cashews into a fine powder using any dry spice grinder or coffee grinder. Stop the grinder every few seconds and give a good shake con continue grinding. This step is important, since the cashew powder will start clumping up due to the high fat content.
Cayenne – Cayenne is Indian chili powder.
Pasta – I used penne pasta, but any cooked pasta may be used.
Spicy – If you like it spicier, then increase cayenne pepper.
Salt - Salt depends on the type of tomato sauce used and your taste preference. Use accordingly.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 382Total Fat: 26gSaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 63mgSodium: 891mgCarbohydrates: 32gFiber: 3gSugar: 11gProtein: 8g
I am not a certified dietician or nutritionist. You are ultimately responsible for all decisions pertaining to your health. This information is provided as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. This information is a product of online calculator such as Nutrifox.com.. Although Kitchen at Hoskins attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their fact sources and algorithms. Under no circumstances will Kitchen at Hoskins be responsible for any loss or damage resulting for your reliance on the nutritional information. To obtain the most accurate representation of the nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator. You are solely responsible for ensuring that any nutritional information provided is accurate, complete, and useful.
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