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!!
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.
Penne pasta dishes are our family favorite weeknight dinner recipes - mostly simple yet satisfying.
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.
Butter Chicken Pasta (Indian Chicken Pasta Recipe)
Butter Chicken Pasta
- 1 to 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 4 tablespoons butter
- ¼ teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 and ½ 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
- ½ teaspoon Cayenne pepper powder refer notes
- ¼ teaspoon garam masala powder optional
- One 15-ounce can tomato sauce
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons raw cashews made into a fine powder
- ½ cup to ¾ 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
- Marinade Chicken
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 ½ 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!
Nutritional information, based on third-party calculations, should be seen as estimates, not guarantees, as various factors like product types, brands, processing methods, and more can alter the nutritional content in recipes.
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