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vegan butter chicken no tofu

Vegan Butter "Chicken" (no tofu)

Tender pieces of vegan "chicken" swim in a creamy, rich spiced tomato-based sauce that's full of flavor, texture, and complexity. This recipe, although requiring more than a handful of ingredients, is simple to make.

Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Keyword no tofu, Vegan butter chicken, vegan dinner recipe
Prep Time 50 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 5 servings
Author Taavi Moore


"Chicken" Marinade

  • 16 oz. vegan chicken pieces
  • ½ cup plain non-dairy yogurt
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp grated ginger
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp turmeric

Butter "Chicken" Sauce

  • 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes
  • ½ cup cashews (soaked in boiling water for 20 minutes or overnight)
  • 2 tbsp vegan butter
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp each: ground coriander, cloves, cardamom
  • ½ tsp granulated sugar
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • ½ cup canned full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp vegan butter
  • ½ cup roughly chopped cilantro


"Chicken" Marinade

  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the non-dairy yogurt, ginger, garlic, lemon juice, spices, and salt until combined. Add 1 tbsp of water to thin out the marinade, if needed. Add the thawed chicken pieces and stir to fully coat the chicken in the marinade. Cover bowl and transfer to the fridge to marinate for at least 30 minutes, overnight is preferred. 

Butter "Chicken" Sauce

  1. Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large skillet. When sizzling, add chicken pieces and fry until browned for about 3 minutes on each side. Stir in 1 tbsp of vegan butter. Transfer chicken to a bowl and set aside. 

  2. In the same pan, add sliced onion, soaked cashews, and chopped tomatoes. Bring to a low simmer and cook for 3-4 minutes until tomatoes have broken apart and onions are soft. Transfer to a high-speed blender and blend until smooth. Set onion-cashew-tomato mixture aside. 

  3. Melt 2 tbsp of butter in the same pan. Add ground cumin, cardamom, cloves, coriander, sugar, turmeric, red pepper flakes, and cinnamon stick. Toast for 1 minute until fragrant, stirring constantly. Add grated ginger, minced garlic, tomato paste, garam masala, and 1 tsp of water. Stir well and cook for 1 minute.

  4. Pour in the onion-cashew-tomato mixture, 1/2 cup coconut milk, and 1/2 cup water. Bring sauce to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes until it has slightly thickened. If your sauce is on the thicker side, add 1-2 tbsp of butter or a small amount of water and cook for an additional minute. Adjust taste with salt and pepper. Stir in 1 tbsp of butter. Add chicken and cook for 5 minutes. Remove cinnamon stick.

  5. Remove from the heat and stir in chopped fresh cilantro. Serve Vegan Butter "Chicken" over rice and garnish with chopped cilantro. 

  6. To store: Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 4-5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Reheat butter chicken in the microwave or skillet.