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A picture of Butter Chicken Meatballs

Butter Chicken Meatballs

  • Author: Lindsay
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4-5 servings 1x


These butter chicken meatballs are covered in a rich and mildly spiced tomato gravy that is made luxurious with just a little bit of butter and cream. Serious weeknight magic!


Units Scale

Butter Chicken Base:

  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil or olive oil
  • half of an onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (or a garlic paste)
  • a small piece of fresh ginger, grated (or a ginger paste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • one 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes or plain tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup water (more as needed later)
  • 1/2 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon kosher salt (I use 1 teaspoon, just depends how salty you want it)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 20 ounces of cooked chicken or turkey meatballs (these are the ones I always use! this should be about 4 cups of meatballs)

To Finish:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream (more to taste)

To Serve: 

  • 1 1/2 cups basmati rice, or precooked rice
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro


  1. Make your rice according to package directions.
  2. Heat oil over medium heat in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, ginger, and spices; sauté until softened. 
  3. Add tomatoes, water, salt, and sugar. Simmer for 10-15 minutes. 
  4. Transfer the sauce to a blender and puree until smooth, or use an immersion blender directly in the pot to blend. 
  5. Add sauce back to the pan. Add the meatballs; simmer with the cover on or keep on low heat until warmed through.
  6. Add the butter and cream to make a luscious, heavenly sauce to coat your meatballs.
  7. Serve over rice with a sprig or sprinkle of cilantro. Add spiciness to taste with cayenne or chili oil! OH ME OH MY.


Blending methods: For the silkiest sauce, I like to use a regular blender (we have a Blendtec at home). But an immersion blender can also work and it is the easier option; this works best with a deeper pot like a Dutch oven or the Instant Pot. If you’re using an immersion blender, tilt the pot to one side to pool all the sauce together before using. If you’re getting splatters, you might need to add an extra bit of water to make sure there’s enough volume of sauce to run it through the immersion blender smoothly. I would not recommend using an immersion blender in a shallow skillet where it will splatter over the sides – in that case, best to transfer to a blender!

Instant Pot instructions: Add all sauce ingredients; cook on high pressure for 5 minutes. Use an immersion blender directly in the Instant Pot to make it smooth; add meatballs and turn it to warm or sauté until heated through (this takes 5-10 minutes). Finish by stirring in the cream and butter.

Instant Pot instructions with regular chicken: If you’re using just regular chicken breasts or thighs instead of meatballs, add the chicken to the Instant Pot right at the beginning of cooking with the sauce. Cook on high pressure for 12 minutes, then remove and shred or pull apart the chicken. Meanwhile, blend sauce, and then add chicken back in with the cream and butter. We do it this way quite a bit as well!

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Indian-Inspired

Keywords: butter chicken, butter chicken meatballs, Indian recipes, quick and easy dinner, dinner recipe