Main Dishes Recipes Whole30

Paleo Butter Chicken #Recipe

Last week I showed you how to make your own ghee. This week I thought I’d post a recipe for one of my family’s favourite meals using that ghee: butter chicken!

Of course, butter chicken is traditionally made with heavy cream, but hubs can’t eat cow dairy. So I flipped through my Everyday Paleo cookbook and found a basic recipe for paleo-friendly butter chicken using coconut milk instead. My kids enjoy spicy food so I upped the heat, and I adjusted the flavour profile to make it taste a little closer to the take out butter chicken we used to enjoy before going paleo.

I make Indian butter chicken with coconut milk instead of heavy cream. So good!


Dice up an onion and saute it in half of your ghee until translucent. Add in 4 cloves of minced garlic and 2 teaspoons each of garam masala and chili powder. Add 1 teaspoon each of ground cardamom, ground coriander, ground ginger, and cumin. For some heat, add one quarter to one half teaspoon (or more!) cayenne powder, depending on how spicy you want your butter chicken. The key here is to saute the spices in your pan over low heat for a couple of minutes. Cooking the spices helps release their flavours, and butter chicken is all about the spices!

Paleo Butter Chicken - saute spices

Once your spices are nicely toasted and fragrant, add 1 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 cup tomato paste, 1 and 1/4 cups coconut milk, and the rest of your ghee. Mix well, and here’s your yummy yummy sauce!

Paleo Butter Chicken - add tomato paste and coconut milk

Now turn the heat up a bit to medium low and bring the sauce to a simmer. Throw the chicken in and stir well so all the meat is well-covered in the sauce. Cover the pot and cook until done, stirring occasionally. Serve over basmati rice or cauliflower rice if you’re paleo.

One note about the amounts in this recipe: I don’t ever cook just enough for one meal. I’d better get at least the next day’s lunch out of all that work! That’s why I cook 4 pounds of chicken at once, but feel free to halve the amounts in this recipe to make just enough for one meal for a family of 4.

Paleo Butter Chicken


  • 4 lbs. boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 8 tablespoons ghee divided
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 cup tomato paste
  • 1 1/4 cups coconut milk


  • In a large 8 quart soup pot, heat 4 tablespoons of ghee over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion and saute until translucent.
  • Turn heat down to low and add minced garlic and spices. Mix well and saute until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  • Add sea salt, lemon juice, tomato paste, coconut milk, and the remainder of the ghee. Mix well.
  • Turn heat up to medium low and bring sauce to a simmer. Add chicken and stir until well covered.
  • Cover pot and cook for approximately 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked, stirring occasionally.


Adapted from Everyday Paleo by Sarah Fragoso
This post is linked up to some fantastic recipe link parties. Check out my Link Parties page to see where I’m linking up and find some wonderful blogs and more amazing recipes!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This West Coast Mommy is a participant in the, Inc. Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

Leave a Comment


  • Olivia, this looks fantastic! I am doing a Health Challenge where we are essentially eating Paleo and I am in desperate need of more recipes like this. Stopping by from Tasty Tuesdays and am excited to explore!

    • Thanks, Amy! Most of my recipes are paleo-friendly. I also keep a #paleo board on Pinterest if you want to check it out. There are so many great paleo/primal recipes out there now for us!

  • I’d never have thought to sub coconut milk for heavy cream; great idea! This looks yummy!!
    I do the same as you… Make extra for leftovers (or to freeze for another day)! Great minds… πŸ˜‰
    Thank you so much for linking up again! Looking forward to seeing what you share tonight! πŸ™‚

  • Thank you so much for this recipe! I just made it and it tastes amazing. I added a bit of honey to sweeten it as well as 1 teaspoon of curry powder, but those are just some personal preferences. I’m bookmarking this one, I’ll definitely make it again!

  • I made this for my family on one of the first few days we started eating paleo and they fell in LOVE with it. We thought we would have a lot of leftovers but it was so yummy that there wasn’t that much left. So glad I tried out this recipe!

  • I made this for supper tonight and it was fantastic! I used your instructions to make my own ghee first, then made this and served it over cauliflower rice. I don’t usually leave comments for recipes I find on the internet, but I wanted to give you a virtual high-five for this one. Thank you!

  • Butter chicken is a staple meal in our house (using yogurt), it’s also something we dearly miss about living in the city (we lived really close to an Indian restaurant). We tried a few recipes, but have found one we stick too. I’d love to try this version!
    I really liked reading your post on how to make your own Ghee.
    Also, I always cook for a second meal as well. Leftovers always taste better lol.

  • Hi,this recipe sounds absolutely delicious,if i have time i wil try over the holidays i honestly think my hubby would enjoy it.Thanks !

  • Wow wow wow. This recipe was beyond amazing. I was trying to limit my portions but it was so addictino I had to have seconds.
    I used some.whole spices instead of ground and added 2 Bay leaves and ate it with nan.
    I’m so happy found this because we are a dairy intolerant family!

  • I cook new dishes all the time, and I never bother to comment on them. But I just had to tell you this is–by far–the BEST dish I’ve made in ages! I’d never made Indian food before since I’ve never been partial to those flavors, but my husband loves Indian, so I thought I’d give it a go. This is delicious!! So glad it makes enough for leftovers–I can’t wait to eat it again tomorrow! Will definitely be making this again–thanks!!