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5 from 5 votes

Butter Chicken Pasta

This Butter Chicken Pasta is my twist on an Indian classic. The pasta is tossed in a rich spiced tomato cream sauce and is loaded with tender chicken thighs. Everything you love about a classic butter chicken, but swap the rice for pasta. It all comes together in only about 30 minutes too!
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Main
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 5 people
Calories: 639kcal
Author: Brianna May



  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 ½ pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs*
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala*
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 yellow onion diced
  • 6 ounce can tomato paste
  • 1 Tablespoon honey*
  • 1 teaspoon ginger paste
  • 5 cloves garlic pressed or minced
  • 1 cup heavy cream*
  • 12 ounces short cut pasta pasta water resevred*


  • Review all recipe notes and instructions before beginning.
  • In a large pot, melt the butter over medium high heat. Add the chicken, salt, pepper, garam masala, chili powder, cumin, turmeric, and cayenne. Sauté until the chicken is mostly cooked through. Turn the heat to medium low.
  • Add the onion and sauté for 1-2 minutes.
  • Add the tomato, honey, ginger, and garlic. Sauté for another minute.
  • Add cream. Scrape any brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Bring to a simmer. Cover and cook on low for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • While the sauce simmer, boil the pasta according to the instructions on the package. Reserve about 1-2 cups of pasta water.
  • Toss the pasta with sauce. Add about ½ cup of pasta water to start. Thin the sauce with more as needed.


Chicken Thighs: Swap for chicken breast. It dries out more and is not traditionally used in Indian cuisine so I prefer thighs for the recipe. 
Garam Masala: This spice is crucial for the sauce. It should not be too hard to find. 
Honey: Swap for white or brown sugar. 
Heavy Cream: Swap for half and half or full fat canned coconut milk. The sauce will not be as rich, but it is a lighter option. 
Short Cut Pasta: Any short cut pasta will work like rotini, penne, or fusilli. I like a shape that has lots of nook and crannies for the sauce. I used radiatori.
Use chicken thighs. Chicken thighs have more fat making them moist when cooked. They hold up well simmering the tomato cream sauce. 
Do not skip the garam masala. This spice is so important to achieving the traditional flavor of butter chicken. It adds a depth and warmth that cannot be replaced with anything else.  
Keep any eye on the sauce. While the sauce simmers, be sure to uncover it and stir. Since it is cream based, it will thicken up quickly, which makes it prone to burning on the bottom. 
Do not overcook the pasta. When cooking pasta, ALWAYS set a timer. If the package suggests a range of time, set your timer for the shortest time. I find this is normally plenty.  
Thin the sauce with the pasta water. Right before your pasta is done, ladle some water into a glass liquid measuring cup or bowl. This ensures you have plenty to work with. 
Serve with naan. I mean what’s a big hearty bowl of pasta without a side of warm bread? You can make it homemade or just buy some from the store. I recommend warming it and brushing it with garlic butter.


Calories: 639kcal | Carbohydrates: 62g | Protein: 38g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 189mg | Sodium: 1107mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 8g