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Vegan Butter Chicken

Vegan Butter Chicken Healthy Gluten Free

Butter Chicken was one of my favorite meals before going veggie and this Vegan Butter Chicken was one of the first recipes I created for this blog when I started it back in 2013. I had just moved to Belgium, was a new vegetarian and dove right into my new-found love of everything veg! Since then, I’ve changed the recipe slightly and I thought it was time for me to share the recipe with you guys (with some updated photos, lol! I’ve since learned that taking photos of leftovers is usually always not a good idea, ha!).

This Vegan Butter Chicken is so incredibly creamy, comforting and full of rich flavors from the spices and thick tomato and cream sauce. Plus, it tastes out-of-this-world-amaaazzing on top of a fluffy bed of basmati rice!

Vegan Butter Chicken Healthy Gluten Free

Vegan Butter Chicken Healthy Gluten Free

The “secrets” to this Vegan Butter Chicken lie in the cashews and the chickpeas.

The blended cashews make the sauce of this Butter Chicken so incredibly buttery, rich, creamy, comforting and delicious. The cashews also do a wonderful job of thickening the sauce of this vegan butter chicken when it is simmering on the stove. 

The chickpeas replace the “chicken” that is traditionally used in this recipe. The chickpeas makes this Vegan Butter Chicken so incredibly hearty, slightly nutty and meaty. I love to use freshly cooked chickpeas because they are slightly firmer than the ones that come in the can. Canned chickpeas also work here if you are in a pinch. When I originally made this recipe, I used half chickpeas and half cauliflower, I still sometimes make it this way but have come prefer this Vegan Butter Chicken with only chickpeas.

vegan butter chicken

This Vegan Butter Chicken is one of my favorite meals to serve for dinner. It is a simple recipe to make and is ALWAYS a hit with everyone at the table. You can adjust the spiciness based on how much of a kick you like in your food (I like a lot of spice but tone it back a bit when I’m serving this to company or family).

If y’all end up making this delicious VEGAN Butter Chicken in your home, I love love love hearing about it and seeing your awesome feedback! Share your creations with me by writing your feedback in the comments below, tagging me (#cearaskitchen) in your beautiful shots on Instagram or sharing your photo on my Ceara’s Kitchen Facebook page. Have a beautiful day guys! #EatHappyLiveHappy

this vegan butter

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Vegan Butter Chicken


  • Author: Ceara
  • Total Time: 30 mins
  • Yield: 5 servings 1x

Description

This Vegan Butter Chicken is one of my favorite meals to serve for dinner. The cashew cream makes this Butter Chicken so incredibly rich and “buttery” and the chickpeas make it so meaty and hearty! Serve over Saffron Yellow Rice Pilaf.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 small yellow onion (or one large), chopped
  • 23 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 3/4 tsp cumin, cinnamon & ginger
  • 1/43/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/4 cup low sodium vegetable broth
  • 2 3/4 cups plain tomato sauce
  • 1 tbsp coconut sugar or cane sugar*
  • 1/3 cup raw cashews + 3 tbsp to roast for garnish
  • 3 cups chickpeas

Instructions

  1. Soak cashews in hot water while preparing the sauce.
  2. On medium high heat, in a large pan, saute the onions and garlic with the spices (garam masala, cumin, cinammon, ginger and cayenne pepper) in 1/4 cup of the vegetable broth until the onions are soft and the spices are fragrant.
  3. Add the remaining vegetable broth (1 cup), plain tomato sauce and sugar. Simmer for 5-8 minutes or so until fragrant.
  4. Rinse your cashews, In a blender or in a separate deep bowl, blend 1/3 cup of raw cashews with about 1/3 cup of the butter chicken sauce that is simmering on the stove until creamy and smooth . I used a stick immersion blender and blended the soaked cashews with a bit of the sauce in a deep bowl. If you are using a high speed blender you may need to add in about 1/2 cup of the sauce with the cashews for it to blend well. Transfer the blended sauce back into the pan with the rest of the Butter Chicken sauce.
  5. If using, in a separate pan, over medium high heat, roast 3 tbsps of cashews for 5 minutes in a pan (these are the cashews that you will use to garnish the butter chicken with).
  6. Add the chickpeas to the pan. Simmer for an additional 5 – 10 minutes. Serve Butter Chicken over yellow rice pilafor basmati rice. Garnish with roasted cashews.

Notes

1) Use your sweetener of choice in this dish. I have also make it with 1 tbsp of maple syrup and also love it this way.
2) Use freshly cooked or canned chickpeas. I like to use freshly cooked chickpeas in this recipe because they still have a bit of a “bite” to them.

  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Cook Time: 25 mins
  • Category: Main
  • Cuisine: Indian

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117 Comments

  1. So….we host a wine and pizza night every week and I am always looking creative pizza toppings! This week, I think I am going to try your recipe (I may add a little tofu) on pizza dough (hmmm…might make the pizza dough a bit more like naan) and sprinkle my rice on top…I will let you know how it goes πŸ™‚

  2. I recommend using way less chickpeas. Just my preference but the sauce was SOOOO amazing that constantly crunching the chickpeas ruined it for me. Best sauce recipe for butter chicken I’ve ever tried though.

  3. Ditto to all the positive reviews of this recipe! It was outstanding! Substituted sunflower seeds for cashews and that worked great. Also followed another reviewers’ suggestion to use 1 can of chick peas and 1 small head of cauliflower. I forgot to add the cayenne pepper but it was still delicious! Thank you for another GREAT recipe!!

  4. I just made this sauce and I swear I could lick the pot clean. I’ve been searching for the right recipe and finally found it! My spices are very fresh and I found the quantities listed just right – not overwhelming but definitely there. I used the full amount of cayenne. I don’t buy tomato sauce and always make my own by blending a large can of diced tomatoes and a small can of tomato paste (no added flavours) so just used that. Poured the sauce over sautΓ©ed chickpea tofu, peas and roasted cauliflower. It was beyond amazing! Thank you πŸ™‚

  5. Delicious. We had it last night, and my 3 year old would only eat the sauce, kept asking for more. The only difference is that I blended everything because my kids won’t eat it if it looks like beans. Then I sauteed some cauliflower and added it in so the sauce had some texture. This was thanks to your note that you had done half and half with chickpeas and cauliflower in an earlier version. Husband had 3 helpings!

  6. This was really, really good. We are not vegan but made the recipe as-is except for chicken broth instead of veggie broth. Was really surprised at the creamy texture of the sauce! Served with some parathas, nice addition to the dinner rotation!

  7. I made this last night, and it was fantastic. I swapped out one cup of chickpeas for a head of roasted cauliflower, and another cup of chickpeas for butterbeans. Also, I served it on roast sweet potato. Despite the differences, your recipe was an excellent starting point, and much more down-to-earth than others. Thanks very much πŸ™‚

  8. Love the cashews in the sauce for a creamy effect… that part was great. Unfortunately the whole thing is really under seasoned and just tastes like a creamy tomato sauce. I would advise folk to check other recipes for spice quantities, buy or homemake a curry paste with this. Was actually really disappointed with the end result. Did not taste like a curry! had to add loads of spices after the tomatoes were in which isn’t ideal.

    1. Although I customized things a bit to suit my individual taste (a bit less garam masala, a bit more cumin), I found the amount of spices to be in the right neighborhood. I wonder if you interpreted “ΒΎ tsp cumin, cinnamon & ginger” to mean 3/4 tsp total. I used about 3/4- 1 tsp of each. Next time I make this I might use fresh ginger, but I will probably make it again, and it tasted like curry to me!

  9. This dish had everything going for it; cheap, easy and so delicious. Oh ya, it is super healthy too ! Everyone loved it! It is so worth the five stars! I was looking for healthy vegan meals to put on my shortlist. This just zoomed to the very top of the list. Now to look for other meals that won’t pale in comparison and will still be cheap and easy.

  10. Hi all :). Just a quick tip if you are in Australia as I am. The commercial tomato sauce is far too strong for this recipe. I cant wait to try it with either tomato paste, passata or canned tomatoes. Thanks for the great recipe πŸ™‚

    1. Keen to know how you go Troy. I’m in Australia too. Just made a different version (recipe from elsewhere) of this tonight using a plain passata and it was very bland. I’m hoping that was due to the overall recipe and not the passata swap out – normallydon’t have issues doing that.

      1. Hi Troy and Louisa,
        I’m going to give this a try today, and as far as tomato paste/passata goes, we use an italian brand called ‘Mutti’. This is 99.5% pureed tomato, the other 0.5% is salt.
        Flavour is fantastic and the consistency is nice also.
        Hope this helps πŸ™‚

  11. I do not cook so I did not know to do something to the chickpeas prior to adding them to the pan.

    I simmered the sauce an extra 30 minutes.

    It was amazing!

    So what should I do to the chickpeas prior to the last step? Next time it will be even better.

  12. Excellent recipe, Great texture, flavour was very good, but thought it was a little short on umami, definitely low on salt, I added about 2tbsp of yellow miso, terrific.

  13. I’m in the uk and want to try this…is the tomato sauce you mean ketchup? Like what you dip fries in?

    1. Hi Fiona, I would’ve thought that passata would be best to use rather than kechup. You can buy it in supermarkets next to the chopped, canned tomatos πŸ™‚

  14. Hi from Cyprus. This is the perfect time for me to try this dreamy dish! I wonder, do I soak the chickpeas overnight and I just boil them until cooked and then I add them in the sauce?
    Where about in belgium, may I ask, do you live? I moved back from belgium a year ago.
    Thank you.

  15. I just made this dish and I am in love! Thank you for sharing such a wonderful and simple recipe! I have really missed the flavours of butter chicken since becoming vegan and this really satisfied that craving!!

  16. Off the charts incredible! Where’s the 10 star button? Thank you so much for sharing this!

  17. Avoid any room for confusion if you modify the recipe to read: “3/4 tsp EACH, cumin, cinnamon & ginger”. I have non-cooking friend who thought it was supposed to mean 1/4 tsp of each spice for a total of 3/4 tsp.

  18. made this dish this past weekend. it was phenomenal! i can’t resist any meal with that much tomatoey-goodness. delicious! thanks so much for sharing!

  19. Holy goodness! This sauce is AMAZING! I loved it so much after adding the blending cashews that I added more — more of a good thing is great! Even my picky 8 year old daughter loved it. Thank you!

  20. Hi I am not vegan but my sons girlfriend is, I make different dishes (add, delete, adjust and seperate meals) for her when she stays over. We will be camping soon and making meals at home then freezing them for our trip, will I be able to freeze your butter chicken recipe for her until needed
    Thanks

      1. I have not freezed this recipe myself but if I were to freeze it, I would make the recipe and then freeze it in a freezer friendly glass container! πŸ™‚

  21. I made this again yesterday, with brown basmati. I made the recipe exactly as written, except just a can of tomatoes instead of tomato sauce , and I added steamed cauliflower and spinach along with the chickpeas. It was, once again, totally excellent. I made it for a group of non-vegan friends, and they all loved it. Many thanks for sharing this delicious recipe!

  22. You say you can put it over “yellow rice pilaf “.
    Do you have a recipe for that please that doesn’t
    fight with the yummy flavours in your Vegan Butter Chicken
    (which, by the way, is delicious)?

  23. Can I replace the raw cashews, veggie broth and tomato sauce with 2 tblsp whole wheat flour, a can of coconut cream and a can of tomato paste?

    1. Hmm… the cashews really do make this recipe super creamy and buttery. If you are allergic to cashews, I’d recommend coconut milk as your said with a bit of flour or corn starch to thicken the sauce up πŸ™‚ Let me know your results when you whip it up! πŸ™‚

      1. I have been making butter chicken for a while and find that grinding up almonds in a coffee grinder works as an excellent thickener instead of resorting to flour and corn starch. I am making the above recipe for my work pot luck for our restaurant christmas party and cannot wait. Thank you so much for the recipe

  24. All through making this I was thinking, I’m gonna be disappointed, this isn’t going to be like my restaurants butter chicken… But I was so delightfully surprised. It’s so strange the buttery favour that the cashews added. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe, will definitely become a staple! Cheers!

  25. ABSOLUTELY DELECTABLE! I followed the recipe exactly besides adding a few late cherry tomatoes from my garden. They added a bright burst of flavor here and there. My husband who isn’t vegan loved it as well. * I added diced chicken that I baked in the oven while cooking to his portion. The cashew puree made it very creamy. I thoroughly enjoyed this with garlic naan bread from Trader Joes.

  26. Um, yeah, this is the BEST curry I’ve ever made, and I’ve made many! I made this with tofu instead of chicpeas (I just dry-fried the tofu and chucked it in the curry afterwards). I also added frozen peas and spinach, but otherwise followed the recipe to a T. Also, I just used plain canned diced tomatoes instead of tomato sauce. It is soooo good! Thank you so much!

    1. Thank you SO much for the lovely feedback Sophie! I am really happy that you enjoyed the butter chicken. I am sure it was simply delicious with tofu – yum!! πŸ™‚

  27. Oh my goodness, this dish is FABULOUS! I think it’s even better the second day. Thank you so much for the recipe!

  28. Hi. I notice your recipe says Tomato Sauce. Do you mean crushed tomatoes or the Tomato sauce you put on pies etc? As in “rosella tomato sauce australia” It is in a bottle and guess it is similar to Ketchup.

  29. So that was absolutely magnificent. I made it with passata as we don’t have that kind of tomato sauce here, so maybe I’d make it a bit sweeter next time, but it was beautiful. Hot, spicy, sweet. Looking forward to the 2 other things I found on your site I’m cooking this week now!

  30. I’ve not even finished cooking it yet, but I just tasted the sauce before the chickpeas go in. Wow! That is some tasty stuff!

  31. I made this today, I just used almonds instead of cashews since that’s what I has, and Oh My God it’s so good! Thank you so much for sharing!

  32. This was fantastic! I bought garam masala a year ago and never got the courage to use it until now.

    I really modified the recipe to what I had on hand, but the flavors were unlike anything I’ve ever had. Thank you!

    I used:
    1 tsp dried minced onion
    2 frozen crushed garlic cubes
    3/4 c. water
    1 veggie bouillon cubes
    2 tsp Garam masala
    1/8 tsp cayenne
    1/2 c. Almond milk
    1 28oz. Can crushed tomatoes
    3 c. Home cooked chickpeas

    1. 3/4 tsp of each! You can use less spices to (1/4 or 1/2 a tsp of each) if you are sensitive to these spices. Would love to know your results if you end up trying this recipe! Bedankt πŸ˜€

  33. This is so creative! I’ve never had butter chicken, but I’ll happily just skip the original altogether and dive into this healthy vegan version! It looks easy and delicious and the spice blend sounds wonderful πŸ™‚ Definitely pinning this to try!

  34. I have never heard of this dish before Ceara, but I’m drooling all over my keyboard reading the ingredients, so I know it’s fantastic! I swear, every dang recipe of yours makes me hungry and I’m NOT making that up! This looks incredible and I’m dying to try this one now…I just need to get some garam masala! The color is just gorgeous and I love your closeup shots!!

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