Instant Pot Indian Butter Chicken (Lactose-free)



I have multiple people reminding me they want this recipe after trying it at potlucks, so I’m posting it! My thanks to the popular Twosleevers recipe, that got me experimenting with simplifying Indian Butter Chicken for the Instant Pot. This version simplifies it some more, has equal amounts of sauce (no need to freeze half the sauce for later use with other things, like the Twosleevers recipe), feeds a big crowd, uses some different ingredients that taste fantastic & can be done lactose-free, and the addition of the roasted cauliflower and/or onion ups both the flavor & nutrition.


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Fed a group of 14 with leftovers. Eat leftovers & freeze some in lunch portions.
Pressure Cooker/Instant Pot


  • 4 c
    diced tomatoes, with juice (or two 14 oz cans)
  • 12 clove
    garlic (peeled but can be kept whole)
  • 4 tsp
    minced fresh ginger, or ginger paste
  • 2 tsp
  • 3/4 tsp
    cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp
    smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp
  • 2 tsp
    ground cumin
  • 4 tsp
    garam masala (fred meyer carries in bulk spices natural foods section)
  • 2.5-3.5 lb
    boneless skinless chicken thighs

  • 1 c
    coconut milk or coconut cream (trader joe’s carries)
  • 8 oz
    green valley organics lactose free cream cheese (regular cream cheese would also work)

  • 1
    head of cauliflower, trimmed & cut into florets
  • 1
    onion chunked & separated

  • ·
    unsalted mixed nuts (i like costco’s)
  • ·
    chutney of any type
  • ·
    basmati rice

How to Make Instant Pot Indian Butter Chicken (Lactose-free)


  1. Add tomatoes through garam masala to Instant Pot.

    Top with chicken.

    Pressure cook 20 minutes on high and then quick release.
  2. Remove chicken to another bowl.

    Add coconut milk & cream cheese to sauce. Pureé with immersion stick blender.

    Chunk the chicken & return to sauce.
  3. Roast cauliflower & onion drizzled with olive oil or coconut oil in shallow pan under broiler. (Two onions if you have no cauliflower works well.)

    Add to sauce.

    Serve over basmati rice.
  4. Notes:

    I use my 8 qt. Instant Pot, and can use 3 or 4 of the individual Costco packages of chicken thighs. 3 if I’m adding a whole head of cauliflower, 4 packages if I’m just using 2 onions and no cauliflower. 3 packages of chicken average 2.5 lbs, and 4 packages average just under 3.5 pounds.

    My pot has a hot spot, and tends to get burn codes. When it does with this recipe, I wait to see if it will keep going. If not, I release the pressure, scrape the bottom well, then start it again.

    I like to start cooking 2 hours before I need to serve or leave the house to take it to a gathering, since that gives me time if it gets a burn code, and to do the steps after the cooking time, without being rushed.

    This recipe can be halved (the starter recipe I adapted was half this amount.)

    The amount of cayenne is conservative, so most anyone at a gathering enjoys it. Feel free to increase if more heat is desired.
  5. For SCD compliance, easy to digest for my kid with IBD, we had luck doing this:

    Peel the tomatoes (blanch to remove the peel), then deseed, before using. My kid is still having a hard time with peels and seeds.

    Used dripped SCD yogurt made from whole milk or half & half, in place of cream cheese. The Green Valley Organics lactose-free cream cheese is probably okay, according to the Stanford doctor & dietician that are doing a study on educational information for IBD patients about the SCD. They said there was no concern for the liver using lactose-free (LHM) milk that has lactase enzyme added, and listed such products as SCD legal. Elaine listed them as of concern for the liver & needed more study for the amount of galactose sugar flooding the liver, in her book, Breaking the Vicious Cycle. I am not sure if more study has been done since then, or if Elaine was able to have a conversation with these doctors now, if her concerns would have been resolved with the current information. Since I make SCD yogurt, it is easier & cheaper for me to just use dripped SCD yogurt I have on hand.

    Instead of rice, served on top of riced zucchini or roasted butternut squash (or roasted cauliflower and onion, if you can handle those, but my kid has a hard time with cauliflower.) Great with roasted nuts sprinkled on top, if you can handle those, but not necessary.

    If you serve with chutney, make sure it is an SCD legal one. You can make your own, using some honey to sweeten. A good mix can be apples, raisins, vinegar, honey, plenty of cloves, ginger, cinnamon, and any savory spices used in Indian cooking that you’d like, such as coriander, cumin or turmeric, cooked well.

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