Savor the Citrus Zest: Lemon Butter Chicken Recipe

Let’s embark on a culinary journey that will tantalize your taste buds and introduce you to the flavors of Lemon Butter Chicken. This delightful Indian dish seamlessly marries the tender succulence of chicken with the fresh and zesty essence of lemons. As you savor each mouthful, the rich and creamy sauce with a gentle lemony tang will leave you craving more. In this comprehensive guide, we will lead you through the process of creating this delectable dish, from the ingredients required to the steps involved and the potential variations that can elevate this dish to new heights. So, are you ready to master the art of Lemon Butter Chicken and awaken your taste buds?

A Dash of History and Origins

Lemon Butter Chicken, often known as « Murgh Makhani » in Hindi, is a popular dish with roots deep in the heart of Indian cuisine. Although the precise origins of this dish remain somewhat debated, it’s generally believed to have been created in Northern India. The dish epitomizes the marriage of rich, creamy textures with vibrant spices and a refreshing lemony twist. Lemon Butter Chicken has since gained global popularity and become a beloved item on the menus of Indian restaurants around the world.

Tools, Servings, and Cooking Time

Before you dive into the world of Lemon Butter Chicken, it’s essential to gather the right tools and plan for your culinary adventure:


  1. Large Skillet: You’ll use this for sautéing and simmering the chicken and its flavorful sauce.
  2. Cutting Board and Knife: For chopping the onion, garlic, and ginger.
  3. Measuring Spoons and Cups: Ensure precise measurements of your ingredients.
  4. Lid or Cover for the Skillet: This will be essential during the simmering phase.

Number of Servings:
This Lemon Butter Chicken recipe typically serves four individuals. Feel free to adjust the quantities if you’re planning for a larger or smaller group.

Estimated Cooking Time:
The total cooking time for this dish, from sautéing to simmering, is approximately 30 minutes. It’s a relatively quick recipe, perfect for a weeknight dinner or a special occasion.

Now that you’re well-prepared with the right tools and an understanding of servings and cooking time, let’s delve into the heart of this delightful dish—the ingredients and their potential replacements.

Ingredients and Their Versatile Substitutes

In order to create this harmonious Lemon Butter Chicken, you will need the following ingredients:

  1. Chicken (500g, cut into pieces): Opt for boneless chicken for ease of preparation, but bone-in chicken can be used as well.
  2. Butter (4 tablespoons): Butter adds richness to the dish, but ghee (clarified butter) can be used as an alternative.
  3. Lemons (Juice of 2): Freshly squeezed lemon juice provides the zesty essence. If you’re out of fresh lemons, bottled lemon juice can be a substitute.
  4. Onion (1, finely chopped): Red or white onion, both work well.
  5. Garlic (3 cloves, minced): Garlic powder (1/2 teaspoon per clove) can be used in place of fresh garlic.
  6. Plain Yogurt (2 tablespoons): Greek yogurt is a suitable replacement for plain yogurt.
  7. Ginger (1 tablespoon, grated): Ground ginger (1 teaspoon) can be used as a substitute.
  8. Coriander Powder (1 tablespoon): Ground coriander can be replaced if you don’t have coriander powder.
  9. Turmeric Powder (1 teaspoon): Turmeric not only imparts color but also has health benefits; if needed, you can use a touch of curry powder or saffron.
  10. Garam Masala (1 teaspoon): If you don’t have garam masala, try a mix of ground cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom.
  11. Chili Powder (1/2 teaspoon, optional): Adjust the level of spiciness to your preference, or omit it if you prefer a milder dish.
  12. Salt and Pepper (to taste): Customize these to your liking.
  13. Fresh Coriander for Garnish (optional): If you’re not a fan of coriander, try fresh parsley for garnish.

Now that you’re well-versed in ingredient substitutions, let’s move on to the steps involved in crafting this flavorful dish.

Steps to Master Your Lemon Butter Chicken

Creating Lemon Butter Chicken is a delightful and straightforward process. Follow these steps to achieve perfection:

Step 1: Sauté the Aromatics

  • In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat.
  • Add the finely chopped onion and sauté until it becomes translucent.

Step 2: Spice Things Up

  • Add the minced garlic, grated ginger, coriander powder, turmeric powder, garam masala, and chili powder (if you prefer spicy dishes).
  • Sauté the spices for about a minute, ensuring you stir constantly to lightly toast them.

Step 3: Introduce the Chicken

  • Add the chicken pieces to the skillet and brown them on all sides.
  • The chicken will absorb the fragrant spices, enhancing its flavor.

Step 4: Creamy Lemon Bath

  • Reduce the heat to medium-low, then pour in the plain yogurt and lemon juice.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Mix thoroughly to coat the chicken with the delightful lemon butter sauce.

Step 5: Simmer to Perfection

  • Cover the skillet and allow the chicken to simmer for approximately 20 minutes. This will ensure the chicken is tender and thoroughly cooked.
  • Remember to occasionally check on it, giving it a gentle stir.

Step 6: Fine-Tune the Sauce

  • Remove the cover and slightly increase the heat if needed to thicken the sauce. Gently stir to combine the sauce with the chicken.

Step 7: Rest and Garnish

  • Remove the skillet from heat and let your Lemon Butter Chicken rest for a few minutes. This resting period allows the flavors to meld.
  • If desired, garnish with fresh coriander for an extra burst of flavor.

Step 8: Serve and Savor

  • Serve your Lemon Butter Chicken with a side of basmati rice or warm naan bread to complete this delicious meal.

With your Lemon Butter Chicken ready to be savored, it’s crucial to understand the potential pitfalls that can occur while cooking this dish. By avoiding these common mistakes, you’ll master the art of Lemon Butter Chicken.

Top 4 Mistakes to Avoid

  1. Overcooking the Chicken: Overcooked chicken can turn tough and dry. Simmer it gently and periodically check the chicken’s doneness to ensure it remains tender.
  2. Skipping the Marination: Skipping the marination process can result in a less flavorful dish. Allow the chicken to absorb the spices, lemon, and yogurt by marinating it.
  3. Excessive Heat: High heat during the entire cooking process may lead to burning or over-thickening of the sauce. Adjust the heat as needed to maintain a creamy consistency


  1. Insufficient Resting Time: Resting your Lemon Butter Chicken is a crucial step. Skipping this step can prevent the flavors from fully melding, affecting the overall taste.

Now that you know how to avoid these common mistakes, let’s address some frequently asked questions in our FAQ section.

FAQ: Your Questions Answered

  1. Can I Make This Dish Less Spicy?
  • Answer: Absolutely! If you prefer a milder version, omit the chili powder and reduce the quantity of spices to your preference.
  1. What Can I Serve Alongside Lemon Butter Chicken?
  • Answer: Lemon Butter Chicken pairs wonderfully with basmati rice, naan bread, or even simple steamed vegetables.
  1. Can I Use Bone-In Chicken?
  • Answer: Yes, you can use bone-in chicken pieces for a richer and more intense flavor. Just ensure they’re fully cooked through.
  1. Is Lemon Butter Chicken Gluten-Free?
  • Answer: If you’re looking for a gluten-free option, substitute the soy sauce with a gluten-free alternative, and ensure your other ingredients are gluten-free.
  1. How Do I Store Leftovers?
  • Answer: Store any leftover Lemon Butter Chicken in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Reheat gently to prevent overcooking the chicken.

With these questions answered, you’re well-equipped to create a delectable Lemon Butter Chicken that will impress your family and guests.

Conclusion and Next Steps

In conclusion, Lemon Butter Chicken is a remarkable dish that’s both flavorful and relatively easy to prepare. The harmonious blend of chicken, butter, and zesty lemon creates a unique taste that will have you returning for seconds.

With an understanding of its history, ingredients, cooking process, potential pitfalls to avoid, and answers to common questions, you’re now well-prepared to embark on your culinary journey. Whether you’re a novice cook or a seasoned chef, this dish is a crowd-pleaser that is sure to impress.

The world of culinary delights is vast, and there’s always something new to explore. If you’re hungry for more recipes and culinary inspiration, our recipe section awaits, offering a treasure trove of possibilities. From spicy curries to comforting soups and tantalizing desserts, we’ve got it all. So, what’s next on your culinary adventure? Check out our « You May Also Like » section for enticing ideas and start savoring the flavor. Happy cooking!

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