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Chicken Korma Vs Butter Chicken – What’s The Difference?

Norah Clark
Chicken korma on a plate.

Butter chicken can be described as a dairy-based meal that uses heavy cream, milk, butter, yogurt, and spices to make its sauce. Chicken Korma is spice-driven, emphasizing caramelized onions, whole spices, and cooking oil.

Chicken korma and butter chicken are two of the most famous dishes in Asia but have found homes in other regions.

Although they are popular in many Indian restaurants, as a chef, it’s easy to see why so many people are confused about the difference as both use the same spices or garam masala.

Learn more about these amazing recipes and how to make them easily at home with the help of common ingredients!

Butter Chicken

Butter chicken is a popular Indian dish that originated in the 1950s in the restaurant Moti Mahal.

This delicious buttery dish was believed to be created using leftover food to serve customers.

Chefs mixed leftover Tandoori chicken with tomato curry on an especially busy night, resulting in a dish called Butter Chicken.


Since its creation, Butter chicken has become a well-loved dish across the globe and even found its way into North America and Europe.

It’s loved for its perfect spice, sweetness, and richness balance.

The influx of new Indian restaurants across America also increased the dish’s popularity.

Although there have been numerous variations of the recipe since it was first introduced, the flavor of the sauce has remained the same.

Ingredients and Preparation

Butter chicken is made with a mix of masala, tomato paste, onions, milk, and a blend of ground and cooked spices known as garam masala.

It is further enriched with cream, yogurt, and spicy curry. Cream may be added to the dish.

Although Butter chicken shares several ingredients with chicken korma, it is completely different in how it is cooked and, of course, in the taste.

Here’s a great recipe for making homemade Butter Chicken:

Chicken Marinade

  • Yogurt 1/2 Cup
  • Powder of red chili 1 TSP or as desired
  • Salt 1/4 tsp. or according to your taste to marinate.
  • Powder of Turmeric 1/2 Tsp
  • Powder of coriander 1 TSP
  • Garam masala powder 1/2 tsp
  • lemon juice 2. Tbs
  • Cubes of chicken boneless (breast) 1.5 kg
  • 2 Tbs of oil (or grilling chicken marinated)

Butter Chicken Masala

  • Butter. Unsalted., 2-3 TBS
  • Cinnamon stick 1 piece
  • Two pieces of green cardamom
  • Grated Onion 1, small
  • Garlic and ginger crushed 1 TSP
  • Green chilies crushed 1/2 tbs
  • Ground 1 tomato Cup
  • Tomato paste 2 tbs
  • Cumin seeds, roasted and crushed 1/2 teaspoon
  • Salt 1 TSP or according to your taste
  • Powder of Turmeric 1/2 Tsp
  • Nutmeg powder 1/2 tsp
  • Paprika Powder 1 teaspoon
  • Sugar 1 tsp
  • Half a Cup of water Cup or as much as is required
  • Dairy mix: Half Cup of Cream and milk 1/2 cup.
  • dried fenugreek leaf 1 tsp
  • Butter (Unsalted)
  • Cream to garnish


  1. Mix the yogurt, red chili powder, spice powder, salt, garam masala powder, and lemon juice in the bowl. Give it an even mix. This is the marinade for chicken.
  2. Add boneless chicken cubes to the mix and let it marinate for at least 1 hour.
  3. In a large or heavy-bottomed pot, add oil and the marinated chicken. Cook until tender. This will take about 5-6 minutes.
  4. Now, prepare the butter-chicken curry! In a separate saucepan, add butter and allow it to melt. Then, add an orange stick of cinnamon, green cardamom onion, ginger garlic, and green chili until the onions have become translucent.
  5. Add the tomatoes along with the tomato paste. Mix the ingredients thoroughly. Then cover and simmer for about 4-5 minutes.
  6. Add the cumin seeds, salt spice powders, turmeric, sugar, paprika powder and. Mix, and cook for two additional minutes. Then, add the water and let it rest for about 2 minutes.
  7. In a bowl small enough, mix milk and cream. Mix well before adding the milk mixture to the saucepan. Add the cooked chicken and dried fenugreek leaf and mix thoroughly. Serve with a small amount of butter and a drizzle of cream, and serve alongside any bread!

As with many Indian recipes, this one, too, has an entire list of ingredients which could be somewhat daunting

But, some people find it easier to mix all ingredients in an individual bag so that they can use it repeatedly and so cut down on time.

This is known as “mix masala.”

Chicken Korma

Chicken Korma is a delicious Indian dish that has been enjoyed for centuries. It features a mix of roasted spices and dark, caramelized onions, yogurt, and a variety of other spices.

The dish has a long and interesting history, as it was considered royalty-worthy and offered to Mughal Empire elites.

Korma is largely based on a blend of garam masala and whole spices and can be made using beef, chicken, lamb, or mixed with vegetables and cooked with bone broth.


Korma is well-known throughout the globe, particularly in Asia, and is renowned for its amazing aroma due to the blend of roast coriander and cumin.

It is a rich sauce with an oily layer floating on top of the masala.

Ingredients and Preparation

The sauce used in this recipe could be described as rich, grainy, and spicy.

While korma is similar to butter chicken in many ways, it does not use tomatoes or tomato paste.

However, it is served with freshly baked Naan, just like butter chicken.

The recipe is fairly simple to prepare, as it doesn’t require any prior marinating and can be made by mixing all ingredients into a single pot.

If you’re interested in preparing an authentic portion of chicken Korma at home, here’s a recipe to help you get started!


  • Butter that is clarified (ghee) 3/4 cup
  • Onion cut into 2 large
  • Black cardamom 2 pieces
  • Five to six pieces of green cardamom
  • Cloves 3-4 pieces
  • Peppercorns black 1/2 teaspoon
  • Star anise 1 Piece
  • Cinnamon sticks 2-3 pieces
  • Seeds of black cumin 1 TSP
  • Bay 3 leaves
  • Ginger garlic paste 2 tbs
  • Chicken cut medium, 1/2 kg
  • Salt 1 Tbsp, or as desired
  • Paprika powder 1 tablespoon
  • Coriander powder, roasted 2 Tbs
  • Red chili powder 2 tsp
  • Food color yellow 1/4 tsp
  • Half a cup of water or as much as is required
  • Yogurt – slightly sweet 1 Cup
  • Nutmeg powder 1/4 tsp
  • Mace powder 1/4 tsp
  • Garam masala powder 1/4 tsp
  • Butter 1 tsp
  • Kewra one teaspoon with water
  • Blanched Almonds for garnishing
  • Ginger for garnishing


  • In a pan, put in ghee, and melt it. Add onion and cook until golden brown. Set aside.
  • The delicious korma is prepared by crushing crisp caramelized onions until it develops an almost powdery consistency. A simple way to accomplish this is to remove the onions to ensure they don’t become oily and then apply a towel to absorb the oil left behind.
  • Spread the onions on the towel and let them cool and crisp. You can also chop them up or blend them in a blender.
  • Continue in the same pan in the same pot. Add black cardamom cloves, green cardamom, star anise, black peppercorns, cinnamon sticks, black cumin seeds bay leaves, and cook for one minute. Add the ginger garlic paste and mix all the ingredients.
  • Add the chicken and cook until the chicken turns a different color Cover, then cook for about 4-5 minutes. Add spice powder, salt, coriander powder, red chili powder, and yellow food coloring for 2 mins and stir. Add water and mix once more.
  • Shut off the stove, and add yogurt, mixing the ingredients for two minutes.
  • Bring the heat back up, add the nutmeg and mace powder, and mix for about 2 minutes. Then add the fried, crushed onion, and mix thoroughly.
  • Cook at high heat for about 2 minutes. Mix in garam masala butter, kewra water, and butter, and give it a good stir. Sprinkle with ginger and almonds. Serve warm with butter-glazed Naan!

Butter Chicken vs Chicken Korma

Chicken Korma Vs Butter Chicken - What’s The Difference?
Chicken Korma Vs Butter Chicken – What’s The Difference?

If you compare the two recipes, you’ll see that both recipes heavily use garam masala, which is the main ingredient in Indian cuisine.

However, the main difference is their ingredients.

Butter Chicken is a dairy-based dish with a distinctly sweet, spicy, buttery-rich flavor. The chicken korma recipe heavily depends on spices and mildly sour yogurt to flavor the sauce.

Both dishes last long in the refrigerator and can be easily frozen.

When making a chicken korma, if you ask any Indian chef, they will tell you the importance of finding the best oils for frying chicken, such as Crisco Pure Vegetable Oil or BetterBody Foods Pure Avocado Oil.

Here’s a simple chart to show the difference between these famous meals:

Dish Chicken Korma Butter Chicken
Different types of Curry Spice-based gravy made with caramelized onions. Dairy and tomato-based curry made with translucent onions.
The type of meat you like. Bone-in-meat (chicken, beef, lamb) It has bone-free breast meat (only chicken)
Texture Grainy gravy Silky smooth texture curry
Spiciness Very spicy Mildly spicy
The types of milk products that are used It uses yogurt with a slightly sour taste Utilizes cream, milk, and yogurt that is fresh.
Different types of spices It is a blend of ground and whole spices. It is a blend of ground spices.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is chicken korma healthier than butter chicken?

Chicken korma may be considered healthier than butter chicken because it typically uses fewer high-fat ingredients like butter, cream, and ghee. Korma is made with a yogurt-based sauce that can be lower in calories and fat than the heavy cream used in butter chicken.

Can you use low-fat dairy when making chicken butter?

Yes, you can use low-fat dairy when making chicken butter. However, remember that this may affect the overall taste and texture of the dish. Full-fat dairy products like cream and butter provide richness and flavor to the dish, so using low-fat versions may result in a thinner and less flavorful sauce.

Profile Image Norah Clark

Norah Clark

Norah Clark, Editor of Boyd Hampers! Norah is a food writer with over a decade of experience in hospitality as a pastry chef, sous chef, and barista; former chef at the Savoy Hotel, Ritz Carlton, Four Seasons and Plaza Hotel.

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