How many calories is one butter chicken?

Butter chicken, also known as murgh makhani, is a popular Indian dish that consists of chicken marinated in yogurt and spices then simmered in a tomato, butter and cream sauce. It’s a rich and flavorful curry that’s become a staple of Indian restaurants around the world. But with all that butter and cream, just how many calories are in one serving of butter chicken? Here’s a quick overview of the calorie count for this delicious dish.

Calories in Butter Chicken

The calorie count of butter chicken can vary depending on the recipe, but on average one serving contains around 300-400 calories. This is based on a typical serving size of around 1 cup or 140g. Here’s a breakdown of the calories for a common recipe:

Ingredient Amount Calories
Chicken breast, boneless and skinless 140g 165
Butter 2 tbsp 200
Heavy cream 2 tbsp 105
Tomato puree 1/2 cup 60
Onion 1 small 30
Yogurt 1/4 cup 55
Spices and seasonings 1/4 tsp each 10
Total 625

As you can see, the bulk of the calories in butter chicken come from the butter and cream. Even though chicken is the star ingredient, it only contributes around 165 calories per serving. The high-fat dairy products are what gives this dish its rich, velvety texture and signature flavor.

Factors That Affect Calories

There are a few factors that can alter the calorie count of butter chicken:

  • Portion size – The calories will go up or down depending on how much butter chicken you eat in one sitting.
  • Chicken pieces – Using bone-in chicken thighs instead of boneless breasts will add a bit more calories.
  • Butter and cream – Reducing the amounts of butter and cream will lower the calories significantly.
  • Cooking method – Deep frying the chicken will add more calories vs baking or pan frying.
  • Rice or naan – These are often served alongside butter chicken. The calories for rice or naan should be counted separately.
  • Restaurant vs homemade – Restaurant versions may be higher in fat and calories than a homemade recipe.

Nutritional Benefits

Despite being a high calorie dish, butter chicken does provide some nutritional value, including:

  • Protein – The chicken supplies a good amount of lean protein.
  • Vitamin C – Fresh tomatoes provide this essential vitamin.
  • Vitamin A – From the cream and butter.
  • Calcium – Contained in the yogurt and cream.
  • Iron – Chicken and tomatoes provide iron.
  • Potassium – Onions are a source of potassium.

So while not the most diet-friendly option, butter chicken does come with some nutritional upside. The protein and vitamins make it more nourishing than dishes made up of mostly carbs or fat.

Lower Calorie Options

If you’re looking to lighten up this indulgent curry, there are a few easy tweaks you can make:

  • Use reduced fat Greek yogurt instead of heavy cream.
  • Skip the butter and increase the tomatoes for more moisture.
  • Choose skinned and boned chicken thighs over breasts.
  • Flavor with garam masala, paprika and garlic instead of cream.
  • Cook in an oven instead of deep frying.
  • Serve with cauliflower rice instead of regular rice.
  • Garnish with cilantro rather than cream or nuts.

With these simple substitutions, you can shave off a significant number of calories and fat grams while still keeping all the aromatic flavors of classic butter chicken.


Butter chicken is a high calorie dish, with around 300-400 calories per serving. Exact counts will vary based on ingredients and portion size. While not a diet food, it does provide protein, vitamins and minerals. With some modifications, lighter versions can be made by lowering the butter and cream. Overall, butter chicken is a delicious Indian curry that can be enjoyed occasionally as part of a healthy, balanced diet when portion sizes are controlled.

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