Vegan Butter Chicken

If you're looking for the best vegan Indian food recipe, you've come to the right place! This vegan butter chicken will quickly become one of your favorite recipes. It's fast, easy, and great for meal prep. Serve over basmati rice and enjoy!
post featured image
Indian vegan butter chicken in a bowl with rice and fresh cilantro leaves.
This post may contain affiliate links, which means that I make a small commission off items you purchase at no additional cost to you. Please read my policy page.

Vegan Butter Chicken is one of my absolute favorite vegan Indian dishes. It’s so creamy and has the perfect mix of sweet and spicy. The rich sauce layered over perfectly spiced tofu is seriously to die for. I just adore this dish and could easily make it once a week because it’s so easy, hearty, satisfying, and tasty!

There are so many amazing vegan Indian foods to try but if you had to pick one, let it be this one!

Where Does Butter Chicken Come From?

Butter Chicken is a very popular Indian dish. It’s commonly found in Indian restaurants in North American and is definitely a top favorite for Indian food lovers.

Traditionally, butter chicken is prepared with a gravy sauce that contains butter. Here in this recipe, we’re using good old tofu as our chicken replacement and a delicious sauce made of incredible spices, tomato, onions, garlic, and also cashews to give it that creamy, rich “buttery” flavor that you would find in a traditional Butter Chicken dish. 

Vegan Butter Chicken | Indian Food Recipe | World of Vegan | #vegan #butter #chicken #indian #food #recipe #worldofvegan

Ingredients Needed

  • Tofu: Opt for firm or extra firm tofu to ensure it holds its shape well when cooked. Press the tofu to remove excess moisture before cubing it, which will help it absorb the flavors of the dish.
  • Ginger and Garlic: Freshly grated ginger and minced garlic provide aromatic depth to the dish. Adjust the quantities according to your taste preferences for a more pronounced or subtle flavor.
  • Lemon Juice: Adds acidity to the dish, enhancing the overall flavor profile.
  • Nutritional Yeast: Used for its savory, cheesy flavor, nutritional yeast contributes to the richness of the sauce. It’s a common ingredient in vegan cooking and adds depth to the dish.
  • Spices: Paprika, garam masala, and turmeric combine to create the classic flavors of butter chicken.
  • Yellow Onion and Tomatoes: These vegetables form the base of the sauce, providing sweetness and acidity. Dicing the tomatoes into small chunks helps them break down more easily during cooking, resulting in a smoother sauce.
  • Cashews: Cashews are used to add creaminess and richness to the sauce. It’s our butter placement in this vegan butter chicken recipe. Soaking them before blending helps achieve a smooth texture if you don’t have access to a high-powered blender.
  • Sugar: Sugar balances the acidity and spice level. Adjust the sugar quantity based on personal preference for sweetness.
Ingredients for vegan butter chicken, with labels.

Substitution Options

  • If you can’t eat cashews, you can use coconut cream instead! 
  • If you can’t eat tofu or soy products, you can use chickpeas (like I did with this chickpea and spinach curry) or even jackfruit, and just marinate as instructed and adjust the cooking time as needed. The texture will be completely different but the taste will still be delicious! 
  • If you like more spice, you can add a red chili into the pan while the onion, garlic, and ginger is sautéing.

How To Make Vegan Butter Chicken

Get ready because your kitchen is going to smell like heaven and your neighbors will be knocking at your door wondering what incredible dish you’re making. The recipe is quite simple and takes no more than 35 minutes to make!

Step 1: You begin making the dish by cutting up your tofu. You can cut it into any shape you like. I like either slicing it into strips or cutting it into little cubes but you can also tear the tofu to help it resemble chicken even more. Any shape works well as long as the pieces aren’t too big. The pieces should be roughly around an inch long.

Small bowl full of raw tofu cubes with some cubes scattered around the bowl.

Step 2: Pepare the marinade for the tofu. In a small bowl, simply combine all of the marinade ingredients and whisk well. Then coat the tofu with the marinade so it’s saturated on both sides. If you want to you can actually let the tofu sit and marinate for an hour or longer to really enhance the flavors. However, it’s not necessary and for the sake of convenience, I typically don’t marinate it. The spices are so flavorful and will definitely infuse into the tofu.

Cubed tofu being added to a bowl of marinade.

Tip: If you want to save time and meal prep a little bit, you can certainly prepare the tofu ahead of time and just let it sit in your fridge until you’re ready to make the dish! Then once you’re ready to cook the tofu, transfer it to a baking tray and bake it until it is crispy on the outside, but still soft and chewy on the inside. 

Step 3: Once you’ve got your tofu in the oven, now you can make the delicious butter chicken sauce. Start by sautéing onions, garlic, and fresh ginger in a large pan. I LOVE fresh ginger and it really makes a huge difference in this dish. If you don’t have fresh ginger, you can use dried ginger to taste instead. Then add the tomatoes and all of the spices and allow this to cook down. 

Hands holding a salt shaker over the pan of vegan butter chicken sauce ingredients.

Step 4: You’ll need a high-speed blender (such as a Vitamix) to make the sauce. If you have a blender that’s not quite so powerful, you can still definitely make this recipe, I just suggest soaking the cashews overnight so that they are soft and easy to blend, and then just discard the soak water before blending.

Add water and the cashews to the blender and blend until it’s as smooth as can be. Then transfer the sauce from the pot into the blender. You’ll want to blend it on low speed, just for about 30 seconds. This will gently combine the mixtures to create a sauce with a lovely texture. You don’t want to blend it until it’s perfectly smooth because the sauce will lack texture and be a little thin. 

Step 5: Next, transfer the sauce back to the pan and cook it gently for about 5 minutes. This will allow it to thicken nicely and infuse the flavors even more. Add sugar, salt, and pepper to taste. If you’d like, you can use coconut sugar which is a lovely, low glycemic sweetener that compliments this dish extremely well.

The sugar really balances out the spices and creates a delicious sweet and spicy finished product. I usually add 2 tablespoons, but you can add the sugar a little at a time until it suits your taste. Now at this time, you can add any additional spices if needed, to taste.

Step 6: By this time, the tofu should definitely be finished. Remove the baking tray with tofu from the oven and transfer the tofu to the pot. Mix together, and you have your vegan butter chicken!

Baked tofu being added to the saucepan of vegan butter chicken sauce.

What To Serve With Vegan Butter Chicken

Now you can serve this any way you like it, but I love it served over basmati rice, which is typically used in Indian dishes, along with cilantro for garnish. If you want to make the flavors in this dish pop even more, you could prepare coconut rice which is simply rice cooked with a little bit of coconut milk. It is divine and compliments this dish so well. Another option is to serve this dish with naan and roti, which are traditional Indian breads that can be eaten on the side! 

Tip: I suggest making the rice after the tofu goes into the oven. Just set it in the stove to cook and then you can make your sauce.

Alternatively, you can serve the butter chicken on a bed of brown rice, millet, quinoa, or another grain. Note that if you use brown rice, it typically takes longer (around an hour or less) to cook, so just keep that in mind for when you’re planning this dish. Also, if you like to eat grain-free, quinoa is technically a seed, and it’s completely grain and gluten-free. So this is most definitely an alternative for grain-free eaters!

Need some more veggie side dishes? Tindora (ivy gourd) makes an excellent vegetable side or try this creamy Toor Dal soup!

Vegan Butter Chicken | Indian Food Recipe | World of Vegan | #vegan #butter #chicken #indian #food #recipe #worldofvegan

How To Store and Reheat

Transfer any leftovers to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 4 days. For longer storage, place the vegan butter chicken in a freezer-safe container and store it in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.

When reheating, you can use the stovetop or micraove:

  • Stovetop: Transfer butter chicken to a saucepan and reheat over medium heat, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking or burning. Add as splash of water or vegetable broth if the sauce has thickened too much.
  • Microwave: Place the vegan butter chicken in a microwave-safe dish and cover it with a microwave-safe lid or damp paper towel. Reheat in intervals of 30 seconds to 1 minute, stirring in between, until heated through.

FAQ’s

What can I substitute for chicken in butter chicken?

Tofu is an excellent alternative to chicken since it absorbs flavors beautifully. If you can’t have tofu or just want to mix up your proteins, you can also use chickpeas, seitan, or even mushrooms. King oyster mushrooms or portobello have great meaty textures.

Which Indian dishes are typically vegan?

India offers a wide array of delicious vegan dishes thanks to its rich culinary traditions and diverse regional cuisines. Here are some popular vegan Indian dishes: Aloo Gobi, Chana Masala, Baingan Bharta, Dal Tadka, Vegetable Biryani, Palak Tofu, Masoor Dal, and Vegetable Samosas. These are just a few examples of the many vegan-friendly dishes in Indian cuisine.

You’ll love this dish for the flavor, heartiness, and the fact that it’s extremely healthy! This dish is vegan, gluten-free, and packs some powerful anti-inflammatory ingredients such as turmeric and ginger. So dig into this incredible dish and try not to eat the whole batch in one night (if you can). One batch makes 3 servings and can very easily be doubled to serve multiple people or make leftovers. Enjoy!! 

flower icon
Send This Recipe to My Inbox
Drop your email below to receive this recipe in your inbox. Plus, we’ll send you our favorite seasonal plant-based recipes weekly!
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

Vegan Butter Chicken

Author: World of Vegan
4.94 from 15 votes
If you’re an Indian food lover, Butter Chicken is likely one of your top favorite dishes. This veganized version will have your mouth watering. You’ll be making double batches on the regular!!
Indian vegan butter chicken in a bowl with rice and fresh cilantro leaves.
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 3

Ingredients

Tofu

  • 14 ounces firm or extra firm tofu, 1 standard package (cut into bite-sized cubes)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon garam masala
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Sauce

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • cup yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
  • 2 very large tomatoes, diced into small chunks
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon garam masala
  • ¼ cup cashews
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F and grease or line a small baking tray with parchment and set aside.
  • Begin by preparing the tofu. Slice the tofu into cubes. In a small bowl, whisk together the ginger, garlic, oil, lemon juice, and spices. Add the tofu to the marinade and coat the tofu evenly. Transfer the tofu along with the marinade to the pan and bake for 30 minutes.
  • While the tofu is baking, prepare the sauce. In a large pan or pot, add olive oil and saute the onions, garlic, and ginger over medium heat for a few minutes.
  • Add the diced tomatoes to the pan along with the nutritional yeast, turmeric, garam masala, paprika, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine and cook down for about 7-10 minutes.
  • In a blender, blend the cashews with the water until smooth. Add the sauce from your pot into the blender and blend for about 30 seconds on low speed. You don’t want to make the sauce completely smooth as you want to leave some texture.
  • Transfer the sauce back to the pan. Add the sugar (it will balance out the spices). Season with salt and pepper, and adjust any seasonings to taste. Simmer the sauce on low heat for about 5 minutes so it can thicken.
  • When the tofu is finished baking, add it to the sauce and stir to combine. This recipe is delicious served over basmati rice with a bit of cilantro. Enjoy!

Nutrition

Calories: 285kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Sodium: 208mg | Potassium: 243mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 335IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 187mg | Iron: 3mg
Course — Main Course
Cuisine — Indian
Love this Recipe? Leave a Rating!And follow @Vegan on Instagram for more.

Vegan Butter Chicken photos by Kathy Chrzaszcz for World of Vegan. Recipe and photographs copyright of World of Vegan™, all rights reserved.

newsletter offer

Enter to Win Our Monthly Giveaway!

Drop your name below for a chance to win $400 of vegan meals from Purple Carrot, a $250 gift card to Vegan Life Shop, and $150 of cold pressed juices from Wonder Juice. You’ll also receive our weekly e-newsletter with plant-based recipes galore!

Thank you for subscribing!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.
Recipe Rating




17 comments
  1. 4 stars
    Are these relative portion sizes correct for normal people? I very often make these dishes and they come out to about 1/2 the size of a normal adult portion. Also, the brick size of tofu doesn’t change when you change the number of servings.

    • Hi! Yes, these are adult portion sizes. To make it a full meal we recommend serving it over basmati rice. And thanks for catching that, just updated it! Happy cooking!

  2. 5 stars
    I enjoyed your recipe so much. It has just the right amount of spices I was craving. It has been so much time since I hand’t had something as similar to Indian butter chicken and your recipe was perfect!

  3. 5 stars
    Love all the ingredients (especially for the sauce – YUM!) and really appreciate your sharing this recipe! Perfect for a weeknight meal!

  4. 5 stars
    I’ve been looking for a vegan butter chicken recipe for years! This one is incredible, I’m a huge fan!

  5. 5 stars
    such a delicious comfort bowl. I love how this is made with tofu and plant based

  6. 5 stars
    Finally! A delicious vegan butter chicken recipe. I love this vegan version of my favorite Indian food!

  7. 5 stars
    I love butter chicken and I am so excited to have a vegan recipe for it! It turned out perfect!

  8. 5 stars
    This was delicious over Basmati rice and the spices were spot on!

  9. 5 stars
    Another new-to-me recipe! I’d never had butter chicken before but this won me over, so good!

  10. This recipe turned out really well! Not overwhelmingly spicy, but full of flavour. I recommend!

  11. 5 stars
    This was a favorite dish of our family for a long time before I became vegan. My husband and daughter still buys the frozen Trader Joe’s version, but I am thrilled to be able to make this dish at home without chicken! Thank you for sharing such a tempting and tasty recipe!

  12. Amanda Meth says:

    5 stars
    Wow, what a fantastic recipe! I love that some of the prep can be done beforehand, too. I’ll have to try it out with the coconut cream since I’m sensitive to nuts!

  13. 5 stars
    SUPER yummy. My husband makes this for the family sometimes, and I always look forward to it!

  14. 5 stars
    This dish is creamy and tastes rich and flavorful. We love the Indian spices. Over brown rice this is a healthy and hearty meal.

  15. Beatriz Buono-Core says:

    5 stars
    I absolutely love this vegan butter chicken over fluffy steam white rice! My idea of a perfect dinner 🙂

Stay Inspired!

Thank you for subscribing!