A simple version of the popular Indian dish, made completely vegan! The tofu for Vegan Butter Chicken is prepared in a unique way that couldn’t be easier and somehow makes it taste a lot like chicken. 

looking down on vegan butter chicken with rice, cilantro in background.

Butter chicken is one of the most popular Indian dishes around, with it’s mildly spiced creamy tomato sauce, and packed full of flavor. It’s usually made with dairy cream, and of course with chicken. I’ve created the most delicious vegan version, and I’m so excited to share it with you today!

The “chicken” is actually tofu, but it’s not any old tofu. No, the tofu is prepared in a unique way in the oven that makes it perfectly chewy. It actually tastes very similar to chicken, especially once drenched in the creamy sauce.

close up of vegan butter chicken with white rice

Garam Masala

The only ingredient you might not be familiar with is garam masala. It’s a great spice mix to have on hand. I use it in Vegetable Korma, and other dishes, too. It’s a blend of several Indian spices and adds an incredible amount of flavor to your recipes. A lot of regular grocery stores carry it, or find it at an Indian market. You can also order it online.

vegan butter chicken in a pan, cooked with sauce.

How do you make Vegan Butter Chicken?

This recipe only takes about 30 minutes to make. The one catch is that you probably need to press your tofu, if you have the water packed variety. You can skip pressing if you buy the super firm tofu, not packed in water but in a clear vacuum seal pack.

Press the tofu for 20-30 minutes, if needed. Then, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Slice the tofu into about 6 slices, as shown below, then rip each slice into smaller pieces, but still fairly large chunks. Tear gently, and don’t make the pieces too small.

Next, place the torn tofu pieces in a large ziplock type bag along with the olive oil, cornstarch and salt. Seal the bag, and shake to gently coat the pieces. Arrange on the prepared baking sheet.

collage showing how to cut and rip tofu for vegan butter chicken.

Leave room so they are not touching each other. If your pans are small, you might need two. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the pieces are golden brown and crispy. There is no need to flip the pieces, so baking is very hands off. While the tofu is baking, make the creamy sauce.

collage of baking tofu pieces, before and after on baking sheet.

For the sauce, melt the vegan butter in a large skillet or pot. Add the onion, and saute for 3-4 minutes. Then add the ginger and garlic and cook 1 minute more. Now add the spices, salt, tomato paste and coconut milk. Stir well until smooth and creamy. Bring to a boil, then simmer the sauce for 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently.

Once the tofu is done baking, add it to the sauce and stir to coat the pieces. Serve over rice, with Easy Vegan Naan, and sprinkled with fresh chopped cilantro. Enjoy!

vegan butter chicken in a pan, cooked.

If you liked this recipe, you might enjoy these as well:

vegan butter chicken in a bowl with rice and naan

looking down on vegan butter chicken with rice, cilantro in background.
4.97 stars (171 ratings)

Vegan Butter Chicken

A simple version of the popular Indian dish, made completely vegan! Tofu is prepared in a unique way that couldn't be easier and somehow makes it taste a lot like chicken.
Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 25 mins
Tofu pressing time: 20 mins
Total: 1 hr
Servings: 6 servings

Ingredients 
 

For the tofu:

  • 2 (16 oz) blocks extra-firm tofu
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

For the sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons vegan butter (or olive oil)
  • 1 large onion, diced small
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger (or 1 tsp dried)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 ounces tomato paste
  • 1 (13.5 oz) canned full fat coconut milk

For serving:

  • 4 cups cooked white or brown rice
  • chopped cilantro
  • Easy Vegan Naan

Instructions 

  • Press the tofu: Wrap the block of tofu in paper towels. Place a plate or pan on top of the wrapped tofu, and put a couple of heavy books on top of that. Let the tofu press for 20 minutes. (You can skip this step if you get the super firm variety)
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Slice the tofu into about 6 slices (see photos in post above for reference). Now, rip each slice into medium-large pieces. You can also simply cut them into cubes, if you prefer, but ripping gives the tofu a great texture for this dish.
  • Add the tofu pieces to a large ziplock bag, along with the olive oil, cornstarch and salt. Close the bag, and shake gently to coat. Arrange the tofu evenly on the prepared pan, and bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden and crispy.
  • While the tofu bakes, prepare the sauce: Melt the 2 tablespoons of vegan butter in a large pan over medium-high heat. Saute the onion for 3-4 minutes in the butter, then add the ginger and garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the spices, salt, tomato paste and coconut milk. Stir until smooth and combined, then simmer for 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • When the tofu is done baking, add it to the sauce and stir to coat the pieces. Serve over rice with Easy Vegan Naan. Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro. Enjoy!

Video

Notes

  1. This would also be really good with roasted cauliflower in place of the tofu. 
  2. You could certainly substitute light coconut milk if desired, but the sauce won't be as rich and creamy.
  3. For oil free, omit the olive oil and vegan butter. Use water for sauteing instead.
  4. Calories are for 1/6th of the tofu and sauce, not added rice or naan.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 382kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 30g | Saturated Fat: 16g | Sodium: 615mg | Potassium: 348mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 429IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 214mg | Iron: 3mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Author: Nora Taylor
Did you make this recipe?Mention @nora_cooks_vegan_ or tag #noracooks!

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Comments

  1. This was delicious. I’ve had bad luck in the past when making curries, but this was just perfect for me, not too spicy, not complicated, just perfectly flavored and yummy 🙂 I halved the recipe to use one block of tofu, but used three cloves of garlic (because I love garlic) and added some sliced spinach and mushrooms. I also froze and thawed the tofu ahead of time and the texture was great for this. It didn’t look like it would be enough sauce in the pan, but it was absolutely the perfect amount. I will be making this many times in the future!

    1. Hi Haley. I am so glad you had a good experience making the butter chicken, and that you love it! Thank you for your incredibly feedback and ideas! Happy cooking!

    1. Hi Tara. Yum, sounds like you made some delicious additions! I’m thrilled you love the recipe! Thank you for sharing your wonderful feedback and review!

  2. So, I made a mistake making this recipe….(completely my fault). I used cream of coconut instead of full fat coconut milk. It’s basically filled with sugar and generally used for desserts. My butter chicken was SO sweet! On the plus side, it tasted a lot like general tso’s chicken, so my family was still happy. 🙂 Guess I have to try again!

    1. Hi Kenda. Oh dear! I’m glad you were still able to eat the butter chicken! I hope you will try again, as this is a really delicious recipe! Thank you for sharing your feedback and experience with the recipe!

  3. We make this meal at least once a week or once a fortnight. Absolute favourite!!! It freezes incredibly well (at least for us it does, the tofu texture changes but doesn’t bother us).

    Also, instead of a ziplock bag, we use a metal bowl and put a plate or lid over it and then shake it up- a move towards zero waste 🙂

    Thanks for this staple meal!!

    1. Hi Melody. Thank you for sharing your great feedback and tips! I’m thrilled that you and your family are loving the recipe and it is on your meal rotation!

  4. This is the first non dessert recipe I have made from this website and I’m so happy. As always the recipe is easy to follow with no crazy ingredients. And best of all it is delicious! Dinner was followed but gluten free chocolate cake. Thank you so much for all you do Nora!!

    1. Hi Lex. Thank you for sharing your wonderful feedback! I put love and work into creating easy and delicious recipes, and I thank you for noticing! I’m so glad you loved the butter chicken – it is one of my favorites!

    1. I’m so glad you love this recipe, Shelley! It freezes okay but it does change the texture of the tofu a bit and the sauce will be quite thick. You may need to thin it out a bit. Hope that helps!

  5. This is my first recipe I made from Nora Cooks. I loved it. I go through phases of trying a bunch of one person/blog’s recipes. I can tell that I am embarking on my Nora phase (:

    1. Hi Hannah. Welcome to Nora Cooks! I’m thrilled that you loved my butter chicken recipe! Thanks for sharing your great feedback, and I hope you enjoy your journey through my recipes! Happy cooking!

  6. Oh my goodness. This was my first time making butter chicken and I was very nervous but it turned out absolutely incredible!!! We used previously frozen then thawed tofu and omitted the cayenne. SO good!!! It’s officially on our dinner rotation. It also made incredible leftovers!!!!!

    1. Hi Cindi. I’m thrilled the butter chicken was a winner for you, and that you’ll be adding to your meal rotation! Thank you for taking time to share your wonderful feedback! Leftovers are the best!

  7. Third time I’ve made this. Can’t get enough!! And this recipe is super simple! Honestly, I’m never disappointed with Nora’s recipes?

  8. Nora does it again!! I have made this twice in the past week because my boyfriend is obsessed with it. It’s so creamy, flavorful, and overall delicious and it’s super simple and quick to make. I made a seitan chicken recipe, chopped that up, and put that in the sauce and it’s 11/10 amazing.

    1. Hi Courtney. I’m thrilled you guys are loving the butter chicken! Thank you for sharing your wonderful feedback! Wishing you happy cooking!

  9. Did anyone substitute the coconut milk for a different milk —almond or soy; maybe a vegan cream?

    1. You can use any unsweetened dairy free milk instead of coconut milk but the sauce won’t be as rich and creamy.

  10. Made this using mock chicken from Sweet Earth & I didn’t have curry powder so I replaced with red curry paste – it was delicious! 

  11. I love this recipe! My only suggeation is to forego using a plastic bag to coat the tofu. Gently stirring it in a big bowl works just as well and is better for the environment!

    1. Hi Karen. Thank you for sharing your feedback and ideas! I’m so glad you love the butter chicken!

  12. Made this tonight and LOVED IT! This will definitely become a regular in our household. I used one tofu brick plus half a head of roasted cauliflower to mix it up. I also added some veggie broth as my sauce was getting thick. Thanks for another great recipe ????????

    1. You are welcome! I’m so glad you loved the recipe! Thank you for sharing your wonderful feedback! Happy cooking!

  13. This was delicious and so easy! My boyfriend’s a dairy lover but after the first bite he requested that I make it again tomorrow. 

  14. This recipe is sooooo delicious! I’ve made it with tofu but also with cauliflower and broccoli. The sauce is so decadent and tasty! 

  15. This is incredible. The baking of the tofu is inspired and makes the texture “meaty” so it pleased the pickiest eater I have. Thank you Nora!

    1. You are welcome! I’m thrilled you guys loved the recipe! Thank you for sharing your wonderful feedback!

  16. So delicious! This is the first curry recipe I’ve found that me and hubby both enjoyed! Did it with baked aubergine instead of tofu. Next time going to double and cook for guests too! Thank you! 

    1. Hi Amelia. Thank you for sharing your great review and feedback! I’m so glad you and hubby enjoyed this flavorful and wonderful meal!

  17. I have made this like 6 times already in the last 2 weeks it’s so good my husband and I are obsessed with it! Thanks so much for such an easy and amazingly tasty recipe! Can’t get over the tofu how it comes out the texture is on point! Awesome stuff!! ?

    1. Hi Carissa. How fun that you and your husband are loving the butter chicken! I also love the way the tofu turns out…amazing, isn’t it!? Thank you for your wonderful feedback!

  18. This is a delicious recipe. I made it twice in one day the first time I tried the recipe as it was a hit for me and my husband. This time, I’m doubling the recipe ?

    1. Wow, that’s wonderful to hear, Jo! Thanks for using my recipe, and for sharing your fantastic review and feedback! Happy cooking!

  19. This was a hit with the family!  My kids aren’t big on tofu, but asked for seconds on this.  Baking really crisps up the tofu.  The flavors aren’t quite what I expected based on my “butter chicken” experience at Indian restaurants, but it was still excellent.  I did exclude the cayenne as my kids are pretty sensitive.

  20. Awesome. Thank you.I did it with roasted cauliflower and boiled potatoes and it was a hit in my family. No left overs.

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