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.
4.98 stars (207 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 minutes
Cook: 25 minutes
Tofu pressing time: 20 minutes
Total: 1 hour
Servings: 6 servings


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


  • 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!



  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.


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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  1. Nora, is it possible to make this dish in a crockpot? I love the twist you have on yours and always love your recipes! Looking for something I can prep and leave while at work. Thank you!

    1. I don’t have much experience with a crock pot, but I should really try this out! I feel like it would be possible, though to get the tofu crispy, you’d have to do that in the oven (or pan fry it). I do think you could use something like soy curls or chickpeas in a slow cooker though. I don’t have exact instructions, but those are some ideas.

  2. I just made this for the first time and was absolutely blown away with how incredible it is. Super easy too! Thank you for such a delicious recipe.

  3. I had to write a comment as this is my go to curry recipe! Just made it probably for the 10th time tonight. Love many of your other recipes too. Thank you for making cooking so fun, quick and easy!

    1. You are welcome, Jennifer! I really love this recipe as well! Thanks for sharing your fabulous review and feedback! Happy cooking!

  4. I will like to thank you for sharing your recipe of vegan butter chicken. I made it for a dinner party for a friend that is vegetarian and they just loved it. It turned out perfect. Thanks again👏👏😋

  5. Outstanding recipe! I used the super firm tofu as suggested, so I didn’t have to press it. I also used my airfryer oven, set to 400, and it took 20 minutes to get the perfect golden crispness. I will make my tofu following these directions from now on and explore different sauces! This butter sauce was excellent!

    1. Hi Laura. This is one of my absolute favorites! I love the way the tofu cooks in the air fryer! I’m thrilled that you loved the recipe! Thanks for sharing your amazing review and feedback!

  6. Does this save well? I was looking at making this as a meal prep for about 4 days worth.

    Side note – I have been cooking your recipes for my husband and myself for years and we are obsessed with everything I make of yours. Thank you for being a huge part of my vegan journey!

    1. Hi Alexandra. I am thrilled that you and your husband are loving my recipes! Thanks for using them! This recipe will last about 4 days in the refrigerator. Enjoy!

  7. Seriously so delicious. Adding it to the ‘go-to’ list. Made it exactly as instructed, but added some peas for a bonus veggie.

  8. So I am a non-vegan cooking for vegans. Thank goodness I found your site. Amazing. I follow your recipes exactly. Read the notes. Follow your guidance. I’ve learned SO much. This recipe was received with rave reviews. Used extra firm tofu so did not have to press. Amazing. My vegan friends loved it. Thank you so much. You and your recipes are a treasure!!!!

    1. Hi Robyn. I am so encouraged to know that my site is offering you great information, and that the recipe was a hit! Thanks for sharing this wonderful feedback and review!

  9. Made this for the first time this evening for dinner. It was super easy and delicious! I will definitely be making it again.

  10. I am blown away by so many of your recipes but this is easily a top 5 fave! Paired it with jasmine rice and naan, amazing!

  11. Nora is absolutely the GO TO for vegan recipes! This Butter Chicken is a family favorite and I am the only vegan in the family!
    Nora!! Thank you for all of your recipes and modifications! You make being a vegan much more enjoyable!

    1. Hi Nancy! Your feedback is wonderful and makes my day! Thanks also for your fabulous review! I believe eating should be enjoyable! Wishing you lots of happy cooking!

  12. This is delicious! Mine came out a little tangier than I like so I added about 1.5 tsp of maple syrup to balance the flavor and it’s perfect!

    1. Hi Emily. Thanks for your tip on balancing the flavor the way you like it! I’m glad you like the recipe, and appreciate your wonderful feedback and review!

    1. You are welcome, David! This is one of my favorite recipes! I’m glad you are enjoying it! I appreciate your terrific review and feedback!

    1. Hi Virginia. I think you’ll enjoy this recipe! 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!

    2. Looks awesome. My wife doesn’t like coconut. Do you recommend an alternative? Perhaps full fat vegan yogurt? Thanks!

      1. Sure, there are a few things you could use instead. Vegan yogurt is pretty good, just make sure it’s plain. I also use vegan creamer sometimes, unsweetened and unflavored, as there are more varieties available than there used to be. I have been enjoying Ripple vegan half and half lately. The other thing that is a little more work but good is using cashew cream instead.

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