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This Low Carb and Whole30 Butter Chicken is perfect for a weeknight dinner, entertaining friends, or even your weekly meal prep! Because it’s made with ghee and coconut cream and served with cauliflower rice, it’s also Paleo, grain free, and gluten free!
Why I love Butter Chicken:
Years ago, before we had kids, we lived just outside Philadelphia in a tiny little apartment, about 500 square feet. We were a little strapped back then, just out of college and newly married, but there was an awesome Indian restaurant about a mile from our apartment that we’d go to when we wanted an inexpensive date night.
We’d sit in the back booth, start with a beer, and our order was always the same thing- Butter Chicken. Served with a heaping pile of rice and extra naan, it was unbelievably rich, absolutely delicious, and inevitably made us feel like garbage the next day.
In my foggy memory, I remember it always being raining, cold, and dark. It’s just the strange way my mind has it frozen, and these days I still crave Butter Chicken whenever it’s raining. Is that weird? Add it to the list.
Yesterday, it started to get dark and windy, so I decided to quickly stop off at the store for everything I needed to make my favorite Indian dish at home.
What does Butter Chicken taste like?
Well, yes and no. Butter Chicken gets a lot of its unique flavor from a spice blend called garam masala, which is made with a mix of warm spices like cumin, peppercorns, cloves, cardamom, coriander, and more. I’ve found it in a bunch of my local grocery stores, but it’s also available on Amazon, or you make your own by blending spices you probably already have in your pantry (I’ve use this recipe before).
If you’re in a pinch, you can even substitute curry powder for garam masala, but it’ll be slightly different in flavor and color.
Turning a dairy-loaded dish Whole30:
Now I’m pretty much a Whole30 Ninja, because I can turn almost any recipe out there Whole30 (unless it’s a pancake, of course). Still, I’m always surprised at how easy it is to whip up a simmering skillet of Whole30 Butter Chicken.
Most often, you’ll see Butter Chicken recipes that are made with lots of (you guessed it) butter, cream, or yogurt. That doesn’t sound very Whole30 compliant, does it? But Whole30 Butter Chicken (that’s also Paleo, of course) is really, really simple!
You only need to make a few small changes!
I simply used ghee and coconut cream where traditionally there would be butter and cream, and that was pretty much all that needed to be done! And you know what else? I actually prefer it this way.
Because ghee tastes like the richest, smoothest butter you’ve ever had, and coconut cream has a very rich, aromatic flavor, I really love this version better than the dairy-loaded kind.
Why I love this recipe for meal prep:
Here’s a real-life work from home confession for you: Eating lunch almost never happens the way it should. I’m usually scarfing down a handful of something at 11, a handful of something else around 12, and another couple of handfuls of stuff around 2. Sounds fun, doesn’t it? I can’t remember the last time I took a real lunch break, or even ate my lunch without doing something else at the same time.
For that reason, one of the goals I set for myself this year is to prioritize my midday mealtime better. I’m trying to step away from what I’m doing for at least 15 minutes, and eat a real meal. No phone, no computer, and preferably, no kids either (I try to eat while they nap/rest).
Just the experience of eating and fueling my body. I’m still not really doing that completely, and it’s still not an actual lunch hour or even half hour, but it looks a whole lot more like one than it used to. Having a few prepped meals ready to go is making it a lot easier!
I just got these meal prep containers and they’re super handy for my meal prep goals — I love the measured compartments and bright colors! Check out the whole line of containers from my buddies at Meal Prep on Fleek.
Whole30 Butter Chicken FAQ
Can I freeze it?
Butter Chicken is one of those recipes that freezes beautifully, thankfully! I’d planned to make it for dinner last night, but I forgot I had a Sunbasket delivery scheduled for yesterday too, whoops (You can get Sunbasket for 60% off)!
I quickly changed my plans and made the Butter Chicken as a prepped lunch today, and I tucked a few containers in the freezer for those “Ugh, what am I gonna take for lunch?!” days.
How long should the chicken marinate?
I like to let the chicken marinate in the mixture of garam masala, turmeric, lemon juice, ginger, garlic, oil, and coconut cream overnight. The chicken is so tender and flavorful, seriously! If you want is sooner though, just give it 30 minutes to marinate.
If you like this recipe, then you should check out some of my other healthy and delicious dinner recipes:
- Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes (Whole30)
- Egg Roll in a Bowl Skillet (Whole30, Low Carb)
- Chicken & Bacon Caesar Salad (Whole30, Low Carb)
- BBQ Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Spicy Pineapple Slaw (Whole30)
- Dill Pickle Chicken Salad (Whole30)
I hope you LOOOOOVE this Whole30 Butter Chicken meal prep recipe as much as we do!! If you do, leave a star rating below!
Butter Chicken Meal Prep (Whole30, Low Carb)
- 2 lb chicken preferably thighs (more flavor!) but breasts work too!
- 1/4 cup coconut cream
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp garam masala (see recipe linked above)
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tbsp ginger minced
- 2 cloves garlic
- 4 tbsp ghee
- 1 onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 inch ginger
- 1 cup crushed tomato
- 1 tbsp cumin
- 1 tbsp garam masala
- 1 tsp coriander
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 jalapeno optional
- 1/2 cup coconut cream
- 2 tbsp cilantro
- 4 cups cauliflower rice
- 1 lime sliced
Marinate the Chicken
- Mince the garlic and ginger. Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces.
- Mix all the marinade ingredients together with the chicken. Cover and marinate for at least 30 minutes or overnight in the refrigerator.
Make the Sauce
- Dice the onion and seed and dice the jalapeno, if using (wear gloves!). Mince the garlic and ginger.
- In a large skillet, heat the ghee over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and ginger, and saute together for about 4-5 minutes or until softened.
- Spoon the onion mixture into your blender and blend on high. Add the tomatoes, jalapeños, and seasonings and blend it all together once more until smooth.
Cook the Dish
- Add the chicken to the same skillet, and brown the pieces on all sides for about 4 minutes.
- Pour in the sauce and bring it to a simmer. Cook everything together over low-medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes, or until the sauce is reduced by about a third but is still creamy and dreamy.
- Stir in the coconut cream and an extra tablespoon of ghee (optional). Season to taste with salt and pepper, then sprinkle with cilantro and serve with cauliflower rice and a squeeze of lime juice.
Here’s another awesome Whole30 meal prep recipe – Curry + Carrot Chicken Salad!