Vegan Butter Chicken (Tofu)

Welcome back to QCK!

Today I wanted to do a kind of new take on Take Out At Home, aka vegan take out.

Also I’m going to tell a story, which is something I don’t really do on here. But since this is one of my faaaaavorite foods, I’m going to share how my love for it started. If you’re not into it, you can skip ahead to the real post which starts after the first picture, or just jump down to the recipe.

If you like Indian food, you probably know about butter chicken, it’s on about every menu. It’s my absolute favorite and I’m not alone in that. It literally has the word butter in the name… how could it not be good.

I first had butter chicken while I was living in Doha, Qatar at a mall food court. It was so good I went back the next day… then the next day, and maybe even the next. Imagine my excitement when I found a restaurant near our house that had an even better butter chicken on the menu AND they delivered. I think I ate it once a week while I was living there.

When I came back to Minnesota, I had a hard time finding it anywhere near me, so I tried making it myself. It took a few tries to get even close to the stuff in Doha, but eventually I got it.

But recently, I decided to switch to a mainly plant based diet, despite what you see on this blog, I eat very little meat and dairy. We can get into that in its own post. But this switch meant adapting lots of my favorite recipes to plant based, including butter chicken. So now I eat butter tofu. This was a really simple transition and I’ll share the non-vegan substitutions below. You can decide what you like best.

I think a lot of people who haven’t tried or cooked with tofu before get a little intimidated, (I know I did) but it’s actually really easy. Probably easier than cooking with actual meat if I’m being honest. If you’re new to tofu, this is a really great recipe to try it out in because there’s so much flavor in the actual curry that you don’t have to worry about ending up with a bland dinner. If you end up not liking the tofu you can even just eat the curry over rice and skip over the tofu.

Non-Vegan Substituions

  • Coconut Oil: Substitute for unsalted butter.
  • Coconut Milk: Substitute for heavy whipping cream.
  • Tofu: Substitute for diced chicken. Be sure to fully cook before adding to the curry.

Slow Cooker and Instant Pot Instructions

This also happens to be one of those really great slow cooker or instant pot recipes, so I’m going to share those directions.

For a slow cooker:

  1. Marinate the tofu as directed below.
  2. In the slow cooker on high, add butter, onion, garlic, ginger and the other spices. Sauté until the onions are translucent and the other ingredients are very aromatic. About 5 minutes.
  3. Add 1/2 C of Vegetable Stock, coconut milk, and canned tomatoes.
  4. Cook on high for 4 hours.
  5. Use an imersion blender to blend all the ingredients together. Or pour the mixture into a regular blender. Blend until smooth and creamy.
  6. In a sauté pan, sear the tofu and add it to the slow cooker with the rest of the sauce.
  7. Cover and cook on high for another 30 minutes or until tofu has taken the color of the sauce.

Instant Pot Directions

  1. Marinate tofu as directed below.
  2. On the sauté setting, combine onions, garlic, ginger, 1/4 tsp turmeric, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp paprika and 1/2 tsp salt. Cook until onions are aromatic and translucent. Add canned tomatoes and switch to pressure cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Release steam, add coconut milk and blend the mixture with either an imersion blender or in a regular blender.
  4. In a pan on high heat, sear to tofu on all sides.
  5. Gently combine with curry.


Prep: 10 MinutesCook: 40 MinutesDifficulty: MediumServings: 4


  • 1 (14 oz) package Extra Firm Tofu, diced
  • 1/2 Tbsp Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Cumin
  • 1/2 Tbsp Ground Turmeric
  • 2 T Coconut Oil
  • 1/2 Yellow Onion, diced
  • 1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 T Fresh Ginger, ground, about a 1 inch piece
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 C Tomato, diced with insides, or 1 C Canned Diced Tomato
  • 1 Tbsp Tomato Paste
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp Paprika
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Cumin
  • 1 tsp Garam Masala
  • 1 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1 C Coconut Milk
  • Chopped Cilantro, Sliced Green Onion, Basmati Rice, Naan, Greek Yogurt and Sliced Cucumbers, for serving, optional


  1. In a medium bowl, combine tofu with lemon juice, cumin and turmeric. Set aside to marinate while prepping other ingredients, up to 24 hours.
  2. In a medium sauce pan or dutch oven, melt butter and sauté onion and cayenne until the onion is translucent. About 5 minutes
  3. Add ginger and garlic, sauté until onions begin to brown and caramelize. About 5 minutes
  4. Add diced tomato, tomato paste, cinnamon, paprika, turmeric, cumin, garam masala and salt. Simmer 10-15 minutes.
  5. Use an imersion blender or pour mixture into a blender and blend until smooth and creamy.
  6. Stir in coconut milk. Do NOT bring the mixture to a boil at this point or the coconut milk will take on a poor texture.
  7. In a sauté pan, sear tofu on all sides.
  8. Add tofu to the curry and simmer lightly until the tofu takes on the color of the sauce, about 10 minutes.
  9. Serve over rice with naan bread, cucmbers and yogurt. Sprinkle cilantro and green onion on top.

As always, I hope you enjoyed this recipe! If you tried it out let me know in the comments. For more recipes check out my homepage and follow along on Instagram. Don’t forget to like, follow, comment and share. Thanks for reading! 


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