This Vegan Butter Chicken is made from crispy tofu, canned coconut milk and lots of seasonings like garam masala, cumin, coriander and red chili flakes. It has tons of flavor and is surprisingly easy to whip up. This butter tofu recipe is guaranteed to satisfy your craving for Indian food!
A spin on the popular Indian dish but made completely vegan! This rich and creamy Vegan Butter Chicken recipe will be one that you’ll return to time and time again.
This Vegan Butter Chicken is everything you want in a quick and easy weeknight dinner. This recipe can be made in under 30 minutes. Serve with homemade vegan naan and basmati rice!
This easy vegan butter chicken recipe is a very popular recipe on my blog so I thought it needed an update! The recipe below remains the same but I’ve added new pictures and included a lot of information to make sure perfect results each and every time!
What is Butter Chicken?
Butter chicken is a tomato, cream, and butter based sauce that originated in India as a curry. Traditional butter chicken is a classic Indian dish that is well loved. My version isn’t traditional but it was based off this very popular dish. Instead of chicken, we use tofu. Instead of cream, we are using canned coconut milk. And of course, vegan butter.
- Extra Firm Tofu
- Garam Masala (& lots more seasonings!)
- Coconut Milk
- Tomato Sauce
- Red Pepper Flakes
You’re going to love this vegan butter tofu recipe! Butter chicken is one of the most popular Indian dishes and is never vegan- so I created my own! It’s a rich, creamy tomato sauce filled with warming spices and full-fat coconut milk that when combined makes for the most flavorful sauce.
- Extra Firm Tofu: Pressed and tossed in cornstarch and seasonings then pan-fried until crispy! See below for top tips for making crispy tofu. This is key to a good butter tofu! You definitely don’t want to add the tofu to the sauce uncooked.
- Onion & Garlic: Minced finely and adds tons of flavorful and texture.
- Full-Fat Canned Coconut Milk: Canned coconut milk is added to create a delicious, creamy sauce.
- Tomato Sauce: You can use crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce.
- Garam Masala: The key to a good butter tofu!! Don’t skip it.
- Seasonings: An abundance of seasonings are added like ground cumin, chili powder, black pepper, coriander and more!
- Red Pepper Flakes: Adds a little heat.
How to Make This Recipe
Press the tofu for at least 15 minutes using a tofu press or a DIY tofu press- wrap a block of tofu in paper towels or a clean dish towel. Place a cutting board on top of the wrapped tofu and then add some heavy objects on top.
Toss the cubed tofu in cornstarch and seasonings.
Heat a large pan on medium-high heat and add the oil. Once hot, add the tofu in batches to ensure even browning. Toss the tofu until each side is crispy and golden brown. Remove and set aside.
In a small dish, measure out all the seasonings– measuring out the seasonings before hand is a super helpful tip so the onions don’t burn while you’re trying to add each individual spice.
In a large pot, add the vegan butter on medium-high heat. Add in the minced onions and cook for 5-7 minutes or until the onion is soft and is starting to brown. Then, add in the minced garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.
Add all the spices and seasonings to the onion and garlic mixture and toss to combine and toast. Once fragrant, add the tomato sauce, coconut milk and cane sugar. Whisk to combine.
Bring the butter sauce to a boil and then reduce to a simmer on low for 20 minutes.
Toss in the tofu and serve your tofu butter chicken with basmati rice, extra cilantro, and vegan naan. Enjoy!
Tips & Tricks
Prep your tofu! Pressing tofu will remove the excess water and will help it get crispier.
Don’t overcrowd the pan. When crisping up the tofu, don’t overcrowd it. If you overcrowd the tofu in the pan, it won’t ever get crispy and the cornstarch breading will get soggy and fall off. My best advice is to crisp the tofu up in batches so they have tons of space.
Pick a good canned coconut milk! Sometimes I find that canned coconut milk can be chunky when melted into sauces. I always have good luck with the Whole Foods brand coconut milk and Trader Joe’s coconut milk. You can also use coconut cream.
Extra-Firm Tofu: Homemade chicken-style seitan or another vegan chicken substitute will work as a replacement for tofu or even cauliflower. I would recommend pan-frying both of these options until crispy.
Garam Masala: Garam Masala is a spice blend and while it can’t be left out, it can be easily made at home.
Coconut Milk: Canned coconut milk works best but it can be substituted with cashew cream. Check out my blog post all about Coconut Substitutes to find a substitute that will work well for you.
Make it lighter? Use light coconut milk or your favorite plant milk like almond milk to make a lighter vegan butter chicken sauce. Keep in mind that this will make a thinner sauce.
Make it spicy? Add more red chili flakes. Add as much or as little to hit your preferred spice levels!
Serve this tasty and delicious vegan butter chicken recipe with Homemade Naan and Basmati Rice! I always top mine off with fresh cilantro and lime juice as well.
Storage: Allow leftovers to cool completely then store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days
Reheating: Reheat on the stovetop over low heat until warmed through or warm it up in the microwave. You may need to add a splash of water if the sauce has thickened.
Freeze: This butter tofu recipe can be frozen in an airtight container or freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. Thaw it overnight in the fridge then reheat it as instructed above.
Frequently Asked Questions
I go into depth on how to make the best tofu in this article about How to Cook Tofu. Check out to see my best tips!
Baked tofu works great! Press, toss in seasonings as stated below and bake at 400F for 20-25 minutes.
Vegan chicken, store-bought or homemade. As well as cauliflower or even tempeh!
More Recipes You’ll Love
Vegan Butter Chicken with Tofu
- 1 Block Extra Firm Tofu drained and pressed
- 1 tablespoon Cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon Garlic Powder
- ½ teaspoon Onion Powder
- Pinch Salt & Black Pepper
- 1-2 tablespoons Vegetable Oil for pan-frying
- 2 tablespoons Vegan Butter or Vegetable Oil
- ½ Large Sweet Onion minced
- 3 Garlic Cloves minced
- 1 tablespoon Garam Masala
- 1 teaspoon Cumin
- 1 teaspoon Coriander
- ½ teaspoon Chili Powder
- ½ teaspoon Ground Ginger
- ½ teaspoon Turmeric
- ¼ teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- ¼ teaspoon Black Pepper
- ½ cup Tomato Sauce
- 1 13.5oz Can Coconut Milk full-fat
- 1 teaspoon Organic Cane Sugar
- Basmati Rice
- Press the tofu for 15 minutes. Cube the tofu and toss in a large bowl with the cornstarch, garlic, onion, salt and pepper.
- Heat a large frying pan on medium-high heat and add the oil. Pan-fry the tofu until each side is crispy and golden brown. Remove and place on a wire rack until sauce is completed.
- In a small dish, measure out all the seasonings– measuring out the seasonings before hand is a super helpful tip so the onions don’t burn while you’re trying to add each individual spice.
- In a large pot, add the vegan butter on medium high heat. Add in the minced onions and cook for 5-7 minutes or until the onion is soft and is starting to brown. Then, add in the minced garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.
- Add all the seasonings to the onion and garlic mixture and toss to combine until fragrant. Pour in the tomato sauce, coconut milk and cane sugar. Whisk to combine.
- Bring the butter sauce to a boil and then reduce to a simmer on low for 20 minutes. Toss in tofu and stir to coat.
- Serve over basmati rice with extra cilantro and a side of vegan naan. Enjoy!