Easy Vegan Butter Chicken Recipe AKA Cheater Butter Chicken

It’s Butter Chicken with no butter, no chicken, so what the heck is it made of? Well, we’re using a spice mix that is labelled for use with chicken but using it for our own devious vegan purposes. I’m not pretending that this is a special original recipe; I’m just basically veganizing the package instructions. I encourage you to explore your local spice aisles and see what you can veganize too. Click here for the printable recipe.

Video Tutorial for Vegan Butter Chicken AKA Cheater Butter Chicken


The brand I am using is MDH Butter Chicken Masala. Here are the ingredients on the package: Coriander, Red Chilli, Onion Flakes, Salt, Green Cardamom, Black Pepper, Dry Ginger, Cassia, Turmeric, Cloves, Garlic Flakes, Nutmeg, Mace, Star Anise. If you can’t find a vegan-friendly spice mix, check out this link to create your own spice mix.

You don’t have to use the same chicken alternatives either. You can use vegan faux meats like Beyond Meat or Gardein or skip them all together and use beans, lentils and vegetables. Broccoli, squash and potatoes are particularly good in this dish.

First, choose your non-chicken and cut it up into bite sized pieces. I’m using some pressed tofu as it has that dense bite to it that one might expect in this dish, plus it’s really good at soaking up the flavours. However, you can use anything you want. Beyond Meat or Gardein or go the whole food route and use your choice of lightly steamed veggies. 

Process the onions finely (I used my blender), puree the tomatoes if using fresh or just have your canned crushed tomatoes ready along with chicken-style vegetable stock. Blend some cashews with water and now you have your cashew cream. With all those ingredients and your masala spice mix, we’re ready to cook!

I used MDH Butter Chicken Masala spice mix. It only contains herbs, spices and salt!

I used MDH Butter Chicken Masala spice mix. It only contains herbs, spices and salt!

Plop the onions, tofu or meat alternative into a large pan or a pot and cook over medium-high heat for between 3 to 5 minutes. We’re looking for the onions to go from raw to cooked but not browned. If you’re planning on using steamed veggies instead of tofu or a meat alternative just do the onions for now.


This tofu was a bit crumbly. The sauce is still very red as the cashew milk hasn’t been added yet.

Add the rest of the ingredients to the pot and bring it to a simmer. This curry will get thicker as you cook it. Keep an eye on it and reduce the temperature if it starts to bubble too much. After about 10 to 15 minutes, you should have a beautiful thick consistency.


I love this “butter chicken” over rice and/or with fresh naan. Because it takes less than 30 minutes to make and is so delicious, it’s become a staple in my home. I hope you give it a try! Have you had sucess with veganizing dishes using mixes meant for meat? Please share your experience in the comments below.


Printable recipe for Quick and Easy Vegan Butter Chicken

Easy Vegan Butter Chicken
Serves 4
Delicious "butter chicken" is easy to make vegan. This isn't a special original recipe; instead I have simply veganized the package instructions for a Butter Chicken spice mix. The brand I am using is MDH Butter Chicken Masala but any vegan-friendly brand will work.
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Cook Time
30 min
Cook Time
30 min
  1. 2 cups your choice of pressed tofu, vegan chicken alternative, or lightly steamed veggies (such as broccoli, squash or potatoes)
  2. 1 cup vegetable stock
  3. 1 cup onion
  4. 1/3 - 1/2 cup crushed tomatoes, fresh or canned
  5. 2 tablespoons cashews or almonds
  6. 2 tablespoons Butter Chicken Masala Spice Mix
  1. Choose your non-chicken and cut it up into bite sized pieces. I prefer pressed tofu or store-bought vegan "chicken."
  2. Finely mince or process the onions. Crush the tomatoes if using fresh. Blend the cashews with 1/4 cup of water until completely smooth and no chunks remain. If you don't have a blender that will work with this small amount, use a mortar and pestle to crush the cashews into a paste before mixing with water.
  3. In a pot or saucepan, cook the onion and tofu/meat alternative over medium high heat for 3 to 5 minutes. We want the onions to be cooked but not browned. If you're planning on using steamed veggies instead of tofu or a meat alternative just do the onions for now.
  4. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a simmer. You may reserve a tablespoon or two of the cashew cream for garnish. Cook for 10 - 15 minutes, reducing the heat if it starts to bubble and spit. The sauce will thicken as it cooks.
  5. Remove from heat and serve with rice and/or naan. Enjoy!
  1. Add additional vegetable stock for a thinner sauce if you like.
Mary's Test Kitchen https://www.marystestkitchen.com/
Showing 3 comments
  • Christine

    So amazing and simple.

    • Mary

      Thank you! 🙂

  • Patricia

    I’ve made this recipe twice and both times the sauce tasted off. I am throwing out the spice. Unless the recipient just calls for too much onion. I don’t know but I can’t say I didn’t give it a chance.

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