Vegan “Butter” Chickpeas

5 from 12 votes

Spiced vegan “butter” chickpeas is a totally plant-based take on butter chicken/murgh makhani, a spiced, rich, tomato-based curry. Simple and quick to prepare. Rich, creamy, and flavourful.

Overhead shot of vegan butter chickpeas in an individual bowl with a torn piece of flatbread to the side.
Vegan butter chickpeas in a wide skillet, shot from overhead and garnished with whole cilantro sprigs.

Is this vegan “butter” chickpeas the ideal summer-to-fall bridge meal? I’m thinking so. This is my extremely plant-based take on the classic Indian dish butter chicken or murgh makhani, a spiced tomato-based curry. We keep all the spices, the tomatoes, and the richness too (with coconut oil and cashew cream)! But we sub in chickpeas as our protein and I’m telling you: it’s really good! Vegan Richa has a recipe for a vegan murgh makhani with soy curls and chickpeas that sounds meaty and amazing!

I’ve used the last of my garden tomatoes for the sauce in this vegan butter chickpeas dish. You could definitely use canned crushed tomatoes if yours are all gone already (or they’re out of season where you live). I just simply boiled mine so that I could slip the skins off, and then I crushed them by hand in a big bowl. It gives this saucy stew a bright and fresh note. 

This hearty main is super weeknight friendly too. It’s a basic sauté that you add spices, chickpeas, the tomatoes, and a quickly blended cashew cream to. Let it simmer for a tiny bit, adjust the seasonings to your needs, and then heat up some flatbread or put on a pot of rice. This recipe freezes well too.

Hope that you’re all enjoying this special transition season! We’ve been getting some cooler days and its making me so happy. Soup and stew weather is when I’m at my happiest :). I find this season is really potent in terms of creative energy and just motivation in general. Almost like a fresh start.

Among other things that I’m working on lately, I’ve decided to get with the times and up my email newsletter game! If you’ve signed up for my email list already, you know that you basically get a very boring notice in your inbox when a post comes up on the site with a tiny preview of the text and the recipe title. I’m hoping to share a little simple recipe every week along with an update on all of my work online, an article or two that I’m into, some things/products that are lighting me up etc! Basically a slightly condensed, more easily digestible version of my old happy hour posts. Sound good? I’m so excited for this!

Hope that everyone has a great week! Make these spiced vegan “butter” chickpeas! It’s guaranteed to get you in the cozy (and spooky) spirit of Fall ;)

Overhead up close shot of vegan butter chickpeas in an individual bowl with a torn piece of flatbread to the side.

Vegan “Butter” Chickpeas

Spiced vegan "butter" chickpeas is a totally whole food-based take on butter chicken. Simple and quick to prepare. Rich, creamy, and perfectly spiced.
5 from 12 votes
Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins
Total Time: 40 mins
Servings 4 -6


  • cup raw cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours and drained
  • cup filtered water
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 2 large ripe tomatoes (mine weighed 550 grams)
  • 3 tablespoons unscented coconut oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, fine dice (about 1 ½ cups diced onion)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • pinch of ground nutmeg
  • sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 cups cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed (from approximately 2 15-oz cans)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • chopped cilantro, for serving



  • Yes, 3 tablespoons of coconut oil is a lot! We’re trying to replicate the mega creamy texture of a typical butter chicken recipe, so we need to go ALL in. Feel free to reduce the oil if you need to.
  • I used unscented coconut oil because I find it to be the most “buttery” of all plant-based oils. If you don’t mind a strong coconut flavour (it would taste great!), you could certainly use virgin coconut oil.
  • Maybe the maple syrup seems like a “HUH?” ingredient, but we add it to the cashew cream to evoke that natural sweetness of real dairy cream. Again, it would be fine to leave out if added sugar is a concern.
  • If you’re using canned crushed tomatoes, you will need exactly 2 cups (16 ounces) for this recipe.


  • In an upright, high speed blender, combine the drained cashews, water, and maple syrup. Blend on high until you have a heavy cream-like consistency, about 1 minute. Set aside.
  • Set a saucepan full of water over medium-high heat. Once the water is boiling, cut an “X” into the bottom of the tomatoes and gently place them into the water. Once the skin starts peeling, remove the tomatoes from the water and set aside to cool. Once cool, cut the tomatoes in half and remove the core. Then, place the tomato halves in a medium bowl and crush them with your hands. You can leave this pretty rustic as you’ll be blending the sauce later on. Set aside.
  • Place a large, deep skillet (or braiser) over medium heat. Add the coconut oil to the skillet and swirl it around. Add the onions to the skillet and saute until translucent and soft, about 5 minutes. Add the cumin, coriander, paprika, cardamom, cinnamon, and nutmeg to the skillet, and cook, stirring often, for about 1 minute. Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute. Season liberally with salt and pepper and stir. Add the crushed tomatoes and stir to combine. Then, add the cashew cream and stir.
  • Carefully transfer the sauce to an upright, high speed blender. Carefully blend the mixture on high until smooth, about 30 seconds. Return the pureed sauce to the skillet on the stove. Add the chickpeas and stir. Bring the vegan “butter” chickpeas to a boil, and then simmer for 10 minutes, or until sauce is slightly thickened and clinging to the chickpeas.
  • Stir in the lemon juice and check the dish for seasoning. Adjust salt/pepper/spice/acidity if necessary. Top the vegan “butter” chickpeas with chopped cilantro. Serve hot with rice or flatbread of choice.
11/09/2019 (Last Updated: 11/09/2019)
Posted in: autumn, creamy, earthy, gluten free, main course, quick, salty, side dish, spicy, spring, summer, umami, vegan, winter
Show 30 comments
Add comments & rating

Recipe Rating