What's the best butter chicken sauce?
As the days get colder, warming casseroles and curries take over from salads. And for time-strapped people, a ready-to-go curry sauce can be a saviour!
With such a large range of brands and flavours on the shelves, however, choosing one that ticks the boxes for taste, price and nutrition can be a challenge. We set out to help by comparing 3 brands for their butter chicken sauce.
Use the 100g column on the nutrition information panel to compare products - sauces can vary hugely in their nutrition.
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The best choices are those with the lowest kilojoules, lowest total and saturated fat, least sugar, least sodium and least number of chemical additives.
What you add to the sauce is the next consideration. With chicken, organic free-range is the best nutritionally, but if this is not affordable, regular chicken breast, trimmed of any fat, is the next best option.
Then, to boost nutrition, add heaps of vegetables; green beans, broccoli, carrot, leek, cauliflower and potato work well in curries and are good recipe extenders. For vegetarian versions, tofu or cashew nuts could replace the chicken.
TANDOORI PALACE BUTTER CHICKEN
A respected brand, this New Zealand-made sauce was the best nutritionally. It had the fewest kilojoules (334/100g), least fat and saturated fat (3.3g and 1.8g/100g respectively), least sugar (4.7g/100g), least sodium (287mg/100g) and fewest additives.
While our seven tasters thought all of the sauces tasted good, this had a slight edge, with three tasters voting it best, three second and one third. At $5.25 for a 500g jar, it was the cheapest also.
Overall rating: Best – best for nutrition, taste and cost
PATAK'S BUTTER CHICKEN MILD
This Australian brand came second for nutrition. It was second for kilojoules, sugar and sodium (497kJ, 7.4g, and 368mg/100g respectively). It had slightly more fat than Global at 7.9g/100g and a similar number of additives.
It was second for taste, but tasters found it difficult to pick a winner between this and Tandoori Palace. It was second cheapest but only slightly more expensive than Tandoori Palace at $5.49 per 500g.
Overall rating: Second – for nutrition, taste and cost
GLOBAL CUISINE BUTTER CHICKEN
This other New Zealand-made sauce was last for nutrition with more kilojoules, fat and sugar than Tandoori Palace (594kJ, 7.5g fat and 12.5g sugar per 100g).
It ranked third for taste and was a lot sweeter than the others. It was the most expensive at $4.85 for a 390g pouch ($6.20 per 500g)
Overall rating: Third – for nutrition, taste and cost
Bottom line: Tandoori Palace was obvious winner here as it best ticked the boxes for nutrition, taste and cost.
Patak's was a close second, but Global Cuisine was a step behind and would be improved by cutting back on sugar.
In the end, if you use quality lean chicken and bulk out with lots of vegetables, it will not matter too much which brand you use.
* Products are tested by NZ Registered nutritionist Bronwen King and a diverse, randomly selected group.