Restoration of forests is now considered an essential tool to combat climate change and the global biodiversity decline. However, our understanding of how animal communities recover after restoration interventions in tropical forests is limited. Here, we aim to reveal the recovery patterns of fruit-feeding butterfly communities across a large-scale rainforest restoration area in Kibale National Park, Uganda. Our study represents a chronosequence resampling of fruit-feeding butterfly communities across actively restored Afrotropical forest planted between 1995 and 2011 and primary forest reference sites. Sampling of 40 study sites was done first in the period 2011–2012 and again in the period 2020–2021 (including 5 new study sites), allowing a direct comparison of how communities have changed in nine years and to follow the progress of 26 years of active restoration. Fruit-feeding butterfly community composition showed a directional pattern from the younger restored to older restored and primary forests. However, over the nine years, the similarity of community composition to primary forest increased only in younger restored forests. Furthermore, different characteristics of community structure and different diversity facets recovered at different paces. For example, the count of individuals, the count of species, and phylogenetic diversity increased in the restored forests; however, Simpson’s diversity increased only in the older restored forest. Our study shows that active restoration can help fruit-feeding butterfly communities become increasingly similar to communities found in primary forests, and such changes can be relatively fast in the early-successional phases of tropical forests but slow down at later phases.