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Chicken Tikka Masala

This Chicken Tikka Masala recipe let’s you have restaurant-quality Indian cuisine in the comfort of your own home! It’s super creamy, irresistibly flavorful, and packed with bold, bright spices.

chicken tikka masala served with rice.
Sometimes we like to double this Chicken Tikka Masala recipe, because the leftovers are so good!

Video: Watch Us Make This Recipe

Why This Recipe Stands Out

A delicious bowl of Chicken Tikka Masala is the perfect comfort food. There’s just something magical about that warm, spicy sauce drenching perfectly browned chicken. Here’s why we love this recipe:

  • High on Flavor: This recipe is rich in flavor. Much like our Tandoori Chicken, there’s no danger of ending up with flavorless chicken with tikka masala.
  • Restaurant Quality: We’ve tried numerous recipes for tikka masala, but none of them really resembled the deep, rich, distinctive flavors of restaurant style chicken tikka masala. They all lacked that little something, until now.
  • Healthy: Aside from the heavy cream, this is actually a super nutritious dinner. It’s balanced and packed with veggies, lean protein, and healthy spices.
  • Perfect Chicken: We found the secret to perfectly browned chicken for tikka masala: the broiler. This crucial step creates chicken that’s unbelievably juicy on the inside and crisp on the outside.

What Is Chicken Tikka Masala?

A little known fact is that Chicken Tikka Masala doesn’t have any origins from India. You may be tickled to discover that the dish was actually invented in a London curry house.

Regardless of how it came about, it’s now one of the most popular curry-style chicken dishes served in Indian restaurants everywhere.  It boasts a deliciously seasoned profile, with plenty of seasonings and spices that create a wonderfully earthy aroma. Tender chicken is smothered in a creamy tomato based sauce.

Key Recipe Ingredients

  • Spices – The real stars of this recipe are the spices. Between the chicken rub and tikka masala sauce, we use garam masala, cumin, coriander, chili powder, turmeric, Cayenne powder, sugar, ground ginger, and garlic powder.
  • Aromatics – Fresh garlic, onions, and ginger complement the spices perfectly bringing even more flavor to this dish.
  • Chicken Breasts – We opt for boneless, skinless chicken breasts for this recipe. Make sure to pound them thoroughly for best results.
  • Yogurt – Plain, unsweetened whole milk yogurt helps to tenderize the chicken, adding just the slightest tang to this dish.
  • Crushed Tomatoes – Tomatoes act as one of the bases to our tikka masala sauce. Crushed tomatoes bring sweet and tangy flavors to the table.
  • Heavy Cream – Heavy cream is stirred into the sauce at the end to create that ultra-satisfying creamy, velvety texture that we love.

Subtitutions And Variations

Depending on what we have on hand and what we’re craving, we like adjusting this Chicken Tikka Masala recipe occasionally. Here’s our favorite swaps:

  • Make It Dairy Free: Tikka Masala is already gluten-free, but you can actually make it dairy-free too! Simply substitute the whole milk yogurt for coconut yogurt and swap the heavy whipping cream for full fat coconut milk (the kind you get in a can). Coconut pairs amazingly with this dish.
  • Change The Meat: Boneless, skinless chicken thighs also work well for this recipe. The cooking times will vary. Just remember that once it reaches 165F, it’s done! You could also serve beef or lamb with the sauce like we do in this recipe for Indian Style Rogan Josh.
  • Make it Vegetarian: Indian recipes like this tikka masala and Chickpea Curry with Potatoes taste especially delicious vegetarian! Serve this sauce over your favorite stir-fried veggies and chickpeas for a spectacular vegetarian dinner.

Step-By-Step Recipe Instructions

  1. Combine salt, cumin, coriander, and cayenne in small bowl. Press spices onto both sides of chicken. Set aside.
  2. Whisk yogurt, oil, ginger, and garlic together in large bowl. Set aside.
  1. In large heavy pot, over medium heat, cook onion in oil until golden. Add garlic, ginger, and tomato paste.
  2. Add remaining sauce ingredients and bring to boil. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in cream and return to simmer a few minutes. Remove from heat.
  1. Dip chicken breasts into yogurt mixture. Arrange each piece in broiler pan. Broil chicken 5-9 minutes, flip, and broil another 5-9 minutes.
  2. Let chicken rest 5 minutes. Cut into bite size chunks and stir into warm sauce. Add desired garnishes and serve over rice. Enjoy!

For full list of ingredients and instructions, see recipe card below.

How To Prep Ahead

This recipe quickly becomes an easy weeknight meal with a few simple prep ahead strategies. Here’s how:

  • Make the Sauce: Feel free to fully make the tikka masala sauce in advance. Let the mixture cool completely before placing it in an airtight container and storing it in the fridge. It’ll stay fresh up to 2 days.
  • Mix the Spices: Because there are so many delicious spices and seasonings in this recipe, it can be a big help to measure and mix the spices for the sauce and the chicken rub in advance.
  • Make the Entire Meal: Leftover chicken tikka masala will last in the fridge up to 4 days and in the freezer up to 3 months. Sometimes we like making the entire recipe along with some rice in advance then simply heating it in the microwave for dinner.
chicken tikka masala served with rice close up.

What To Serve With Chicken Tikka Masala?

Starches

  • Chicken tikka masala goes fabulously with Basmati rice.  Add a little saffron to your rice before cooking, and you’ve got the best accompaniment to your dish. 
  • A side of soft, chewy naan bread is classic with Chicken Tikka Masala. Buy your favorite brand of naan or try this recipe for Easy Naan.

Veggies

Dessert

Commonly Asked Questions

Is Chicken Tikka Masala gluten-free?

Yes! Chicken tikka masala is gluten-free, as it’s seasoned with many herbs, spices, and has a creamy tomato based sauce.

Is Chicken Tikka Masala spicy?

Our version of chicken tikka masala is only mildly spicy. You can take the spice level up or down, by adjusting the cayenne and chili powder amounts.

Do I have to use all the spices and seasonings?

Each spice lends a special flavor to the overall dish, with the individual spices melding together perfectly. Try not to skip anything, if at all possible, as it will affect the final flavor of the dish.

What does chicken tikka masala taste like?

Chicken tikka masala has a creamy texture with earthy, spiced flavors thanks to all of the spices like turmeric, chili powder, and garam masala. It also has some sweet and tangy notes due to the tomato-based sauce and yogurt marinade for the chicken.

Can I make this recipe in the slow cooker?

Absolutely! Chicken tikka masala is even more flavorful when it cooks low and slow for hours in the slow-cooker. For the slow-cooker method, check out our recipe for Slow-Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala.

Did you make this?

Please give us a rating and comment below. We love hearing from you!

chicken tikka masala served with rice.

Chicken Tikka Masala

5 from 64 ratings
This Chicken Tikka Masala is the only one we’ve tried that tastes just like it came from our favorite Indian restaurant. No need to go out for this anymore; make your own big batch at home and watch it disappear.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 6
Author: Amy Dong

Ingredients  

For the Chicken:

For the Sauce:

Instructions

Prepare the Chicken:

  • Combine salt, cumin, coriander, and cayenne in small bowl. Sprinkle both sides of dry, evenly-pounded chicken with spice mixture, pressing in so mixture sticks. Place chicken in single layer and set aside. Whisk yogurt, oil, ginger, and garlic together in large bowl and set aside.

Make the Sauce:

  • Heat oil in large heavy pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook until golden, about 8 minutes.
  • Add garlic, ginger, tomato paste, and cook about 3 minutes. Add remaining "Sauce" ingredients and bring to boil. Reduce to medium low, cover, and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Lastly, stir in cream and return to simmer a few minutes. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.

Broil the Chicken:

  • While sauce is keeping warm, place oven rack 6 inches from heat broiler. Dip chicken well into yogurt mixture, coating with thick layer of yogurt. Arrange each piece on wire rack set in foil-lined baking sheet or broiler pan.
  • Broil chicken about 5-9 minutes, flip over halfway, and broil another 5-9 minutes. The exterior will be lightly browned in spots.
  • Let chicken rest 5 minutes. Cut into bite size chunks and stir into warm sauce when ready to eat. (Do not simmer chicken in the sauce. If sauce needs warming, warm it up first and then toss the chicken in when ready to serve.)
  • Season with kosher salt to taste, toss in fresh cilantro, and serve immediately over Basmati rice.

Notes

  • Tikka Masala sauce can be made up to 2 days in advance and stored in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to use.
  • Leftover chicken tikka masala is delicious the next day. Simply stir over stovetop just until warmed through and serve. 
  • Try our simple, homemade Naan or grilled flatbread, which is wonderfully soft, chewy, and perfect for soaking up the chicken tikka masala sauce. 
If you enjoyed this recipe, please come back and give it a rating. We ❤️ hearing from you! 
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Nutrition (per serving)

Calories: 424kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 36g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 8g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 132mg | Sodium: 616mg | Potassium: 764mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 627IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 94mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Dinner, Main Dish
Cuisine: Indian
Diet: Gluten Free
Method: Bake, broil

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Recipe Rating




93 comments

    • Eli
    • 5 stars

    Made this tonight for dinner. So, SO tasty! It wasn’t quite the same as most chicken tikka masalas that I’ve had before, but I think it was better and even more full-bodied. YUM!

      • chewoutloud

      Yay! So happy to hear it 🙂

        • Perry

        Real newbee on the cooking scene but this is to die for! Its as good as any curry I have had if not better! Is a lot of work but well worth it!

    • spenser

    Does your masala have curry and cinnamon in it? I always make sure to add extra of both of those two when making my own, and was curious.

      • chewoutloud

      Hi, Spenser! Yes, it has all the ingredients of a usual “curry powder.” Curry is typically comprised of such spices and cumin, coriander, tumeric, etc. I’m sure you can go ahead and add more of whatever spices you love, and it will work for you 🙂

    • Amie

    This is maaagnificent! It tastes so authentic, a real good curry! My friend came over and were both only 17, we followed your recipe and it came out perfect! We were so proud, the creamy sauce is to die for. At first I was worried about just the can of tomatoes because it seemed that there wasn’t enough for the sauce, but after simmering for 10 minutes it flowed with juices. Thank you so much 🙂

    • Kat

    I just got an electric pressure cooker. How do I adapt this recipe to use it?

      • chewoutloud

      I don’t own a pressure cooker, as I haven’t fully recovered from the scary memories of my dad’s old fashioned one. Heard the modern ones are less scary 🙂 Found this page for you, which is full of pressure cooker ideas, which might be helpful for you. Congrats on your new pressure cooker! http://peggyunderpressure.com/2011/01/tikka-masala/

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