Chicken Tikka Masala

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Creamy and rich chicken tikka masala with marinated chicken and a flavorful spice-packed sauce.

Pair this chicken tikka masala with hot cooked basmati rice and/or naan bread. We also love roasted eggplant on the side!

Bowl of finished chicken tikka masala with a fork digging in!

Chicken tikka masala

When we lived in Perth, we ate tikka masala like it was our day job! We had several incredible Indian restaurants right by our apartment and as much as we tried to branch out…we almost always ended up with Indian.

I’ve been making this chicken tikka masala recipe for several years now, but have always hesitated sharing it. It’s not the simplest recipe (and I try to keep things easy here!) and it’s also not the healthiest recipe. BUT, it is my husband’s favorite recipe and since he requests it often, I decided it’s time to add it here. 

I’m not claiming any authenticity for this recipe, but it’s our favorite. And while I said it’s not the simplest recipe you’ll find it is far less involved (with less ingredients) than most tikka masala recipes on the web. 

Chicken Tikka masala spice blend that gets used in the sauce and marinade

So with that, let’s get started with a few FAQS:

Is Chicken Tikka Masala Indian?

As with many recipes, there’s a debate on the actual origins of this dish. Some say it’s a British take on curry, some are convinced it’s from India, and others say it was created in Glasgow, Scotland.

If you’re interested, you can read more about the history here.

Blooming spices and making tomato sauce -- process shotsBasmati rice

Basmati rice is the best with chicken tikka masala. Here’s a video showing my favorite way to cook it!

Naan bread scooping up chicken tikka masala over basmati rice

More delicious chicken dinners

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Chicken Tikka Masala

5 from 9 votes
Creamy and rich chicken tikka masala with marinated and roasted chicken and a flavorful spice-packed sauce.
Print Recipe

Chicken Tikka Masala

5 from 9 votes
Creamy and rich chicken tikka masala with marinated and roasted chicken and a flavorful spice-packed sauce.
Course Dinner
Cuisine Indian
Keyword Chicken Tikka Masala
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Marinating Time 1 day
Total Time 1 day 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 4 -6 servings
Calories 536kcal
Author Chelsea

Ingredients

  • 6 finely minced garlic cloves (~2 tablespoons)
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons finely grated peeled ginger (~1 and 1/2 inch piece)
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon fine sea salt salt (if not using Kosher salt OR sensitive to salt, reduce to personal preference)
  • 3/4 cup whole milk PLAIN yogurt (don't use Greek)
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, OR thighs
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup good quality tomato paste
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 can (28 ounces) good quality fire roasted crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro plus sprigs for garnish
  • Basmati rice, naan, and additional cilantro, for serving

Instructions

  • SPICE BLEND & MARINADE: In a small bowl: combine minced garlic, minced ginger, turmeric, garam masala, cumin, coriander, and salt. Stir to combine. In another bowl, whisk yogurt, half of spice mixture that was just made, and lemon juice until combined. Halve chicken breasts and pound pieces to even thickness with a meat mallet (or the bottom of a frying pan). Add chicken to this yogurt marinade and stir to coat. Cover tightly (or transfer to a sealable bag) and place in the fridge for at least 6 hours and preferably 24 hours. Cover and chill remaining spice mixture in the fridge.
  • SAUCE: Heat vegetable oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add the finely chopped onion and cook until beginning to soften, about 2-3 minutes. Add in the tomato paste, ground cardamom, and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring often, until the tomato paste has darkened and onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining reserved half of spice mixture and cook, stirring often, until bottom of pot begins to brown and everything is very fragrant, about 4 minutes (reduce heat if needed, nothing should be smoking/burning).
  • SAUCE CONT: Add entire can of tomatoes. Increase the heat, bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat. Simmer, stirring often and scraping up browned bits from bottom of pot, until sauce thickens about 8 minutes. Add in the heavy cream and cilantro. Simmer, over lowest heat, stirring occasionally until the sauce thickens about 30 to 40 minutes. IF desired, transfer the sauce to a blender and blend until smooth. Or use a stick blender to puree until smooth. This is optional. Taste the sauce for any additional seasoning/salt. Also depending on the tomatoes you used, you may need 1-2 teaspoons sugar to balance acidity.
  • COOK CHICKEN: (Note 1) Meanwhile, preheat a grill or grill pan to medium-high heat (about 400 degrees F.) Generously oil the grill (I drench a rolled-up paper towel in vegetable oil and, holding it with tongs, rub it over the grill grates. Don't skip this step.) Remove chicken from marinade and discard any remaining marinade. Grill the chicken turning once halfway through grilling, about 4-6 minutes per side (until the thickest part of the chicken registers 165 degrees F and juices run clear). Transfer the chicken to a plate and cover with foil. Allow the chicken to rest for a few minutes so the juices can re-distribute. Chop into bite-sized pieces. Stir into the sauce until coated, remove and serve over freshly cooked rice with warmed naan. Add additional chopped cilantro to garnish as desired.
  • Note 1: if you don't have a grill/grill pan follow this alternate cooking method: heat 1 tablespoon oil in a non stick pan over high heat until smoking. Add half the chicken (it will need to have been cut into 2 inch pieces before being marinated) and spread out in one even layer. Leave for 2 minutes or until charred. Flip each piece and cook the other side until charred (chicken won't be cooked through; just charred) Remove chicken and set aside. Scrape out charred bits in pan and quickly wipe the pan clean. Add more oil and repeat with the remaining chicken until it's all charred. Add to the sauce and simmer, stirring occasionally, until chicken is fully cooked through, 2-3 minutes.

Nutrition Facts

Calories: 536kcal

DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?

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Nutrition facts for chicken tikka masala recipe

Recipe adapted from Epicurious

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Recipe Rating




20 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    so i had never heard of this dish before. but the pictures caught my attention and i just had to try it. so glad i did!! delicious!

  2. Hi Chelsea,

    I make a lot of your yummy recipes. And I’d like to try your Tikka Masala for V day. I’m not a big fan of spicy food and was wondering, how spicey is the fire-roasted crushed tomatoes are? Or culd I substitute it for crushed tomatoes/tomato puree?

    Thanks again for your terrific recipes!

    1. Thank you so much Eva! I typically buy Muir Glen fire roasted tomatoes and haven’t ever found them to be spicy; you can certainly substitute in regular crushed tomatoes though ๐Ÿ™‚ And make sure to leave out the crushed red pepper flakes! Enjoy!

    2. 5 stars
      I did indeed make the Tikka Masala for Kiss Day and my husband and I LOVED it! Realized I didn’t have cardamom so found out I can sub it out for Cinnamon…who knew ;-). The only problem is I’ll have to make it again soon as he keeps telling me how good it was ;-). Gotta also say your Crispy Chicken Salad with that yummy honey BBQ dressing is one of my favorite salads!!

  3. 5 stars
    This was delicious! My whole family loved it…even my picky eater. Indian food has always been a little daunting, but your recipe was so well laid out that it was simple to make and so worth the effort????

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