Home > Dinner > Chicken > Chicken Tikka Masala Chicken Tikka Masala May 14, 2019 | 22 Comments SAVE TO RECIPE BOX Jump to Recipe This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy. Creamy and rich Chicken Tikka Masala feature marinated chicken and a flavorful spice-packed sauce. Pair Chicken Tikka Masala with hot cooked basmati rice and/or naan. We also love roasted eggplant on the side! Chicken Tikka Masala When we lived in Perth, Australia, 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 there. I’ve been making Chicken Tikka Masala recipe for several years now but have always hesitated to share 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 fewer ingredients) than most tikka masala recipes on the web. QUICK TIP Don’t confuse Chicken Tikka Masala with Chicken Marsala! Tikka means chunks or pieces, and Masala is an Indian spice blend. Marsala, on the other hand, is a fortified Italian wine. About the only thing these two dishes have in common is the chicken! So with that, let’s answer a few questions. Chicken Tikka Masala 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. What is the difference between Butter Chicken and Chicken Tikka Masala? Butter Chicken often looks similar to Chicken Tikka Masala, but the difference is in the flavor. Tikka masala generally has more of a complex and layered flavor from the spices, while Butter Chicken has a milder and sweeter sauce. What does tikka masala taste like? If I said that tikka masala tastes like heaven, that wouldn’t really help you envision it much. However, in very general terms, tikka masala is a tomato and cream-based sauce with a lot of spices added. It’s slightly spicy and tastes earthy. The chicken has a chargrilled flavor that pairs perfectly with the creamy sauce. How to make Chicken Tikka Masala One of the best things about this recipe is that the ingredients are very to find. No need to go to a speciality store or order anything online; you should be able to find everything at your local grocery store! My “secret” to the best chicken with that famous tikka masala chargrilled flavor? We grill it! While you can cook the chicken in a skillet or the oven, I highly recommend grilling the chicken for this recipe. One seasoning mix for two purposes Most tikka masala recipes include a list of seasonings for the marinade and another list for the actual dish. I’ve combined the two processes, so you only have to make one spice blend. Half goes in the marinade and the rest is for the sauce. Use boneless chicken thighs or breasts You can use either for this chicken tikka masala — whatever you prefer! If using breasts, I highly recommend marinating overnight for maximum flavor and tenderness. Thighs can marinate for less time, but the longer the marinating time, the better! (I don’t recommend marinating longer than 24 hours.) Quick tips Make ahead: This is a dish that just keeps getting better as it sits, making it great for meal prep or making ahead of time, if you have company coming (stress free!)! We like it best on day two. Good quality tomatoes: The tomatoes make such a huge difference in the flavor of this dish. I highly recommend getting good quality (such as Cento Marzano®, Carmelina Marzano Italian®, or Muir Glen®) Fresh ginger and fresh garlic: I’ll be the first to admit, I reach for jarred garlic often, but in Chicken Tikka Masala, the real stuff makes a big difference. Use fresh garlic and ginger for the best possible flavor. Basmati rice Basmati rice is perfect to serve with Chicken Tikka Masala. Here’s how I cook basmati rice* which is our personal favorite base for this recipe. Measure the rice and rinse it in a fine-mesh sieve until the water runs clear. Place the rice in a bowl and cover it with water to soak for about 5-10 minutes. While the rice is soaking, fill a large pot with water and set to boil. Once the water is at a rolling boil, drain the rice and add it to the pot. Cook without reducing the heat, for 5 minutes and then drain and fluff with a fork. *Note that these cooking directions do not work for other rice varieties (long grain, short grain, jasmine, etc.). More delicious chicken dinners Coconut Chicken Curry Mango Chicken Chicken Ramen Pesto Chicken with a corn and bean salsa Cilantro Lime Chicken Recipe adapted from Epicurious FOLLOW ALONG! Subscribe to my newsletter and follow along on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram for the latest updates, recipes and content. Chicken Tikka Masala 5 from 10 votes - Review this recipe Creamy and rich Chicken Tikka Masala features marinated and grilled chicken and a flavorful spice-packed sauce. SAVE TO RECIPE BOX Print Recipe Chicken Tikka Masala 5 from 10 votes - Review this recipe SAVE TO RECIPE BOX Print Recipe Creamy and rich Chicken Tikka Masala features marinated and grilled chicken and a flavorful spice-packed sauce. Course Dinner, Main Course 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 843kcal Author Chelsea Ingredients6 garlic cloves finely minced (~2 tablespoons)1 and 1/2 tablespoons peeled ginger finely grated (~1 and 1/2 inch piece)1 and 1/2 tablespoons ground turmeric2 teaspoons garam masala2 teaspoons ground cumin2 teaspoons ground coriander1 tablespoon fine sea salt (if not using Kosher salt or sensitive to salt, reduce to personal preference)3/4 cup whole milk plain yogurt not Greek yogurt2 teaspoons lemon juice2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs3 tablespoons vegetable oil1 small yellow onion finely chopped1/4 cup tomato paste1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes1 can (28 ounces) fire-roasted crushed tomatoes2 cups heavy cream3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro plus sprigs for garnishBasmati rice, naan, and additional cilantro, for serving InstructionsSPICE BLEND and MARINADE: In a small bowl: combine minced garlic, minced ginger, turmeric, garam masala, cumin, coriander, and salt; stir to combine. In another bowl, whisk to combine the yogurt, half of the spice mixture and lemon juice. Halve chicken breasts and pound pieces to even thickness with a meat mallet (or the bottom of a frying pan). Add chicken to the yogurt mixture and stir to coat. Cover tightly (or transfer to a sealable bag) and refrigerate for at least 6 hours and preferably 24 hours. Cover and chill the remaining spice mixture.SAUCE: Heat vegetable oil in a large, heavy pan over medium heat. Add the finely chopped onion and cook until it begins 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 reserved half of spice mixture and cook, stirring often, until the 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 crushed tomatoes, increase the heat, bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat. Simmer, stirring often and scraping up browned bits from the bottom of the pot, until sauce thickens-- about 8 minutes. Stir in the heavy cream and cilantro. Simmer, over lowest heat, stirring occasionally until the sauce thickens, about 30 to 40 minutes. Optional: transfer the sauce to a blender and process until smooth. Alternatively, use a stick blender to puree until smooth. Taste the sauce for any additional seasoning/salt. Depending on the tomatoes you used, you may need 1-2 teaspoons sugar to balance acidity.COOK CHICKEN: (See Note 1) 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 the 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 (See Note 2) with warmed naan. Add additional chopped cilantro to garnish as desired. Recipe NotesNote 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 (cut into 2-inch pieces before marinating) 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 from the 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. Note 2: Instructions for cooking basmati rice are included above in the post. Nutritional information does not include naan or rice. Nutrition FactsCalories: 843kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 54g | Fat: 63g | Saturated Fat: 38g | Cholesterol: 314mg | Sodium: 2209mg | Potassium: 1332mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 2125IU | Vitamin C: 13mg | Calcium: 186mg | Iron: 3mg We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed. DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE? I love hearing from you when you've made one of my recipes! Tag me on Instagram at @ChelseasMessyApron or leave me a comment below.