Chicken Tikka Masala

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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!

Bowl of ChickenTikka Masala and rice with a fork digging in!

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. 


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!

Chicken Tikka Masala spice blend that goes in the sauce and marinade.

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.

Process shots--Blooming the spices and making tomato sauce.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.).

Naan bread scooping up Chicken Tikka Masala over basmati rice.

More delicious chicken dinners

Recipe adapted from Epicurious

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Chicken Tikka Masala

5 from 11 votes
Creamy and rich Chicken Tikka Masala features marinated and grilled chicken and a flavorful spice-packed sauce.
Print Recipe

Chicken Tikka Masala

5 from 11 votes
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


  • 6 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 turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 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 yogurt
  • 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 tomato paste
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 can (28 ounces) 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


  • SPICE 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 Notes

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  (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 Facts

Calories: 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.


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.





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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    Made this for dinner last night and my family loved it! It made a great dinner that differed from our typical weeknight meals!

  2. 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!

  3. 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 🙂 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!!

  4. 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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