Published: May 12, 2021
The best homemade Chicken Tikka Masala recipe like the one from your favorite Indian restaurant! With tender and juicy pieces of charred chicken, swimming in an amazing creamy and flavorful tomato sauce, it will make your taste buds sing with every bite. Pair with our homemade Naan bread to soak up the amazing sauce!
Other Indian-inspired dishes we love include our Turkey Keema, Beef Kofta, and Chickpea Curry.
I love Indian cuisine, but since we don’t live near any Indian restaurant, I’ve learned to recreate my favorite dishes at home. Chicken Tikka Masala is right at the top of that list. Each time I prepare it, I spend the next morning anxious and restless waiting for lunchtime to approach so I can inhale the leftovers.
If you’re not sure about Indian food, I’m 1000% sure this dish will convert you.
What is Chicken Tikka Masala
Tikka Masala is a traditional Indian dish made from chicken marinated in yogurt, charred and simmered in a rich and creamy spicy tomato-based sauce. The gorgeous color comes from Garam Masala, which is a blend of cinnamon, black pepper, coriander, cumin, and cardamom. It has a subtle nutty and sweet, unique flavor.
Authentic tikka masala is usually skewered and baked in a hot clay oven that goes up to 900 degrees F! Since most people don’t have a tandoor oven, we share how to prepare it in a cast iron skillet on the stovetop. Equally tasty, but much simpler!
Butter Chicken vs. Chicken Tikka Masala
These two classic Indian dishes are mouthwatering and extremely similar. They also look pretty much the same, but there is a difference in taste and cooking method. Butter chicken is cooked primarily with butter (hence the name) and a creamy blend of spicy, slightly sweet and slightly sweet tomato sauce. Tikka masala is mostly cooked with oil in a creamy tomato and onion sauce that has more heat and greater flavor.
Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe
We love the intricacy of Indian spices that give a crazy flavor to dishes like this one. Don’t skip any or you will miss the optimal Tikka Masala experience. Here are the Chicken Tikka Masala ingredients you’ll need:
(Scroll to the printable recipe card below for details and measurements.)
- Yogurt: This is part of the chicken marinade that helps tenderize the chicken. You can use plain yogurt or plain Greek yogurt.
- Lemon juice: Use fresh.
- Aromatic: Onion, fresh ginger and garlic.
- Condiments: Garam masala, cumin, coriander, smoked paprika, chili powder and salt.
- Sugar cane: The molasses in brown sugar adds extra flavor to the sauce. It is a small amount.
- Tomato sauce: This is an unseasoned canned tomato sauce, not spaghetti sauce.
- Heavy cream: For a creamy and rich sauce. You can use half and half to cut calories.
- Vegetable oil and butter: We love the combination of oil and butter for stir-frying. Coriander: Used for garnish which adds flavor and a nice pop of color!
Chicken breasts or chicken legs?
These two cuts of meat provide slightly different results. Thigh meat is more tender and usually tastier, but tends to be fatter and high in calories. Chicken breasts are leaner and require a longer marinating time. It is a totally personal preference. The dish will turn out great with both.
How To Make Chicken Tikka Masala
As mentioned above, traditional tikka masala is prepared in a tandoor oven. We don’t have one of those and we don’t know many people who do! So, for your convenience, we prepare this dish in a cast iron skillet on the hob, keeping all the flavors authentic. Here are some tips to get you as close to the real deal as possible:
- Do not skip the marinade: The marinade helps tenderize the chicken and is essential for this dish. Chicken thighs take a minimum of 15 minutes, while breasts take at least an hour. The longer, the better!
- Use a cast iron skillet: A well seasoned cast iron skillet will give you the best charred results. If you only have a regular non-stick pan, cook over high heat.
- Frying in a pan: Cooking chicken pieces in batches helps prevent overcrowding, which can result in steaming instead of charring.
Chicken Tikka Masala video
What to Serve with Chicken Tikka Masala
I always serve this dish over hot basmati rice cooked with a sprinkle of chopped fresh coriander (or parsley) and a side of homemade naan bread to soak up that amazing sauce! It is also great with a simple side salad or vegetables like roasted broccoli or roasted asparagus. Then wash it all down with some sweet tea.
Chicken Tikka Masala
The best homemade Chicken Tikka Masala recipe like the one from your favorite Indian restaurant! With tender and juicy pieces of charred chicken, swimming in an amazing creamy and flavorful tomato sauce.
For the chicken marinade
- 1 cup plain yogurt or Greek yogurt
- 2 spoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder (not cayenne pepper)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
- 1 1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into small pieces
For the sauce
- 2 spoons vegetable oil
- 2 spoons Butter
- 1 wide sweet onions finely diced
- 2 teaspoons grated ginger
- 2 Cloves garlic finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons sugar cane
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 8 ounce can of tomato sauce (unseasoned)
- 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
- 1/4 cup 1/4 cup of water only if necessary
- chopped cilantro to garnish
- naan bread
- cooked basmati rice
In a bowl, whisk all the ingredients for the marinade together; add the chicken and mix to coat. Leave to marinate for 15 minutes to 1 hour (ideally overnight in the refrigerator, if time permits).
Heat the oil in a large skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium-high heat. Once glistening, add the chicken pieces in batches as needed, being careful not to crowd the pan. Let them fry, intact, for 1 minute to form a crust, then sauté until golden brown for another 5 minutes. Set aside and keep warm.
Melt the butter in the same pan. Fry the onions until soft (about 3 minutes) by scraping off all the browned pieces left at the bottom of the pan. Add the ginger and garlic; sauté for 30 seconds until fragrant.
Add the brown sugar, coriander, cumin, paprika, garam masala and salt. Stir occasionally for about 15 seconds until fragrant.
Pour in the tomato sauce; simmer for about 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally until the sauce thickens and takes on a more intense color.
Add the cream until it is incorporated.
Add the partially cooked chicken along with its juices to the pan; cook for another 8-10 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce is thick and bubbly. Pour in the water to dilute the sauce, only as needed.
Serve over cooked basmati rice, with Naan bread and garnish with chopped cilantro.
Calories: 667kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 42g | Fat: 47g | Saturated fats: 29g | trans fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 234mg | Sodium: 977mg | Potassium: 1144mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 1963IU | C vitamin: 15mg | Soccer: 182mg | Iron: 3mg
The nutrition information provided is an automatic calculation and may vary based on the exact products you use and any changes made to the recipe. If these numbers are very important to you, I recommend that you calculate them yourself.