Chicken Tikka Masala

You’ll love my amazing recipe for tasty, satisfying, flavorful chicken tikka masala—it’s the absolute best!

You’ll love my amazing recipe for tasty, satisfying, flavorful chicken tikka masala—it’s the absolute best!

Do you love chicken tikka masala as much as I do? Assuming the answer is yes (or you wouldn’t be reading this!), you might be interested to know how this Indian—or is it???—dish was invented.

Some say it was created by a Bangladeshi chef working in Scotland at an Indian restaurant. A customer ordered a chicken dish, possibly chicken tikka—chunks of boneless chicken marinated in yogurt and spices, then grilled in a tandoor oven—but found the dish too dry. So the chef improvised a sauce to go with it, combining tomatoes, cream, and spices.

Ta da—chicken tikka masala!

Others, though, say that’s all the story is—a story. They contend the dish totally originated in India, possibly inspired by butter chicken—chicken simmered in a buttery tomato sauce.

Who knows? Whoever invented it, I think we can all agree—it’s delicious! Perhaps even better, it’s pretty easy to make at home.

Tikka masala is basically a two-step process. Step one is the chicken—marinating it in a spicy yogurt sauce, then cooking it. A tandoor oven would be most authentic, but who has one of those? Luckily, grilling or broiling works fine. The idea is high enough heat to get some good browning or light charring.

Step two is making the spiced tomato-cream sauce. Then you put the two together and serve the mixture over rice. And don’t forget plenty of naan—Indian flatbread—to sop up every drop.

My recipe simplifies the process a bit by mixing one batch of garlic, ginger, and spices and using it in both the marinade and the tomato sauce. It also uses an Indian spice blend called garam masala, which cuts down on the number of seasonings you have to gather and measure out. (You can buy garam masala at better supermarkets or, better yet, make your own with my recipe.)

Because the chicken marinates for a few hours, you do need a little foresight to make chicken tikka masala. But once you get cooking, it’s pretty quick.

(And if you don’t have the time, try my Chicken Curry.)


Christine :)


Chicken Tikka Masala

  • Author: Allie McDonald
  • Prep Time: 4 hours 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 hours
  • Yield: 4-6 servings


You’ll love my amazing recipe for tasty, satisfying, flavorful chicken tikka masala—it’s the absolute best!


  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 tsp. grated fresh ginger
  • 4 tsp. garam masala
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt, or more to taste
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs or a mixture, cut into 1 and 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 (28-oz.) can crushed tomatoes, strained tomatoes, or tomato puree
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • Chopped fresh cilantro or cilantro sprigs for garnish
  • Cooked rice for serving
  • Naan bread for serving


  1. Combine the garlic, ginger, garam masala, coriander, cumin, and turmeric.
  2. Combine the yogurt, salt, and about half of the garlic-ginger mixture.
  3. Put the chicken in a large resealable bag and add the yogurt mixture. Squeeze out as much as air as possible, seal the bag, and set aside in the refrigerator to marinate for at least 4 hours and as long as overnight.
  4. Thread the chicken onto skewers (discard marinade).
  5. Preheat a grill to high and lightly oil the grate (or preheat the broiler, position a rack about 5 inches from the heat, and lightly oil a rimmed baking sheet). Grill (or broil) the chicken, turning once or twice, until just cooked through and browned in spots, 12 to 15 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and lightly browned, 6 to 8 minutes.
  7. Add the chili powder, cardamom, cayenne, and remaining garlic-ginger mixture and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  8. Add the tomatoes and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and stir in the cream. Adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook until the sauce is thickened to your liking, about 10 minutes. Add salt to taste.
  9. Take the chicken off the skewers and add it to the sauce. Cook 2 to 3 minutes.
  10. Serve with rice and naan. Garnish with cilantro.


Chicken Tikka Masala

2 responses to “Chicken Tikka Masala”

  1. Jess says:

    Always wanted to try making this, and the recipe is super clear-cut and easy to follow! Definitely going to be a meal-prep addition. Our grocer usually sells large packs of chicken and I never know what to do with it. Thank you for having such a wide selection of things I could try making at home.

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