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15 March 2021

This chicken tikka masala recipe is a creamy Indian-style curry with chunks of yogurt-marinated roasted chicken simmered in a flavorful curry sauce. It is very comforting and perfect for any curry lover.

We’re cooking up on of our favorite curry dishes in the Chili Pepper Madness kitchen tonight, my friends. Care to stop by? We deeply love curries in our home. They are perfect for the spicy food lover, so filled with flavor and lots of interesting spices.

There are many, many ways to make curry with versions from all over the world, some very original to a specific region, some influenced by travelers who interpreted a curry their own way, and everything in between.

This particular curry dish has questionable origins of its own, but in my opinion, it doesn’t matter where it ultimately came from. It is absolutely delicious and always satisfying.

It is called Chicken Tikka Masala, and I think you’re going to love this particular version.

Chicken Tikka Masala in a pan with garnish

What is Chicken Tikka Masala?

Chicken Tikka Masala is an Indian-style curry of boneless chicken that is marinated in yogurt and a mix of spices, which is oven roasted, then quickly simmered in a creamy tomato curry sauce. There are many different ways to make it, and recipes vary from country to country and even cook to cook.

It is very similar in flavor and texture to the famous Butter Chicken or Chicken Korma, though with variations in spices and cooking steps.

The origin of the recipe is murky, with some claiming it is an original Indian food recipe, some that it is a British invention by East Pakistan or Bangladesh migrants, some that it was born in Scotland from a Bangladeshi chef, and some that it just a modern take on an Indian classic.

Most believe it is a British creation with Indian origins, though it is now found all over the world.

Regardless of the origin of Chicken Tikka Masala, it’s popularity is undeniable, a testament to its alluring and enduring flavor. 

It isn’t a difficult recipe to make, though there are a lot of ingredients. Don’t let that stop you. It’s worth making a trip to your local Indian grocery store, or ordering spices online.

It’s also easy to customize to your own heat and spice levels, so feel free to vary up the ratios, my spicy food loving friends. You can very easily add in hotter chili powders for a spicy hot version of the dish.

So what do you say we get cooking! I’m getting hungry for curry!

Let’s talk about how we make Chicken Tikka Masala, shall we?

Chicken Tikka Masala in a pan

Chicken Tikka Masala Ingredients

  • For the Chicken Tikka Masala Marinade. Boneless chicken (use chicken breast, chicken thighs, or a combination), plain yogurt, garlic, ginger, cumin, garam masala, coriander, turmeric, paprika, salt and pepper.
  • For the Tikka Masala Sauce. Oil for cooking, onion, bell pepper (or use Kashmiri peppers), ginger, garlic, turmeric, coriander, paprika, garam masala, cumin, cayenne powder or other chili powder, tomato paste, tomato sauce, water, heavy cream.
  • For Serving. Fresh chopped cilantro, chili flakes, naan, steamed basmati rice.

How to Make Chicken Tikka Masala – the Recipe Method

MARINATE THE CHICKEN

Add the bite-sized chicken pieces to a small bowl. Add the yogurt, garlic, ginger, cumin, garam masala, coriander, turmeric, paprika, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Marinate overnight for more developed flavor.

Yogurt marinated chicken in a bowl with other seasonings

ROAST THE CHICKEN

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Remove the pieces of chicken and place the marinated pieces onto skewers. Set them onto a lined baking sheet and bake them for 15 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Set aside.

Yogurt marinated chicken on skewers, ready to bake

MAKE THE TIKKA MASALA SAUCE

Heat the oil in a large pan to medium heat. Add the onion and peppers. Cook for 5 minutes to soften.

Add the ginger, garlic, cumin, turmeric, coriander, paprika, cayenne, and garam masala. Cook stirring for 30 seconds to bloom the spices.

Stir in the tomato paste, tomato sauce and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. You can simmer longer if you’d like to develop more flavor. 20 minutes or longer is good for me. Add a bit of water if the sauce becomes too thick.

Tikka Masala sauce simmering in a pan

Add the heavy cream and stir to mix through.

Remove the chicken from the skewers and stir it into the simmering sauce. Heat through for 2-3 minutes.

Stirring the chicken into the pan of simmering Chicken Tikka Masala

Garnish and serve! Chicken tikka masala is great with steamed rice and warmed naan bread.

Boom! Done! Your creamy chicken tikka masala is ready to serve! Looks great, doesn’t it? The tomato cream sauce smells amazing. Talk about comfort food. This chicken curry is sure to satisfy even the most profound of cravings. We love this recipe. Highly recommended!

Chicken Tikka Masala on a plate with pita bread

Recipe Tips & Notes

  • The Peppers. Use your favorite local chili peppers for this recipe. It is usually made with Kashmiri peppers for a more authentic experience, though any peppers can be used. Use bell peppers for a milder version.
  • The Yogurt. I prefer fresh, plain, whole milk yogurt for this recipe. Greek yogurt will work just fine here, but it a bit more watery and can affect consistency.
  • Creaminess. Most recipes call for using heavy cream, though I have seen many variations with coconut milk instead. Make a lighter version with milk, sour cream or crema.
  • Leftovers. Store any leftover chicken tikka masala covered in the refrigerator for up to a week. It also freezes nicely in covered containers or freezer bags for 3 months easily.

Chicken Tikka Masala on a piece of soft pita bread

That’s it, my friends. I hope you enjoy this chicken tikka masala recipe. Creamy and spicy in all the right ways. Let me know if you make it. Such a great recipe. I’d love to hear how it turned out for you. Keep it spicy!

Try Some of My Other Popular Recipes

Chicken Tikka Masala, ready to serve

Got any questions? Ask away! I’m happy to help. If you enjoy this recipe, I hope you’ll leave a comment with some STARS. Also, please share it on social media. Don’t forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I’ll be sure to share! Thanks! — Mike H.

Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe
Print Recipe
4.75 from 4 votes

Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe

This chicken tikka masala recipe is a creamy Indian-style curry with chunks of yogurt-marinated roasted chicken simmered in a flavorful curry sauce.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Marinating1 hr
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Indian
Keyword: chicken, curry, spicy, yogurt
Servings: 6
Calories: 496kcal

Ingredients

CHICKEN MARINADE

  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken, cut into bite-size pieces (use chicken breast or chicken thigh, or both)
  • 1 cup plain yogurt whole milk
  • 6 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons coriander
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • Salt to taste

TIKKA MASALA SAUCE

  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 small bell pepper chopped (Use Kashmiri peppers if you can obtain them, or other local peppers)
  • 2 tablespoons minced ginger
  • 6 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoons cayenne powder optional for extra spicy
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 2 cups tomato sauce or more to taste
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • FOR SERVING: Fresh chopped cilantro chili flakes, naan, steamed basmati rice

Instructions

MARINATE THE CHICKEN

  • Add the chicken pieces to a small bowl. Add the yogurt, garlic, ginger, cumin, garam masala, coriander, turmeric, paprika, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Marinate overnight for more developed flavor.

ROAST THE CHICKEN

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Remove the chicken and place the marinated pieces onto skewers. Set them onto a lined baking sheet and bake them for 15 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Set aside.

MAKE THE TIKKA MASALA SAUCE

  • Heat the oil in a large pan to medium heat. Add the onion and peppers. Cook for 5 minutes to soften.
  • Add the ginger, garlic, cumin, turmeric, coriander, paprika, cayenne, and garam masala. Stir and cook for 30 seconds to bloom the spices.
  • Stir in the tomato paste, tomato sauce and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. You can simmer longer if you'd like to develop more flavor. Add a bit of water if the sauce becomes too thick.
  • Add the heavy cream and stir to mix through.
  • Remove the chicken from the skewers and stir it into the simmering sauce. Heat through for 2-3 minutes.
  • Garnish and serve! Chicken tikka masala is great with steamed rice and warmed naan bread.

Notes

The Peppers. Use your favorite local chili peppers for this recipe. It is usually made with Kashmiri peppers for a more authentic experience, though any peppers can be used. Use bell peppers for a milder version.
The Yogurt. I prefer fresh, plain, whole milk yogurt for this recipe. Greek yogurt will work just fine here, but it a bit more watery and can affect consistency.
Creaminess. Most recipes call for using heavy cream, though I have seen many variations with coconut milk instead. Make a lighter version with milk, sour cream or crema.
Leftovers. Store any leftover chicken tikka masala covered in the refrigerator for up to a week. It also freezes nicely in covered containers or freezer bags for 3 months easily.

Nutrition

Calories: 496kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 39g | Fat: 30g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 155mg | Sodium: 630mg | Potassium: 1238mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 2578IU | Vitamin C: 38mg | Calcium: 132mg | Iron: 4mg

13 comments

  1. 4 stars
    I’ve never made a curry and am eager to try your recipe. The only thing I am unsure of is the type of paprika. I have two at hand; one is a smokey, spicy type and the other is milder and sweeter. Which would you recommend?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Barbara, really any of the paprikas you have will work. I would personally use the spicy type, though smoky is a nice addition. Go with your preference. I also have a wide variety of paprikas in my collection. I hope you enjoy it enough to rate 5 stars after you actually try it.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Hi, Joy. You could use 1 cup in place of the heavy cream, or 2 cups in place of the cream and water. Enjoy!

  2. contact here

    5 stars
    Wow! This is such perfect timing since I’m craving Indian foods. I will definitely try this recipe. Thanks a lot for sharing!

  3. William R Schulze

    Thank you for the reply–and the link to your spelling debate. As I reread my own post, I think it perhaps sounds snarky, which wasn’t my intent. I should’ve dropped in a smiley face or two. LOL Agree that no matter how one spells it (I’ll stay with chile! ;«) ), they do taste GREAT! Keep up the good work, sir.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      I didn’t take it as snarky, William. I know there is a LOT of passion in the pepper world. Another reason I love it so much. All the best!!!

  4. William R Schulze

    I love your website and I love your recipes–and I thank you mucho for them. Sderipous, very serious, kudos to you! What I don’t get is why you spell the word as “chili” (with an “i”). Chile should be spelled with an “e”. Chili with an “i” is a chile dish/stew that Texans insist (wrongly) cannot have beans. Chile, with an “e”, refers to the chile pepper itself. How can the self proclaimed chilipeppermadness king continue to make this fundamental mistake?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Hello, William. Thank you for the positive comments, and I’m glad you find the site valuable. Regarding the spelling of “chili/chile pepper”, I have a post on this here – How Do You Spell Chili/Chile/Chilli Pepper? (https://www.chilipeppermadness.com/frequently-asked-questions/how-do-you-spell-chili-pepper-is-it-chili-chilli-or-chile/). Also, I proclaim nothing, my friend. I’m just a guy who REALLY REALLY REALLY loves chili peppers and is happy to share it with the world. No matter how you want to spell the word, we can probably agree the world would be a terrible place without them. All the best.

  5. 5 stars
    Mike…..I’ve written to you before…..you really have to stop this crap!! Seriously. As an ER doc I work my but off and it’s really painful to come home from work and have to cook instead of relax. But, your recipes are so freakin awesome that my wife absolutely insists I make them. Ugh… not another one.. obviously I’m just kidding since getting a recipe from you is the highlight of my day. I love to cook and I love your spin on traditional recipes. She is an incredible gardener ( and incredible nurse) who grows all the peppers I want. Heck, we have so much ground peppers and pickled peppers and pepper jellies that the apocalypse will be well tolerated. Thank you for all your hard work. You are my hero. Keep ‘em coming.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Haha, sorry, Donal! Truly, super happy you and your wife appreciate the recipes and info. All the best to you! Cheers!

  6. 5 stars
    yup.
    allegedly invented in my home town of glasgow, scotland.
    haven’t made one in quite a while. this has got my juices going however.
    think a slow cooker version of yours will be coming up at the weekend.
    thanks for the inspiration as always.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Nice! This is AWESOME in the slow cooker. I appreciate it.

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