Easy Chicken Tikka Masala

6 Servings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Chicken Tikka Masala is a delicious creamy tomato sauce based Indian recipe made with white meat chicken and plenty of bold spices including garlic, ginger, cumin and coriander.

Chicken Tikka Masala is the spicier, bolder almost twin brother recipe to the Indian fan favorite Butter Chicken.

Chicken Tikka Masala Chicken Tikka Masala

Indian Food hasn’t had it’s due on this blog to date which is a shame because it is one of our FAVORITE variety of foods we love to cook together in the kitchen. This Chicken Tikka Masala is the beginning of a new series of Indian recipes I’ll be posting on the blog and is the product of a few weekends spent learning from a family friend’s Indian grandmother about all the flavors, feelings, tips and tricks that go into delicious Indian recipes.

The day we made this Chicken Tikka we also made a DOZEN other dishes (I kind of wish I could just share all of them with you right now!), so as we go we’ll be sharing them while still bringing in a good mix of other non-Indian dishes to the blog.

That being said, if you have a request? Please let me know in the comments I would love to post that next if it is a recipe we have made already. AND we are going to be getting together again to cook a lot of appetizers and sides next time too, so I really do hope you all love Indian food!

Don’t worry, we’ll be going at a once every 2-3 week pace on these recipes so it doesn’t take over the natural mix of recipes you all love.

Chicken Tikka Masala in blue bowl

How do you make Chicken Tikka Masala?

Chicken Tikka Masala is made in two parts with a spiced yogurt and lemon marinade on the chicken and a creamy tomato spiced sauce that are combined after cooking much like Butter chicken.

What is the difference between Chicken Tikka Masala and Butter Chicken?

Chicken Tikka Masala is traditionally made with white meat chicken while Butter Chicken (Chicken Makhani) is traditionally made with bone in dark meat and contains a significant amount of oil to create a creamy mouth texture. Both contain creamy tomato sauces and similar spices.

In many restaurants they are regarded as the same dish, but in authentic restaurants there is a distinction. Often times Chicken Tikka Masala will also contain less cream than butter chicken.

Chicken Tikka Masala with white meat chicken in gravy

Tools used in the making of this Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe:
Cast Iron Dutch Oven: I used to fry in my cast iron skillet, but this dutch oven is perfect for frying larger pieces of food and it keeps heat really well. Plus the lid is a second pan so it is all you need to make this recipe.

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Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala is a delicious creamy tomato sauce based Indian recipe made with white meat chicken and plenty of bold spices including garlic, ginger, cumin and coriander.
Yield 6 Servings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Author Sabrina Snyder


  • 4 chicken breasts , boneless skinless
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup greek yogurt
  • 1 lemon , juiced (just under ¼ cup)
  • 6 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons minced ginger
  • 1 can (14 oz) crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil


  • Cut the chicken into 2 inch chunks.
  • Mix the cumin, paprika, coriander, turmeric, cayenne pepper and salt into a small bowl.
  • Toss the chicken with half the spices, the greek yogurt and the lemon juice and let it sit while you make the sauce.
  • In a large saucepan on medium high heat, add the butter and the rest of the spices, stirring well for 30 seconds until you can smell them well.
  • Add in the garlic and ginger and stir an additional 30 seconds.
  • Add in the crushed tomatoes and heavy cream, stir and let simmer on a low-medium heat for 7-10 minutes.
  • Heat the canola oil in a large skillet on medium high heat.
  • Remove most of the marinade from the pieces of the chicken before cooking.
  • Cook the chicken in batches until just cooked through.
  • Add the sauce to the chicken and mix well before serving.


Serving: 1g | Calories: 347kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 37g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 130mg | Sodium: 316mg | Potassium: 790mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 1670IU | Vitamin C: 15.3mg | Calcium: 97mg | Iron: 3mg
Chicken Tikka Masala Collage
Chicken Tikka with Rice in bowl

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the cookbook Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients, published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

Dinner, then Dessert, Inc. owns the copyright on all images and text and does not allow for its original recipes and pictures to be reproduced anywhere other than at this site unless authorization is given. If you enjoyed the recipe and would like to publish it on your own site, please re-write it in your own words, and link back to my site and recipe page. Read my disclosure and copyright policy. This post may contain affiliate links.


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  1. Ummm, No, No, No….
    You cannot have a decent masala with Garam.
    This isn’t really an easy recipe, compared to other recipes that call for slow cooking, in a pot or crock pot.

    Sorry, but this was not good at all.
    Had to tweak it for palpability, yet still wasn’t right.

  2. This was good. Will add less lemon juice next time. Added brown sugar to taste. Served over basmati rice and a side of green beans. Very good after adjustments.

  3. I haven’t made this yes, but plan on doing so today. I read the reviews and have a suggestion make the meat more flavorful. Unfortunately it just adds more time…My best friend is from Indian and she told me to marinade the meat for as long as possible, up to 24hrs. That’s the only way to really let the flavor set in. Also, once the sauce is added to the pan with the chicken add a bit of water, about 1/2 cup, and let it simmer for about 20 minutes or longer. Also, she adds the cream (or even a dollop of plain yogurt) at the very end of cooking and just warms it through. I hope that helps!

  4. I have tried your slow cooker Indian butter chicken and it’s amazing. Could you make this Tikka Masala for the slow cooker too?

  5. So Im having a problem with the chicken, when I make it, and mix it in with the sauce and take a bite, the chicken tastes bland. The sauce is on point except for the chicken, which i mix with the yogurt and the spices, suggestions?

  6. Hi Sabrina!
    This is my first ever food blog post and I have been making my way through your entire website. I haven’t tried a recipe that I haven’t absolutely loved (and added to my forever favorites box). Is it possible to make the Tikka Masala as a slow cooker recipe? I was reading your butter chicken recipe and I like the process for that better than this one. It seems like the meat would be more tender and absorb more flavor since it’s cooking in the sauce longer; however, Tikka Masala is my favorite (and vindaloo) Indian restaurant order. Looking forward to hearing back! Can’t wait to make one or both 🙂

        1. It’s still on research list of recipes to test. I’ve been so busy with the holidays that it fell to the back burner. Stay tuned in the new year for it. Thanks for your patience.

    1. Not a silly question at all. Once you’re logged into the site, you’ll see a saved recipe section at the top of the page. Hope this helps.

  7. Please explain step 8 in your instructions for this recipe. How does one discard most of the marinade from the chicken when its already all coated in the stuff?

  8. Can you share the recipe you use for the rice? Thank you for sharing such delicious recipes! Every single time I try one, it comes out great 🙂

      1. Thanks for the link! One more question for you. What do you think about making this Chicken Tikka Masala dish in the slow cooker similar to how the chicken is cooked in your Slow Cooker Indian Butter Chicken recipe?

        1. Hmm, not too sure what would make it that color because the only red ingredients are such small amounts that it would surprise me that it could change the color that much.

  9. This is a keeper! I made this tonight and it was delish. The sauce is yummy enough that I could make a meal of sauce & naan and the yogurt marinade helped the chicken cook to perfection. The only thing I did differently was to grill the chicken in the oven for @ 10 minutes. So good! TY!

  10. Your slow cooker butter chicken is the best I’ve ever had. Can you adapt this to the slow cooker as well? Do you have any other favorite Indian, Thai or Asian slow cooker recipes you could share?

  11. About to make this, In looking at other recipes, the Tablespoons for paprika, cumin & coriander seem very high, is this correct as in Tablespoon vs Teaspoon?

    1. They’re correct. Half of the spices are used for a marinade so they won’t all make it into the dish. You can always adjust to more of your liking. I hope you enjoy it!

  12. This may be a silly question, but is there a reason you to use crushed tomatoes instead of tomato sauce? Can you substitute tomato sauce?

    1. I would recommend some type of flat breads such as basic chapati, roti, naan, kulcha etc. buttered or otherwise. Enjoy!

  13. Hi! I don’t have any heavy cream – I can make a trip to the store – but I do have a lot of plain Greek yogurt. I don’t use heavy cream much so it might not be something I’d be able to use before expiration. Do you think I could use some of the yogurt in place of the cream?

    I am excited to try this and I’ve the spices already. I was just wondering about your input on this small issue I’ve run into with my current kitchen supply.

    1. I haven’t tested it but I would think that would work. You might want to mix in 1/2 tablespoon of flour with the yogurt before adding it. I’d love to know how it turns out if you decide to try.

    2. You could probably use coconut milk instead of the cream. Since it’s canned, it’ll keep better and create less waste.

  14. This looks like a perfect dinner to make on this rainy day! I’m thinking of deviating from the recipe a bit… Perhaps some chickpeas and baby spinach at the end to add some vitamins and bulk (currently on a meal plan) Thanks for the inspiration!

  15. Hi! I just found your blog. We love Indian food and wanted to make some yummy masala at home! I would love to see an ez crockpot version as well! What type rice do you use to serve with? How do I make it like the Indian restaurants?!? Thank you!

  16. Excellent and easy recipe. I have made this several times now. The recipe is very forgiving: you can use nonfat yogurt if you prefer, you can use half-and-half or even milk if you are out of cream, both white and dark meat are delicious, I have quadrupled the recipe without untoward incident, etc. I do use much more of each spice than called for (about double) and then increase the liquid because I like a lot of sauce. Thanks for this recipe!

  17. I see your Indian Butter Chicken recipe for the slow cooker. I have it in my slow cooker right now and tasted it for tonights’ dinner!! A-mazing!!!!!!! Thank you!
    Do you have a slow cooker version of the Chicken Tikka?
    If not, how would you adapt this to go in the slow cooker??!

  18. This recipe is AMAZING!  Tastes as good as it looks.  The sauce is so good you could even make this with some veggies instead of meat & not loose any flavor. 

  19. I’ve been craving tikka masala lately. Your photos just made me seriously hungry so I need to make this recipe asap!

  20. We are huge Indian food lovers. My husband was excited to learn of this post. We are exited to see what is coming. 

  21. Indian food is our favorite in my home. Thank you for this. I’ll let you know how it came out after I make it. Do you have a recipe for Kheer? Any more Indian recipes would be appreciated. 

    1. I hope you enjoy it! I don’t have a recipe for Kheer but added it to my list. Thanks for the suggestion.

  22. When it says to: “Add in the crushed tomatoes and heavy cream, stir and let simmer on a low-medium heat.”, how long do I let it simmer for??

  23. Could you list complete nutrition for recipes ?Sodium count is very important for most people.I do love your recipes.

    1. Sorry I don’t have the nutritional facts for recipes on the site but I know there are a lot of free resources on the internet from when I’ve cooked for clients with low calorie diets.