Rich and creamy, this homemade Chicken Tikka Masala recipe is even better than your favorite Indian restaurant’s version and is super easy to make at home! Tender chicken pieces are coated in an aromatic sauce for a high-protein dish that’s full of warm flavor and just a hint of spice. Serve it over rice with a side of naan bread for a meal that will have all your guests coming back for more!
Table of Contents
- What Is Chicken Tikka Masala?
- Where Is Chicken Tikka Masala From?
- What’s the Difference Between Butter Chicken and Chicken Masala?
- Ingredients You’ll Need
- The Deceptively Easy Process to Make Chicken Tikka Masala at Home
- Serving Suggestions
- Common Questions About This Homemade Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe
- More Chicken Recipes To Try
- Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe
What Is Chicken Tikka Masala?
If you’re unfamiliar, chicken tikka masala is an Indian chicken dish made with tender pieces of chicken (typically dark meat) coated in a creamy spiced tomato sauce. Although often believed to be an Indian dish, tikka masala is actually a fusion food that blends Indian spices with British culinary influences.
Traditionally, the dish is made with a Tandoor, a large urn-shaped oven, but you can use any large pan with high sides. A wok also works great.
Blending layers upon layers of flavor, chicken tikka masala is a rich, flavorful dish enjoyed throughout the world, and it’s easy to make at home!
Where Is Chicken Tikka Masala From?
While chicken tikka masala is a staple dish at Indian restaurants throughout America, it didn’t actually originate in India! In fact, many historians believe that it was first invented in Scotland.
This is because the first solid record of tikka masala can be dated back to the 1970s in Glasgow. It is said that a Bangladeshi chef took chicken tikka, which is a marinated chicken dish, and developed a tomato cream sauce (masala) to cook it in!
Meanwhile, others believe that there was no clear creation of the infamous recipe. Instead, it is suggested that the dish is a simple evolution of traditional Indian butter chicken.
No matter its origins, we’re grateful chicken tikka masala was made!
What’s the Difference Between Butter Chicken and Chicken Masala?
Butter chicken and chicken masala are both delicious dishes, but they have distinct differences. For instance, butter chicken, also known as “murgh makhani,” features tender pieces of chicken in a creamy and mildly sweet creamy tomato-based sauce.
In contrast, chicken masala, or “chicken curry,” is a spicier dish made with a tomato-based sauce infused with a blend of aromatic spices, creating a slightly less creamy consistency and a bolder flavor profile.
Although both dishes feature chicken and tomato sauce, the use of butter in butter chicken and the spices in chicken masala create two entirely different meals.
Ingredients You’ll Need
The key to creating the best tikka masala is in using warm spices, but just a handful of ingredients are all you need!
- Chicken – We use chicken breasts to keep this recipe a little on the leaner side, but thighs taste great too. The choice is up to you!
- Seasonings – Ground coriander, ground cumin, garam masala, salt, and ginger combine to create a savory, spicy sauce with a pleasant heat.
- Greek Yogurt – Use full-fat, plain Greek yogurt for a thick, creamy texture.
- Tomatoes – Use on-the-vine tomatoes.
- Tomato Sauce – This helps form the base of the sauce.
- Heavy Cream – Adds a rich flavor and creates a velvety smooth consistency.
- Onion – Sautéed in oil, this creates a sweet, savory, aromatic base.
- Garlic – Use whole fresh cloves, and mince them finely for the best taste.
- Ginger – Grated freshly.
- Sugar – Just a pinch helps balance out some of the acidity of the tomatoes, creating a pleasant well-rounded flavor.
The Deceptively Easy Process to Make Chicken Tikka Masala at Home
Believe it or not, homemade chicken tikka masala comes together in a total time of under an hour in just one pan!
- Coat the Chicken. Place the chicken in a large bowl, and sprinkle the salt, cumin, coriander, and garam masala on top. Add the yogurt, and mix to combine and coat the chicken.
Pro-Tip! For tender, juicy, flavorful chicken allow it to marinate in the yogurt mixture for several hours or up to overnight.
- Sear. Heat a large pan over medium heat. Sear the chicken on both sides, transfer the chicken from the skillet, and slice it into chunks.
- Sauté. Add oil to the same pan, and sauté the onions until they’re translucent. Add in the garlic and ginger followed by the salt and garam masala. Mix to combine, and continue to cook, stirring constantly.
- Combine. Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato sauce, sugar, and heavy cream to the skier. Stir to combine, gently scraping the bottom of the pan. Add the chicken back in, and coat it with the sauce.
- Enjoy! Serve your chicken tikka masala warm over a bed of rice with a side of naan.
Chicken tikka masala is most often served over a bed of fluffy white rice with a side of naan bread to scoop up any extra sauce. It’s also great with Vermicelli rice or Persian rice, and you can never go wrong with pita bread!
Common Questions About This Homemade Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe
This recipe is mildly spicy and can be adjusted to quite your flavor preferences by dialing up or dialing back the spices.
The most notable differences between the two dishes are that chicken curry typically contains more oil and has a rich, robust flavor. Meanwhile, chicken tikka masala has less oil and a spicier taste.
This recipe is hearty, savory, and full of notable spices.
More Chicken Recipes To Try
Looking for more ways to spice up a boring chicken dinner? Try out the exciting recipes below!
- Easy Shawarma Chicken Sheet Pan Dinner
- Za’atar Chicken with Vegetables
- Thai Coconut Curry Chicken
- Air Fryer Lime Chicken
- Thai Coconut Curry Chicken
- Air Fryer Lime Chicken
Chicken Tikka Masala
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt*
- 1 large onion
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 teaspoons ginger
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 Tablespoons garam masala
- 3-4 medium on the vine tomatoes chopped (approx. 2 cups chopped)*
- 8 ounces canned tomato sauce
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- Place the chicken in a large bowl. Sprinkle the salt, cumin, coriander, and garam masala on top. Add the yogurt, and mix until the ingredients are combined and the chicken is completely coated.4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander, 1 teaspoon garam masala, 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt*
- Heat up a large pan over medium heat. Sear the chicken on both sides in the pan. Remove the chicken, set aside, and cut it into chunks.
- Using the same pan, add oil. Next, add in the chopped onions, and cook until they turn translucent.1 large onion
- Add in the garlic and ginger, followed by the salt, and garam masala. Mix to combine. Cook for a couple of minutes while stirring – this will prevent the ingredients from sticking to the pan!4 garlic cloves, minced, 2 teaspoons ginger, 1 teaspoon salt, 3 Tablespoons garam masala
- Add in the chopped tomatoes, tomato sauce, sugar, and heavy cream. Stir to combine, and make sure to gently scrape the bottom of the pan to pick up all those flavors!3-4 medium on the vine tomatoes, 8 ounces canned tomato sauce, 3/4 cup heavy cream, 1 teaspoon sugar
- Once the sauce comes together, add chicken back in.
- Serve hot with rice and/or naan!
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.