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Chicken Tikka Masala

This easy Chicken Tikka Masala recipe is made with 10 simple ingredients with a rich creamy tomato sauce and tender flavorful chicken. The combination of spices in the yogurt marinade and the creaminess of the sauce creates an amazing depth of flavor in this popular balanced dish. Serve with rice and naan bread to soak up every bit of this amazing hard to resist tikka masala sauce.

Try our other flavor packed easy dinner recipes like bang bang chicken skewers, baked or grilled chicken kabobs, marry me chicken, honey garlic chicken bites and Mongolian beef.


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Butter chicken vs tikka masala

Butter chicken and chicken tikka masala originate from India with similar ingredients. They are both very popular dishes enjoyed by many at restaurants.

Butter chicken is known its richer, creamier mildly spiced sauce while chicken tikka masala often has a spicier more complex depth of flavor profile.

I find it amazing to make this superb dish I enjoy at restaurants in the comfort of home to share with family and friends.

Also try my French onion chicken skillet, easy chicken cacciatore, spicy vodka pasta, Boursin cheese pasta, Ikea Swedish meatballs and my beef enchilada casserole.

Recipe Snapshot

EASE: simplified recipe with 2 spices
CUSTOMIZE: with your favorite spices
If you have not tried this dish yet you are in for a treat. Enjoy restaurant quality tikka masala in your home!!

Ingredients for chicken tikka masala recipe

  • Chicken – 2 pounds of boneless skinless chicken thighs (around 10-12 thighs) for the most flavorful tender chicken, you can also use chicken breasts but they can dry out more easily so make sure you marinate the chicken breasts overnight so they do not dry out while cooking!
  • Curry Powder – this recipe relies on a pre-mixed curry powder to give flavor to the sauce
  • Salt
  • Greek-Style Yogurt – full fat yogurt
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Butter – unsalted and divided for the recipe
  • Garlic Cloves – peeled and grated
  • Ginger – freshly grated
  • Crushed Tomatoes – 2 (14-once) cans of crushed tomatoes
  • Heavy Cream
  • Cilantro – chopped for the garnish is optional

Substitutions: Depending on the curry powder you choose you can add a sprinkle of red pepper flakes for some heat flavor. You can also add in a pinch of garam masala or some cumin, turmeric and ground cinnamon to boost the flavor profile from the spices.

How to make chicken tikka masala recipe

STEP ONE – Cut the chicken thighs into bite-sized pieces. In a large mixing bowl, combine the chicken pieces with 2 teaspoons of curry powder, 1 teaspoon of salt, and the Greek yogurt. Mix well and let it marinate for a minimum of 30 minutes in the refrigerator.

STEP TWO – Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).

STEP THREE – In a large, oven-safe pot or Dutch oven, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Working in batches, cook the marinated chicken pieces in a single layer until deeply browned on all sides, about 5-7 minutes. 

STEP FOUR – Return all of the browned chicken to the pot and add 2 tablespoons of butter, the grated garlic, and the grated ginger. Sauté for 1-2 minutes until fragrant.

STEP FIVE – Add the crushed tomatoes as well as the remaining 2 teaspoons of salt and 2 teaspoons of curry powder, then bring the mixture to a simmer.

STEP SIX – Cover the pot with a lid and transfer it to the preheated oven. Let it simmer in the oven for about 15 minutes, allowing the chicken to cook through and absorb the flavors. Now remove the lid and let the dish cook uncovered for an additional 10 minutes to thicken and caramelize the sauce.

STEP SEVEN – Remove the pot from the oven, and stir in the heavy cream and the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Taste and add more salt if desired.

STEP EIGHT – Garnish the Chicken Tikka Masala with chopped cilantro. Serve the dish over basmati rice or with warm naan on the side. ENJOY!

Sandra’s Top Tips

  • The chicken should marinate for at least 20 minutes but if you have time to leave it for longer (overnight is best) to develop even more flavor for the best results
  • The natural sugars in the yogurt will caramelize and blacken on the outside of the chicken during the growing process. This is desirable as we want all of that rich, nutty flavor to be a part of your sauce.
  • As you brown your chicken a fond will develop on the bottom of the pan. The will also contribute to the depth of flavor but if it begins to burn you may want to deglaze it with a splash of water. Scrape up any stuck-on bits with a wooden spoon and put it in the same dish where you have set the browned chicken in. Simply add it back to into the sauce with the chicken, you will be amazed how much this extra flavor brings to your tikka masala dish!
  • While the tikka masala sauce cooks uncovered in the oven the tomatoes in the sauce are caramelizing from the heat. This adds a perfect sweet touch to the sauce bringing out the flavors of the tomatoes and spices.
  • If you do not want to use your oven you can finish the tikka masala on the stovetop by simmering it for thirty minutes. Add a tablespoon of sugar to help balance out the acidity of the tomatoes in the sauce to suit your tastes.
  • Serve garnished with fresh cilantro to brighten up the flavors
  • Cooked chicken should reach an internal temperature of 165°F using a digital thermometer for safe eating

Storage and reheating instructions

Store leftover chicken tikka masala using an airtight container in the fridge for 3 days.

Reheat on the stove in a saucepan over a medium heat until heated through, adding some water or broth to the sauce if it has thickened in the fridge. Or using a microwave-safe dish, microwave with 30 second intervals stirring in between unit heated through.

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Chicken Tikka Masala


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  • Author: Sandra Flegg
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings

Description

This easy Chicken Tikka Masala recipe is made with 10 simple ingredients with a rich creamy tomato sauce and tender flavorful chicken. The combination of spices in the yogurt marinade and the creaminess of the sauce creates an amazing depth of flavor in this popular balanced dish. Serve with rice or naan bread to soak up every bit of the amazing hard to resist tikka masala sauce.


Ingredients

2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs (about 1012 thighs)

4 teaspoons curry powder, divided

3 teaspoons salt, divided

1/2 cup full-fat thick Greek-style yogurt

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

4 cloves garlic, peeled and grated

2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger

2 (14-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes

1/2 cup heavy cream

Optional: chopped cilantro for garnish


Instructions

  1. Cut the chicken thighs into bite-sized pieces. In a large mixing bowl, combine the chicken pieces with 2 teaspoons of curry powder, 1 teaspoon of salt, and the Greek yogurt. Mix well and let it marinate for a minimum of 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
  2. Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).
  3. In a large, oven-safe pot or Dutch oven, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Working in batches, cook the marinated chicken pieces in a single layer until deeply browned on all sides, about 5-7 minutes. 
  4. Return all of the browned chicken to the pot and add 2 tablespoons of butter, the grated garlic, and the grated ginger. Sauté for 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
  5. Add the crushed tomatoes as well as the remaining 2 teaspoons of salt and 2 teaspoons of curry powder, then bring the mixture to a simmer.
  6. Cover the pot with a lid and transfer it to the preheated oven. Let it simmer in the oven for about 15 minutes, allowing the chicken to cook through and absorb the flavors. Now remove the lid and let the dish cook uncovered for an additional 10 minutes to thicken and caramelize the sauce.
  7. Remove the pot from the oven, and stir in the heavy cream and the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Taste and add more salt if desired.
  8. Garnish the Chicken Tikka Masala with chopped cilantro. Serve the dish over basmati rice or with warm naan on the side.

Notes

Storage and reheating instructions:

Store leftover chicken tikka masala using an airtight container in the fridge for 3 days.

Reheat on the stove in a saucepan over a medium heat until heated through, adding some water or broth to the sauce if it has thickened in the fridge. Or using a microwave-safe dish, microwave with 30 second intervals stirring in between unit heated through.

  • Prep Time: 35 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Oven Baked
  • Cuisine: Indian

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