Chicken Tikka Masala

Leftover chicken tikka masala tastes phenomenal the next day because the spices develop more flavor overnight.

Avoid using Greek yogurt if possible for this recipe. If it's all you can find, buy the Greek yogurt with the highest fat content you can find and mix it with a little whole milk to get the consistency of regular yogurt.

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

For the chicken:

  • 1 1/4 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, thighs, or a mix
  • 6 tablespoons plain whole milk yogurt
  • 1/2 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt

For the tikka masala sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced (about 5 ounces, or 1 1/2 cups sliced)
  • 2 teaspoons grated ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 14-ounce can crushed fire-roasted tomatoes (regular crushed tomatoes work, too)
  • 6 tablespoons plain whole milk yogurt
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Cooked rice, to serve
  • Cilantro, to garnish

Method

1 Prepare the chicken: Trim chicken thighs of any extra fat. Chop into bite-sized pieces about 1/2 to 1 inch wide. Place the chicken thigh pieces to a medium bowl.

Add the yogurt, ginger, garlic, cumin, paprika and salt. Using your hands, combine the chicken with the spices until the chicken is evenly coated.

raw chicken meat for chicken tikka masala

2 Marinate the chicken: Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the chicken marinate in the fridge for at least 45 minutes or as long as overnight. (Marinating for 4 to 6 hours is perfect.)

Marinade for chicken tikka masala

3 Cook the chicken: In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of canola oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken thigh pieces and cook for about 6 to 7 minutes, until they’re cooked through. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

how to make chicken tikka masala how to make chicken tikka masala at home

4 Toast the spices: Wipe down the pan you used to cook the chicken. Heat remaining canola oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for 5 minutes, until softened, stirring often.

Add the grated ginger, minced garlic, coriander, paprika, garam masala, turmeric, black pepper, salt and cayenne. Let the spices cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds to a minute.

toasting spices for chicken tikka masala

5 Make the sauce: Add the crushed tomatoes to the pan with the spices and let everything cook for 4 minutes, stirring often. Add the yogurt and stir to combine.

tikka masala sauce cooking on stovetop adding yogurt to tikka masala sauce

6 Simmer the sauce: Reduce the heat to medium-low and let the sauce simmer for another 4 minutes. Add the chicken pieces to the pan and coat with sauce.

adding chicken to tikka masala sauce

7 Serve: Serve over cooked basmati rice and garnish with cilantro.

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Comments

  • Joey

    Delicious and easy but pretty spicy- I’ll definitely make it with less cayenne next time. I also made a batch with tofu instead of chicken and it turned out good!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Jane M.

    I believe I originally found this recipe here in 2018 and have made it 4 or more times since then. It is wonderful and a dish my son (an adult) will request so I nearly double it. Leftovers go quickly. I increased the yogurt because we like having plenty of the sauce for the basmati rice.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Lucy

    The recepie is perfect ! I was doing it first time and it went great ! But I used ghee :)

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Amy

    Suggestions for making this dairy free? Would an alternative milk-free yogurt be thick enough? Thank you!

  • Tejinder

    So yummy….thanx

  • pam

    this is a keeper. (i dont’ like canola oil & i used ghee)
    cheers,

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Dot

    Turned out nicely! We might adjust our spice ratio next time on the sauce but we really enjoyed the chicken! I did not coat with yogurt, just the spices, and did not marinate ahead of time. Just coated chicken with the spices and cooked. It was delicious!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Sarah

    Though a perfectly fine chicken curry, this is not what you’d expect to get when you make a tikka masala. I went ahed and blended the sauce before adding the chicken which helped with the grittiness I think that others described, but I have other easier and tastier chicken curry recipes I’d make over this one.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Sue

    I followed this recipe very closely. It came out gritty and not creamy at all. This isn’t what I expect for chicken tikka masala.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • heang

    This was pretty much the best chicken tikka masala recipe I have tried. Yum! So glad we doubled the recipe when we made it! Definitely a keeper.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Howar mitchell

    I’m not sure what I did wrong but I tried to follow this recipe but my chicken tiki masala turned out to be very mild (not spicy). The fired roasted crushed tomatoes seemed to overwhelm the taste of the entire dish. I tried again by cutting the crushed tomato volume in half (replacing with water) and it was better but still not spicy enough. Also there was very little aroma to the dish. I was expecting strong aroma and strong seasoning. If you have any advice for I would appreciate it. Thank you.

    • Emma Christensen

      Hi, Howar! Emma here, managing editor for Simply Recipes. I’m sorry that this recipe wasn’t quite what you were looking for! Chicken tikka masala is like many classic recipes where everyone’s version is a little different and everyone craves the specific version they first came to love. If you do give this recipe another try, I’d suggest making sure that your spices are fresh — you might even try buying whole spices and then toasting them and grinding them yourself. This will give you the very best spice flavor. You might try doubling the amount of garam masala as well. Tikka masala isn’t usually meant to be spicy in the sense of it being “hot” but you could definitely add in some spicy chilis for heat if you like. Enjoy!

    • AJB

      I would use Penzey’s spices if you didn’t have much flavor. With all the spices in this recipe, you shouldn’t only taste tomatoes!

  • Sylvia

    Very good recipe, a few recommendations:

    • use GROUND coriander instead of coriander seeds, I didn’t like chewing into the seeds
    • could use more sauce, mine was very thick but still good.
    • cut down on the cayenne pepper. I only used 1 tsp and I was sweating and it later upset my stomach because it was so spicy lol.

    Otherwise, this is a very solid recipe, I recommend.

    xxxxxyyyyy

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Sylvia, we should have clarified that coriander called for in the recipe was ground. Sorry about that. Fixed!

    • Chris

      Hi Sylvia–the recipe does call for ground coriander, not the seeds. I have both seeds and the ground in my pantry, but I reread the ingredients, and it does call for the ground coriander.

  • ASato

    Is there a way to prevent the yogurt from curdling when you fry the chicken pieces? This recipe was great for the most part, but the yogurt was a bit “lumpy” (not sure how else to describe the consistency when I fried the chicken and added it to the sauce. I used whole milk yogurt. Is low-fat better?

    • Emma Christensen

      Hi, ASato! Hmm… Whole milk yogurt is definitely the best to use and usually doesn’t curdle — or any little bits that do curdle end up getting absorbed back into the dish. Was your final dish also a bit curdled-looking? You might try shaking off as much of the marinade as possible before frying the chicken. I think that will help!

  • Janet M.

    Looks delicious, but unfortunately I can’t eat tomatoes. What do you suggest I use instead? (Okay to reply privately.) Thanks in advance!

    • Emma Christensen

      Hi, Janet! If you can eat red peppers, I’d try substituting one or two red peppers (or even roasted red peppers!). If not, then you can try just skipping them altogether and adding a little chicken broth to help thin out the sauce. The tikka masala won’t be quite the same since tomatoes are a backbone to the flavor, but it should still be pretty darn tasty! Let us know how it turns out if you try it!

    • Bill

      Hi Janet, replace the tomatoes with rutabaga or turnip. When soft, mash the rutabaga chunks or use a blender stick

  • Sharon

    I have a collection of Tikka Masala recipes, but this is my favorite so far! Mine came out with plenty of sauce, maybe because I wasn’t measuring the yogurt but guessing. I couldn’t find my coriander, so I used a Penzey’s curry powder and did not add more turmeric, and it worked out well. I served with rice and an easy side dish that we once had on an Indian buffet – fried okra (no breading) until crisply, then seasoned with Indian spices. Thank you!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • D

    Is “plain whole milk yogurt” the same as “whole plain yogurt”? (Or did you use the same type of yogurt to marinate the chicken and the yogurt you used afterwards?) thanks!

    • Emma Christensen

      Hi, D! Yes, that is correct — the same yogurt is used both times. I’ve updated the recipe to reflect this change. Thanks!

  • John Meyer

    I made this last night and loved the taste. However, compared to most Indian dishes of this type, there is way too little sauce. Next time I make it I’ll use two cans of fire-roasted tomatoes and perhaps three, and probably add some more yogurt in order to “keep up” with the additional tomatoes.

    I would also be interested in finding out what garam masala was used. Having that in the recipe is like specifying “curry powder:” neither one is a spice, but instead is a mixture, and which mixture you use can have a big impact on the taste.

  • Darrell

    If you want to make a tikka massala that they make in british takeaways/restraunts you need to look at BIR (british indian restaurant) recipes. Theres a lot of info online. All the currys start with the same “base gravy” which is basically a spiced onion soup then different ingredients are used to make the different varieties of curries. MistyRicardo is a great youtube channel for BIR recipes.

  • Tina

    I made this tonight, substituting a 14 oz. box of tofu for the chicken, as I am vegetarian. It was so delicious! This is definitely going into my regular rotation. I added 1/2 pound fresh green beans, cut into bite size chunks, and some thinly sliced spinach tonight, to make it a one-pot meal, and enjoyed that quite a bit. I’m thinking cauliflower for the next time I fix this. Thanks so much!!

  • Poppy

    Made this for dinner tonight and it was delicious. I’ve tried several chicken tikka masala recipes and this one is a keeper. My kids and even my picky husband loved it. I did double the sauce because my kids like the extra sauce for their naan. Thank you for the tasty recipe!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Dasha

    Would this recipe work with sour cream for the sauce instead of yogurt? I make a similar dish using full fat coconut milk, but it seems, at least according to our Indian friends, that it puts the dish into Thai curry category. I’d like to try this as written but with more sauce as many pointed out that there won’t be much. I wonder if sour cream will do the trick. Or maybe just double the sauce ingredients? Thanks!

    • Lisa

      Hi, Dasha! Thanks for your question! Sour cream is thicker than the yogurt, so I don’t know if it will make the dish saucier. I would just double the sauce ingredients.

      • Becky Halliday

        I’ve also used coconut milk, but not with this particular recipe.

  • Malika A. Black

    I love Indian Cuisine because of the spices. Chicken Tikka Masala is one of my favorite go to easy meals besides Chicken Curry.

    The yogurt makes the chicken tender and moist.

    This dish is so delicious served over Basmati rice or couscous (I love couscous, I’m North-African ! :) )

    Thanks for this recipe Lisa.

    • Lisa

      Sounds wonderful with couscous, Malika!! Your comment is a great reminder that I need to cook with couscous more often!

  • Gloria

    I made this recipe today for dinner. Pretty much followed it to the letter except I let the chicken pieces cook completely in the sauce and skipped the third step (I was so eager to start the sauce I forgot I was supposed to sautee the chicken first). My family loved it anyway! Next time I’ll try to remember to cook the chicken first :). Thanks for a nice, tasty recipe!

    • Lisa

      Thank you for trying out the recipe, Gloria! So glad that you and your family enjoyed it!

  • HB

    For restaurant style, you need 2 things – Maggi Hot Chilli Sauce (or concentrated tomato paste) and Kasuri Methi (Dried Fenugreek Leaves). Also, no yogurt.

  • Smita Mehta

    Today it was in my lunch menu. it was cooked deliciously well and my whole family was like wow mom it so tasty. I am very much happy to get their comment. Thank you so much i have tried your chicken recipe for it.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Sara

    I made this tonight and the flavors were spot on, but the sauce curdled a bit. I used Greek yogurt – could that be the reason? If I can solve this issue, I will definitely be making this again.

    • Lisa

      Hi, Sara! I think it was the Greek yogurt that curdled the sauce. Maybe try a yogurt with a higher fat content and a bit runnier than Greek yogurt. Hope this helps!

      • Lauren

        Could you specify this in the recipe? I also used Greek yogurt and had the same issue and almost all of the whole milk options in the grocery store are Greek. It would have been good to know ahead of time.

        • Emma Christensen

          Hi, Lauren — Sure, I’ve clarified it in the recipe. Sorry that you had trouble with your recipe!

  • Don Ugent

    We made this yesterday, followed the recipe to a T. Marinated for about 6 hours. It came together great and tasted wonderful. Served with basmati rice and naan. Different than Indian restaurant chicken tikka masala. Not nearly as much sauce but excellent just the same. Wonder if you could get the same result with a good quality curry powder.

    • Lisa

      Thanks for trying out the recipe, Don! Glad you enjoyed it! I think a good quality curry powder could work, especially if you don’t have all the spices on hand. The one thing I can think of that might be an issue is that curry powders tend to have a lot of turmeric in there, which could alter the taste of the recipe slightly. Still think it would be delicious though!

  • Mikko

    Very, very good! I used Turkish yogurt and added one Indian green chili without seeds. Also freshly ground cumin and coriander.

    • Lisa

      Thanks for trying out the recipe and the cooking notes, Mikko!

  • Karen U

    I made this dish last night and it was delicious! I subbed regular coconut milk for the yogurt added a dash of vinegar to compensate for the tartness that yogurt would have provided. I forgot to get basmati rice, so I served it over whole wheat couscous. I am definitely making this dish again (especially since I am now the proud owner of a large jar of garam masala)!!

    • Lisa

      Thanks for trying out the dish, Karen! Glad to know that coconut milk works with this recipe, too!

  • Kimberly

    This looks delicious; I can’t wait to try it! Do you have any suggestions for a green vegetable to serve on the side that would complement the flavors?

    • Lisa

      Hi, Kimberly! Perhaps sautéed collard greens or steamed green beans?

  • Polina Hoyt

    Could you prepare it in the crockpot?

    • Emma Christensen

      Hi, Polina! We haven’t tested this recipe in a crockpot, but I think it could be easily adapted. I’d recommend using chicken thighs instead of breasts, since they hold up better for longer cooking, and then try cooking for 4 hours on high.

  • Steve Maskery

    I forgot to add, appropriate accompaniments are peshwari naan, lime pickle and mango chutney.

  • Steve Maskery

    I’m English and I can tell you that this looks very authentic. Although it’s an “Indian” dish, it was created by Indian immigrants to the UK, and is generally regarded as one of our National Dishes, along with Fish & Chips and Roast Beef with Yorkshire Puddings!
    So nice one, Simply!
    Can I suggest you consider adding a bit of Saffron to your rice, or turmeric if your wallet is a bit thin. It really adds to the flavour.
    PS You will get orangey-yellow fingers from the spices but who cares?

    • Lisa

      Thanks, for the saffron suggestion, Steve! Cornish pasties are another one of my favorites–not sure if it’s a national dish though.

  • Debbie McCarrick

    I am definitely making this next week!

  • ann

    Perhaps you should order (as I have) a book for hubby, it’s out in May.
    The Curry Guy: Recreate Over 100 of the Best British Indian Restaurant Recipes at Home.

    • Lisa

      Will check that out! Thanks, Ann!

  • Gayle

    This sounds amazing! I’m having company this weekend who I know would love this recipe. Is it easily doubled or would ingredient amounts need to be tweaked? Please let me know your thought.

    Thanks so much!

    • Lisa

      Hi, Gayle! I think this recipe can be easily doubled. The only issue I can think of is the canned tomatoes in the sauce. You may have to simmer the tomatoes a few minutes more to burn off more liquid. Also, when you add the yogurt, I would start by adding 8 to 9 tablespoons first (about 1/2 cup) and see how much sauce you have. You want there to be enough sauce to coat the cooked chicken well. Add more yogurt if the sauce looks too thick. Hope this helps!

      • Gayle

        Hi Lisa,

        Thanks very much for your input and will follow your instructions! I also like Steve’s suggestion about adding saffron to the rice. I actually have it on hand and will incorporate that as well.

        Can’t wait to get cooking!

        Thanks!!

        Gayle

  • Patti

    This is a delicious sounding combination. If I wanted to make a vegetarian version, what would you recommend instead of chicken?

    • Emma Christensen

      Hi, Patti! I’ve made it with cauliflower instead of chicken, with great success! You could also add in some chickpeas to give it some “meatiness.”

      • Lisa

        The cauliflower substitution sounds wonderful!

    • Ronda Baucom

      I was going to ask the same question. It looks amazing!

  • Chris S.

    For the yogurt in the sauce, could you substitute the remains of the chicken marinade which was already spiced? Seems to me it would add flavor, and certainly it cooks long enough not to worry about contamination. What do you think?

    • Lisa

      Hi, Chris! When I tested the recipe, there wasn’t much juice left in the chicken marinade, probably because I coated the chicken with yogurt. If you have a lot of juice leftover, sure, feel free to use it instead of yogurt for the sauce. Otherwise, just thin out the sauce with some yogurt. Hope this helps!

      • Chris S.

        Terrific reply, and VERY helpful — thank you SO much!

  • Valentine

    So yummy!!!Thanks for the recipe

  • Jen

    Is there anything I can use in place of yogurt for a dairy free version?

    • Kay

      Maybe coconut milk/cream?

    • Lisa

      Hi, Jen! You could skip the yogurt for the marinade, but keep the spices as is. For the sauce, I would probably thin it out with some light coconut milk. Full fat coconut milk would be too robust for this dish. You will get some coconut flavor, but I think it compliments the tikka masala spices well. If you don’t like coconut, I would thin it out with some soy milk, maybe 3 to 4 tablespoons of it. Hope this helps, and let me know how it goes!

    • Ronda Baucom

      There are quite a few vegan yogurts now made from either almond or coconut milk that are wonderful!