Chicken Tikka Masala – tender chunks of marinated chargrilled chicken in a creamy mild sauce with garlic, ginger and spices. Kids and adults alike LOVE this dish.
Bowl of chicken tikka masala with rice and flatbreads

Not exactly a classic Indian Chicken Curry – the world famous classic chicken tikka masala (well, the sauce anyway) was invented in Glasgow of all places, in the 1970s by a Bangladeshi chef.

Supposedly it was created to appease a customer who complained his chicken was too dry!

Now it’s loved all around the world! My kids order it EVERY time we go out for Indian, and Chris and I always sneak a bite to go with our spicier curries.

Close up of chicken tikka masala in a pan

Steps to make Chicken Tikka Masala:

We start by marinating the chicken in a mixture of yogurt and spices. It needs to marinade for at least a couple of hours, to really tenderize the chicken, so it can be grilled or griddled later without drying out.
4 image collage showing how to marinade chicken for chicken tikka masala

Next we start on the sauce by softening onions in a pan with a little oil and butter. Add garlic, ginger, garam masala, ground coriander, paprika, cumin, cinnamon and tomato puree and stir it all together.
At this point I like to add in a chopped red pepper. This is totally optional, and definitely not an authentic addition, but I like to add in a little veg where I can get away with it.
Then add in tinned tomatoes and water and let it simmer for 15-20 minutes while you cook the chicken.
6 image collage showing initial steps of making masala sauce for chicken tikka masala

You can cook the chicken on a griddle or barbecue on skewers, or if you want to keep it simple, like I do, then spread the chicken out on a tray, brush with oil and grill until lightly charred. If the pieces aren’t too big, you shouldn’t need to turn them to cook them through.
Now stir cream, ground almonds and a little brown sugar in the the sauce, and add in that cooked chicken. Give it all a stir and heat the cream through for a couple of minutes, then serve.
8 image collage showing how to make chicken tikka masala

I like to serve mine with boiled rice (<– check out my no-fail rice post) and/or chapatis (<–super quick and easy).

Pro-Tip – How to make a hotter version of Chicken Tikka Masala

Add in 1-2 tsp of hot chilli powder with the spice ingredients when you’re making the sauce. Alternatively, you can add in 1-2 fresh red chillies (finely chopped) when you add in the red bell peppers. Or you could do both if you like it really spicy!

I tend to stick with the mild version, as the kids prefer it, but then Chris and I will sprinkle on a some finely chopped fresh red chilli, or a pinch of chilli flakes at the end.

Pan of chicken tikka masala on a light background

Love a good curry? Here are some more curry recipes:

Also, a head’s up for Thanksgiving and Christmas leftovers – try my Leftover Turkey Tikka Masala!

The Chicken Tikka Masala Video:

YouTube video

The Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe:

4.88 from 32 votes

Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala - tender chunks of marinated chargrilled chicken in a creamy mild sauce with garlic, ginger and spices. Kids and adults alike love this dish.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 4
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: British, Indian

Ingredients

  • 3 chicken breasts chopped into bite-size chunks
  • 120 ml (1/2 cup) Greek yogurt or thick natural yogurt (full-fat)
  • 2 cloves garlic peeled and minced
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp mild chilli powder or hot if you like it spicy
  • 1 pinch of cinnamon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil (for brushing onto the chicken before grilling)

Masala Sauce:

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic peeled and minced
  • 2 tsp minced ginger
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree paste for US
  • 1 red bell pepper de-seeded and sliced
  • 400 g (14 oz) tin chopped tomatoes
  • 120 ml (1/2 cup) water
  • 180 ml (3/4 cup) double/heavy cream
  • 3 tbsp ground almonds
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar

To Serve:

  • boiled rice
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)
  • chopped fresh chillies (optional)
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Instructions 

  • Place the chicken breast pieces into a bowl or freezer bag with the yogurt, garlic, ginger, lemon juice, coriander, turmeric, cumin, paprika, chilli powder, cinnamon, salt, and pepper. Mix together so that everything is combined, then cover and place in the fridge to marinate for 2-3 hours.
    3 chicken breasts, 120 ml (1/2 cup) Greek yogurt, 2 cloves garlic, 1 tbsp minced ginger, juice of half a lemon, 1 tsp ground coriander, 1/2 tsp turmeric, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1 tsp paprika, ½ tsp mild chilli powder, 1 pinch of cinnamon, ½ tsp salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • About 35-40 minutes before you’re ready to eat, start on the sauce.
  • Add the oil and butter to a large frying pan (skillet) and heat on a medium-high heat until the butter has melted. Add the onion, and cook for 4-5 minutes until softened.
    1 tbsp vegetable oil, 1 tbsp unsalted butter, 1 onion
  • Add the garlic, ginger, garam masala, ground coriander, paprika, cumin, cinnamon, and tomato puree. Stir and cook for 2-3 minutes to allow the spices to release their fragrance.
    3 cloves garlic, 2 tsp minced ginger, 1 tsp garam masala, 2 tsp ground coriander, 2 tsp paprika, 1 tsp cumin, ½ tsp cinnamon, 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • Add in the chopped red bell pepper, tinned tomatoes and water. Stir and bring to the boil, then simmer for 15-20 minutes until thickened (now is a good time to put your rice onto boil).
    1 red bell pepper, 400 g (14 oz) tin chopped tomatoes, 120 ml (1/2 cup) water
  • Remove the marinated chicken from the fridge and spread out onto a baking sheet.
  • Brush the chicken with the oil, then grill for 8-10 minutes until a little charred on the outside. If your pieces aren't too big, you shouldn't need to turn them, but if they're not cooking through underneath, then give them a turn with some tongs. Make sure the chicken is cooked by slicing it into a larger piece and ensuring it's no longer pink in the middle.
    2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • When the sauce is nearly ready, stir in the cream, ground almonds and sugar, followed by the cooked chicken tikka. Cook for a further 5 minutes to heat through.
    180 ml (3/4 cup) double/heavy cream, 3 tbsp ground almonds, 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • Serve with boiled rice and top with fresh coriander. Add a few chillies too if you like.
    boiled rice, 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander (cilantro), chopped fresh chillies

Video

YouTube video

Notes

Cooking the chicken - grill or griddle?

I like to cook my chicken on a baking sheet under the grill.
If you prefer to griddle or barbecue the chicken, you can thread the chicken pieces onto four long metal skewers (you can use wooden skewers if you prefer, but soak them in water for at least an hour beforehand to prevent them from burning).
Cook for 8-10 minutes, turning occasionally until no longer pink in the middle.

Chicken breasts or chicken thighs?

I use chicken breasts for this recipe, as I find them a lot less fiddly to chop up and prepare.
Chicken thighs tend to retain their juiciness a little more than chicken breast, but we're marinading the chicken breast, which will help to tenderize it and retain it's juiciness when it's being grilled.

Can I make Chicken Tikka Masala ahead?

The chicken is at it's smokiest and juiciest when eaten straight away, but yes, you can cook this dish ahead and reheat later if you like.

You've got a couple of options:

  1. Make marinate the chicken ahead (it will be fine in the marinade for a day), and fully make the sauce ahead. Then cool, cover and refrigerate the sauce up to a day ahead.
    When you're ready to eat, grill the chicken, and heat up the sauce in a pan until piping hot and mix together.
  2. Or you can make the whole dish ahead and stir the chicken into the sauce, then cool, cover and refrigerate for up to two days. Reheat, in a pan, stirring regularly until piping hot throughout.

Can I freeze Chicken Tikka Masala?

Yes, make the whole dish ahead and stir the chicken into the sauce, then cool, cover and freeze. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight, then reheat, in a pan, stirring regularly until piping hot throughout.

Nutritional Information is per serving - not including rice.

Nutrition

Calories: 565kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 43g | Fat: 38g | Saturated Fat: 22g | Cholesterol: 179mg | Sodium: 558mg | Potassium: 912mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 2741IU | Vitamin C: 47mg | Calcium: 109mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links – which means if you buy the product I get a small commission (at no extra cost to you). If you do buy, then thank you! That’s what helps us to keep Kitchen Sanctuary running. The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary depending on several factors. For more information please see our Terms & Conditions.

Welcome to Kitchen Sanctuary

Hi, I'm Nicky and I love to cook! I want to share with you my favourite, delicious family friendly recipes. I want to inspire you to create fantastic food for your family every day.

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Comments

  1. Sue Bralee says:

    5 stars
    Absolutely brilliant, so easy and so tasty x

  2. Ruth says:

    Hi I am going to use double the amount of chicken so do I need to double the marinade and sauce ingredients? Many thanks

    1. Nicky Corbishley says:

      Hi Ruth, yes it should be fine to double it up if you’re making it for a lot of people. It is quite saucy, so you could just use 1.5 times the ingredients for the sauce if you prefer.
      You’ll also need a pretty big pan 🙂 Hope you enjoy 🙂

  3. JB says:

    Can I use Half and Half instead of heavy Cream? Or what do you suggest for substitution?

  4. Vicky says:

    5 stars
    Thank you for sharing this recipe! It is really easy and so delicious. My family loved it!

  5. Kira says:

    What kind of yogurt did u use? I only see heavy cream in the ingredients or am I just blind?

    1. Chris Corbishley says:

      Hi Kira,

      Its there in the ingredients list 🙂 1/2 cup (120g) Greek yoghurt.

      Thanks

      Chris & Nicky

  6. PANKAJ BISCUITWALA says:

    Too yummy

  7. David says:

    As a pescatarian I am wondering if prawns would work as a substitute in this recipe (and in the other curry recipies)

    1. Nicky Corbishley says:

      Hi David, you could use prawns, but they’ll take much less time to cook (they’ll go rubbery if you overcook them). So go with very high heat for just a couple of minutes to cook the prawns through.

  8. Neila says:

    What if we do not have Brown Sugar? Can we replace that with Monk Fruit sugar?
    I am incredibly excited to try this recipe!

    1. Nicky Corbishley says:

      Hi Neila, I haven’t tried with monk fruit sugar, but I believe it would work as a good replacement.

  9. Lisa says:

    5 stars
    Made this three times now, turns out beautifully every time.
    Great recipe , thank you

  10. Mandy says:

    5 stars
    1st time ive cooked a curry & thanks to this recipe it was easy to make & follow me & my partner really enjoyed it too & will be making it again & making it a little bit more hotter.