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Chicken Tikka Masala

April 18, 2023

Tender bites of chicken cooked in a flavorful tomato sauce made with traditional Indian spices like garam masala, cumin, and turmeric for a cozy meal with rice and naan.


  • Dinner
a bowl of homemade chicken tikka masala and white rice sprinkled with fresh cilantro
Photography by Gayle McLeod

The Best Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken tikka masala is a cornerstone of modern Indian cuisine, and is thought to have been created by chefs from the Indian diaspora living in Great Britain in the 1960s. So you probably know where to order the best chicken tikka masala, but next time you get a craving for this ultimate comfort food, we encourage you to make it yourself! It requires a variety of spices and is a great opportunity to build out your collection.

chicken, coconut milk, greek yogurt, spices, butter, onion, crushed tomatoes and chicken stock in prep bowls

What Is Chicken Tikka Masala?

Chicken tikka masala is a classic Indian dish made with yogurt marinated chicken served with a creamy tomato sauce flavored with traditional Indian spices, and is recognizable for its warm orange glow. So you’ve been searching for an authentic chicken tikka masala recipe, and each one is different from the next? That’s because every cook has their favorite blend of spices, and garam masala (one of the key ingredients) is itself a variable spice blend. The primary chicken tikka masala ingredients are:

  • A spiced yogurt marinade

  • A tomato-based sauce studded with onion, garlic, and ginger, brightened with spices, and enriched with coconut milk or heavy cream

  • Traditionally served with fluffy basmati rice and chewy naan, and garnished with fresh chopped cilantro

coconut oil, butter, onions and spices in a pot to make tikka masala sauce
chicken broth being poured into a pot with coconut oil, butter, onions and spices and crushed tomatoes
baked chicken that was marinated in yogurt, cayenne, garam masala, turmeric, cumin, garlic cloves, ginger, salt & lemon juice
marinated, baked chicken being stirred into a pot with homemade tikka masala sauce

How To Make Chicken Tikka Masala

  • Marinate the chicken.

  • Broil the chicken to add a tasty, golden texture before adding it to the sauce.

  • Make the sauce. The foundation to many Indian recipes is onion, garlic, ginger cooked until buttery tender, to which you will add your spice blend, or “masala.”

  • Add the chicken and its juices to the pot. Simmer the sauce to thicken and allow all of the spices to become the best versions of themselves.

  • Finish with a swirl of heavy cream or coconut milk before serving the chicken tikka masala over fresh basmati rice. Sprinkle over the cilantro and set out a bowl of warm naan.

A pot of homemade chicken tikka masala

What To Serve With Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken tikka masala definitely needs a side of rice and naan. Beyond those essentials, a family-style meal featuring a few of our favorite Indian dishes is our favorite way to eat chicken tikka masala. You can make Slow Cooker Lamb Curry, Butter Chicken, and a big side of Raita for a table full of good food to share with friends and family.

a pot of homemade chicken tikka masala sprinkled with cilantro
A bowl of homemade chicken tikka masala and white rice sprinkled with fresh cilantro  being served with naan

Tools You’ll Need

More Flavorful Chicken Recipes For Your Dinner Table

Don’t get stuck in a chicken rut! Add these chicken recipes to your repertoire and add big flavor to every meal:

A bowl of homemade chicken tikka masala and white rice sprinkled with fresh cilantro being served with naan

Saucy Success Stories

Did you make this easy chicken tikka masala recipe? Show us that sauce and maybe even a video of the beautiful people you feed it to. Tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper. Happy eating!

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Chicken Tikka Masala

  • Serves: 4
  • Prep Time:  15 min
  • Cook Time:  25 min
  • Calories: 670


For the chicken

  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 2 teaspoons grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast or thighs, cut into bite-size pieces

For the tikka masala

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil or vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, grated
  • 2 teaspoons grated ginger
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne, plus more for serving
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup heavy cream or full fat coconut milk

For serving

  • Cooked basmati rice
  • Fresh cilantro, minced
  • Naan


  1. Marinate the chicken. In a large bowl, mix together the yogurt, cayenne, garam masala, turmeric, cumin, garlic cloves, ginger, salt, and lemon juice. Add the chicken and toss until fully coated. Cover and let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or up to overnight.

  2. Turn on the oven to broil and line a rimmed sheet pan with foil. Add the marinated chicken to the sheet and broil until beginning to brown, about 8 minutes.

  3. Meanwhile, make the tikka masala. Melt the coconut oil and butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the ginger, garam masala, cumin, turmeric, salt, brown sugar, and cayenne and stir to combine.

  4. Add the tomatoes and chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Add the chicken and its juices to the pot and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to medium low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce has thickened slightly, about 15 minutes. Stir in the heavy cream.

  5. Divide rice between 4 bowls. Serve the tikka over the rice, sprinkle with cilantro. Serve with naan on the side.

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories670
  • Protein50 g
  • Carbohydrates28 g
  • Total Fat42 g
  • Dietary Fiber5 g
  • Cholesterol202 mg
  • sodium1220 mg
  • Total Sugars6 g

Chicken Tikka Masala

Questions & Reviews

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  • Nicole

    I have made this several times for my family and they love it! I’ve tried several recipes for tikka Masala and this one comes as close to restaurant quality as you can get at home. I do blend the sauce before adding the chicken in, based on our texture preferences for smooth curry. My kids don’t like pieces of onion no matter how small I mince it.

    Thanks Nicole, so happy you and your family love it!

  • Mina

    This was my first attempt at Indian cuisine and it was delicious! I wouldn’t change a thing! The whole family loved it.

    Thanks Mina, so happy you loved it!

  • Becca

    I am very glad I was brave enough to try this recipe, it is phenomenal. No issue with the amount of tomatoes in my opinion like another review suggests. Give it a try; I doubt it’ll disappoint!

    Thanks Becca, we are so happy you loved it!

  • pizza_type

    Great recipe but the amount of tomatoes should be reduced.

  • Marcos

    This was fantastic, got some rave reviews!

    Thanks Marcos! So happy you loved it!