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This Chicken Tikka Masala brings the magic of Indian cuisine right into your kitchen, combining succulent chicken pieces with a velvety, spice-infused sauce. Easy to make and impossible to resist, it’s a crowd-pleaser that’s sure to spice up any mealtime.
Easy Homemade Chicken Tikka Masala
This Chicken Tikka Masala recipe is one of my favorites; it’s like a warm hug in a bowl, with its tender chicken pieces and a creamy, spice-kissed sauce that’s just right. Each bite is a delightful journey through the best of Indian flavors, and I’ve simplified the steps to make it super approachable for you. Trust me, it’s a crowd-pleaser that brings a little adventure to your dinner table without any fuss.
- Chicken Thighs: I prefer using chicken thighs because they’re tender and juicy but chicken breasts will work just as well.
- Plain Yogurt: Helps to tenderize the chicken and adds creaminess to the marinade. I prefer using Greek yogurt but any plain yogurt will work.
- Lemon Juice: Adds a fresh, tangy flavor to the marinade. You can substitute with fresh lime juice.
- Ground Cumin: Offers a warm, earthy spice.
- Ground Cinnamon: Gives a sweet and warm note. Allspice is a great substitute.
- Kashmiri Chili Powder: This chili powder is known for its vibrant red color and mild heat. If you don’t have Kashmiri chili powder you can substitute it with regular chili powder, just be careful to use a milder version.
- Tandoori Masala: Brings a traditional Indian flavor. If you don’t have any, you can substitute with Garam masala mixed with paprika.
- Black Pepper: Adds a sharp, spicy touch.
- Fresh Ginger: Imparts a zesty, pungent taste. Feel free to substitute with ground ginger, though fresh is always best.
- Garlic: Adds a strong, aromatic flavor. Use as much or as little as you like.
- Salt: Enhances all the flavors in the marinade.
- Butter: Adds richness to the sauce. You can substitute with ghee or oil.
- Garlic: Contributes to the aromatic base of the sauce. You can sub with garlic powder.
- Paprika: Offers sweetness and color. Smoked paprika can add a smoky twist.
- Garam Masala: A key spice blend that gives the sauce its signature Indian flavor. If you don’t have garam masala you can make your own using my recipe here.
- Tomato Sauce or Passata: Forms the base of the sauce. You can also use crushed tomatoes or tomato paste diluted with water.
- Heavy Cream: Provides a creamy, rich texture. Use coconut milk for a dairy-free alternative.
- Salt: Balances and enhances the flavors.
If you’ve made my Instant Pot Chicken Tikka Masala, then you know I love simple recipes so with this recipe I’ve tried to make it as authentic but just as simple as possible. So let me show you how to make this.
First up, let’s marinate that chicken. Grab a large bowl and toss in the yogurt, lemon juice, cumin, cinnamon, Kashmiri chili powder, Tandoori masala, black pepper, ginger, garlic, and a pinch of salt. Mix it all up until it’s well combined.
Then, add your chicken pieces, making sure they’re completely coated in this yummy marinade. Cover the bowl and pop it in the fridge. Letting it sit for an hour works, but if you’ve got time, leave it overnight – the flavors really soak in!
Alright, now for some grilling action. Heat up your grill or broiler. I broiled mine because we’re in the middle of a very cold winter here and I’m not about to go out in -40°F and turn on my grill. So take the chicken out of the fridge and thread the pieces onto skewers.
Remember, we don’t need the leftover marinade. Grill or broil the chicken, turning it occasionally, until it’s nicely cooked through. This usually takes about 10-15 minutes. You’re looking for some nice charred bits on the chicken.
Time for the sauce! Grab a large skillet and melt the butter over medium heat. Throw in the minced garlic, Kashmiri chili powder, cumin, paprika, and garam masala. Let these spices cook for a minute – it smells amazing, right? Now, stir in the tomato sauce and cook it for a couple of minutes, stirring often. Next, pour in the cream and let it simmer. You want the sauce to thicken up nicely, so give it about 20 minutes on low heat.
We’re almost there! Add your grilled chicken to the sauce and let it simmer together for about 10 more minutes. This lets the chicken soak up all those incredible flavors. Taste it and add a bit more salt if you think it needs it. Now, all you have left to do is garnish it with some fresh cilantro, serve it with some rice and naan and dinner is served.
When serving Chicken Tikka Masala, I love to round out the meal with some classic accompaniments that truly bring out the flavors of the dish. Here are some great suggestions to serve this chicken with.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I make Chicken Tikka Masala ahead of time?
Absolutely! Chicken Tikka Masala actually tastes better when made ahead, as this allows the flavors to meld and deepen. You can prepare it up to two days in advance and store it in the refrigerator. When ready to serve, gently reheat it on the stove or in the microwave.
How can I adjust the spice level in this recipe?
To make the dish milder, reduce or omit the Kashmiri chili powder and black pepper. For a spicier kick, you can increase these spices or add a bit of cayenne pepper. Remember, you can always adjust the spices to suit your taste!
What are some vegetarian alternatives for chicken in this recipe?
Paneer (Indian cottage cheese), tofu, or a mix of vegetables like bell peppers, onions, and mushrooms make excellent vegetarian substitutes for chicken. You can marinate and cook them similarly to how you would with chicken for a delicious vegetarian version of the dish.
- Marinate Overnight: For the best flavor, marinate your chicken overnight. This allows the spices to fully infuse into the meat, resulting in more tender and flavorful chicken.
- Use High-Quality Tomatoes: The tomato sauce is a key component of the dish. Using high-quality tomato sauce or Passata can significantly enhance the richness and depth of the sauce.
- Balance the Creaminess: Adjust the amount of cream based on your preference for creaminess. For a lighter version, you can reduce the cream or use half-and-half. For a richer sauce, feel free to add a bit more cream.
- Control the Spice Level: Kashmiri chili powder is known for its vibrant color more than its heat. If you’re using a substitute, be mindful of the spice level. Start with a small amount and adjust according to your heat tolerance.
- Char the Chicken for Authentic Flavor: If you have the option, char the chicken on an open flame or a very hot grill. This adds a smoky flavor to the chicken, mimicking the traditional tandoori style.
After cooking, allow the chicken tikka masala to cool to room temperature. Then, transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerate. It will stay fresh in the fridge for up to 3-4 days or in the freezer for up to 2-3 months. When you’re ready to enjoy it again, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight and reheat it gently on the stove or in the microwave.
Discover More Delicious Indian Recipes
- Balti Chicken
- Instant Pot Butter Chicken
- Lamb Korma
- Chicken Jalfrezi
- Coconut Chicken Curry
- Vegetable Biryani
For the Chicken Tikka
- 1½ pounds chicken thighs (boneless and skinless, cut into bite-size pieces)
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon Kashmiri chili powder
- 1 teaspoon tandoori masala
- 2 teaspoons black pepper (ground)
- 1 tablespoons fresh ginger (minced)
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 teaspoon salt
For the Sauce
- cooked rice
- naan bread
- In a large bowl, mix together yogurt, lemon juice, cumin, cinnamon, Kashmiri chili powder, Tandoori masala, black pepper, ginger, garlic and salt. Stir in the chicken pieces, coating them evenly with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or overnight for best results.
- Preheat a grill or a broiler. Place chicken on skewers, discarding the marinade. Grill or broil the chicken, turning occasionally, until cooked through, about 10-15 minutes. Set aside.
- Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic, Kashmiri chili powder, cumin, paprika, and garam masala. Add tomato sauce and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the cream and simmer on low heat until sauce thickens, about 20 minutes.
- Add the grilled chicken, and simmer for 10 more minutes. Season with salt to taste.
- Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve with cooked rice or warm naan bread.
- Spice Adjustments: Feel free to modify the amount of Kashmiri chili powder and black pepper to suit your preferred spice level. The dish can be made milder or spicier according to taste.
- Marination Time: For the best flavor, marinate the chicken for at least 1 hour. For even more depth, marinate overnight in the refrigerator.
- Chicken Choices: While boneless, skinless chicken thighs are recommended for their juiciness, you can also use chicken breast for a leaner option.
- Sauce Consistency: If the sauce is too thick after adding the cream, you can thin it out with a little water or chicken broth to achieve your desired consistency.
- Garnish Options: Garnish with fresh cilantro for a burst of color and freshness. A squeeze of lemon juice can also be added just before serving for an extra tangy flavor.
Notice: Nutrition is auto-calculated for your convenience. Where relevant, we recommend using your own nutrition calculations.