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Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken tikka masala is pure comfort food. It’s warm, and fragrant, and creamy. Served with naan or basmati rice (or both!), chicken tikka masala just hits all the right notes.

Full of spices like coriander, cumin, cardamom, paprika, and a dash of cayenne for a bit of heat, you’ll love the full-bodied flavor of this chicken tikka masala!

Be sure to pair it with basmati rice and naan to round out the meal.

Plate of chicken tikka masala over rice with cilantro on top

Tips for Making Chicken Tikka Masala

  • Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces before marinating so that the chicken gets thoroughly infused with the flavor. Also, more of the chicken will get browned when cooked.
  • Cook the chicken in 2 to 3 batches so that you get the chicken deeply browned rather than steamed.
  • You want the onions to brown but they don’t need to be fully caramelized. However, if you have extra time, sautéeing them longer will create an even deeper flavor.

How to Make Chicken Tikka Masala

Marinading the Chicken:

  • Mix together the greek yogurt, grated garlic, grated ginger, lime juice, and salt. Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces and stir into yogurt mixture. Cover and refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours.

Making the Sauce:

  • Mix all of the spices, the grated ginger, and the grated garlic together and set aside.
  • In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken in 2 to 3 batches. Cook until browned on the outside, about 5 minutes per batch. Remove from the pot.
  • Melt the butter in the pot over medium-high heat, then add the onion. Saute until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the spice mixture to the onions and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the chicken back into the pot.
  • Pour in the tomato purée, water, and heavy cream and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer and allow it to cook for 20 minutes.
  • Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the cilantro and pepper. Taste and add salt if necessary.
  • Serve with basmati rice and naan.
Bowl of chicken tikka masala over rice

Storing Leftovers

Chicken tikka masala can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 to 4 days.

Alternatively, this recipe freezes really well. Once completely cooled, put it into an airtight container or freezer bag and freeze. It can be kept in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Reheating Leftovers

If frozen, pull it from the freezer the morning you plan to serve it so that it can thaw out. Allow it to thaw out in the fridge.

You can microwave it, reheat it in the oven, or reheat on the stovetop:

  • Microwave
    • Cover with a damp paper towel and reheat in 30-second increments, stirring in between each one.
  • Oven
    • Bake in an oven-safe dish at 325 degrees for about 20 minutes, stirring halfway through.
  • Stovetop
    • Heat over medium-low heat for 20 minutes stirring often.

Items I used to make this recipe

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Dutch Oven

Rice Cooker


Garlic Press

Two plates of chicken tikka masala, one with rice and the other with naan

Chicken Tikka Masala

Alicia S.
This rich and creamy chicken tikka masala is the perfect comfort food. Enjoy it served over basmati rice or with naan.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Marinating Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 40 minutes
Course Chicken, Main Course
Servings 6 Servings



  • 3 cups chicken cut into bite-sized pieces.
  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt
  • 1 clove garlic finely minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger finely minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt


  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ground coriander
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons paprika
  • 3/4 teaspoon cardamom
  • 3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh ginger grated
  • 6 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1 large onion finely diced
  • 2 1/2 cups tomato purée
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
  • 1/2 cup cilantro roughly chopped
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper


Marinate the Chicken:

  • Mix yogurt, garlic, ginger, lime juice, and salt together. Stir in chicken. Cover and refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours.

Make The Sauce

  • In a heavy-bottom stockpot or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat.
  • While the oil is heating, combine coriander, cumin, paprika, nutmeg, cardamom, cinnamon, cayenne, and ginger in a bowl.
  • Add half of the chicken to the hot oil and cook until edges are browned, about 5 to 7 minutes. Repeat with the remaining chicken. Remove and set chicken aside.
  • Add butter to the pot. Once melted, add the onion and saute until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.
  • Add spice mixture to onions and saute for 1 minute, then add the chicken back into the pot.
  • Add the tomato purée, heavy cream, water, and salt to the pot. Bring to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro and black pepper.


  • Serve with naan or basmati rice.


Serving: 1servingCalories: 388kcalCarbohydrates: 16gProtein: 10gFat: 33gSaturated Fat: 18gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 106mgSodium: 1048mgPotassium: 677mgFiber: 3gSugar: 7gVitamin A: 1758IUVitamin C: 17mgCalcium: 99mgIron: 3mg
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