Classic Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe

Tikka masala is one of the best dishes to spice up your chicken. If you've had it before, you can likely spot this dish a mile away thanks to its bright orange, spiced sauce. Tikka masala is bursting with warm flavors, from garam masala to chili powder, and there's definitely a reason why the dish remains so incredibly popular — it really is that good!

Recipe developer Catherine Brookes of Blue Sky Eating came up with this wonderful version of classic chicken tikka masala that you'll want to make over and over again. "I love making this delicious curry at home! The sauce is so creamy, flavorful and indulgent and is actually super easy to make using basic ingredients," Brookes raves. When asked why she likes her version better than takeout, Brookes hit the nail on the head: "This curry tastes just like takeout but with fresher ingredients and less sugar and salt. It really is packed with flavor!"

Gather the ingredients for this classic chicken tikka masala

This recipe requires quite a few items you will need from the store. Pick up chicken breasts (which should be cubed before beginning the recipe), Greek yogurt, garlic cloves, ginger, lemon, garam masala, cumin, olive oil, onion, ground coriander, chili powder mix, turmeric, tomato puree, tomato sauce, heavy cream, and salt.

Once you have those things, you can make this classic chicken tikka masala.

Marinate the chicken

Take out a mixing bowl and add your chicken breasts first. Then, begin adding the ingredients for the marinade. This includes the Greek yogurt, half of the ginger, the lemon juice, 2 teaspoons of garam masala, 1 teaspoon of paprika, 1 teaspoon of cumin, and a little bit of salt to taste.

Mix well to coat the chicken in the marinade, and then pop the bowl in the fridge for at least an hour to marinate. "Don't be tempted to skip the marinating. Leaving for at least one hour really allows the chicken to soak up those flavors," Brookes says. "The marinade is has plenty of garlic, warmth and spice with a little creaminess and tang from the yogurt and lemon juice."

Cook the chicken

Once you finish marinating the chicken, take out a high-sided frying pan and add a tablespoon of oil. Turn the heat to medium-high and add the chicken. Cook for about 6-8 minutes total until the chicken is fully cooked through and there's no pink in the middle. 

Fry the onion and spices

Remove the chicken from the pan and set it to the side for the time being. Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and toss in the onion. Continue cooking for about 5 minutes, until the onion has softened.

Then, add the remaining garlic and ginger and fry with the onion for another 2 minutes. Be sure to stir the mixture constantly so it doesn't stick to the bottom and burn. 

Add additional spices

There are still a few more other things that need to go into the pan. This includes the garam masala, paprika, and cumin, as well as the turmeric, ground coriander, and chili powder mix. Stir the contents well and let the spices toast for 2-3 minutes, until aromatic.

Next, toss in the tomato puree and the tomato sauce. Be sure to mix well with the existing ingredients and cook for another 5 minutes.

Add chicken and heavy cream

Grab the chicken you set aside earlier and place it into the pan. Then, add the heavy cream and bring the mixture to a boil. Once bubbles reach the top of the surface, reduce the heat to a simmer for 10 minutes. This allows all the flavors to lock into the chicken. 

Season and serve

Add a little more salt to taste to complete this dish. If you want to thin out the sauce, you can add a few tablespoons of water at a time to achieve your desired consistency. Then, remove the dish from heat and serve with rice and fresh chopped cilantro if you wish. "You could also serve with naan bread and poppadoms, or other Indian side dishes," Brookes notes. 

If you have some left, be sure to keep it for another meal. "Leftovers should keep well in the fridge up to 3 days and can be reheated in the microwave," Brookes says. We hope this classic dish hits the spot! 

Classic Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe
5 from 22 ratings
This classic chicken tikka masala is loaded with warm spices and a rich, irresistibly creamy sauce.
Prep Time
Cook Time
classic chicken tikka masala in dishes
Total time: 1 hour, 50 minutes
  • 3 chicken breasts, cubed
  • ½ cup Greek yogurt
  • 12 cloves garlic, minced, divided
  • 1-inch knob ginger, grated, divided
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 4 teaspoons garam masala, divided
  • 3 teaspoons paprika, divided
  • 2 ½ teaspoons cumin, divided
  • salt, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 ½ teaspoons chili powder mix
  • 1 ½ teaspoons turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon tomato puree
  • 15 ounces tomato sauce
  • 1 ¼ cups heavy cream
Optional Ingredients
  • rice, for serving
  • cilantro, for garnish
  1. Into a large mixing bowl, add the sliced chicken, Greek yogurt, half of the garlic, half of the ginger, the lemon juice, 2 teaspoons of garam masala, 1 teaspoon of paprika, 1 teaspoon of cumin and some salt to taste. Mix well to coat and leave to marinate in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon of oil to a large, high-sided frying pan. Heat on a medium-high setting and fry the marinated chicken until completely cooked through, about 6-8 minutes.
  3. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside. Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and fry the onion until softened, about 5 minutes. Then add the remaining garlic and ginger and fry for another 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  4. Add the remaining garam masala, paprika, cumin, turmeric, ground coriander and chili powder to the pan. Stir well and leave to toast for 2-3 minutes until aromatic.
  5. Add the tomato puree and tomato sauce. Mix well then cook for 5 minutes.
  6. Add the chicken back to the pan along with the heavy cream. Stir well, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes.
  7. Season with salt to taste. If desired, the sauce can be thinned out a little by adding water a few tablespoons at a time.
  8. Serve the tikka masala, optionally with rice and cilantro as garnish.
Calories per Serving 675
Total Fat 43.0 g
Saturated Fat 20.6 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 255.6 mg
Total Carbohydrates 21.6 g
Dietary Fiber 4.9 g
Total Sugars 9.4 g
Sodium 1,156.8 mg
Protein 53.5 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
Rate this recipe