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Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe

It has become a staple of popular Indian takeout but making this Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe at home will satisfy all those restaurant cravings! Surprisingly lightened up with no heavy creams or added sugars just healthy staples like chicken breasts, yogurt, and tomatoes this is a comfort food you can feel good about eating!

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Chicken Tikka Masala is a large white bowl next to a scoop of rice and with a torn piece of naan.

Easy Chicken Tikka Masala

Recipes like this chicken tikka masala can be tricky to develop. You want them to do justice to a really good takeout restaurant but you also want them to make you feel good aka be some what healthyish so you aren’t over indulging every time you make it.

I think I threaded the needle perfectly with this recipe.

I kept flavor there by marinating the chicken, using plenty of garam masala, and fresh garlic & ginger.

BUT I also kept it light and as easy as possible for home cooking. I ditched the heavy cream and used plain yogurt for the whole recipe and I rely heavily on the spice garam masala so you don’t have to buy/search through your cabinet for like 10 other spices.

Flatly of two bowls and a dutch oven full of bright chicken tikka masala, covered with sprinkles of cilantro and pieces of naan bread.

Supplies for this Recipe

This recipe uses a lot of kitchen staples:

  • Cutting Board & Knife
  • Bowl for marinating
  • Measuring Cups & Spoons
  • Dutch Oven/Large Pot
  • Large Spoon
  • Sheet Pan
Chicken added to tikka masala sauce in a large dutch oven.

Ingredients for Chicken Tikka Masala

At first glance at the recipe card it looks like a lot of ingredients, but most of them are used more than once between the marinade for the chicken and the sauce! You will need

  • Chicken Breasts – boneless & skinless
  • Plain Yogurt – full fat works best, greek yogurt may be used as well
  • Garlic – minced
  • Fresh Ginger – grated/minced
  • Garam Masala – spice mixture
  • Oil– a good high heat cooking oil works best like vegetable, coconut, or canola, you can use olive oil as well just be careful to not get it too hot when first heating
  • Onion – diced
  • Tomato Paste – only a tablespoon is required for this recipe so for amounts that small I recommend getting tomato paste in a tube, so you can just use what you need and reseal it to keep in the fridge for your next use
  • Kitchen Ready Tomatoes – a large 28 ounce can
  • Salt – kosher or sea salt work best
  • Cilantro – you will also want a little extra for garnishing
  • Rice for Serving – check out my post on my Foolproof Method of Making Rice on the Stovetop, I think Basmati Rice goes best with this dish

For a complete detailed list of the ingredients continue towards the bottom of the page.

All the ingredients needed to make chicken tikka masala laid out on a table top.

How to make the Best Chicken Tikka Masala

First up you will prepare the chicken for marinating. This can be done the night before or as little as 30 minutes before you are ready to cook. I personally like to do this step in the morning the day I am going to make it for dinner.

For the marinade add the yogurt, garlic, ginger, and garam masala in a large bowl. Mix to combine. Cut chicken into 1 inch cubes. Add the chicken to the marinade, mixing together until it is fully coated. Cover and transfer to the refrigerator to rest at least 30 minutes but as long as overnight.

Steps one for making the marinade for the chicken for tikka masala.
Adding the chicken to the yogurt marinade for the tikka masala.

When you are ready to cook bring an oven rack to a slot in the oven about 6 inches from the top broiler. Turn oven to broil. While the oven is heating make the sauce. 

Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Once hot add the oil and minced onions. Cook until they just start to soften about 2 minutes.

Add in the garam masala, tomato paste, garlic, and ginger to the onions. Stir together and cook until fragrant about 1 minute.

Steps showing cooking the diced onion in oil and adding the tomato paste, ginger, garlic, and garam masala.

Stir in the kitchen ready tomatoes and salt. Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to medium-low, cover and let simmer 15 minutes. 

Steps showing the onions cooked with the aromatics and then adding kitchen ready tomatoes and salt.

While the sauce is simmering it is time to cook the chicken.

Transfer the marinated chicken to a sheet pan. (To help with clean up I recommend lining the sheet pan with aluminum foil). Spread the chicken out into a single layer spread out as much as possible. 

Transfer the sheet pan under the broiler in the oven. Cook 5 minutes. Toss the chicken and cook another 5 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165ºF. The chicken should have started to brown on the outside from the broiler.

Freshly broiled chicken on a sheet pan ready to be added to tikka masala sauce.

Let the chicken rest while you finish the sauce.

Turn the heat off of the sauce. Stir in the yogurt and cilantro until mixed together. Now add in the chicken, stir to combine. Serve immediately with rice and/or naan. 

The sauce simmered down slightly and adding plain yogurt and fresh cilantro.
The finished sauce mixed together and the cooked chicken added on top.
Close up of a bowl of chicken tikka masala with rice, naan, and cilantro garnish.

Tips, Trick, and Questions

  • If you can’t find fresh ginger most stores will often carry pre-minced ginger in a tube.
A fork in a large white bowl of chicken tikka masala next to a large scoop of rice and sprinkled with cilantro.

Looking for more chicken dinners? You might like these:

Overhead close up of chicken tikka masala in a large white bowl next to a bed of rice covered with sprinkles of cilantro.

Chicken Tikka Masala

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Rest Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

Ditch the take-out this Chicken Tikka Masala tastes so much better! With no heavy cream this is a comfort dish you can make at home and feel good about!

Ingredients

For the Chicken & Marinade:

  • 2 pounds chicken breasts, boneless skinless
  • 1 cup plain yogurt, full fat works best
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated/minced
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala

For the Sauce:

  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated/minced
  • 1 28-ounce can kitchen ready tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt, full fat works best
  • 1/4 chopped chopped cilantro
  • rice for serving

Instructions

  1. To marinade the chicken add the yogurt, garlic, ginger, and garam masala in a large bowl. Mix to combine. Cut chicken into 1 inch cubes. Add the chicken to the marinade, mixing together until it is fully coated. Cover and transfer to the refrigerator to rest at least 30 minutes but as long as overnight.
  2. When ready to cook bring an oven rack to a slot in the oven about 6 inches from the top broiler. Turn oven to broil. While the oven is heating make the sauce.
  3. Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Once hot add the oil and minced onions. Cook until they just start to soften about 2 minutes.
  4. Add the garam masala, tomato paste, garlic, and ginger to the onions. Stir together and cook until fragrant about 1 minute. Stir in the kitchen ready tomatoes and salt. Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to medium-low, cover and let simmer 15 minutes.
  5. Cook the chicken while the sauce is simmering. Transfer the marinated chicken to a sheet pan. Spread the chicken out into a single layer spread out as much as possible.
  6. Transfer the sheet pan under the broiler in the oven. Cook 5 minutes. Toss the chicken and cook another 5 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165ºF.
  7. Let the chicken rest while you finish the sauce. Turn the heat off on the sauce. Stir in the yogurt and cilantro until mixed together. Add in the chicken, stir to combine. Serve immediately with rice and/or naan.

Notes

Save yourself some elbow grease and line the sheet pan with aluminum foil.

Yes you can use greek yogurt instead of plain yogurt, I tested both and thought the plain yogurt made the sauce a little creamier but both worked well.

Use the tomato paste from the tube for a small amount like this!

If you can't find fresh ginger most stores will often carry pre-minced ginger in a tube.

Recommended Products

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: about 1 1/2 cups
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 425Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 132mgSodium: 515mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 3gSugar: 9gProtein: 52g

Nutritional data is automated, final nutritional information will depend on ingredients used and any changes made.

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment below on the blog or share a photo with me tag @the_schmidty_wife! Can't wait to see what you made!

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Peace & Love

Lauren, The Schmidty Wife

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