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Quick & Easy Chicken Tikka Masala

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This creamy, delicious chicken tikka masala is ready in about 30 minutes, making it a perfect weeknight meal. Serve it with naan or rice for a delightful meal.

This is perfect for one of those nights you really want takeout but you also know you should cook at home. This is restaurant worthy chicken tikka masala.

A bowl of chicken tikka masala next to some naan.

Why You'll Love this Recipe

Chicken tikka masala is popular the world over because it combines flavorful spices with a rich, but still bright, sauce.

This dish is traditionally made by grilling the chicken, then adding it to the tomato gravy. But in this recipe, we're shortening the cooking time by just browning the chicken and then adding it into the sauce to finish cooking. The flavor is still there and it makes it possible to pull together in about 30 minutes.

This recipe serves 4 when paired with rice or naan, but it can easily be doubled if you have a larger group or want leftovers.

Ingredients for chicken tikka masala.

Ingredients for Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken - You'll need 1 1/2 pounds of chicken breasts or chicken thighs for this recipe. You'll cut these into 1-inch pieces, so when they cook down they'll be bite-sized.

Vegetables - You'll use a mixture of 2 shallots, 4 garlic cloves, and a 2-inch piece of ginger to make an aromatic paste.

Gravy - You'll need a can of crushed tomatoes, a tablespoon of tomato paste, and a 1/2 cup of heavy cream to make the creamy base for this dish.

Spices - You'll use garam masala, kosher salt, turmeric, black pepper, and cayenne to flavor this dish. You can adjust the cayenne depending on how spicy you want this dish. If you'd prefer a milder flavor, you can leave it out entirely.

An overhead shot of the inside of a blender with shallots, garlic cloves, and chopped ginger.

Chicken Tikka Masala Origins

You'll find chicken tikka masala in South Asian restaurants across the world - it's a very popular takeout dish!

Chicken tikka is an Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi dish that's barbecued, spiced chicken. Chicken tikka masala is that dish but added to a tomato gravy.

There's some debate about its origins as some folks say it originated from subcontinent cooks in the UK and others say it originated in India and was popularized in the UK.

A red dutch oven with chicken tikka masala in it.

More Curry Recipes to Try

If you love South Asian flavors, garam masala, and rich sauces, you've got to check out some of our other curry recipes.

  • Chicken Curry with Coconut Milk - A deeply flavorful chicken curry recipe that's ready in about an hour (with 30 minutes of hands-off time).
  • Chickpea Curry Recipe - A tasty, turmeric-based curry with chickpeas that's ready in about 40 minutes (again, with a good portion of hands-off cook time).
  • Coconut Lentil Curry - A fabulous vegan recipe that's full of flavor. Ready in about 30 minutes.
An overhead shot of a bowl of chicken tikka masala.

Tips for Making this Recipe

Cooking Tips - If your sauce seems too thick, add an additional 1/4 cup of water. If it's too thin, allow it to simmer for an additional 5 minutes, or add 1 teaspoon of corn starch to thicken it.

Specialty Ingredients - You can make your own garam masala blend for this recipe if you'd like!

Recommended Tools - I highly recommend a dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot for cooking recipes like this one. They cook evenly and keep a consistent temperature for the times you need to simmer for several minutes. For Christmas, I got a Le Creuset pot -they're kinda pricey but worth it! Lodge makes excellent quality dutch ovens for reasonable prices.

Storing Tips - You can store this recipe in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. It also freezes well and can be saved in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Diet/Allergy Alternatives - If you'd like this recipe to be dairy-free, substitute the heavy cream for coconut cream (not coconut milk - it will be too thin).

If you try this recipe, let us know! Connect with us on Instagram and share your photos or leave us a rating.

Yield: 4 servings

Chicken Tikka Masala

A red dutch oven with chicken tikka masala in it.

This creamy chicken tikka masala is quick and easy to make.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 shallots, peeled
  • 2-inch piece ginger, peeled
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 cup water, divided
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 3 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 3 teaspoons garam masala, divided
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 (14-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • optional for topping - chopped fresh cilantro

Instructions

  1. Blend the shallots, ginger, garlic, and 1/4 cup water together in a blender or food processor to create a thick paste. If it’s not coming together, add up to another 1/4 cup of water. 
  2. Toss the chicken with 2 teaspoons kosher salt and 2 teaspoons garam masala. 
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the chicken and cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until browned. Remove and set aside. 
  4. Heat the remaining tablespoon of vegetable oil over medium-high heat in the same pot and add the shallot mixture. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then add the remaining teaspoon of salt, remaining teaspoon garam masala, turmeric, black pepper, and cayenne, and let cook, stirring often, for 1 minute. 
  5. Add the can of tomatoes, tomato paste, and 1/4 cup water to the pot and stir to combine. Add the chicken back to the pot and bring to a low simmer. Reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 10 minutes.  
  6. Remove from heat and stir in the heavy cream. 
  7. Serve topped with cilantro and alongside naan bread or rice. 

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

4

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 490Total Fat: 24gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 178mgSodium: 1144mgCarbohydrates: 11gFiber: 3gSugar: 5gProtein: 56g

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