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A bowl of chicken tikka masala with rice
4.84 from 65 votes

Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe

Filled with tender, juicy, marinated chicken pieces swimming in a rich, aromatic, and creamy curry sauce, the whole family will love this classic Chicken Tikka Recipe.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time45 mins
marinade3 hrs
Total Time1 hr
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 520kcal


For the Marinade

For the Curry

  • 2 tablespoon canola oil
  • 2 yellow onions - chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoon fresh ginger - peeled and grated
  • 6 cloves garlic - minced
  • 1.5 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • teaspoon cardamom powder
  • 1 (15 ounce) can tomato puree
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ cup whipping cream - plus more as desired
  • 2 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoon butter


For the Marinade

  • Combine all ingredients for the marinade in a large mixing bowl. Whisk well to combine. Add the chicken and mix well to coat.
  • Cover and allow the chicken to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or up to three days.

Brown the Chicken

  • Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large pan or skillet with tall sides over high heat. Once hot, add the chicken in a single layer and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until brown and just starting to char. Remove chicken to a clean plate and set aside (do not worry if the chicken is not fully cooked on the inside).
  • Scrape out any charred bits stuck to the bottom of the pan and repeat process until all chicken has been cooked (it took me three rounds).

For the Curry

  • Wipe down the pot, or clean as needed to remove any brown bits that may have stuck to the bottom. Return to medium high heat.
  • Add 1 tablespoon of oil to the pan. Once hot, add the onions and sauté for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Add the salt and ginger and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring often to prevent the ginger from burning.
  • Reduce heat to medium-low. Add the garlic and paprika and cook for 2 minutes, stirring often to prevent the paprika from burning.
  • Finally, mix in the turmeric, garam masala, coriander, cumin, and cardamom powder. Cook for an additional two minutes, toasting the spices and stirring often.
  • Stir in the tomato puree and water with the onions and spices. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low, and cover. Allow mixture to simmer for approximately 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the sauce from burning to the bottom of the pot.
  • Remove from heat and transfer sauce to a large, high-speed blender. Process until smooth. Return the sauce back to the pot, making sure to return as much of the sauce stuck in the blender back to the pot as possible.
  • Return pot to low heat. Stir in the cream, sugar, and butter. Once the butter has melted, return the chicken to the pot and mix well to combine.
  • Allow the chicken to simmer for an additional 5-10 minutes, or until chicken is fully cooked. Take care not to boil the sauce. Season with additional salt and pepper, to taste.
  • Serve with warm naan or pita bread, if desired. Enjoy!


  1. Fresh is best. Always try to use fresh ginger, fresh garlic, and always always ALWAYS fresh lemon.
  2. If you marinate the chicken in the refrigerator overnight, allow it to come to room temperature for at least 15 minutes before adding to your hot pan or skillet. This is especially important if you chose to use chicken breasts instead of chicken thighs.
  3. Mild or spicy? Depending on your heat tolerance, you may choose to make your curry mild or spicy. This version is quite mild. Add 1/2 or more teaspoons of cayenne powder to kick it up a notch.
  4. If you prefer a thicker sauce, add a few tablespoons of ground cashews or almonds at the same time that you added the tomato puree.
  5. Not a fan of chicken? Try making this recipe with lamb, beef, mutton, cauliflower, or even paneer.
  6. Is Chicken Tikka Masala gluten-free? Yes! 
  7. The leftovers are amazing so definitely hold on to those and enjoy for up to 5 days!
Originally published May 15, 2019


Calories: 520kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 28g | Fat: 40g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 176mg | Sodium: 477mg | Potassium: 462mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 1285IU | Vitamin C: 5.9mg | Calcium: 89mg | Iron: 2.3mg
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