The Best Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe!
This one pot easy Chicken Tikka Masala recipe will replace your Indian restaurant favorite! A creamy tomato sauce mixed with various different chili powders and boneless skinless chicken, that can be meal prepped or frozen for days ahead. It is the most perfect and highly rated Indian food recipe for kids and the whole family.
Chicken Tikka MasalaJump to Recipe
How I came up with this Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe?
History: I absolutely love Chicken Tikka Masala (CTM)! It is the one dish I always order at Indian Restaurants. Whether I eliminate the chicken or not, it is the creamy sauce I crave over and over again. Am I making you drool yet? After eating it for years, I knew I had to learn how to make it. Lucky for me, my aunt owns an Indian restaurant! A very popular, award-winning, and tasty one for that matter. When I visited her during a work trip, I asked her one simple question “What’s the difference between Butter Chicken and Chicken Tikka Masala?” That conversation triggered the origination of this dish.
You see, my aunt was born in India, grew up in Africa, and moved to London to marry her sweet and loving British husband afterwards. Can you imagine the flavors in her restaurant? It truly is a paradise of food! Although she didn’t share every detail of her CTM recipe, I put together what I thought might work well with the dish and this recipe was born… in year 2007!
What is the difference between Chicken Tikka and Chicken Tikka Masala?
Chicken Tikka is a flavorful boneless chicken recipe that is enjoyed with a squeeze of lemon and garnishments whereas Chicken Tikka Masala has an Indian inspired creamy tomato gravy which pairs well with rice or naan.
Chicken Tikka Masala vs Butter Chicken
Both recipes are different and delicious. The biggest difference in my recipes is that Chicken Tikka Masala Spices includes multiple different types of peppers where as Butter Chicken Masala includes Kasoori Methi. I sometimes make both for dinner when I really feel like indulging. Be sure to check out my follower favorite Butter Chicken Recipe Here.
Where did Chicken Tikka Masala originate?
The origination of Chicken Tikka Masala dates back to the UK. When India was ruled by the British, many of the spices were imported back to London. In addition to spices, people would also be transported to become servants, cooks, etc. With that came a big influx of spices and fusion foods. In fact, most UK individuals pick Indian Food when choosing to eat out. Hence the popularity of CTM grew and grew throughout the years.
What is Kashmiri Chili Powder?
Kashmiri Chili Powder is a milder heat pepper that is used for flavor and color more than its spice. It has a distinct taste which pairs well with many North Indian or Fusion dishes. Find it at your local Indian grocery store or here on Amazon.
Is this Easy One Pot Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe spicy?
Since most of the pepper powders used int his dish are mild in heat, the spice level is very tolerable. Making this Easy Chicken Tikka Masala recipe also an Indian food recipe that is kid-friendly.
What other Indian food recipes for kids do you recommend?
Chicken Tikka Masala is definitely a dish I recommend for kids. In addition to this, my kids love Palak Paneer, Fish Curry, and Chicken Curry.
What brand Garam Masala do you use?
I prefer to use one that is homemade in India by my grandparents. However, regular garam masala is available at almost every grocery store in the US. Check your local grocery store’s spice aisle and pick one up that meets your standards (organic, non-gmo, or country of origin). If you would like to make it at home, then I recommend checking out Spice Craving’s Recipe here.
Can I use chicken breast instead of chicken thighs?
I recommend using boneless skinless chicken thighs because you really can’t mess it up. Meaning, the meat will be very tender. However, if you want to save some calories and are comfortable cooking chicken breast without overcooking it, then by all means-GO FOR IT! I use what I have on hand and either way the dish comes out just as tasty!
What vegetarian substitutions do you recommend?
If you want to skip chicken or meat all together, then give paneer a try. Chop it into small cubes and just substitute for chicken. You can also substitute extra firm tofu that is patted dry or soya chunks.
Tomato Sauce, Crushed Tomatoes, or Tomato Puree
I highly recommend using crushed tomatoes for this recipe. Here is why…
- Tomato Puree is hard to find sometimes but it is a great alternative to Crushed Tomatoes if you have it on hand
- Tomato Sauce will give you a runny/soup like gravy
- Crushed Tomatoes gives you a little bit of tomato puree with tomatoes giving you a perfect creamy sauce that is dunkable!
Fresh tomatoes or canned tomatoes?
Canned tomatoes saves you time and gives you a flavor that will take some to achieve with fresh. Meaning, using the right tomatoes and condensing them down to a similar consistency will take some effort. For that reason, I recommend using canned.
Can I substitute heavy cream for a healthier option?
If you are looking for a Healthy Chicken Tikka Masala recipe then be sure to check this recipe of mine out. It is guilt free, keto-friendly, and tasty!
Easy Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe
Chicken Tikka Masala
- 1.5-2 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs, chopped into 1" pieces
- 1 cup plain yogurt (or sour cream)
- 2 tbsp garlic, minced or grated
- 1 tbsp ginger, grated or blended
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp Kashmiri chili powder
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
Chicken Tikka Masala Sauce
- 2 medium onions, chopped or food processed finely (not puree)
- 1 tsp garam masala (chicken tikka masala spice or curry powder)
- 1 tbsp garlic, grated or minced
- 1 tbsp ginger, grated or blended
- 2 tsp cumin powder
- 1 tbsp Kashmiri chili powder
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper powder
- ½ tsp paprika powder
- 1 tsp sugar (brown or refined)
- 1.5 cup heavy cream
- 12 oz tomato puree or crushed tomatoes (cento brand is what I use)
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tbsp coriander powder
- 3 tbsp butter
- 3 tbsp oil
- 1 cup water (if needed)
- red chili powder
- Combine the chopped chicken, turmeric, ginger, garlic, salt, yogurt, garam masala and Kashmiri chili powder together.
- Mix it well and set it aside while you prepare the other ingredients.
- In a wide bottom pan heat 3 tbsp of oil on medium/high heat.
- Add the marinated chicken to the pan covering as much hot surface as possible (cook the chicken in multiple batches if the pan does not fit all of the chicken)
- Cook for about 3 minutes and then gently flip the chicken over to cook the other side.
- Remove the cooked chicken from the pan into a metal or glass bowl. Cover the bowl with foil or a lid so it remains hot while you make the sauce.
- In the same pan you cooked the chicken in, add 3 tbsp of butter.
- Cook the finely chopped onions until translucent. Continue to scrape the pieces off of the bottom of the pan and allow the onions to cook fully.
- Add 1 tbsp of grated ginger and 1 tbsp of grated garlic to the pan and cook for about 10 seconds.
- Add turmeric, garam masala, coriander powder, and cumin powder. Mix it well and then add crushed/pureed tomatoes.
- Cook for about 1 minute or until heated through.
- Add paprika, cayenne, Kashmiri chili powder, red chili powder, and sugar to the pan.
- Mix well and then add the heavy whipping cream. Using a hand blender, carefully blend the sauce into a creamy consistency. (you can also place in a blender to puree or eliminate this step.)
- Once the sauce is heated through and bubbling, slowly add the chicken back into the pot.
- Mix, add water, cover, and cook for about 5 minutes on medium/low heat.
- Garnish with ½ cup of finely chopped cilantro.
- Enjoy with Basmati Rice or soft naan bread.
- Use half the measurement for garam masala, cayenne pepper, ginger, garlic, and paprika pepper if you prefer a lower spice (or for kids).
- Add red chili powder and salt after doing a taste test.
- Extra cilantro is recommended