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Chicken Tikka Masala

If you’ve ever eaten at an Indian restaurant, you’ll notice Chicken Tikka Masala is on just about every menu. The rich and creamy, spiced tomato sauce is what makes this such a popular dish! When we make this at home, the chicken comes out so juicy and we can alter the spice level to our liking (the hotter the better)! I serve this with either naan bread (my personal favorite is garlic!) or basmati rice. It’s perfect for having a date night at home, cooking together!


Chicken Tikka Masala

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By: America's Test Kitchen
Posted in: Dinner, Recipes
Prep Time
Cook Time

for the chicken tikka

  • 1⁄2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1⁄2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1⁄4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp table salt
  • 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup plain greek yogurt (see note)
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger

for the masala sauce

  • 3 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced fine (about 1 1/4 cups)
  • 1 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 fresh serrano chili pepper, ribs and seeds removed, flesh minced (see note)
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp garam masala (see note)
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1⁄2 tsp table salt
  • 2⁄3 cup heavy cream
  • 1⁄4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves


Here Your Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.

  2. Combine cumin, coriander, cayenne, and salt in small bowl. Sprinkle both sides of chicken with spice mixture, pressing gently so mixture adheres.

  3. In large bowl, whisk together yogurt, oil, garlic, and ginger.

  4. Using tongs, dip chicken into yogurt mixture (chicken should be coated with thick layer of yogurt) and arrange on wire rack set in foil-lined rimmed baking sheet or broiler pan. Discard excess yogurt mixture.

  5. Bake chicken until thickest parts register 160 degrees on meat thermometer, about 45 to 50 minutes, flipping chicken halfway through cooking.

  6. While the chicken is baking, to make the sauce, heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until light golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, chile, tomato paste, and garam masala; cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes and salt; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in cream and return to simmer. Remove pan from heat and cover to keep warm.

  7. When chicken has reached 160 degrees, remove from oven and rest for 5 minutes, then cut into 1-inch chunks and stir into warm sauce (do not simmer chicken in sauce). Stir in cilantro, adjust seasoning with salt, and serve.

Recipe Notes

This dish is best when prepared with whole-milk yogurt, but low-fat yogurt can be substituted.

For a spicier dish, do not remove the ribs and seeds from the serrano pepper.

If you prefer, substitute 2 teaspoons ground coriander, 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom, 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper for the garam masala.

The sauce can be made ahead, refrigerated for up to 4 days in an airtight container, and gently reheated before adding the hot chicken.

Serve with basmati rice or naan bread!

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