Chicken Tikka Masala is a restaurant-favorite that is even better made at home with tender chunks of chicken marinated in yogurt and spices, then seared to caramelize the edges on a grill or broiler and simmered in a creamy, spicy tomato based sauce. We always serve this dish over White Rice with Garlic Naan Bread on the side for scooping up every last bit of the incredible sauce.

If you love making restaurant copycat dishes at home, be sure to try our Chicken Madeira, Creamy Chicken Marsala, or Honey Walnut Shrimp next!

A large skillet of chicken tikka masala next to a bowl of rice and a plate of garlic naan.

Chicken tikka masala is the arguably the most popular dish in Indian cuisine in the Western world for good reason - it's unbelievably delicious. We have eaten it all over the world - in England where it was invented, New York, San Francisco, and Washington D.C. - but the best version anywhere is from the Bombay House restaurant in good old Provo, Utah!

So thanks, Provo and more specifically Bombay House, for introducing and converting this mostly mid-west girl to the bold, rich and exotic flavors of the largest country in South Asia.

Why this Recipe Works

  • It is rich with a creamy sauce, and you can adjust the spiciness to your personal preference and tastes!
  • It's just as good as the original, which is great since we don't live in Utah anymore and have a tendency to crave Bombay House chicken tikka masala.
  • The leftovers taste even better the next day. You might even want to make a double batch so you have enough leftovers for a delicious Chicken Tikka Masala Pizza!
Chunks of chicken in a homemade tikka masala sauce on a plate with white rice.

Ingredient Notes

This is a quick overview of some of the important ingredients you'll need for this recipe. Specific measurements and full recipe instructions are in the printable recipe card below.

  • Chicken: We like to use boneless, skinless chicken breasts for this easy chicken tikka masala recipe, but boneless, skinless chicken thighs could be used as well instead.
  • Plain yogurt: Any plain yogurt will work, but we like a thick Greek yogurt best for the thick marinade. Sour cream could also work in a pinch.
  • Spices: Don't be intimidated by the list of spices! Most, like the ground cumin, black pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper, and ginger and already familiar and in your spice cabinet. The two spices that might be less familiar to some home cooks are garam masala and methi powder. Garam masala is a spice blend that you can find at any regular grocery store. Methi powder is made from dried fenugreek leaves and can be found online or at an Indian market. You can use the leaves themselves if the powder is unavailable, but I have the easiest time finding the powder at my local Indian grocery store. Methi powder can be found at many Indian or Asian markets or ordered online, but if you have trouble locating it, know that I have made this recipe for years without it and it's still excellent. But if you can get your hands on it, it adds a distinct flavor to this recipe that makes it even closer to the version served at our favorite Indian restaurant.
  • Tomato sauce & tomato paste: These two ingredients add depth to the sauce and help thicken it slightly. Tomato puree will also work in place of the tomato sauce, but you might want to decrease the tomato paste by half.
Ingredients for homemade chicken tikka masala.

How to Make Chicken Tikka Masala

Combine all of the marinade ingredients in a glass container and add in the chicken pieces. Cover with a tightly sealed lid, and toss to coat. Allow chicken to marinate for 1 hour.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter or a little olive oil. Stir in the minced fresh garlic and jalapeno. Cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds), stirring frequently. Add in the coriander, cumin, paprika, garam masala, and salt. Stir to combine and lightly toast the spices for 30-60 seconds.

Stir in the tomato sauce and let simmer for 15 minutes until it’s thickened. Simmering the sauce helps develop a more complex flavor while also getting the right consistency.

Meanwhile, thread the chicken onto soaked skewers or shake off excess marinade and spread the chicken out onto a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Discard any remaining marinade.

Grill or broil the chicken on a hot grill or under a broiler for 5 minutes on each side until the chicken is done. Traditionally the chicken is cooked in a tandoor oven but the high heat of a grill or broiler doesn't a good job of caramelizing the outside of the chicken. Remove the chicken from the skewers and keep warm.

Transfer the chicken to the simmering sauce and stir in the cream. Allow the sauce to simmer for another 10 minutes or so until sauce thickens slightly.

Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with the cilantro. Serve with basmati rice (traditional) or brown rice (not so traditional) and garlic naan.

Recipe FAQ's

Where was chicken tikka masala invented?

Chicken tikka masala isn't completely a traditional Indian dish. The original recipe was created in England, not India, when Brits returning from assignments in colonial India brought back a taste for Indian food (like spiced, grilled meat) and it got combined with English food traditions. Some of the histories I have seen describe "gravies" as being particularly popular at the time chicken tikka masala was created, hence the sauce part of this dish. The rest is culinary history.

What else can I make with garam masala spice?

I get it that buying a bottle of a particular spice for one recipe can be annoying. But this is an ingredient you will want for other recipes like our Salmon Steaks or Chicken Tikka Masala Pizza.

Is chicken tikka masala gluten-free?

Yes, this particular chicken tikka masala recipe is gluten-free. While I can’t speak for every variation of this recipe out there, this one doesn't have any ingredients that typically contain gluten. If you’re afraid of gluten for allergy reasons keep in mind to double-check ingredient labels and to serve the chicken tikka masala with a gluten-free side dish such as rice or a gluten-free bread variety.

Storage & Freezing Instructions

If you have leftover chicken tikka masala (lucky you!) let it cool to room temperature than store in an airtight container in the fridge for 4-5 days. I highly recommend using glass storage containers because the strong flavors of the sauce are likely to be absorbed by plastic storage containers.

You can also freeze leftovers for 2-3 months. Just thaw overnight in the fridge, then reheat gently on the stovetop. You may want to add a little additional cream, milk, or even a splash of chicken broth to help thin out the sauce as needed.

Adjusting Levels of Spiciness

  • Mild version: If you are worried about the chicken tikka masala being too spicy, you can make a completely mild version by simply leaving out the cayenne pepper and jalapeno and using a full 2 cups of heavy cream to make the sauce.
  • Medium version: If you like some heat, use the full amount of cayenne pepper and jalapeno along with 1 ½ to 2 cups of heavy cream.
  • Hot version: If you really love the spice, use the minimum amount of cream and double the amount of garam masala in both the marinade and sauce. You might also consider looking for some kashmiri red chili powder to add to the sauce along with the other spices. Even just 1 teaspoon of kashmiri red chili powder brings a whole other level of heat to this dish!

Recipe Tips

  • Be sure to cut bite-size pieces of chicken. This ensures that each piece of chicken gets thoroughly flavored in the marinated and maximizes surface area for caramelization during the grilling or broiling stage.
  • Don't skip toasting the spices. It's tempting to add the spices and tomato sauce all at once, but the extra 30-60 seconds of heat for the spices really brings out their flavor for a more robust sauce.
  • Be sure to simmer. Allowing the sauce to simmer gives time for all of the ingredients to combine and really work together for this delicious sauce.
  • Dairy-free version: If you need to make this dairy free, use olive oil in place of the butter and full-fat coconut milk makes a good substitute for the heavy cream. For the marinade, I would use either a dairy-free yogurt or coconut cream, which is thicker than coconut milk.
  • Vegetarian version: If you want to do a meatless version of this, you could replace the chunks of chicken with cauliflower florets.

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Bombay House Style Chicken Tikka Masala

4.95 from 37 votes
Amy Nash
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Marinating Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 40 mins
Course Dinner
Cuisine Indian
Servings 4 servings
Chicken Tikka Masala is a restaurant-favorite that is even better made at home with tender chunks of chicken marinated in yogurt and spices, then seared to caramelize the edges on a grill or broiler and simmered in a creamy, spicy tomato based sauce.

Ingredients
  

Marinade

  • 1 ½ pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch chunks (about 2 large or 3 small chicken breasts)
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon methi powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger

Masala Sauce

  • 2 Tablespoons salted butter
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeds and stem removed, then finely diced
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons methi powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can tomato sauce (about 1 ½ cups)
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 ½ to 2 cups heavy cream
  • ¼ cup Chopped fresh cilantro

Instructions
 

  • Whisk all marinade ingredients except for the chicken together in a large glass bowl or Ziploc bag. Add chicken pieces, toss to coat, then cover or seal. Marinate for 1-2 hours.
  • In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Stir in the garlic and jalapeno. Cook for 30-60 seconds until fragrant, stirring frequently. Add the coriander, cumin, methi powder, paprika, garam masala, and salt. Stir to toast the spices for another 30-60 seconds, being careful not to burn the garlic or spices. Stir in the tomato sauce and tomato paste. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat and gently simmer for 15 minutes until thickened.
  • Meanwhile, thread the chicken onto soaked skewers or shake off excess marinade and arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Discard remaining marinade. Grill or broil for 5 minutes on each side until the chicken is slightly charred around the edges and cooked through.
  • Transfer the chicken to the simmering sauce and stir in the cream. Less cream makes the dish more spicy. More cream makes the dish more mild.
  • Simmer for another 10 minutes or until the sauce thickens to your liking. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with the chopped fresh cilantro. Serve with basmati rice and garlic naan.

Notes

  • Mild version: If you are worried about the chicken tikka masala being too spicy, you can make a completely mild version by simply leaving out the cayenne pepper and jalapeno and using a full 2 cups of heavy cream to make the sauce.
  • Medium version: If you like some heat, use the full amount of cayenne pepper and jalapeno along with 1 ½ to 2 cups of heavy cream.
  • Hot version: If you really love the spice, use the minimum amount of cream and double the amount of garam masala in both the marinade and sauce. You might also consider looking for some kashmiri red chili powder to add to the sauce along with the other spices. Even just 1 teaspoon of kashmiri red chili powder brings a whole other level of heat to this dish!
  • Storage: If you have leftover chicken tikka masala (lucky you!) let it cool to room temperature than store in an airtight container in the fridge for 4-5 days. I highly recommend using glass storage containers because the strong flavors of the sauce are likely to be absorbed by plastic storage containers.
  • Freezing: You can also freeze leftovers for 2-3 months. Just thaw overnight in the fridge, then reheat gently on the stovetop. You may want to add a little additional cream, milk, or even a splash of chicken broth to help thin out the sauce as needed.
  • Methi powder: You can substitute with 1 Tablespoon of dried fenugreek leaves for each teaspoon of methi powder.
Originally adapted from a site called Mattawa Mum that no longer exists.

Nutrition

Calories: 626kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 42g | Fat: 46g | Saturated Fat: 27g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 13g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 254mg | Sodium: 1252mg | Potassium: 994mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 2312IU | Vitamin C: 14mg | Calcium: 189mg | Iron: 3mg
Tried this recipe? Show me on Instagram!Mention @HouseOfNashEats or tag #houseofnasheats!

This post was originally published in August, 2016. The photos and content were updated in January, 2022.

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Hi, I'm Amy

I enjoy exploring the world through food, culture, and travel and sharing the adventure with mostly from-scratch, family friendly recipes that I think of as modern comfort cooking.

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Reader questions and reviews

  1. I just went into a panic because I couldn't find my printed copy of this recipe. I make this at least twice a month. I've never grilled the chicken on skewers, I just add the marinated chicken to the simmering sauce. So yummy!