Cubed chicken in tikka masala sauce over basmati rice next to naan bread and a large pan. A logo says Sarah's Bites.

Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken, onions, and green peppers are cooked to perfection in a moderately spicy curry sauce and served over basmati rice. Make your favorite Indian takeout dish at home with this easy recipe!

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Recipe Notes

Chicken tikka masala is typically marinated in yogurt and spices. I didn’t marinate the chicken for this recipe beforehand for two reasons: (1) I didn’t have any yogurt, and (2) I made this after getting home late and didn’t have an hour or more to wait for the chicken to marinate.

Chicken: Many chicken tikka masala recipes call for using boneless chicken thighs. I prefer to use chicken breasts in most of my recipes, so I used boneless chicken breasts. The chicken cooked nicely and wasn’t at all overcooked. If you prefer chicken thighs, you can certainly substitute.

Tomato Puree: I used pureed canned whole tomatoes for this recipe. I just tossed them into the blender. However, to make this recipe easier I just used “tomato puree” in the ingredients list. You can also use a plain (not seasoned) tomato sauce, or put any kind of canned tomatoes in a blender.

Tomato Paste: Ever think it’s annoying when a recipe calls for only a little bit of tomato paste instead of the whole can? I get tomato paste in a tube instead of a can for this reason, but the tubed kind is usually more expensive. You can freeze the rest of the canned paste to use later (see this tutorial by Don’t Waste The Crumbs).

Habanero Chili Powder: I use a tad bit of habanero chili powder to make the dish moderately spicy. A little goes a long way! If you add the 1/8 teaspoon my recipe calls for, but find you’d like it to be spicier, I recommend increasing the habanero chili powder by 1/8 tsp at a time until it reaches your desired level of spice. If you have time, also let it simmer for a minute between adjustments. If you can’t bring yourself to buy a while thing of habanero chili powder because you don’t think you’ll use it again, use some crushed red pepper flakes or some cayenne.

This recipe reheats very well in the microwave or in the oven. I recommend covering with foil if you’re reheating in the oven.

Continue reading past the recipe card for step-by-step photos.

What do I need to make chicken tikka masala?

Equipment Notes

I made this in my enameled cast iron braiser. Mine is a Le Creuset 5 quart. This recipe would also work very well in a dutch oven or large stock pot, though I recommend the dutch oven if you have one because they tend to be wider than a stock pot. You actually could even make this in an extra large wok.

Cubed chicken in tikka masala sauce over basmati rice next to naan bread and a large pan
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5 from 1 vote

Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken, onions, and green peppers are cooked to perfection in a moderately spicy curry sauce and served over basmati rice. Make your favorite Indian takeout dish at home with this easy recipe!
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time45 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: chicken tikka masala recipe, homemade Indian food
Servings: 4 people

Ingredients

Spice Blend

Instructions

  • Combine the ingredients for the spice blend and set aside.
  • Cook basmati rice according to package instructions. Meanwhile, begin making the chicken tikka masala.
  • Preheat dutch oven or extra large pot over medium heat.
  • Add olive oil to the pan.
  • Cook peppers and onions until the onions are soft and begin to get golden, about 5 minutes.
  • Move the vegetables to the sides to make room for the chicken in the center.
  • Add the chicken to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally along with the vegetables, for about 10 minutes until the chicken begins to get a bit golden on the outside. (I recommend switching to a new cooking utensil at this point since the other one made contact with raw chicken.)
  • Stir in the tomato puree, tomato paste, chicken stock, and spice blend.
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. The sauce will begin to thicken.
  • Stir in the heavy cream and cook for another 2 minutes to allow the cream to heat up.
  • Serve over basmati rice and garnish with cilantro.

Notes

See this tutorial for cutting onion petals in 5 easy steps. 

Step-By-Step Photos

Combine ingredients for the spice rub and set aside. Cook basmati rice according to package instructions. Meanwhile, begin making the chicken tikka masala. Preheat dutch oven, large pot, or braiser over medium heat. (Pictured: Le Creuset 6 quart braiser). Add olive oil to the pan, followed by the peppers and onions. Note: When I first made and photographed this recipe, I cut the onions a bit too thin. I recommend cutting them into petals (see how).

Sliced peppers and onions in a large pan

Cook peppers and onions until the onions are soft and begin to get golden, about 5 minutes. Move the vegetables to the side to make room for the chicken in the center. Add the chicken to the pan.

Chicken, peppers, and onions cooking in a pan

Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes until chicken begins to get a bit golden. Note: I recommend switching to a new cooking utensil at this point since the other one made contact with raw chicken.

Chicken, peppers, and onions cooking in a pan

Stir in the tomato puree, tomato paste, chicken stock, and spice blend.

Chicken, peppers, and onions with a tomato sauce cooking in a pan

Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. The sauce will begin to thicken. Stir in the heavy cream and cook for another 2 minutes to allow the cream to heat up.

Chicken tikka masala in a pan

Serve over basmati rice and garnish with cilantro.

Cubed chicken in tikka masala sauce over basmati rice next to naan bread and a large pan. Text says easy homemade chicken tikka masala.

Chicken Tikka Masala

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