I’m in love with this chicken tikka masala recipe — it’s restaurant quality, made from scratch, and easy to make. It’s relatively quick to whip up as well; most of the time is spent marinating the chicken and only 20 minutes is spent simmering the sauce on the stove. If chicken tikka masala is your go-to dish to order at Indian restaurants, then you’ve got to try this!
UPDATE: I added an Instant Pot chicken tikka masala recipe for those of you who prefer to use your pressure cooker.
Making your own Indian food at home without store-bought sauces can sound daunting, but in practice it is a lot easier than it sounds! Tikka masala sauce is essentially just tomato puree mixed with heavy cream and garam masala, and then simmered until it becomes a nice thick sauce. Garam masala is simply a mix of dried spices like cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, etc. I recommend buying this dried Indian spice mix — it’s available at your local Whole Foods market and also on Amazon. A small amount will last you a long time and through many chicken tikka masalas!
Let me give you some background on my history with chicken tikka masala. My obsession with it started about a decade ago, when I was living with a roommate who introduced me to the world of Indian food. I fell in love with chicken tikka masala and since then, I’ve ordered it every time I’ve seen it on a menu. On average, I eat chicken tikka masala A FEW TIMES A WEEK ? — whether it be at a restaurant, the store-bought frozen kind (anyone else equally obsessed with Trader Joe’s frozen chicken tikka masala?), or various homemade ones. I’ve experimented with more chicken tikka masala recipes than I can count, and this recipe is my favorite! It’s the perfect combination of not-too-complicated (I’ve tried to pare it down to the essentials) and super tasty (I can’t tell the difference between this recipe and the kind I’ve had in restaurants).
Also, this recipe makes a very, very generous amount of sauce! The sauce-to-chicken ratio is very high. So there is PLENTY of sauce left to soak your basmati rice in, or to dip with naan. Yum!
If you like chicken tikka masala, you should also check out this delicious Indian-inspired dry curry dish: golden cauliflower curry with potatoes.
Best chicken tikka masala
For marinating the chicken:
For the sauce:
- basmati rice or naan
- cilantro or parsley
Marinating the chicken: Combine all marinade ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Add chicken chunks and coat with the marinade. Let sit in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
Sautéing the chicken: Add chicken chunks along with the marinade to a 3-quart pan over medium-high heat and sauté until the chicken is mostly cooked, about 5 minutes.
Simmering the sauce: Reduce to medium heat. Add butter, jalapeño, and garlic to the same pan. Cook until the garlic browns, about 1 minute. Add the tomato sauce, heavy whipping cream, garam masala, paprika, and salt. Mix well. Bring to a boil and then decrease heat to a simmer over medium-low heat. Simmer until the sauce thickens, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Serving: Serve with basmati rice or naan. Garnish with cilantro or parsley.