This one pan Chicken Tikka Masala is packed full of flavor and so simple to make. Chicken pieces are cooked in a fragrant mellow spice mix then simmered in a creamy tomato sauce. If you're looking for curry in a hurry you'll make this recipe again and again.
It's not surprising that Chicken Tikka Masala is one of the world's favorite curries. But you don't have to go to an Indian restaurant to get your fix.
Follow my simple pared back homemade version and you'll get all the flavor with a handful of simple everyday ingredients. No marinading or slow cooking requred.
Making your own chicken curry from scratch can seem a bit daunting at first. But not only does it taste great, it's also lot healthier than your local restaurant curry sauce.
In developing this recipe I started with @thekitchn excellent slow cooker version, and adapted it to be cooked on the stovetop in under an hour.
Why You Should Make This Chicken Tikka Masala
- This easy chicken curry from scratch is hands off, and takes just a few minutes to prep.
- Everything is cooked in one pot so you retain all of the flavor, with the added bonus of less dishes.
- Homemade tikka masala means you have total control over ingredients and this dish has far less oil than your local takeaway restaurant. No sugar and less salt too.
- The mild flavor of this curry make it a great dish to serve to young children or anyone who loves a curry without too much heat. Alternatively you can spice it up for anyone who likes hotter food.
- Love curry? Try my Indian Chicken Curry with Coconut Milk which is similar to a chicken korma and another family friendly curry dish.
Chicken Tikka Masala Ingredients
Find the full list and quantities in the recipe below.
Chicken Thighs - I use boneless and skinless chicken thighs as they are not only a cheaper cut of meat, but also packed full of flavor.
You can substitute chicken thigh with chicken breast, just adapt the cooking time to stop the chicken from drying out.
Turmeric - adds flavor and a wonderful color to the curry, without adding any heat.
Chili Powder - I have added 1 tsp of chili powder in this recipe, which gives a nice mild heat to the sauce.
Chili powder is entirely optional and you can leave it out if you prefer or are serving younger children. If you would like more chili heat simply increase the amount you add.
Curry Powder - comes in a variety of different strengths and the heat of each can vary considerably.
I'd suggest using a mild curry powder if making this for young children. If you want a hotter curry, then a good Madras curry powder would give the sauce a medium heat intensity.
I recommend adding a little at a time until you reach the level of heat desired.
Chicken Stock - it's always worth getting the best quality chicken stock you can. You can add a little more or less depending on how thick you like the sauce.
How to Make Chicken Tikka Masala from scratch
Find the full printable recipe below.
Season the chicken thigh pieces well, then sauté until golden.
Remove the chicken from the pan and fry the onion in the same pan until soft.
Add the garlic and ginger and cook for a further minute before adding the spices, honey, tomatoes and stock along with the chicken pieces.
Simmer with the lid on for around 25 minutes. Stir in the cream and serve!
Serve with fresh baby spinach, basmati rice, naan, mango chutney and fresh chopped cilantro.
Is Chicken Tikka Masala a traditional Indian curry?
Chicken tikka masala is generally not considered to be an authentic Indian curry.
Instead it is a British dish created by Indian chefs in the UK to satisfy the tastes of British diners and their love of having meat served in a form of gravy - in this case a curry sauce. The milder heat in this curry makes it suitable for all palettes.
What is difference between chicken tikka masala and butter chicken?
Although both curries use similar ingredients, they do differ. Chicken tikka masala has more tomato flavor and is less creamy than a butter chicken. Whereas butter chicken is a creamier dish, containing both butter and cream and less intensity of tomato.
Variations of Indian Chicken Tikka Masala
- For a vegetarian version of my chicken tikka masala, replace the chicken with roasted veggies. For example: cauliflower; sweet potato; squash; zucchini; bell peppers.
- If you'd like to use a different protein, shrimp works well here. But I would sauté it in a separate pan and add to the sauce towards the end so the shrimp doesn't overcook.
- To get my greens in, I often serve this with spinach, which gets partially cooked if you stir it in with the tomato sauce on your plate. You could also substitute spinach with kale or chard.
- Following a dairy free diet? Ensure that you use vegetable oil rather than butter or ghee and replace the heavy cream (double cream) with coconut milk.
- For those who love a spice kick, add some sliced fresh chili to the table. That way everyone can get their individual heat levels right!
Tips For Making Chicken Tikka Masala
- Make sure you sear the chicken well on all side until golden brown. This really helps to develop the flavor.
- To avoid tough chicken, make sure you bring the sauce to a boil and then immediately turn down to a simmer, low enough so you can barely see the bubbles.
- This dish freezes well, so is great for batch cooking. I like to make double the quantity, eat half and freeze the other half for a quick meal at a later date.
- Adding one teaspoon of chili powder will give you a mild flavored curry. However, you can adapt the chili heat up or down depending on your taste.
Timesaving Tips for making this chicken curry even faster
If you're in a real hurry it's fine to use ready chopped onion and ready minced garlic and ginger (either fresh or frozen) to cut down even more on prep time.
How To Serve Indian Chicken Tikka Masala
I like to serve this mild curry with fresh baby spinach, basmati rice, mango chutney and fresh chopped cilantro.
My Coconut Rice with Lime is super simple to prepare and makes a nice change to regular steamed basmati rice. I also like to serve some soft naan bread, chapati or roti bread which is great to mop up the creamy Indian curry sauce.
Planning a curry night in with friends? Then add these other great tasting curry dishes to the table. My Easy Red Lentil Dahl and Chickpea & Spinach Curry work well alongside this homemade chicken curry.
How To Reheat Chicken Tikka Masala?
Chicken tikka masala is a great make ahead dish. Prepare it the day before and leave to cool before storing in the fridge.
In fact curry always tastes better the second day as the flavors intensify when left to sit overnight. When ready to enjoy place the curry back on the stove and warm up gently until piping hot.
Worth noting - if you are adding fresh spinach to the curry, do this just before serving, that way it will keep the spinach looking and tasting fresh.
How to Freeze Chicken Tikka Masala?
As with most curries, this homemade chicken curry can be easily frozen. Cook the curry then allow it to cool completely before placing in an airtight container with a tight fitting lid.
It will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. When ready to enjoy, defrost thoroughly before heating gently until hot all the way through.
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What Do You Think?!
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More Easy One-Pot Recipe Ideas
Curry in a Hurry - Chicken Tikka Masala
- 2 lb Chicken Thighs - boneless & skinless, cut into 1" pieces
- Sea Salt and Black Pepper
- 1 tbsp Butter, Ghee or Vegetable Oil
- 1 Onion - large, diced
- 3 cloves Garlic - minced
- 2 inch Fresh Ginger - grated
- 2 tbsp Curry Powder
- 2 tbsp Tomato Purée
- 1½ tsp Turmeric
- 1 tsp Chili Powder - optional
- 1 tsp Honey
- 28 oz Canned Diced Tomatoes - drained
- 1 cup Chicken Stock
- ¾ cup Heavy Cream (Double Cream)
Optional to serve
- Baby Spinach
- Basmati Rice
- Mango Chutney
- Fresh Cilantro (Coriander)
- Season the chicken thigh pieces with sea salt and black pepper.
- Heat the butter, ghee or vegetable oil in a large heavy bottomed pan (use one with a lid).
- Saute the chicken pieces over a medium heat until golden - around 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan and reserve on a plate.
- Fry the onion in the same pan on a medium low heat until soft - around 10 minutes.
- Add the minced garlic and ginger and stir, cooking for one further minute.
- Add the curry powder, tomato paste, turmeric, chili powder (if using), honey, tomatoes and ½ cup stock (add more if needed later depending on the thickness of the sauce.)
- Add the chicken pieces back to the pan, season again and stir gently. Bring the sauce to a boil and turn the heat down to a simmer. Add the pan lid.
- Simmer, stirring occasionally (and adding the other half cup of stock if necessary) until the chicken is fully cooked and juices run clear - around 25 minutes.
- Gently stir in the heavy cream and serve with rice, naan, chutney and fresh chopped cilantro.
This post was shared with the #cookblogshare community, which this week was kindly hosted by Sisley at www.sewwhite.com
Corina Blum says
Chicken tikka masala is one of our favourite curries too! My kids both love it and your version looks very easy to make.
Jo Keohane says
Thanks so much for your comment Corina. Yes - it's not the most authentic but it tastes great and its so easy to whip up mid week.
Cat | Curly's Cooking says
Chicken tikka is my go to curry. So mild and delicious making it perfect for everyone. This looks so tasty.
Jo Keohane says
It's a definitely favorite in our hosue! Thanks for your comment Cat
Absolutely delicious and the colour is just fabulous - impossible not to love this recipe.
Jo Keohane says
Thanks so much Chloe, hope you love it.