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Chicken Tikka Masala

  • Author: Pinch of Yum
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 15 mins
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 6-8 1x


Chicken Tikka Masala – creamy, perfectly spicy, and ready in 30 minutes! you won’t believe how easy it is to make this at home!



Chicken Tikka Masala:

  • 2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/4 cup masala paste (recipe follows)
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 12 tablespoons oil
  • 2 cups tomato puree
  • 1 cup heavy cream (sub a 14-ounce can of regular coconut milk)
  • 12 teaspoons kosher salt
  • rice and cilantro for serving

Masala Paste:

  • 2 onions (about 3 cups when chopped)
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • a 2-inch piece of fresh ginger
  • 3 tablespoons garam masala
  • 1 tablespoon each chili powder, turmeric, and cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper 
  • a small pile of cilantro stems
  • juice of one lemon


  1. MASALA PASTE: Pulse all ingredients into a food processor until smooth. Set aside about 1/4 cup of the paste for this recipe – freeze the rest for your next batch! Boom!
  2. MARINATE CHICKEN: Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces. Marinate with 1-2 tablespoons of masala paste and the yogurt for about 30 minutes in the fridge.
  3. COOK CHICKEN: Heat a large, deep nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Heat 1-2 tablespoons of oil. Cook the chicken in batches, undisturbed, until each piece is nice and browned on the outside. Remove from pan and set aside. (Chicken does not need to be fully cooked at this point.)
  4. SAUCE: Add 2-3 tablespoons of masala paste to the same skillet. Stir fry for a few minutes. Add the tomato puree and browned chicken; simmer for 10-15 minutes. (Chicken should now be fully cooked.)
  5. FINISH: Stir in cream or coconut milk. Season with salt. Let stand for a while so the sauce will thicken up a bit. Serve over rice with cilantro. HEAVEN.


Instant Pot Chicken Tikka Masala: Same ingredients and instructions for steps 1 and 2. At step 3, add chicken, masala paste, and tomato puree to the Instant Pot, and cook at high pressure for 8 minutes. Use the quick release. Add cream in at the end.

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala: Same ingredients and instructions for steps 1 and 2. At step 3, add chicken, masala paste, and tomato puree to the slow cooker, and cook for 4 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low. Add cream in at the end.

Tomato Puree: You can buy canned tomato puree at a lot of grocery stores. Otherwise just plain tomato sauce (it’s just a little thinner) or use canned tomatoes and run them through the food processor or blender till smooth. The idea is just plain pureed tomatoes without seasoning. 

Dairy Free Chicken Tikka Masala: Coconut milk or light coconut milk can be used and it’s delicious! It will just be slightly less thick and creamy.

  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Sauté
  • Cuisine: Indian

Keywords: chicken tikka masala, masala paste, Indian restaurant, chicken dinner recipe