Chicken Tikka Masala

by Сашка

This easy Chicken Tikka Masala is made with tender chunks of boneless chicken breasts cooked in an aromatic, creamy yogurt-tomato sauce.

Chicken Tikka Masala

If you need dinner ideas for for chicken breasts, I think you will love this dish! Chicken Tikka Masala is probably the most popular dish on the menu of any Indian restaurant in the States. Ironically, this dish originated in the United Kingdom and is considered Britain’s national dish. My lighter version uses yogurt instead of cream which also adds some extra protein, and is wonderful served over rice. I also have a slow cooker version in the Skinnytaste Fast and Slow Cookbook, this Salmon Tikka Masala and Instant Pot Chicken Tikka Masala (which is also dairy-free).

Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala has become a global phenomenon, loved for its creamy, flavorful sauce and tender chicken. There is no standard recipe for tikka masala. In fact, a 1998 survey found that the only common ingredient in 48 different chicken tikka masala recipes was the chicken. So, we probably all have different ideas of what it should taste like.

The Dish That Made Me Fall in Love with Indian Food

Chicken Tikka Masala

In my fast-paced city life before Skinnytaste, I was surrounded by Indian colleagues and friends. Our weekly lunches at Indian restaurants were a delicious adventure in exploring new flavors. Chicken Tikka Masala, the first dish I ever tried, it stole my heart from the very first bite.

For years, I tried to lighten this meal without all the cream and ghee (clarified butter), yet I never felt satisfied with the results. I almost gave up, figuring it was just a dish I couldn’t make healthier until I stumbled on a recipe from a throwdown with Bobby Flay from an old Indian restaurant in New York. I gave it another shot using yogurt and milk instead of the cream and thought it was great for an uncomplicated, healthy chicken tikka masala!

Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala Calories

Chicken Tikka Masala can vary quite a bit in calorie count depending on the recipe and portion size. An average restaurant serving of Chicken Tikka Masala can range from 800 to 1200 calories or even more. This is because restaurants often use butter, cream, and richer ingredients. My homemade version is made with lighter ingredients, and portion control is key. Here 3/4 cup is about 250 calories, not including rice.

Featured Comment5/5!!! I followed this recipe exactly and it turned out as good as what I would get in a restaurant! Now I know what to make if I’m craving a more healthy alternative.– Erica343 More Comments


Here’s everything you need to make this quick and easy chicken tikka masala recipe, but scroll to the bottom for exact measurements.

Chicken Tikka Masala

  • Canola Oil or Butter for cooking the onions and spices in
  • Aromatics: Minced onion, grated ginger, and crushed garlic infuse the dish with rich, aromatic flavors.
  • Canned Crushed Tomatoes are the base of the curry sauce.
  • Creamy Ingredients: This chicken tikka masala without heavy cream uses 1% milk and plain, whole milk yogurt (not Greek yogurt).
  • Spices: Cumin, garam masala, turmeric, chili powder, kosher salt
  • Chicken: Cut boneless skinless chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces.
  • Cilantro for garnish and color

How to Make Chicken Tikka Masala

My simplified version of traditional chicken tikka masala is much faster and easier, and most of the cooking time is hands-off as the sauce simmers. The complete instructions are in the recipe card below.

Read also:
Baked Chicken Parmesan Recipe

Chicken Tikka Masala

Saute the aromatics.

Chicken Tikka Masala

Add the spices.

Chicken Tikka Masala

Simmer sauce and temper the yogurt.

Chicken Tikka Masala

Add the chicken.

  1. Aromatics and Spices: In a large skillet, saute the onions, followed by the ginger and then garlic. Add the cumin, garam masala, turmeric, chili powder, and salt and cook for 2 minutes.
  2. Simmer Sauce: Pour the tomatoes and milk into the pan and simmer on low until the sauce thickens.
  3. Temper the Yogurt: To ensure the sauce doesn’t curdle, mix the yogurt with a half cup of warm tomato sauce in a bowl. Stir and then add it to the pot.
  4. Chicken: Add the raw chicken and simmer until cooked through. Top with fresh cilantro before serving.

Chicken Tikka Masala


  • Turmeric: Some people commented that the turmeric made the sauce taste bitter, so feel free to use less.
  • More Spices: Coriander and cardamom would also be good.
  • Spiciness: Add cayenne for some heat.
  • Dairy-Free Chicken Tikka Masala: Substitute coconut milk and a non-dairy yogurt.
  • Chicken: Swap chicken breasts for boneless, skinless chicken thighs.
  • Vegetarian Tikka Masala: Substitute canned chickpeas or tofu for chicken.
  • Vegetables: Add spinach, cauliflower, or peas for an extra serving of veggies.
  • Don’t like cilantro? Skip it.

Serving Suggestions

  • Carbs: I like to serve chicken tikka masala over basmati rice or with naan bread to soak up the sauce.
  • Low-Carb: Swap rice for cauliflower rice.
  • Vegetables: To round out this meal, pair it with a vegetable, like wilted spinach or roasted cauliflower.


  • Fridge: Store leftover tikka masala in airtight containers for up to 4 days in the refrigerator.
  • Freeze: I typically don’t freeze dishes that contain dairy, but if you have leftovers that will go bad before you have time to eat them, you can try freezing the sauce for 3 months.
  • Reheat: Microwave until warm or warm on the stove.

Butter Chicken vs Chicken Tikka Masala

While chicken tikka masala and butter chicken both consist of chicken in creamy, tomato sauces seasoned with Indian spices, they are different dishes. Butter chicken originated in India, unlike tikka masala, which is a British Indian dish. Butter chicken is also typically sweeter and less spicy than tikka masala.

Chicken Tikka Masala

More Indian Cuisine Inspired Dishes

Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe

4.73 from 61 votes 1 Cals:249 Protein:30.5 Carbs:15 Fat:8 Chicken Tikka Masala is made with tender chunks of boneless chicken breasts cooked in an aromatic, creamy yogurt-tomato sauce. Course: Dinner Cuisine: Indian

Chicken Tikka Masala

Prep: 5 minutes minsCook: 30 minutes minsTotal: 35 minutes mins Print Rate Pin Save Saved! WW Points Yield: 4 servings Serving Size: 3 /4 cup chicken and sauce 1x2x3x


  • 2 teaspoons oil , or butter
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 1 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 1/2 cups crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup 1% milk
  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt, not Greek (I prefer whole milk)
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric, optional
  • 1/2 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt to taste
  • 16 ounces boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces, from 2 breasts
  • 4 tablespoon fresh cilantro, or to taste


  • Heat oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until golden, about 3 minutes.
  • Add the crushed ginger, stir for 1 minute then add the garlic and cook another minute. Add cumin, garam masala, turmeric, chili powder, and salt; mix well until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  • Stir in tomatoes and milk. Simmer on low heat until sauce thickens, about 10 minutes.
  • Temper the yogurt: Place the yogurt in a bowl and add 1/2 cup of the sauce to the yogurt and stir. Add it to the sauce and mix well.
  • Add chicken and simmer for 10 – 15 minutes or until cooked through.
  • Add a generous amount of chopped cilantro and serve with Basmati Rice or Naan, if desired.


Serving: 3 /4 cup chicken and sauce, Calories: 249 kcal, Carbohydrates: 15 g, Protein: 30.5 g, Fat: 8 g, Saturated Fat: 2 g, Cholesterol: 90.5 mg, Sodium: 455.5 mg, Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: 7 g

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