Chicken Tikka Masala

Quick, creamy, and subtly spicy: this chicken tikka masala is a weeknight dinner hit.
If you find yourself in a rut with uninspiring weeknight meals, why not try a new-to-you cuisine? Meals like chicken tikka masala come together quickly and seamlessly, especially with a well-stocked pantry. Aside from a deep dive into your spice cabinet, none of these ingredients are hard to come by.

If you’ve never attempted to make Indian or Punjab cuisine, don’t worry! Generic recipes for chicken tikka masala most likely originated in Scotland, of all places. This dish has a thick “gravy” for the meat, made with cream and tomato paste. It packs a lot of flavor in each bite, thanks to the spices and seasonings.

So don’t wait! Grab a skillet and get cooking with this recipe for creamy, subtly spicy chicken tikka masala.


serves 4, cooking time 30 minutes plus 15 minutes marinating time

  • 2-inch piece of ginger, minced, divided
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 ounces light cream
  • 1 lemon, juiced and zested
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped, plus more for garnish
  • 4 skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 3 tablespoons peanut oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • Jasmine rice for serving


  1. In a large bowl, marinate the chicken for 15-30 minutes. Add half the ginger, half the lemon juice, all of the lemon zest, garlic, cilantro, and one tablespoon of cream, as well as one tablespoon of peanut oil with a dash of salt.
  2. Heat a large skillet with the remaining two tablespoons of peanut oil over medium-low heat. Add the onion, cooking slowly for about 15 minutes, until translucent.
  3. Stir in the chili powder, turmeric, and garam masala with the onions and cook for about 3 minutes. Remove this mixture from the skillet and reserve nearby.
  4. Next, turn the heat to medium-high and add the chicken, marinade and all. Cook, rotating the pieces as little as possible until the chunks are cooked through, about 8 minutes.
  5. Return the onion-spice mixture to the skillet, and add the remaining cream and tomato paste. Stir the mixture to coat all of the chicken pieces, and continue cooking about 5 minutes. Season with salt and lemon juice to taste.
  6. Serve over jasmine rice, and garnish with additional cilantro.

Quick, creamy, and subtly spicy: this chicken tikka masala is a weeknight dinner hit.

Make sure to marinate the chicken pieces for at least 15 minutes, but a maximum of thirty minutes. The reason for this time limit is that poultry becomes tough and chewy if it sits too long in an acidic liquid (like lemon juice) prior to cooking.

While this recipe does fall into the healthier range of dinner entrees, substituting regular cream or even yogurt for the light cream listed above will make the gravy richer, and will better hide spice if that’s something you’re sensitive to. That substitution will make it quite hearty and caloric. However you make it, try this chicken tikka masala recipe for dinner today!

nutri facts tikka masala

Leave a Reply