Chicken Tikka Masala

After making butter chicken, I knew next on my list was chicken tikka masala. In comparison, this dish has more spice and tomato flavor and slightly less creamy and sweet. If you prefer less spice then I would recommend butter chicken. However, if you enjoy the spice and tomato flavors a lot, then this is the dish for you.

Important ingredients/steps for chicken tikka masala

Full fat Greek yogurt

Using Greek yogurt is an essential step in marinating your chicken. That is because the acidity of the yogurt tenderizes the meat. This is also the same reason why I marinate it with lemon juice. Ideally, you want to marinate it overnight, however, 30 minutes will suffice.

Crushed tomatoes

I really like using crushed tomatoes for this recipe because it takes away the need to cook down and crush whole tomatoes. They also have a decent amount of water content which is good to help cook the chicken all the way through. Using tomato paste might yield too thick of a consistency which means you will have to add water.

What cut of chicken for?

Chicken thighs are my preferred cut when it come to making chicken in a simmering pot just to ensure that it stays juicy. You could use chicken breast as well, but it is very possible that you will end up with a dry end result.

Difference between tikka masala and butter chicken?

Texture: One of the largest differences I can tell right away is the texture. Tikka masala still has small pieces of crushed tomatoes and onions, while butter chicken is one smooth blend. This makes butter chicken seems much creamier, almost like a thick soup.

Flavor: Because there is still individual tomato and onion pieces in chicken tikka masala, it comes off much stronger in spice and tomato flavor. It is also common for butter chicken to be slightly sweet which is where the difference in flavor comes from.

Color: For the most part, the color is very similar between both. If anything, I found that chicken tikka masala was darker because it is heavier in tomatoes. While butter chicken was lighter since it has more cream, butter, and contains cashews.

Chicken Tikka Masala

Another curry recipe that will blow your mind.
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian


Chicken Marinade

  • 650g boneless chicken thighs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp Kashmiri red chili powder
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • ½ cup full fat Greek yogurt.


  • 2 small yellow onions
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 tbsp kasmiri red chili powder
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes 400ml
  • 1 cup heavy cream


  • Cut all chicken thighs into 1-2 inch pieces, mince garlic and ginger.
  • Add chicken into a bowl along with the rest of your marinade ingredients. Allow it to marinate at least 30 minutes.
  • Sear the chicken in a high heat pan with 1 tbsp of oil for 2 minutes each side and remove.
  • Dice up your onions and cook in the same pan for 2 minutes. Add minced ginger and garlic and cook another 30 seconds.
  • Add the seasonings (cumin, garam masala, red chili powder, turmeric powder) cook for 30 seconds.
  • Add 1 can crushed tomatoes and simmer 3 minutes.
  • Add heavy cream, and seared chicken then allow it to simmer uncovered for 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. If the consistency is too thick, add water, and if it's too thin just simmer longer.
  • Top with cilantro and I like to eat it with rice and garlic naan which I will link a recipe for under this recipe card.
Keyword butter chicken, curry, indian, tikka masala

Click here for the garlic naan recipe I used to accompany this dish!