Chicken Tikka Masala

Another fabulous recipe recommendation from family – this time from my brother, Nate, and his wife, Kylie. I really love Indian food and have been looking for a great Indian Chicken Tikka recipe and this did not disappoint!

It was so delicious. The creamy, flavor-packed spicy sauce was fantastic – I was literally licking my plate, it was so good, and I couldn’t wait to horde the leftovers for myself the next day. When Kylie made it for my brother, he loved it so much, he requested it again two days later.

I’ve edited the recipe to cut down on the heat factor – since I want my children to love me and eat what I make for dinner. As written below, the dish is flavorful with a tiny, tiny little hint of heat but not spicy-spicy. Add more cayenne pepper to the marinade if you like to kick things up a notch (or twelve).

What To ServeBaked Brown Rice
Steamed peas or broccoli, or thisΒ Curried Cauliflower Popcorn
Fresh fruit

Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala


  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into thin strips or chunks
  • For the masala:
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces tomato sauce
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro


  1. For the marinade, combine all ingredients except chicken. Pour sauce over chicken and refrigerate for one hour or up to 8 hours. Grill or cook chicken in frying pan. Discard marinade.
  2. For the masala, melt butter in large skillet over medium heat. Saute garlic and jalapeno for one minute. Season with cumin, paprika and salt. Stir in tomato sauce and cream. Simmer on low heat until sauce thickens, about 20 minutes. Add grilled chicken and simmer for 10 minutes. Garnish with fresh cilantro. Serve over hot rice.

Recipe Source: from Nate and Kylie

Tagged with →  

87 Responses to Chicken Tikka Masala

  1. Alli says:

    This was amazing! Strange combination of ingredients for Indian food but it worked wonderfully and my Indian food loving husband devoured it! Thank you!

  2. Kristin Castleton says:

    Made this last night for dinner a little skeptical that it wouldn’t go over too well with picky eaters…it was a huge success! My youngest (9) thought it was a little spicy but other than that everyone was licking their plates!! I did use the green pepper and half and half. Thanks for another amazing dish!

  3. Chantelle Ivie says:

    Mel, I want to try this vegetarian style and was wondering what vegetables you thought would go well in the marinade. Any suggestions?

  4. Melanie says:

    I made this last night, and we really loved it! My 2-year-old even ate a whole bowl full! I doubled the tomato sauce and cream but left the spice quantities the same to “ease” my kids into the flavor (and because we really love sauce). I will definitely use green peppers instead of jalapenos next time as one reader suggested, just because I love the flavor of pepper but didn’t want to overdo it in the heat factor for the kids. Served over basmati rice. Thanks for the recipe!

  5. Jenny says:

    This was a great recipe Mel! Thanks for sharing a recipe that didn’t require a lot of exotic ingredients and tasted fantastic! We made it with trader joes naan, palak paneer, and basmati rice. So good!

  6. Heather says:

    it is okay if i let the chicken marinate for more than 8 hours? or would it cause problems?

  7. Sally says:

    Hi Mel – in your other Chicken Tikka Masala recipe, it states to add the marinated (raw) chicken to the sauce and let it cook for 10 – 15 minutes till it’s cooked through. Can I do the same with this recipe, or do you not advise it?

  8. Heather says:

    Hey Mel – I have two questions. Can I use vinegar instead of the lemon juice as I’m currently all out of lemons? And can I use paprika instead of cayenne? Cayenne is hard to find where I live so do you know something I can use instead of it?

    • Mel says:

      Heather – Both of those variations are certainly worth a try although I’d go easy on the vinegar and add more to taste if needed. Good luck!

  9. Mary says:

    Hi Mel – I currently don’t have tomato sauce. Can I use a combination of tomato paste and water and use that instead?

  10. Amber says:

    Unfortunately I only had 1% milk and nonfat greek yogurt on hand, and they curdled! I tried thickening with some cornstarch but that didn’t work either. I tasted it but the curdles ruined the meal and the sauce was watery. Sadly I wasted some chicken and other ingredients on this. The spices smelled good though, so next time I will actually use cream or maybe coconut milk to prevent curdling.

  11. Melanie says:

    I made this last night with naan and broccoli and it was such a hit! The jalapeno adds such an amazing flavor and spice to it. Everyone loved it. I was distracted by kiddos while making it though and didn’t realize I did it wrong- I poured all the chicken with the marinade into the saucepan, started cooking it, then added the jalapeno and garlic, then when it was almost cooked I added the cream and tomato sauce and simmered it for 20 mins like you said. So just so you know, you could omit a step and it still turns out amazing!!!! Thank you for all of your recipes, you are my #1 go-to cooking site!

  12. Jessica says:

    Very good! It had just a little too much cumin for my liking but that’s definitely an easy fix for next time. I even made your naan recipe (my first time working with yeast!) and that was amazing! Thanks for the great recipes

  13. Angela says:

    For anyone interested in trying this in the slow cooker, just need to make a couple modifications. I’ve done it a few times both ways (as written and in the crockpot) and usually skip the marinating phase when I use the crockpot. But I like to integrate those flavors too, so I throw in about half as much of each of the marinade ingredients (except the yogurt) into the crockpot, along with all of the other non-dairy ingredients of the masala section. Sometimes I dice the chicken, sometimes I throw in whole frozen chicken breasts and then pull it out midway through to chop it up. Then in the last 30-60 minutes, I add in the half and half, allow it to heat up and serve. Total cooking time is about 4 hours on high or 6-8 on low. Also, if it’s too spicy for the kids, I stir a little yogurt into their servings. Easy easy and oh so good! Thanks Mel!

  14. Lisa says:

    Made this tonight and I seriously am tempted to sneak back into the kitchen and eat another bowlful! Totally delicious- my husband loved it, too! Another great recipe I can thank you for! Thank you!

  15. Shelly says:

    I’ve made this a couple times and really LOVE it!! I made this tonight for my parents who love Tikka Masala. And they absolutely loved it also!! I gave my dad the recipe and he’ll be making it again this week. πŸ™‚

  16. Karrissa says:

    This was so yummy! My husband loves Indian food and absolutely loved this dish! He was so happy and said it was one of his favorite dinners I have made in a while. Thanks for sharing!!

  17. Julie says:

    I thought this might be too spicy, but my family gobbled this up. In fact, my husband was disappointed that there were no leftovers for lunch the next day. I did make an adjustment to the recipe – I added 1 tsp. sugar. It takes the acidic edge off the sauce. Thanks for another great recipe.

  18. […] to my trusty internet to find a recipe that would satisfy my craving. Through Pinterest, I found this recipe from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe. Like she says, it definitely doesn’t disappoint. With a few […]

  19. Dena says:

    Made this the other night and was a definite hit! My husband went back for seconds and then later in the evening, I found him sneaking a bite of the leftovers straight out of the fridge! LOL Thanks again for another recipe that will become a regular at my house.

  20. Jessica Smedley says:

    Hi, this is my first time commenting. Several of my friends love your recipes so I thought I would join the ride. This was so good! I ran our of regular paprika and had to substitute smoked paprika and it was so good! I have loved everything I’ve tried!! Thanks for being so good!

  21. Amy says:

    I licked the bowl. As a grown woman, I think that’s an accomplishment. Delicious, Mel–thanks!

  22. Spring says:

    This is our new favorite!! It is so yummy. Since we like the sauce, I do 2 cups of half-n-half, which saves on the calories and makes it a bit more saucy. Love it!!

  23. Menu Plan April 10-16 | Wholesome Womanhood says:

    […] Saturday Breakfast – Leftovers Lunch – Chicken Enchilada Wraps Dinner – Chicken Tikka Masala […]

  24. Reyna says:

    Loved it! For Bennett’s 6th birthday he requested Indian food so I made this and your coconut curry dish along with naan. It was all divine! Of course, it wouldn’t be a birthday without a double chocolate mousse torte, right!? A very memorable and delicious meal!

  25. Martha says:

    My son loves Indian food, little did I know, this is his favorite dish to order. He loved it! Thank you so much for sharing your recipe. Love your site, I can always can find something different for dinner. Thank you again.

  26. Rachelle says:

    This was so awesome! We love Indian food and this was just like at the restaurants.. my husband gave it rave reviews! Served it with Naan bread and green beans.. delicous!
    Thanks for the great recipe!

  27. Melanie A. says:

    This recipe is awesome! I found it on allrecipes awhile ago and it received rave reviews, so when I saw it posted on your site too I knew had to try it! Even my husband, who claims to not like Indian food, really loved this dish! Thanks again for all of the wonderful recipes.

  28. Mary says:

    I love chicken marsala. I alway’s get it at Cheesecake Factory. I’m having the missionaries over for dinner tonight and I thought I would try your recipe. My oh my, that sauce is scrumtious! I’m sure it will be a hit. Thanks!

  29. Rachel says:

    This recipe was AMAZING! I couldn’t believe that I could make such tasty Indian food at home, with zero experience creating that type of cuisine. This is probably the first recipe in at least a year that really blew my mind (and I’m constantly trying new recipes from everywhere with so-so results). I’m just excited to make it again and share with everyone I know! Thanks so much for posting – can’t wait to try your other recipes. πŸ™‚

    PS – The last recipe from over a year ago that was just as awesome was from the Food, Ina Garten’s Linguine with Shrimp Scampi. Super easy, super delish. Make it all the time and I recommend to all!

    • Mel says:

      Rachel – wow! I’m thrilled this recipe had such great results for you! It is definitely one of those incredible meals – the flavors are so intense and delicious. Funny you mentioned the shrimp scampi recipe – I have it on my site, probably one of the first I ever posted almost 3 years ago. But it really is amazing. I second your thoughts on it.

  30. Tai Christensen says:


    I have a confession to make. We have been in a nasty pattern of eating out at least 5 nights a week! Awful I know πŸ™ With school starting and my work schedule being insane, dinner was becoming the item on my to-do list that never got crossed off. For weeks now we have been “grabbing food” at one of the thousand restaurants around where I live. Well, last night, after seeing how much eating out was costing my family of 4, I made my triumphant return to the kitchen. Unfortunately, I had not planned much ahead of time and all I had thawed out were 3 chicken breasts. I came running to your website and can you believe I actually had all the ingredients (minus cilantro which my husband gladly picked up) for this amazing meal!! Imagine my surprise that I actually had ginger and plain yogurt in the fridge AND they were not expired!! Anyway, I just wanted to say THANK YOU for another amazing meal. This meal helped me realize how much I missed a home cooked meal. My kids plates were empty and my husbands only complaint was there were no leftovers!!

    Thanks Again,

    Tai Christensen

    P.S. instead of white rice I used basmati rice with a tablespoon of tumeric. AMAZING!

    • Mel says:

      Tai – I’m glad that this meal was the first of your back-into-dinner routine! Good luck with your goal…seriously, it’s a challenge with dinner and I admire you working around a crazy work routine, too. You are amazing!

  31. jessica says:

    My husband LOVES this recipe of yours. He asks for it once a week πŸ™‚ Thank you!

  32. Liz says:

    This is outstanding! Made this tonight with the Tres Leches Cake-both were a hit!

  33. Kristi L. says:

    We’ve been all over Indian food lately so we tried this last night….oh girl! That was so yummilicious. We all loved it and Jono was eating seconds and can’t wait to have the leftovers for lunch today! Oh and yeah, I had a food blog for about 2 weeks. There are probably a grand total of….wait for it….6 recipes on it. You’ve inspired me to maybe, possibly cook an additional homemade dinner every week (that would make the grand total to 2 homemade dinners a week :)) Thanks Mel!

    • Mel says:

      Thanks, Kristi! Glad you guys liked this…I was nervous knowing you might be trying a recipe from here. Phew! Glad it didn’t bomb. Let’s not cast our minds back on the good ol’ days and what kind of food we were cooking up in that tiny little apartment kitchen. Actually, I take that back – I was up to nothing worthwhile in the kitchen but I do remember some caramelly toffee bars you made once that I had a hard time not entirely consuming.

  34. Mel says:

    Jocelyn – I’m glad you liked this dish! I agree that it smells absolutely amazing while it cooks. Thanks for checking in to let me know.

  35. Jocelyn says:


    What a divine dish! I made this last night for my husband and he really, really loved it. The aromas flowing through the house until that first bite and last was absolutely fantastic. Just like my favorite Indian restaurant. I also omitted the ginger but added julienne red peppers. Just to die for!
    Thank you for never letting me down with your recipes!

  36. Mel says:

    Kristi – what a fun update to read that your son ate it! Seriously, as a mother of small kids, I know what a victory this is and I am excited for you! Funny that it would be some ethnic cuisine that would draw him in, but hey, whatever works, right?

  37. Kristi says:

    Hey Melanie, I just have to tell you I made this again tonight and my son, Ben, who is two-and-a-half…ate it! I know that doesn’t sound like anything much but he hasn’t eaten anything but Cheez-its in like six months! So thanks! Who knew I should branch out to Indian food to feed him πŸ™‚

  38. Melanie says:

    Laura – I’m afraid this recipe would not work in the crockpot very well because of the amount of yogurt in the recipe. I’m worried it might curdle – but then again, it may be worth trying. Let me know if you do.

  39. Laura says:

    Do you think I would be successful cooking the chicken and marinade on low heat in a crock pot?

  40. Kalei says:

    I made this tonite. I didn’t use a jalapeno, instead I used diced green chiles & i put an extra pat of butter, cuz I like butter, but it came out fabulous!! Oh, and I cut the cayenne down too. Thanku for sharing!!

  41. Melanie says:

    Kalei – thanks for your comment! I like knowing what others do to adapt a recipe so thanks for including your changes. I’m very glad you liked it.

  42. Melanie says:

    Hi Kristi – I’m glad you liked this and I think your sour cream/milk substitution was ingenious. I’m glad it worked out for you!

  43. Kristi says:

    We made this last night and it was delicious. I substituted the paprika as suggested. Also, I didn’t have cream (big frowny!), so I substituted 1/2 sour cream and half 1% milk. Not sure if that was the right thing to substitute with or not, but it tasted just dandy.


    Oh and I am totally doubling the sauce next time.

  44. Melanie says:

    Kylie – you know you gave me this recipe, right? Thanks for the notes on the heat factor – I bet that would be a perfect combo next time I make it. Thanks!

  45. Kylie Walker says:

    We made this tonight with 1/2 paprika and 1/2 cayenne and thought it was the perfect amount of heat. Another great recipe!

  46. Melanie says:

    melanie – oh, I’m so glad you liked this! When people really LOVE Indian food, it’s a little scary to have them try one of the recipes I have for Indian food on my site – because I never know if it will meet up to the restaurant standards. I’m glad this went over well. Thanks for letting me know!

  47. melanie says:

    i let my husband pick any recipe off your website and he picked this one. we had it for dinner last night and it was amazing!! we love indian food andthis was just as good if not better than the restraunts we go to! we invited my brother over for dinner and he loved it too. thank you so much for sharing this. we are having your chicken enchilada pasta tonight. can’t wait!

  48. PheMom says:

    Good grief woman! Do you know how many delicious recipes I have bookmarked already!? Keep ’em coming please! YUM!

  49. Brittany says:

    Wow! I love this in the restaurants and can’t wait to try it at home!!

  50. Melanie says:

    D – I’m on my way to check out the review on your blog but thanks for letting me know you made this and I’m glad to know the green pepper tasted great – I’ll have to keep that in mind!

  51. Deborah says:

    This sounds fantastic! My husband isn’t a fan of Indian food, so I’ll have to save this for a night that he’s not around!

  52. Melanie says:

    Kate – I’m glad to hear someone else loves this recipe, too! Do you have a good recipe for naan? When I made this I was tempted to try my hand at some Indian flatbread but didn’t have time.

  53. Marisa says:

    I obviously also needed to proofread what I just posted…. πŸ™‚

  54. Kate says:

    This is one of our favorite recipes and what my husband always requests! We love it and just like you mentioned cut out the cayenne and jalepeno because we can’t handle the heat. I also use a little extra tomato sauce because we LOVE the sauce and fight over who gets eat it up with a nice piece of naan. Thanks for sharing all your great recipes!

  55. sues2u2 says:

    Wow! Takes me back to living in England where Indian cuisine is just part of the menu. Thanks!! I’ve been dying for a great Chicken Tikka recipie.

  56. Brittany says:

    Yum! Yum! I can’t wait to try your naan too! Congrats on your baby!!

  57. jaesi says:

    I was just browsing the computer for a recipe to make tonight…(I was going to make curry) but this is just what I want. gracias.

  58. Melanie says:

    Rachael – glad you liked the masala recipe. I’d love the recipe you mentioned, if you have time to email it to me. mykitchencafe {at} gmail {dot} comThanks!

  59. Marisa says:

    Okay, so I have been stalking your blog and trying all of your phenomenal recipes for months!!! You seriously have so awesome, yummy recipes. I have not be disappointed in any of your recipes I’ve tried of yours. I think we have very similar palates!I’ve put some of your tasty ones on my food blog if you want to check it out: Keep ’em coming!

  60. Katie says:

    I love this dish! Yours looks fantastic!

  61. Erin says:

    Mmm, this sounds really good!

  62. D says:

    Loved it! It’s better than the local restaurant’s- their chicken tastes leftover and just not quite right. I loved the green pepper in it- slice it up really thin. I will definitely be making this again! I put my review on my blog.

  63. D says:

    I am soooo excited to try this! This is always my favorite at Indian restaurants. I have tried buying sauce in a jar and other recipes but none have been quite right. This looks great and simple to make. I think I will replace the jalapeno with a little green pepper. I seem to remember green pepper being in my favorite restaurant’s version.

  64. Melanie says:

    Traci Elizabeth – SO glad you liked it! Thanks for letting me know.

  65. Tasty Trends says:

    i love chicken tikka!!! i will have to definitely try this recipe out!

  66. Melanie says:

    TaLaisa – it isn’t a typo – this recipe does not call for garam masala. Let me know if you try it!

  67. TaLaisa says:

    Mmm. I love indian food. I’ve got a tikka masala we like, but I’m wondering how yours compares. Is it a typo or is there really no garam masala in this recipe?

  68. Psychgrad says:

    I love tikka masala. I’m all about the heat – so I pile on the spices. Mind you…about mid-way through, your taste buds dullen.

  69. Rachael says:

    delicious! This comes closer to the “restaurant version” than most other tikka recipes I’ve tried. If you like Indian cooking, I’ve got a fabulous saag recipe.

  70. Emily says:

    I am ALWAYS game for some amazing Indian food . . I think your recipe here is the jackpot! I will definately add this to my kitchen adventrues to be!

  71. grace says:

    that sauce sounds amazing! i do love me some spice, and i spy cinnamon in the ingredients, so you know i’m smitten. πŸ™‚

  72. Traci Elizabeth says:

    Oh my.. that was DELISH! Thanks!

  73. Danielle says:

    This was a crowd pleaser from the 1-year-old on up. My husband said it felt like we were eating at a restaurant, except we still had to do the dishes. I used plain soy milk instead of cream and it still turned out great. Thanks for helping me feel like a gourmet!

  74. Melanie says:

    Hi Danielle – impressive that your 1-year old is such a good eater! I’m glad that all-around this was a hit. Thanks for letting me know!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *