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A bowl of chicken tikka masala over basmati rice with a slice of naan

Best Chicken Tikka Masala (Restaurant Style)

This is the best chicken tikka masala recipe ever, and it's so rich and perfectly spiced. A double caramelization process produces a chicken tikka masala that tastes just like the best restaurant-style dish.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Keyword chicken, healthy, indian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Marinating Time 1 hour
Total Time 2 hours 25 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 459kcal


  • 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts diced, about 1 ½ pounds

For the Marinade

  • 1 cup plain full-fat yogurt See Notes for alternate diets
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice about half a lemon
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon dried ginger

For the Sauce

  • 4 tablespoons ghee or butter, ¼ cup
  • 1 medium white onion diced
  • 1-2 serrano chiles minced, see Notes for heat level
  • 5 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 ½ tablespoons fresh ginger grated
  • 3 ½ teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 green bell pepper deseeded and sliced into strips
  • 1 tablespoon dried fenugreek leaves
  • lots of salt to taste
  • 2 cups heavy cream or half-and-half, See Notes for alternate diets

For Serving

  • basmati rice See Notes for alternate diets
  • naan
  • fresh cilantro chopped


Marinate the Chicken

  • Combine all marinade ingredients besides chicken in a medium bowl and stir well. Add chicken and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour, up to overnight.
    Marinate the chicken in yogurt and spices

Make the Sauce

  • Heat the ghee in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add serrano chiles, garlic, ginger, and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until a nice toffee color, about 20 minutes, adding a few drops of water here and there if drying out and sticking. Add garam masala and paprika and stir well. Cook until fragrant, a few minutes, adding a couple of tablespoons of water if necessary to reduce sticking.
    Cook your onion, ginger, garlic, and chiles until toffee colored
  • Stir in the tomato sauce then transfer to a blender and blend until smooth. Return the sauce to your skillet. Add sliced bell pepper, fenugreek, and salt.
    Simmer the tomato-pepper mixture until thick, caramelized, and paste-like
  • Meanwhile, cook the chicken. Preheat broiler and place a wire rack over a baking sheet. Place chicken pieces on top of the rack. Broil, turning occasionally until browned in spots and cooked through, about 8 minutes total.
    Broil your chicken until cooked through and browned in spots
  • Simmer for 30 minutes on medium-low heat or until thick and more like a paste than a sauce. Add the heavy cream and stir until very smooth. Taste and correct seasonings. Add chicken, stir well, and serve over basmati or cauliflower rice and naan. Top with plenty of chopped cilantro.
    Stir and garnish with cilantro, serve over rice with naan



Heat Levels:
  • Mild: 1 serrano chile, seeded
  • Medium: 1 serrano chile, not seeded
  • Hot: 2 serrano chiles, not seeded
If you're on a Whole30...
  • You can use a compliant non-dairy yogurt, like Kite Hill unsweetened, to marinate your chicken. You can also skip the yogurt entirely and simply marinate the chicken in spices and lemon juice, or use canned coconut milk to replace the yogurt.
  • Use 2 cups coconut cream (just the solid white part of a can of coconut milk or cream) in place of the half and half.
  • Serve over steamed cauliflower rice, not regular rice.


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 459kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 42g | Saturated Fat: 26g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 164mg | Sodium: 96mg | Potassium: 373mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 1470IU | Vitamin C: 21mg | Calcium: 119mg | Iron: 1mg | Net Carbs: 8g