Ready for a quick and easy supper? This Chicken Tikka Masala is so simple to make, and it’s packed with flavor from the tomato and Indian spices.
I don’t have a good story to go with this recipe, other than one day a couple years ago, FishChick7 and I were on our way home from the children’s hospital and we stopped for lunch. She wanted a burrito; I didn’t.
Lucky for me there was a Mexican food place and an Indian take-out place in the same shopping center. She got her burrito, and I tried something new: Chicken Tikka Masala.
It was basically the only thing on the menu besides Dahl and Tandoori Chicken that I recognized. It was love at first bite.
Later I quizzed my friend Prerna long-distance via Facebook, as to what she put in hers. After a few tries in the kitchen, I was thrilled to send her a picture and receive two thumbs up in response.
What does chicken tikka masala taste like?
Chicken tikka masala is a tomato cream based dish with lots of yummy flavorful spices like curry powder and garam masala.
What’s the difference between butter chicken and tikka masala?
There are a few main difference between these two Indian dishes.
- Tomato intensity – Butter chicken has less tomato intensity.
- Cream– Tikka masala is less creamy than butter chicken
- Cooking style – If cooked traditionally tikka masala is cooked in a tandoor and butter chicken is cooked in a pan over a fire.
Ingredients for chicken tikka masala
- Serrano chile
- Diced tomatoes
- Tomato paste
- Garam masala
- Curry powder
How to make chicken tikka masala
Heat oil and butter. In a large nonstick frying pan over medium heat, heat the oil and butter together until butter is melted.
Cook chicken. Add the chicken, onion, garlic, ginger, and chile. Saute, about 7 minutes until the chicken is mostly cooked and the onion has gone clear.
Add tomatoes and spices. Stir in the tomatoes, tomato sauce, garam masala, and curry powder. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
Add cream. Stir in the cream, if using, and heat for another five minutes or so. Garnish with the cilantro and serve.
Chicken thighs or breasts?
We used chicken breasts in this recipe, but you can definitely use chicken thighs if that’s what you have. Chicken thighs also tend to be a bit cheaper so it could cut down on the cost of this meal for you as well!
What do I serve chicken tikka masala with?
This is a dish that the whole family loves and one that is really adaptable. We serve it over rice like my easy stovetop rice, but I imagine it would be just as good over cauliflower rice or microwave spaghetti squash if you’re going grain-free.
Can I leave out the cream for tikka masala?
You can also make it with or without the cream. We like it both ways.
If you want to make it fully dairy-free, you can use more oil and omit the butter or ghee. With those adaptations, it would work for the whole 30.
Without Cream: This is what it looks like without the cream. Because I forgot to add the cream before I took the picture!
Want more 30 Minute Dinners?
This recipe is one of the 200+ featured in my new cookbook, Good Cheap Eats Dinner in 30 Minutes or Less. Yes, you can make this in a half hour. What’s more is that there is a really good recipe for Coconut Rice alongside it in the book. Oh yum! This is definitely going on the meal plan soon.
There are also a few other Indian-style recipes in the book, including a Curried Chicken Naan Pizza and a Kachumber Salad. These are so yummy! (If I do say so myself. And I do.) I hope you’ll get a chance to check out the cookbook. Your local library may have it, but if they don’t you can always request that they order it.
HOW TO SAVE MONEY MAKING THIS RECIPE:
Here are some of the strategies I use to make this recipe more economical:
- Meal plan around what’s on sale. Don’t decide to make this when chicken is $5/pound and you have none in the freezer. Next time you see chicken on sale, add this to your meal plan!
- Do a price comparison. I know that ALDI is the best place for me to buy chicken when there isn’t a great sale elsewhere. It’s normally $1.89/lb! I keep track of prices so that I know who has the best deal where.
- Stock up on ingredients when they are on sale. Buy extra chicken as well as the other ingredients and stash them away in your pantry so you can make this dish whenever you want.
TOOLS YOU MIGHT NEED TO MAKE THIS RECIPE EASY:
This is a pretty straight-forward dish. You don’t need any fancy equipment. However, having some good basic kitchen tools can really make your time in the kitchen more enjoyable. Over time, I’ve honed my collection so that they are perfect for my needs. Here are the tools that I like to use in this recipe.
- plastic cutting boards – I have blue boards for veggies and white boards for meat.
- Ergo Chef chef’s knife – I’ve had my set for several years and they work well for trimming chicken and chopping vegetables.
- a good quality saucepan – I love this one I just got that has a built in strainer.
Chicken Tikka Masala
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp butter or ghee
- 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast chopped into bite-sized pieces
- 1 onion chopped (about 1 cup)
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 tsp fresh ginger (chopped)
- 1 serrano chile cored and finely chopped; add more if you like it very spicy
- 1 15-ounce can petite diced tomatoes drained
- 8 oz tomato sauce
- 2 tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp curry powder
- 1/2 cup whipping cream optional
- fresh cilantro (chopped) for garnish
- In a large nonstick frying pan over medium heat, heat the oil and butter together until butter is melted. Add the chicken, onion, garlic, ginger, and chile. Saute, about 7 minutes until the chicken is mostly cooked and the onion has gone clear.
- Stir in the tomatoes, tomato sauce, garam masala, and curry powder. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the cream, if using, and heat for another five minutes or so. Garnish with the cilantro and serve.
- Remember: If you're making this for the Whole 30, you'll need to use ghee instead of butter, and omit the cream.