Chicken Tikka Masala is a popular Indian dish that is so full of flavor, so easy to make and is better than take-out. Tender chicken is marinated in spices and yogurt, then cooked in a tomato puree/passata with spices for a  classic Indian flavor.

A warm bowl of chicken tikka masala garnished with cilantro

If you ask a British person what their favorite food is, one of the most popilar answers will be curry. But it must be an Indian curry, the most popular takeaway food in the UK.

Chicken tikka masala ready to be eaten with rice and naan bread

Over 200 years ago the first ‘curry house’ opened and it’s been a British food staple ever since and Indian cuisine has become a $5 billion a year industry.

Chicken tikka masala is the most popular Indian dish, but it’s not very waist friendly because it’s loaded with heavy cream. For this recipe I replaced the cream with milk and yogurt.  

This switch not only makes this easy Chicken Tikka Masala healthier, but it turns out delicious every time. I found my takeaway right in my own kitchen and the leftovers are even better!

London has more Indian restaurants than Mumbai and Delhi!

Wow. But one can’t just live on takeaway food, (well, my friends might beg to differ) because I prefer to make it myself so I know what ingredients I’m eating, so, this started my quest to find my own ‘takeaway’ recipe.

Chicken Tikka Masala – Step by Step

Chicken breasts are marinated in yogurt and Indian spices. 

Chicken breast pieces are marinated in yogurt and Indian spices

While the chicken marinates, onions are softened in oil and cooked garlic, ginger and  more Indian spices. If you like it spicier, add a pinch of cayenne, paprika or red pepper flakes.

Onions are sauteed in a pan with Indian spices

Tomato paste is added to the onions for the start of the rich tomato flavor. 

Tomato paste is added to onions and Indian spices

Milk, tomato puree/passata and the chicken is then added and simmered to tender perfection.

Marinated chicken breast, spices and tomato sauce are cooked in a pan

Chicken Tikka Masala in the Slow Cooker

It is easy to convert this stove-top method to the slow cooker. Make the recipe up to step 4. Instead of adding the chicken to the onions and tomato paste, add everything to the slow cooker. Cook on low for 6 hours or high for 3 hours.

Serving suggestion

A side of naan bread is a must when eating Indian food. I just posted a brand new recipe for the EASIEST Naan Bread (< click for recipe).

2 pieces of naan bread on a serving platter
Yield: 4 -6

Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken tikka masala

Tender chicken is marinated in spices and yogurt, then cooked in a tomato sauce with spices for a  classic Indian flavor.

Prep Time 2 hours
Cook Time 16 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 16 minutes


  • For the marinade:
  • 2/3 cup (170 grams) plain yogurt
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped or grated
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger grated
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 pounds (907 grams) boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into large cubes
  • For the sauce:
  • 1 ½ tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup (132 grams) yellow onion, cut into large pieces
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped or grated
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 14 ounces (358 grams) whole tomatoes or passata/pureed tomatoes (see note)
  • ½ cup (118 ml) milk
  • 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)


  1. For the marinade:
  2. To a large bowl add the yogurt, garlic, ginger, garam masala, coriander, salt, mix well. Add in the chicken pieces and mix to coat well, cover allow to sit at room temperature for 1 hour.
  3. For the sauce:
  4. To a large saucepan add the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the grated ginger, garlic, cumin, garam masala and salt. Stir in the spices until well mixed with the onion and cook for 1 minute, stirring often.
  5. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for a few seconds while stirring. Add the chicken and yogurt that has been marinating, stir. Add the milk, tomatoes or passata and mix well.
  6. Simmer on low heat uncovered until sauce thickens and the chicken is cooked and tender, about 15 minutes. Check for salt and add more if needed. If the passata is making the sauce taste acidic, you can add a small amount of sugar, but this is purely optional.
  7. Serve over basmati rice and garnish with cilantro with a side of naan bread.


This is pureed tinned tomatoes with no herbs or spices added.

Nutrition Information



Amount Per Serving Calories 380Saturated Fat 6gCholesterol 152mgSodium 1087mgCarbohydrates 9gProtein 51g

Curry Vegetable Basmati Rice

A closeup showing the beautiful yellow rice with the green peas and red peppers