This easy Chicken Tikka Masala is my take on this classic and traditional Indian recipe that’s made with all the deep flavors of a traditional Indian creamy curry. The secret is that it’s made with no cream as it gets its creaminess from yogurt and milk.

An Indian bowl filled with vibrant chicken tikka masala curry

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.

U.K gets its first Indian restaurant

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

Tender chicken breast pieces in an Indian curry

Chicken Tikka Masala vs Butter Chicken

The difference between Chicken Tikka Masala and Butter Chicken is the spice level. The Chicken Tikka has more of a spicy kick compared to Butter Chicken. In addition, Butter Chicken uses a lot more butter and cream.

Chicken Tikka Masala is the most popular Indian dish, but it’s not very waistline friendly as it’s loaded with heavy cream. For this recipe, I replaced the cream with milk and yogurt.  

Switching cream for milk makes this easy Chicken Tikka Masala healthier and 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 and this is it!

Chicken Tikka Masala – Step by Step

Chicken breasts are marinated in yogurt and Indian spices. 

Chicken breast pieces marinating in spices and yogurt

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.

Cooking onions in a pan with spices

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

Adding tomato paste to onions and spices

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

Stirring tomato puree into marinated chicken pieces

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.

Chicken Tikka Masala 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). Another delicious side to serve alongside is Indian Lentil Dal.

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

Chicken Tikka Masala

An Indian chicken curry in a traditional bowl

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 pounds (907 grams) boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into large cubes
  • ⅔ 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
  • 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 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • ½ teaspoon salt (you can add more at the end)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • ⅓ cup milk
  • 1 cup tomato puree/passata
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)


For the marinade:

  1. 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.

For the sauce:

  1. 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.
  2. 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 sugar, mix well.
  3. 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.
  4. 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
A closeup showing the beautiful yellow rice with the green peas and red peppers