Chicken Tikka Masala


In 2018, Food & Wine named this recipe one of our 40 best: While the origins of Chicken Tikka Masala are disputed, it remains one of the most popular dishes in Indian restaurants around the world. This version from former F&W Senior Test Kitchen Associate Grace Parisi was the most popular recipe on for many years. It's creamy and flavorful, with a slightly spicy sauce that makes it irresistible. The chicken does need to marinate overnight, so plan accordingly.

Chicken Tikka Masala
Photo: © Greg DuPree
Active Time:
45 mins
Total Time:
9 hrs 30 mins


Masala Marinade

  • 1 cup plain low-fat yogurt

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric

  • Salt and freshly ground pepper


  • 2 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, fat trimmed

  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon vegetable oil

  • 1/4 cup blanched whole almonds

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons garam masala

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure chile powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • One 35-ounce can peeled tomatoes, finely chopped, juices reserved

  • Pinch of sugar

  • 1 cup heavy cream


  1. In a large glass or stainless steel bowl, combine the yogurt, garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, cardamom, cayenne and turmeric. Season with salt and pepper.

  2. Using a sharp knife, make a few shallow slashes in each piece of chicken. Add the chicken to the marinade, turn to coat and refrigerate overnight.

  3. Preheat the broiler and position a rack about 8 inches from the heat. Remove the chicken from the marinade; scrape off as much of the marinade as possible. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and spread the pieces on a baking sheet. Broil the chicken, turning once or twice, until just cooked through and browned in spots, about 12 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and cut it into 2-inch pieces.

  4. Meanwhile, in a small skillet, heat 1 teaspoon of the oil. Add the almonds and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until golden, about 5 minutes. Transfer the almonds to a plate and let cool completely. In a food processor, pulse the almonds until finely ground.

  5. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil until shimmering. Add the onion, garlic and ginger and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until tender and golden, about 8 minutes. Add the garam masala, chile powder and cayenne and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes with their juices and the sugar and season with salt and pepper. Cover partially and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 20 minutes. Add the cream and ground almonds and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 10 minutes longer. Stir in the chicken; simmer gently for 10 minutes, stirring frequently, and serve.

Make Ahead

The Chicken Tikka Masala can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Reheat gently before serving.


Variation: the marinade and sauce here are also delicious with shrimp, lamb, and vegetables.

Serve With

Steamed basmati rice, rice pilaf, or warm naan.

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