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This easy chicken tikka masala recipe has three stages: marinating, cooking the chicken and making the sauce. That means you can break it up and do any part when it works for you.

It’s not necessarily a traditional tikka masala recipe but this simplified version is zesty without being too spicy. That’s why this easy chicken tikka masala is one of my family’s favorite new dishes.

What you need to make easy chicken tikka masala

  • plain yogurt
  • lemon zest & juice
  • cumin
  • cinnamon
  • smoked paprika
  • fresh ginger
  • butter
  • onion
  • garam masala
  • salt
  • chicken thighs
  • tomato paste
  • full-fat coconut milk (canned)
  • fresh cilantro



Easy Chicken Tikka Masala Kids Love

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Marinate the chicken ahead of time, cook it when you like and make the sauce about 30 minutes before you want to eat dinner. This dish is perfect with roasted cauliflower (especially easy when you start with a bag of frozen cauliflower!)

  • Author: Charity Curley Mathews, founder of foodlets.com



for the marinade

  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • zest and juice of 2 lemons
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 68 boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size pieces

for the sauce

  • 1 tablespoon butter

  • 1 onion, finely chopped

  • 1 clove garlic, minced

  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika

  • 1/4 cup tomato paste

  • 2 15-ounce cans full-fat coconut milk

  • 2 teaspoons garam masalsa

  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro


Marinate the chicken

  1. Cut the chicken thighs into bite size pieces.
  2. Combine all the marinade ingredients — yogurt, lemon zest and juice, cumin, cinnamon, smoked paprika, garlic, ginger, salt — in a large bowl or casserole dish (with a lid) and stir.
  3. Add chicken and move around so it’s completely covered by the marinade. 
  4. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight. 

Cook the chicken

  1. In a large saute pan, add 1 tablespoon of butter over medium/high heat.
  2. Cook chicken in batches until the edges are lightly browned.
  3. Move the cooked chicken to a platter. 

Make the sauce

  1. Using the same saute pan, add another tablespoon of butter on medium heat.
  2. Cook the onion for 5 minutes until it’s soft.
  3. Add garlic and cook for another minute or two. 
  4. Add smoked paprika, garam masala and tomato paste, stirring until the spices start to pick up heat.
  5. Stir in coconut milk and cook until sauce begins to thicken, about 20 minutes. 
  6. Add salt and pepper as needed.

Serve over jasmine rice with a sprinkle of fresh cilantro on top. 

Did you make this recipe?

Share a photo and tag us — we can’t wait to see what you’ve made!

Want a make-ahead version of chicken tikka masala kids love? Our slow cooker chicken tikka masala is a hit every time and all you do is throw the ingredients in, turn it on, and come home to a fully cooked meal!

Want a side ingredient for this crowd pleaser?

  • Roasted Frozen Cauliflower
  • Roasted Cabbage Wedges
  • Creamed Swiss Chard
  • Sauteed Frozen Spinach with Garlic

Fun Facts

  • While people (including me) typically assume that chicken tikka masala originated in India, the most popular origin story says otherwise: Chicken tikka masala was first made in Scotland when a Bengali chef had to improvise in a hurry. Today, many consider it to be the national dish of the UK. — Sukhis
  • Garam masala was developed as a way to keep you warm. The name ‘Garam masala’ literally means ‘hot spice’. Garam masala has been found to help speed up your metabolism. This is why it is such a warming spice; having a fast metabolism can help to raise your body temperature. — DESIblitz

Just for Laughs

How does rice say goodbye?

I hope to see you a-grain soon!

What kind of cars do sushi chefs drive?

Rolls Rices


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