Quick Chicken Tikka Masala


Where has this Quick Chicken Tikka Masala been all my life?? Who knew you could get a legit Tikka Masala made in 30 minutes? Yes, start to finish in 30 minutes! This is a restaurant quality meal and here it’s made lighter (no heavy cream in this version, although I won’t judge if you want to add a little – I live for cream. But since I usually have it in my dessert more often than not because I’m addicted to ice cream, I didn’t add any. Gotta cut back where I can). I know I say this a lot on this blog but this dish is totally worthy of being added to your dinner rotation. It’s hearty, it’s packed to the max with flavor (one of the main reasons I love tikka masala and Indian food so much – all those spices!), and it’s made with healthy ingredients.

Quick Chicken Tikka Masala | Cooking Classy

I made my own Garam Masala spice blend for this, which I would recommend (even though it will add a few extra minutes the first time, it should give you enough for 4 batches of this). I recommend making your own blend because with store-bought versions there are so many different spice combinations and ratios out there for this specific blend. And yes, the cardamom is expensive but you’ll get a lot of meals out of one jar of it (or you can also use it to make chai spice cookies, smoothies, etc. Or make more Indian food because it’s amazing!). Another thing to note is that I’ve already made this twice in the last 2 weeks (and plan on making it again this week), the canned crushed tomatoes thickness varies pretty widely based on the brand you buy. For example I used S & W the first time (that pictured here) and I ended with a nice, rich and thick sauce (I even had to add a little water). The second time I used Contadina (another brand I like) and I ended with a thin sauce. I prefer the thicker version but I guess just go with what you like. Try it soon though, this is Tikka Masala is all of my weeknight dinner dreams come true! It’s incredibly delicious!

Quick Chicken Tikka Masala | Cooking Classy Quick Chicken Tikka Masala | Cooking Classy Quick Chicken Tikka Masala | Cooking Classy


Quick Chicken Tikka Masala

Yield: about 4 servings


  • 1 1/2- inch knob ginger , peeled
  • 4 cloves garlic , peeled
  • 1/2 large yellow onion , peeled
  • 1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts , diced into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp garam masala spice blend , divided (see notes)
  • Salt
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil , divided
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper , more or less to taste
  • 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (I used fat-free, any kind will work fine though)
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
  • Cooked jasmine or basmati rice , for serving


  1. Pulse ginger and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped. Add onion and pulse until finely chopped. Toss chicken with 1 1/2 tsp garam masala and 1 tsp salt. Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook, rotating halfway through cooking, until cooked through, about 6 - 7 minutes total. Transfer chicken to a plate.
  2. Heat remaining 1 Tbsp olive oil in same skillet over medium-high heat. Add chopped onion mixture and saute until onions have softened, about 3 minutes. Add tomato paste, remaining 1 Tbsp garam masala, the paprika, and cayenne and cook, stirring constantly, 30 seconds. Add crushed tomatoes, season with salt to taste, and cook stirring occasionally until mixture is hot, about 2 minutes (you can let it simmer longer if needed if the canned tomatoes used were watery. If the canned tomatoes were thick you can add a few Tbsp of water if needed to thin the sauce mixture). Return chicken to pan and cook 1 minute longer. Remove from heat, stir in Greek yogurt and lemon juice. Serve warm over rice topped with cilantro.
  3. Recipe source: loosely based off of this recipe on Epicurious

Recipe Notes

For a homemade garam masala spice blend (which I recommend using) whisk together: 2 Tbsp ground cumin, 2 Tbsp ground coriander, 1 1/2 Tbsp ground black pepper, 1 Tbsp ground cardamom, 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon, 1 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg. If using a store-bought garam masala spice blend, look for one that has the same spices in the ingredients label to those listed here (I think the McCormick one does, it doesn't have to have nutmeg) otherwise you could get an entirely different outcome. The blend listed here will make enough to make this recipe 4 times so it's quicker the next few times you make it.


  • Katelyn: You read my mind!! I was just thinking about tikka masala before I saw your post in my email! lol…Do you think this would work well if I used chickpeas instead of chicken? May 17, 2016 at 5:12am Reply

    • Madhu: With this spice n sauce blend, you can do chickpeas, kidney beans, indian cottage cheese called paneer, firm tofu, cauliflower n peas with cubes of potato, cubed firm white fish fillets …. it’s endless … if you are not watching calories …. some cream like a couple of tablespoons to finish off is great. We add dried fenugreek leaves crushed in the palm of our hands but that’s optional. June 3, 2017 at 8:11am Reply

  • cakespy: This is one of those dishes I would never think about making myself–it’s something people order, not make, right!? But the idea of making chicken tikka masala, and it being easy, is pretty incredible! May 17, 2016 at 5:34am Reply

  • Davinder: You are really working hard .please send some unique recipes on ice creams and drinks (ninalholic) May 17, 2016 at 6:41am Reply

  • elizabeth@pine cones and acorns blog: I love Tikki Masala, and cannot wait to try your recipe! May 17, 2016 at 6:44am Reply

  • Laura @ Laura’s Culinary Adventures: Delicious! One of my favorite Indian dishes! May 17, 2016 at 11:34am Reply

  • Katelyn: How do you think this would work with chickpeas instead of chicken? I can’t wait to try this! May 17, 2016 at 12:58pm Reply

  • Cathleen @ A Taste Of Madness: Ooh. This looks like a tikki masala recipe that I can make! Looks so good! May 17, 2016 at 3:13pm Reply

  • Lakshmi: Wow…Very nice… May 17, 2016 at 10:08pm Reply

  • Elizabeth@pine cones and acorns blog: I wanted to come back and let you know I made this and it was fabulous! We loved it. Thanks for sharing. In fact I loved it so much I am featuring it on my “friday favorites.” May 19, 2016 at 7:50pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: I’m so glad you liked it Elizabeth! May 19, 2016 at 9:40pm Reply

  • AC: Made this tonight so quick and easy! I have put way more effort into other “curry” dishes and my husband said this was the best yet! I used Penzeys blend Garam masala and sweet curry powder, and paprika…had only 1lb of chicken so added chick peas and the green peas…Turned out great! May 22, 2016 at 10:33pm Reply

  • Carmen: can you substitute crashed tomatoes with natural ones? May 27, 2016 at 5:07pm Reply

  • Sarah: This turned out amazing! I made this version for the hubby and a vegan version for myself by subbing in extra firm tofu for the chicken and vegan sour cream in place of the yogurt. Both dishes are a huge hit!! And I couldn’t believe how quick it took to make. Delish! Definitely will be sharing this recipe with my family :) October 18, 2016 at 8:42am Reply

    • Jaclyn: Glad you liked it Sarah! October 18, 2016 at 10:47am Reply

  • Patty Gordon: Thank you so much for posting this recipe. I found it on Pinterest when I was searching for recipes for an article for my blog that will be posted in March. I’m doing a collection of “Exotic” recipes hoping that my readers (and I) can expand our cookbooks beyond pot roast and mashed potatoes. January 22, 2017 at 3:13pm Reply

  • Elizabeth: I made this tonight and the yogurt separated when I added it. I’m not sure why but it gave the sauce a grainy texture. Suggestions for fixing this? February 1, 2017 at 6:42pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Not sure why that would have happened, it sounds like your sauce was maybe really really hot so it curdled the yogurt. Sorry that happened. Next time maybe try adding the yogurt off heat. March 13, 2017 at 11:37pm Reply

  • Martina: Do you know approx how many calories would be in this? March 14, 2017 at 10:16am Reply

  • Kim: Yesterday I was in the mood for Chicken Tikka Masala but I couldn’t find the recipe I usually use. When I was searching online I found this one and I’m so glad because it is wonderful. It tastes just like the tikka masala at an Indian restaurant across the street from Earl’s Court tube station in London. This recipe is definitely a keeper. July 8, 2017 at 12:01pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Thanks Kim! So happy you enjoyed it! July 11, 2017 at 1:57pm Reply

  • Kimberly: I don’t have a food processor. Is there a way I could substitute ground ginger for the fresh ginger? How much would you recommend? July 17, 2017 at 10:48am Reply

  • Kimberly: I do not have a food processor. Is there something you would recommend to modify this step? Could I use ground ginger? How much? Or should I just mince the fresh ginger? July 17, 2017 at 5:08pm Reply

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