Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala

This dish tastes best when prepared with whole-milk yogurt, but low-fat yogurt can be substituted; do not use fat-free yogurt. The sauce can be made and refrigerated up to 4 days in advance; gently reheat the sauce before adding the hot chicken. Serve with basmati rice.–The Editors of America’s Test Kitchen

Chicken Tikka Masala

  • Quick Glance
  • 35 M
  • 1 H, 25 M
  • Serves 2
5/5 - 2 reviews
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  • For the chicken
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Two boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt (see Headnote)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons grated or minced ginger
  • For the sauce
  • One (14.5-ounce) can whole tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, minced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon grated or minced ginger
  • 1 small serrano chile, stemmed, seeded, and minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons store-bought or homemade tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Salt
  • 1/3 cup plain yogurt (see Headnote)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves


  • Make the chicken
  • 1. Combine the garam masala, cayenne, and salt in a bowl. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels, then coat the chicken thoroughly with the spices, pressing to help them adhere. Place the chicken on a plate, cover, and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes. Whisk the yogurt, oil, garlic, and ginger together in a medium bowl, cover, and refrigerate until needed.
  • Make the sauce
  • 2. Process the tomatoes with their juice in a food processor until pureed, about 15 seconds. Heat the oil in large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and cook until softened and lightly browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic, ginger, chile, tomato paste, and garam masala and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  • 3. Stir in the processed tomatoes, sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the yogurt and cover to keep warm.
  • 4. Meanwhile, adjust an oven rack to be 6 inches from the broiler element, and heat the broiler. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and top with a wire rack. Using tongs, dip the chicken into the yogurt mixture so that it is thickly coated and arrange on the prepared wire rack; discard any excess yogurt mixture. Broil the chicken until the exterior is lightly charred in spots and the thickest part of the breasts registers 160 to 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, 10 to 18 minutes, flipping the chicken halfway through cooking.
  • 5. Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes, then cut into 1-inch chunks. Stir the chicken pieces into the warm sauce (do not simmer the chicken in the sauce). Stir in the cilantro, season with salt to taste, and serve.

America's Test Kitchen Notes

  • Our favorite garam masala
    This spice blend is a key ingredient in our Chicken Tikka Masala and Shrimp Tikka Masala, but making it from scratch can add a great deal of time to recipe preparation. In search of a good-tasting commercial garam masala, we tested a handful of top brands. Tasters’ favorite was McCormick Gourmet Collection Garam Masala for its ability to both blend into dishes and round out their acidic and sweet notes. Tasters also liked the subtle warmth of cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves. Widely available in supermarkets, McCormick won praise from tasters for adding a mellow, well-balanced aroma to most dishes.
  • Storing ginger
    We include ginger in both the yogurt marinade and the sauce of our Chicken Tikka Masala, but we use modest amounts, definitely not the entire knob that we would have purchased at the store. Although this is an incredibly affordable ingredient, we didn’t want to just pitch the remaining unused portion. To determine the best way to store ginger, we cut several knobs and stored them in different ways—unwrapped in a dark pantry, on the counter exposed to sunlight, and in the refrigerator or freezer in a variety of unwrapped or foil- or plastic-wrapped permutations. After two weeks, all of the samples had dried out, with the frozen ginger faring the worst—after a brief thaw, it was porous and mushy. The room-temperature ginger had shriveled and started to sprout. The wrapped, refrigerated ginger was moldy where condensation had trapped in the wrapper. The one ray of light was the unwrapped, refrigerated ginger, which had a relatively fresh appearance, with no mold. So the next time you have a leftover knob of ginger, ditch the plastic wrap and foil, and just toss it into the refrigerator unwrapped.
  • Editor’s Note: I store my leftover ginger in a glass jar and cover it with sherry. It seems to last forever in the refrigerator, and the added benefit is the ginger infused sherry which can be used as I wish.

Recipe Testers Reviews

We really enjoyed this recipe. I made the sauce several days ahead, using whole-milk yogurt, and this made for an easy and quick dinner late in the week. I was concerned about the cooking method for the chicken breasts, which dry out so easily, but these turned out great—with a nice crust, great flavor, and very moist.


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  1. Delicious flavors and very easy to make. We used low-fat yogurt and the sauce curdled a bit. No one cared. The method for cooking chicken IS genius.

  2. Wow! I made this (after seeing ATK on PBS), and I must say it’s a new favorite in our house! The recipe I saw on TV varied only slightly from this one (it has a bit of cream added at the end) but I followed the recipe above until I realized the difference. I particularly loved the method for cooking the chicken–I think I may even try it for other recipes.

    Thanks for posting!

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