Need a quick gluten-free recipe for a busy weeknight dinner? This better-than-take-out, one-pan chicken tikka masala takes only 30 minutes from start to finish. It pairs beautifully with rice, and its full flavor is guaranteed to be a hit with the entire family.
Creamy, fragrant, and a little spicy, Indian chicken tikka masala dish will surely awaken your taste-buds! If you are just starting to explore Indian dishes or looking to add a new recipe to your weekly menu, this simple tikka masala is one to keep.
I can’t believe I waited this long to make it. I’m happy to share this simple recipe with you, thanks to Dr. Meda (my dentist and a loyal reader) who suggested I make it. It’s so delectable, no wonder it’s his favorite national dish and it will be yours too!
Here’s why this chicken tikka masala works:
- Besides being a super easy and quick meal to make, you’ll only end up dirtying one pan. That is always a plus in my book of easy recipes!
- You will get addicted to the flavor of these chunks of chicken marinated in an intoxicatingly delicious sauce.
- The sauce is tomato-based, elevated with aromatic Indian spices, and finished with cream, giving it the traditional orange-colored look.
- Think tikka masala is solely an Indian dish? Think again! Although you are sure to find it in any Indian restaurant, England considers chicken tikka masala their national dish, and rumor has it that even its origins are British, concocted by Indian migrants in the 1950’s.
- This Indian chicken stew will satisfy even with the pickiest eater.
What does tikka masala mean?
Tikka means small pieces or chunks of meat, while masala is the spice blend typically used in Indian dishes.
What’s in this one-pan Indian dish?
PROTEIN: Boneless, skinless chicken thighs
VEGETABLES: Onion and garlic
AROMATICS: Tomato sauce and tomato paste
LIQUID: Chicken stock
FAT: Vegetable or canola oil
SEASONINGS: Salt and pepper
SPICES: Ginger, garam masala, chili, turmeric, cumin, coriander
HERBS: Cilantro (optional)
DAIRY: Heavy cream
How do I make tikka masala?
For the sake of simplicity and making this recipe quick and easy to make at home, we made some shortcuts to the authentic Chicken Tikka Masala.
We would typically marinate the chicken with yogurt and spices, and then put them on skewers and grill. Feel free to use this method for the chicken before marrying it with the sauce (if you have the time and sunshine where you live). 😊
*Keep scrolling to get the full (printable) recipe and ingredient amounts.
1. Season cubed chicken thighs with salt, pepper, turmeric, and ginger.
2. Heat the oil in a skillet; add chicken and onion, and sauté until the chicken is no longer pink.
3. Add spices: garlic, garam masala, chili, cumin, coriander, and tomato paste. Stir to combine.
4. Pour in the tomato sauce and chicken stock and let simmer.
5. Stir in the heavy cream; cook until the sauce thickens.
People also asked:
1. WHAT IS GARAM MASALA AND WHERE DO I FIND IT?
Garam masala is a mix of Indian spices and usually found in the spices aisle or the international section of the grocery store.
2. I CAN’T FIND GARAM MASALA IN MY STORE!
No worries! Use a teaspoon each of cardamom, cloves, nutmeg, coriander, cinnamon, and cumin to make your home-made version.
3. CAN I USE CHICKEN BREAST INSTEAD OF THIGHS?
Yes, you can. However, I highly recommend the chicken thighs. They are juicier and give more flavorful results.
4. SHOULD I USE A SAUCEPAN OR A SKILLET?
You can use whatever you have on hand if it’s large enough. I prefer cast-iron skillet. I used an enameled one here, but a Dutch oven would work fine too.
I wouldn’t suggest a non-stick pan, because you want the meat to get charred. We will deglaze the brown bits with stock and tomato sauce, and chicken will absorb all those delicious flavors.Simple one-pan Indian chicken masala is sure to put your favorite take-out joint out of business. #tikkamasala #dinner #indian #chicken #glutenfree
5. CAN I MAKE IT IN THE INSTANT/CROCKPOT?
Although this dish is super quick, I also understand that sometimes you just don’t want to babysit your dinner.
This one-pan chicken tikka masala is easily adaptable to either, but to ensure you get that rich flavor, sear the chicken and sauté the onions before adding to the slow cooker. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Low and slow is the best with dairy products.
If using the Instant pot, use the sauté function for your chicken and onions, add all other ingredients (except for cream), and cook on high pressure for 10 minutes. Add cream once the pressure is released.
6. HOW DO I STORE CHICKEN TIKKA MASALA LEFTOVERS?
- Refrigerating: Refrigerate tikka masala in an airtight container for up to three days.
- Freezing: Dairy-based dishes don’t always reheat well after being frozen as the dairy tends to separate slightly. You can still freeze it; just know that the consistency won’t be quite the same.
7. CAN THIS DISH BE REHEATED?
Absolutely! Reheat it on the stovetop over low heat, just until warm. You can also reheat individual bowls in the microwave.
- Serve on top of Naan bread for a quick and easy lunch the next day.
- Like it spicy? Swap out the chili powder for cayenne pepper.
- Add some veggies to your sauce. Cauliflower and peas go well with curry.
What to serve with Indian tikka masala?
- Follow the tradition and serve tikka masala over rice, such as basmati, jasmine, or any flavorful rice of your choice.
- If you’re like my mom and don’t like rice (say whaaat?), you will love this masala over mashed potatoes or noodles.
- We also love using garlic naan bread as a vessel to sop up all the yummy juices.
MAKING THIS RECIPE OR OTHERS?
I can’t wait to see your spin on it! Scrolling through the photos of recipes you tried is my favorite!
Other easy chicken recipes to try:
- INDIAN GINGER GARLIC CHICKEN
- ONE-POT BOSNIAN CHICKEN RICE DINNER
- FRENCH ONION CHICKEN
- GARLIC LEMON CHICKEN
- CHICKEN IN BEER SAUCE
Simple One-Pan Indian Chicken Tikka Masala
- cast-iron skillet or a Dutch oven
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch chunks
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
- 1/2 tablespoon ground ginger
- 2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
- 1 small onion sliced into half-moons
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala
- 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves optional
- Over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large cast-iron skillet or Dutch oven.
- Season the 1 1/2 lbs of cubed chicken thighs with salt and pepper to taste, 1 ½ tsp turmeric, and 1/2 tbsp ground ginger. Add the seasoned chicken and 1 sliced onion to the stockpot and cook until the chicken is no longer pink, about 5 minutes.
- Add 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 ½ tsp garam masala, 1 ½ tsp chili powder, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp ground coriander, and 1 tbsp tomato paste. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Stir in 15 oz tomato sauce and 1 cup chicken stock. Bring to a gentle boil and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Stir in 1/2 cup heavy cream and simmer until reduced and slightly thickened, about 5 minutes longer.
- Serve immediately with rice, or side of choice, and garnish with cilantro, if desired.
- Use freshly grated ginger for intensified flavor.
- Replace cilantro with fresh parsley.
- Add more chili powder if you like your food spicier (this already has a nice kick).
- For the best results, read all my other tips in the post above.
- Substitute heavy cream with coconut cream or milk.