What Is the Distinction Between Butter Chicken and Tikka Masala?

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If you’ve never had the pleasure of eating some of India’s exquisite foods, let’s just say you’re missing out on the culinary explosion of a lifetime.

There’s something about the eclectic mix of exotic ingredients and the dramatic enticing fragrances of Indian curry that makes it unique and mouth-watering for everyone who hasn’t tried it before.

If this is your first time at the rodeo, you must sample their chicken. You’ll probably be torn between butter chicken and tikka masala. They are both highly tasty and will send you on a culinary journey you’ve never had before.

What is the difference between them? Here’s all you need to know, without further ado.

Butter Chicken vs Tikka Masala – A Brief Overview

Butter Chicken vs Tikka Masala – What’s the Difference?

Butter Chicken

Butter chicken, also known as murgh makhani in India, is one of numerous curry-based Indian dishes. While it is widely served all around the globe, there are slight differences in taste and preparation techniques according on the country where you eat it.

This decadent meal is produced by marinating tiny pieces of chicken in a fragrant mixture of ginger, garlic, and a variety of curry spices before boiling them in a thick, creamy tomato and butter-based sauce.

Chicken Tikka Masala

Some cuisine enthusiasts believe chicken tikka to be the Indian equivalent of American pizza, without the doughy foundation. It is a curry cuisine, however unlike butter chicken, the chicken pieces are grilled before being coated in a fabulously indulgent tomato-based sauce.

Contrary to popular belief, chicken tikka does not originate in India, despite the fact that tastes from the subcontinent influence it. Its beginnings, according to various culinary historians, may be traced back to a modest restaurant in Glasgow in the 1970s.

To commemorate its British heritage, the European Union has even suggested a Protected Designation of Origin designation.

Aside from that, the one irrefutable truth about his beloved meal is how very tasty it is. The chicken is marinated in garlic, ginger, chili pepper, and a variety of other delicious masala seasonings before being grilled and then submerged in a curry-based sauce.

Which Is Best?

This raises the age-old question: which of the two recipes is the uncontested champion of the curries, butter chicken or tikka masala? There is no simple method to rate them. They’re both really tasty in their own way. It all relies on your taste preferences and tolerance for hot spices.

While the two meals seem to be identical, their distinctions become clear when you taste them. Their taste characteristics are determined by the components utilized to create them. Because of the butter basis, butter chicken has a moderately sweet taste that lessens the strength of the curry spices used in its preparation.

Chicken tikka masala, on the other hand, has a stronger flavor. The many spices in the masala work together to produce their entire range of tastes.

Aside from the fact that chicken is the major ingredient in both meals and butter is used in just one of them, the most noticeable variation is that butter chicken may be cooked with the chicken bones left in. Chicken tikka masala, on the other hand, is usually boneless.

In any case, both are really tasty and borderline addicting.

Chicken Curry Quick Facts

  • Because they are curry-based dishes, buttered chicken and tikka masala are both considered curries.
  • Cooking chicken curry in a tandoori oven results in tandoori chicken.
  • In 1948, Northern India produced the first butter chicken.
  • Tikka masala wasnt invented in India
  • Tikka masala is often served with naan bread, making it the Indian equivalent of American pizza.

Best Butter Chicken Recipe


  • 1 lb. chicken thighs, sliced
  • cup plain yogurt
  • teaspoon chili powder
  • teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 3 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, minced
  • 1 tablespoon butter, lard, or ghee
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 14 oz. canned tomatoes, chopped
  • cup heavy cream
  • Rice or naan bread to accompany


  1. Begin by slicing the chicken into 1-inch pieces and setting aside.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine the yogurt, chili powder, salt, garam masala, turmeric, cumin, coriander, garlic, and ginger.
  3. Mix in the chopped chicken, making sure that every piece is covered with the marinade.
  4. Refrigerate for at least two hours (or overnight if time permits) after covering with plastic wrap.
  5. Heat the oil in a skillet or frying pan over medium-high heat. When the pan is heated enough, add the chicken pieces in tiny batches, being careful not to crowd the pan. The goal is to cook them until each piece is golden on both sides. Place aside.
  6. In the same pan, melt the butter, lard, or ghee, and then add the onions. Cook for approximately five minutes, scraping up any browned pieces adhered to the bottom of the pan.
  7. Next, add the remaining garlic and ginger and sauté for a minute, or until the delicious scent begins to emerge. Cook for 30 seconds, or until the garam masala, turmeric, cumin, and coriander are aromatic. Make care to stir it periodically.
  8. Allow the canned tomatoes, salt, and chili powder to boil for approximately 15 minutes, stirring regularly, until the sauce thickens and becomes a rich red-brown color. Take the pan off the heat.
  9. Once the sauce has cooled, place it in a blender and purée until smooth. If required, add a little water (up to a cup).
  10. Return the sauce to the pan and add the chicken pieces. Allow it to boil over medium-low heat for approximately 15 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Cook for a further 10 minutes after adding the heavy cream.
  11. Serve immediately with rice or naan bread of your choice and enjoy!

Best Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe


For the marinade:

  • 1 lb. chicken thighs, sliced
  • cup plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, minced
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced

For the curry:

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons ginger, minced
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 14 oz. canned tomato sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Rice or naan bread to accompany


  1. Set aside the chicken, which has been cut into 1-inch pieces.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine the yogurt (or your favourite yogurt alternative), lemon juice, paprika, chili powder, garam masala, cumin, salt, ginger, and garlic.
  3. Stir in the chicken pieces to ensure they’re evenly covered. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least two hours (or overnight if time permits).
  4. Preheat the oven to 500°F and line a roasting tray or high-sided baking sheet with parchment paper for 20 minutes.
  5. Skewer the marinated chicken pieces and place them on a prepared baking sheet for 15 minutes, or until slightly browned around the edges.
  6. To create the curry base, heat the oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Once the oil is heated enough, sauté the onions, ginger, and garlic until aromatic.
  7. Cook for 30 seconds, stirring regularly, before adding the garam masala, chili powder, paprika, ground coriander, turmeric, and cumin.
  8. When the spices are aromatic, add the bottled tomato sauce and water and bring to a boil. Cook for 10 minutes over medium-low heat before adding the heavy cream and cooked chicken. Cook for another 5 minutes.
  9. Serve immediately with rice or naan bread of your choice. Enjoy!

Final Words

While the distinction between butter chicken and tikka masala may not be obvious at first, their taste profiles are the most telling. Butter chicken is particularly rich and creamy, but chicken tikka masala has a distinct tomato flavor. They’re both excellent in either case!

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Is butter chicken and tikka masala the same?

Invented in the United Kingdom in the 1960s, tikka masala tastes similar to butter chicken, but in the end, it’s a distinctly British meal with its own combination of spices that distinguishes it.

What is the difference between butter masala and butter chicken?

The key difference between these two delectable recipes is that butter chicken has less tomato flavor and chicken tikka masala is less creamy. Tikka masala is a dry dish cooked in a tandoor, while butter masala is prepared in a pan over a fire.

What does a butter chicken taste like?

How Does Butter Chicken Taste? The taste of butter chicken is rich, savory, and sweet. The butter and cream bring richness, the spices lend a more classic curry taste, and the tomato sauce balances everything out with a touch of sweetness.

Is tikka masala or butter chicken more red?

Both recipes seem identical because the chicken flesh is accompanied with a thick sauce. However, the butter chicken sauce has a light orange-brown tint. Chicken tikka masala, on the other hand, has a thicker and more crimson sauce.

Is tikka masala or butter masala better?

The addition of a considerable quantity of butter makes Butter Chicken considerably more creamy and delicious. The Butter Chicken sauce is blended until smooth, but the Chicken Tikka Masala leaves the tomatoes and onions in bits to give the sauce more texture. Furthermore, Butter Chicken is much less spicy than Chicken Tikka Masala.

Which is hotter tikka masala or butter chicken?

The flavor of chicken tikka masala is somewhat hotter and earthier. Both meals use chicken, tomato paste (or other tomato-based sauces like as passata), garam masala, yogurt, ginger, and other ingredients.

Why is it called butter chicken?

Tandoori Chicken was the menu’s centerpiece, however it turned dry if not sold quickly. To address this, he created a dish combining tomato sauce, butter, cream, and spices, which became known as Butter Chicken.

Is butter chicken sweet or spicy?

Unlike other Indian curries, which begin with an onion and ginger garlic paste cooked in oil, butter chicken begins with a tomato foundation and is cooked in butter, giving it a somewhat sweet taste. Cashews and almonds contribute to the dish’s sweetness and richness.

What does tikka masala taste like?

Tika masala, on the other hand, is a tomato and cream-based sauce with a lot of spices added. It has a little spicy flavor and an earthy flavor. The chargrilled taste of the chicken complements the creamy sauce well.

Does butter chicken taste better than tikka masala?

Chicken tikka may be spicy or mild, and both are red, but butter chicken is white and has cream or milk as an ingredient (thus the butter). Butter chicken has a milder taste than tikka masala.

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