Butter chicken vs tikka masala

In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at butter chicken vs chicken tikka masala, their similarities, their differences, and why the two are often confused even by professionals chefs.

Butter chicken

Originally known as “murgh makhani,” butter chicken originated in Dehli and is one of the few Indian curry dishes out there that are well known throughout the world. Butter chicken does vary from region to region of India in terms of preparation method and the ingredients and quantity of ingredients.

Generally speaking; however, butter chicken is prepared by dicing chicken into smaller pieces and then marinating the chicken in a rich and flavorful concoction of Indian spices, ginger, and garlic.

After the marinating process is complete, the marinated chicken is then cooked in a rich and creamy butter and tomato-based sauce that is mildly spiced.

Chicken tikka masala

Contrary to popular belief, chicken tikka masala is not a dish born in India or is a variation of some kind of other rural Indian food. Rather, chicken tikka masala originated in the UK, and the most common theory is that it originated from a little restaurant in Scotland in the 1970s.

Now that’s not to say that India’s many spices and flavors don’t heavily influence chicken tikka masala; it’s just that the finished product has its roots in the UK and not India.

To make chicken tikka masala, you need to first marinate it in ginger, garlic, chili peppers, and other masala ingredients. The chicken is then grilled first before being mixed in a curry-based sauce.

The difference

The easiest way to tell the difference is by the color of the sauce. Chicken tikka masala will look a little redder in color due to the chile pepper to butter chicken’s orange appearance. The use of less butter in addition to its heavier spice profile makes chicken tikka masala the hotter alternative to butter chicken’s more buttery and milder taste.


While we enjoy both, butter chicken definitely has the greater appeal.