Lamb Tikka Masala! My love of Indian foods runs deep, so it was only a matter of time before I made a variation of tikka masala with lamb! A silky aromatic sauce nicely coats juicy charred pieces of lamb. The whole lot gets spooned over rice and finished with cilantro and naan bread. Cozy, comforting, and just what you need!

Creamy red sauce over white rice in a bowl with naan bread and cilantro

This post was sponsored by the American Lamb Board, as always the thoughts, opinions, recipes, photos, and content are all my own.

Video: How to Make Lamb Tikka Masala

What is Tikka Masala?

Tikka literally means “chunks of meat cooked on skewers” in hindi. An the Indian word masala often describes spice blends—though the blend and number of spices varies. Many of us assume tikka masala originated in India. However, some sources say it hails from Britain, while other say Scotland is tikka masla’s homeland.

Whichever side you’re on—authentic tikka masala consists of marinated meat (often in yogurt) that gets skewered and cooked over a grill until charred. The charred meat gets simmered in a silky curry sauce made with warm spices, coconut milk, onions, and tomatoes. 

But when it comes to tikka masala, it’s hard to know what is truly authentic as its origins are largely disputed and recipes vary widely.

Creamy red sauce over white rice in a bowl with naan bread and cilantro

How to Make Tikka Masala at Home

The of making tikka masala at home is easier than you might think. My streamlined version uses the broiler instead of the grill, making it an any-night kind of dinner. However, using the broiler does mean that this recipe isn’t perfectly authentic, so if you’re looking for something a little more true to form, fire up the grill and use that to the cook the meat instead of the broiler.

step-by-step grid of images showing how to marinate meat for tikka masala
  1. Marinate the lamb in a yogurt marinade for at least 1 hour or up to overnight. 
  2. Start making the sauce—cook the onions until starting to soften.
  3. Add the serrano, garlic and ginger and cook until onions are starting to brown.
  4. Add the spices and cook until fragrant. 
  5. Add the tomatoes and their juices to the pan with onions. 
  6. Simmer the sauce until thickened and deep in color. 
  7. Stir in the coconut milk and simmer until thickened. 
  8. Arrange marinated lamb on a rack set inside a baking sheet and broil until charred.
  9. Add lamb to the sauce and simmer until cooked through.
  10. Serve tikka masala over rice with cilantro.
step-by-step grid of images showing how to make sauce for tikka masala
step-by-step grid of images showing how to make sauce for tikka masala

What Cut of Lamb Should be Used for Lamb Tikka Masala?

Classically, lamb tikka masala uses lamb leg sirloin or shoulder roast (both are known to be good stew or kebab meat). Try to seek out boneless cuts as it will make your life much easier and will ensure you have the right amount of meat for the recipe. 

If you do end up getting bone-in cuts, you’ll need to account for the bone weight, which can be anywhere between 8 and 12 ounces, so buy an extra pound or so. The nice thing about lamb stew meat is that it’s more affordable/competitively priced—it certainly won’t break the bank!

Eating locally is important to me and I find the quality of American Lamb to be exceptional. If you aren’t sure where to find American lamb, I recommend calling around to local grocery stores and butchers and inquiring about what cuts they have on hand. If they don’t have what you’re looking for, ask them to order some for you.

Creamy red sauce over white rice in a bowl with naan bread and cilantro

How to Reheat Lamb Tikka Masala

Tikka masala makes great leftovers (which means it’s perfect for meal prep). Store leftover tikka masala in a glass storage container with a tight fitting lid in the refrigerator. When you’re ready to serve it again, transfer the tikka mixture to a sauté pan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. 

Reheat rice on the stove top method: add rice to a saucepan with 2 tablespoons of water (and a pat of butter for richness) and heat over low, fluffing with the fork, until warmed through. 

Reheat rice in the microwave method: lay a damp paper towel over top of rice and microwave for 1 minute on medium-high heat. Fluff rice with a fork, test the warmness, and repeat the process once more if needed.  

More Indian-Inspired Recipes to Love…

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Creamy red sauce over white rice in a bowl with naan bread and cilantro

Easy Creamy Lamb Tikka Masala

  • Author: Lauren Grant
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes + 1 hour marinating time
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 ¼ hours + 1 hour marinating time
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stove top
  • Cuisine: Indian


A silky aromatic sauce nicely coats juicy charred pieces of yogurt-marinated lamb which then gets spooned over rice and finished with cilantro and naan bread. Cozy and comforting in a bowl! 


  • 2 tablespoons garam masala, divided 
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided 
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin, divided
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 ½ pounds boneless American lamb leg sirloin or shoulder, trimmed and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 cup whole milk plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or ghee
  • 1 yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 serrano, seeded and minced
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 (28 ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 (14 ounce) can coconut milk 
  • 3 cups cooked jasmine rice or basmati rice and/or naan bread
  • Cilantro or mint for serving 


Combine 1 tablespoon garam masala, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon cumin, coriander, and pepper in a 1-gallon zipper-lock bag. Toss the spices around to combine. Add lamb and shake to coat. Add yogurt, seal bag, and massage meat to coat. Transfer bag to refrigerator and marinate for 1 hour or up to overnight.

Heat oil in a 12-inch sauté pan over medium. Add onion and remaining teaspoon salt and cook until softened and starting to brown, 8–10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low and add garlic, serrano, and ginger; cook stirring frequently until onions are softened and golden brown, about 7 minutes. Stir in remaining tablespoon garam masala, remaining teaspoon cumin, and cardamom; cook 1 minute.

Add tomatoes with juices, crushing them with your hands as you add them (or use your kitchen shears to cut them in the can). Bring sauce to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring frequently and scraping up browned bits from bottom of pan, until thickened and deepened in color, 15–20 minutes. Add coconut milk and simmer until thickened, 5–7 minutes. 

Meanwhile, heat oven to broil (high) with rack set in upper middle position Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and set a wire rack inside sheet. Arrange lamb on rack in a single layer (don’t scrape marinade off). Broil lamb until starting to char, 10–12 minutes. 

Add lamb to sauce, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until lamb is cooked through, about 8 minutes. Serve with rice, cilantro, and naan if desired. 


Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.


  • Serving Size: ¼ of the recipe and rice
  • Calories: 294
  • Sugar: 7g
  • Sodium: 909mg
  • Fat: 18g
  • Saturated Fat: 7g
  • Carbohydrates: 21g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Protein: 11g
  • Cholesterol: 33mg

Keywords: Lamb Tikka Masala, Tikka Masala

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About The Author

Lauren Grant is a professional culinary food scientist, food writer, recipe developer, and food photographer. Lauren is a previous magazine editor and test kitchen developer and has had work published in major national publications including Diabetic Living Magazine, Midwest Living Magazine, Cuisine at Home Magazine,,, and more.

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  1. Wow! Came across this recipe on Pinterest and was excited to try something new. We don’t cook with lamb often, and this recipe was a great way to get me more comfortable with it! Easier to make than I thought it would be and SO, SO delicious. Thank you!

  2. I followed this recipe exactly with the only exception being putting the whole peeled tomatoes in the blender for just a moment (food processor would work too) because I didn’t want the sauce chunky. I also simmered the meat in the sauce a bit longer and would probably go even a bit longer next time. It was absolute restaurant quality. I will be making this again and again and think other meats would work just as well. So so sooooooo good. Thank you so much!

  3. I made this per the recipe but used venison and it was excellent. I didn’t add serrano because my family doesn’t like the heat. I used a 1/4 jalapeno which worked out fine.