Lamb Tikka Masala! Our love of Indian food runs deep, so it was only a matter of time before we 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!

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 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

Step-by-Step Instructions

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

Marinate the lamb in a yogurt marinade for at least 1 hour or up to overnight. 

step-by-step grid of images showing how to make sauce for tikka masala

Start making the sauce—cook the onions until starting to soften. Add the serrano, garlic and ginger and cook until onions are starting to brown. Stir in the spices and cook until fragrant. 

step-by-step grid of images showing how to make sauce for tikka masala

Add the tomatoes and their juices to the pan with onions. Simmer the sauce until thickened and deep in color. Stir in the coconut milk and simmer until thickened. 

Arrange marinated lamb on a rack set inside a baking sheet and broil until charred. Add lamb to the sauce and simmer until cooked through. Serve tikka masala over rice with cilantro.

What Cut of Lamb to Use

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 we find the quality of American Lamb to be exceptional. If you aren’t sure where to find American lamb, we 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.


We recommend serving Lamb Tikka Masala with rice, fresh cilantro and warm naan. You can skip either the rice or the naan, but some carby addition is lovely with the rich and creamy sauce.

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 Try


Now that I have garam masala, how else can I use it?

Garam masala is a delicious spice blend that can be used in a lot of meat and legume dishes. Use it in our Madras Lentils or Chana Masala. You can also use it in place of all the spices in our beef kofta and lamb kofta.

How far in advance can I marinate the lamb?

We recommend marinating the meat for no longer than 1 day in advance.

I love the sauce! How else can I use it?

We have a whole host of ideas on how to use the tikka masala sauce.

Easy Creamy Lamb Tikka Masala

5 from 5 votes
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Marinating time 1 hour
Total Time 2 hours 15 minutes
Yield 4 servings
Category Main Dish
Cuisine Indian
Author Lauren Grant


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 Morton kosher salt, divided
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin, divided
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 ½ pounds boneless 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.
    chunks of meat marinating in a spiced yogurt mixture in a zipper-lock bag
  • Heat oil in a 12-inch sauté pan over medium. Add onion and remaining 1 teaspoon salt and cook until softened and starting to brown, 8–10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    thin slices of onion cooking in a skillet
  • Reduce heat to medium-low and add garlic, serrano, and ginger; cook stirring frequently until onions are softened and golden brown, about 7 minutes.
    think slices of onion cooking in a skillet with spices
  • Stir in remaining 1 tablespoon garam masala, remaining 1 teaspoon cumin, and ½ teaspoon cardamom; cook 1 minute.
    think slices of onion cooking in a skillet with spices
  • 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.
    canned tomatoes cooking in a large skillet
  • Add coconut milk and simmer until thickened, 5–7 minutes. 
    richely hued orange-colored tikka masala sauce in a skillet
  • 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. 
    charred bits of lamb on a wire rack set inside a baking sheet
  • 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.
If you don’t have Morton kosher salt, check out this article for salt substitution information.


Serving: 1/4 of the recipe and riceCalories: 294kcalCarbohydrates: 21gProtein: 11gFat: 18gSaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 33mgSodium: 909mgFiber: 2gSugar: 7g
Keywords Lamb Tikka Masala, Tikka Masala
Did you make this recipe?Leave a comment below and tag @ZestfulKitchen on Instagram and hashtag it #zestfulkitchen!
Creamy red sauce over white rice in a bowl with naan bread and cilantro

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

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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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How many stars would you give this recipe?


  1. 5 stars
    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. 5 stars
    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. 5 stars
    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.