Butter Chicken Vs Tikka Masala: Key Differences

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Difference Between Butter Chicken and Tikka Masala



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If you’re reading this, chances are you are here to seek answers to one of the baffling questions that have wracked even the minds of the greatest culinarian:

Between butter chicken vs tikka masala, is there any noticeable difference?

They are both irresistible tomato and cream-based sauces that almost anyone will love. It’s worth noting that they look and taste virtually the same and are both on every Indian restaurant menu without a clear explanation.

Their remarkable similarities have kept the answers locked away to date.

But this article takes an in-depth look at these dishes. And I can assure you that within the first 2 minutes, you have already gotten a firm grasp on their differences. 

What is Butter Chicken?

Butter chicken (also called murgh Makhan) is an Indian curry dish that originated in Delhi, where small pieces of chicken are marinated with spices, ginger, garlic, and many other ingredients.

It is then cooked with a creamy, mildly spiced tomato-based sauce until it softens.

What is Chicken Tikka Masala?

Chicken tikka masala — made a similar way to butter — is an Indian dish consisting of roasted marinated chicken chunks in spiced curry sauce, even if it’s most popular in the Western world.

Read Also: Chicken Korma Vs Butter Chicken

Butter Chicken Vs Tikka Masala – Key Differences

Butter Chicken Vs Tikka Masala

Let me just hit the nail on its head:

They might look almost identical, but there is a subtle difference in TASTE and FLAVOR.

Too many people investigate and try telling apart these two dishes by their basic ingredients. But they end up back to the drawing board, scratching their heads and still stuck in the wander loop.

Well, this is because no tangible evidence lies there —we have ventured that route, and we came up with absolutely NOTHING.

Both Butter Chicken and Chicken Tikka Masala ingredients consist of the same chicken, onion, tomato paste, pepper, cumin, garam masala, yogurt, cream, ginger, garlic, turmeric, and butter.

However, what strikes a tone is the amount of each ingredient used in the recipe.

Forget how they are served; they are presented the same way, as both of these chicken dishes are curries and often paired with naan bread, roti, or over rice.

The first significant difference is that butter chicken has little tomato intensity.

Whereas chicken tikka masala has a severe tomato hit and doesn’t have the same level of creaminess — it is more of fish curry.

While it is less important (because you won’t be there to tell the story), Tikka masala is cooked in the tandoor, while butter masala is cooked in a pan over a fire.

In detail, while butter chicken is a creamy blend of tomato sauce and spices, tikka masala has a creamy tomato gravy and onion sauce.

It is crucial to have these at the back of your mind when placing an order from the menu because some restaurant chefs would even be confused explaining how they differ.

Read Also: Palm Sugar Vs Cane Sugar

Frequently Asked Questions

Is masala a curry?

Succinctly put, curry is a generic term given to the dish that has a combination of vegetables, meat, egg, cottage cheese, seafood, spices, salt, and any kind of masala.

Meanwhile, masala is a spice blend widely used in Indian cuisine, from curries and lentil dishes to soups to add more flavor and taste to it.

So it’s a no-brainer that masala is not a curry.

Is butter chicken a junk food; is it unhealthy?

Butter Chicken might appear appealing to the gut and stomach, but It surely deserves to be on the list of Indian junk food.

The reason is that it contains a high amount of fat as well as protein. About 140 gms of Butter Chicken contains 28 gms of total fat, 12 grams of saturated fat, 14 gm 438 calories, and 30 gms protein.

Considering the fat content, it is a high-fat meal choice. And high intakes of saturated fat increase blood cholesterol levels and the risk of heart disease.

It is recommended that you keep your daily saturated fat intake less than 10 percent of calories or approximately 22 grams per day on a 2,000-calorie diet.  

Is Chicken Tikka good for diet?

Nutritiously, chicken tikka is tasty and healthy with just about136 calories per portion, making it almost an excellent option should you be on a calorie-counting diet or wanting to eat a little healthier.

Besides, the dish incorporates a lot of different nutritious spices like cumin, ginger, garlic, and red chili that offer a wealth of benefits.

Could Indian food be so unhealthy? If yes, what are some of the meals?

No offense, but yes Indian recipes could be detrimental. It’s all spice and hot, gravies, and fattening. And when consumed in excess, the dish can be health threaten.

And some of the popular but unhealthy Indian meals you need to stop eating right now, especially for breakfast, are:

  • Medu Vada
  • Vada Pav
  • Sabudana Vada
  • Parathas
  • Toast Butter
  • Puri Bhaji
  • Misal Pav
  • Etc.


With the little you have gathered about Butter Chicken vs Chicken Tikka Masala, which will you order for dinner?

Personally I’d kill for a bowl of butter chicken. I NEVER joke with its deliciously creamy, mild taste when paired with Naan bread as well as fluffy basmati rice to make a flavoring combo or scooping up the sauce.

But since it’s a matter of personal taste, I’d advise if you enjoy a creamy curry that doesn’t have an intense flavor, then you should opt for butter chicken.

For a stronger tomato hit with a little less creaminess, chicken tikka will be your friend.

Read Also: Graham Masala Vs Madras Curry Powder


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