How many calories in a restaurant chicken tikka masala?

Chicken tikka masala is one of the most popular Indian dishes, known for its mildly spiced tomato-cream sauce and tender pieces of chicken. It’s a fixture on Indian restaurant menus and takeout options. But like many restaurant dishes, chicken tikka masala can be high in calories due to its rich sauce and cooking methods. So how many calories are actually in a restaurant order of chicken tikka masala? Let’s take a closer look.

Calories in Chicken Tikka Masala Dish Components

To determine total calories, we need to examine each component of a chicken tikka masala dish:


The chicken in tikka masala is usually boneless, skinless breasts or thighs. A 3-ounce portion of boneless, skinless chicken breast contains about 110 calories, while the same amount of boneless, skinless thigh contains around 120 calories.[1] An average restaurant chicken tikka masala dish contains around 6-8 ounces of chicken. So the chicken alone contributes 220-320 calories.

Yogurt Marinade

Chicken tikka gets its signature flavor from a marinade of yogurt, spices, and lime juice. Nonfat plain Greek yogurt contains around 100 calories per 8-ounce serving.[2] The marinade likely adds 50-100 calories to the dish.

Tikka Masala Sauce

The creamy tomato-based tikka masala sauce is the star of the dish. It’s made with tomatoes, cream, butter, spices, and aromatic ingredients like garlic, ginger, and onion. One cup of plain tomato sauce has around 90 calories.[3] Add in cream, butter, and seasonings, and the sauce can contribute 300-400 calories to the total.


Chicken tikka masala is usually served with basmati rice. A 1/2 cup serving of plain basmati rice contains around 200 calories.[4] Many restaurants serve 1 cup or more of rice, totalling 400+ calories.

Standard Serving Sizes of Chicken Tikka Masala at Restaurants

To get an accurate calorie count, we need to look at typical serving sizes of chicken tikka masala at different types of restaurants:

Indian Restaurant

Authentic Indian restaurants tend to serve lighter, less creamy versions of chicken tikka masala. A typical plate contains:[5]

– 6-8 oz chicken
– 1-1.5 cups basmati rice
– 1-1.5 cups tikka masala sauce

This would total around 600-800 calories.

Indian Takeout or Delivery

Takeout and delivery portions are often larger. A typical order may contain:[6]

– 8-12 oz chicken
– 2 cups rice
– 2 cups sauce

Total calories: 800-1200

American Casual Dining Restaurant

In American chains, the portions get even bigger. Expect to see:[7]

– 10-14 oz chicken
– 2-3 cups rice
– 2-3 cups creamy sauce

Calories for these mega-sized portions can range from 1000-1600.

Factors that Alter Calories in Chicken Tikka Masala

Certain factors can further increase or decrease the calories in a restaurant chicken tikka masala dish:

Style of Sauce

Some restaurants use heavier cream and butter for an ultra rich, creamy sauce. This can add significant calories. Spicier versions may use less cream.

Protein Options

Dishes made with dark chicken meat or lamb will be higher in calories than white meat chicken. Paneer (cheese) or tofu options are lower calorie substitutes.

Side Dishes

Indian restaurants serve samosas, pakoras, naan and other fried, high-calorie sides that can add hundreds more calories if part of your meal.

Cooking Oil

The type of oil used impacts calories. Healthier low-calorie options include olive, avocado or peanut oil. Avoid dishes cooked in coconut oil, ghee or butter which are extremely high in saturated fat and calories.

Portion Size

Larger portions mean more calories. Opt for lunch portions or kid’s sizes for smaller, more reasonable serving sizes. Or take home leftovers.


Extras like chutneys, fried onions, nuts and dried fruit all pack extra calories. Load up cautiously.


Skip the fried appetizers, creamy dips, and sugary drinks which drive up your meal’s calorie count. Fill up instead on raita, a cool yogurt-cucumber dip, and light lentil dal on the side.

How Many Calories Should You Consume?

How do you know if your chicken tikka masala has a reasonable calorie count? Here are some calorie benchmarks to aim for based on your gender and activity level:[8]

Gender Sedentary Moderately Active Active
Women 1,600-2,000 2,000-2,200 2,400
Men 2,000-2,600 2,400-2,800 3,000

So a dinner of chicken tikka masala in the 500-800 calorie range is a good target for most adults. Consider sharing a takeout order or taking half home to cut the calories in half.

Healthiest Ways to Order Chicken Tikka Masala

You can still enjoy the rich flavors of chicken tikka masala while making healthier choices:

– Choose white meat chicken, paneer or tofu as the protein
– Ask for brown rice or naan instead of white rice
– Request mild or medium spice level for less cream
– Opt for olive or vegetable oil-based dishes
– Pick lower calorie side dishes like mint chutney or raita
– Share or take home half your order
– Enjoy a tall glass of iced tea instead of sugary drinks

Being mindful about your choices when dining out can let you indulge in this popular Indian dish while still being calorie-conscious. Monitoring portion sizes and extras is key.

Healthier Homemade Chicken Tikka Masala

When homemade, you can control all the ingredients and portions. Here’s a recipe for healthier chicken tikka masala:[9]


For the marinade:

– 1 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
– 1 tablespoon lemon juice
– 2 teaspoons cumin
– 1 teaspoon garlic powder
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

For the masala:

– 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced
– 2 teaspoons olive oil
– 1 small onion, diced
– 1 tablespoon minced garlic
– 1 tablespoon minced ginger
– 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
– 1 (15 oz) can crushed tomatoes
– 1 cup chopped tomato
– 1 teaspoon garam masala
– 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
– 1/4 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
– 1/4 cup chopped cilantro


1. In a bowl, combine marinade ingredients. Add chicken and turn to coat. Refrigerate 30 minutes.
2. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cook onion 5 minutes until translucent. Add garlic, ginger and jalapeno. Cook 1 minute more.
3. Add crushed tomatoes, tomato, garam masala, turmeric and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Simmer 10 minutes.
4. Remove chicken from marinade and add to skillet. Cook 10 minutes until chicken is cooked through.
5. Turn heat to low. Stir in yogurt and cilantro just until combined. Serve immediately with rice and naan.

This healthier homemade version cuts the calories in half compared to takeout options. Serve with 1/2 cup basmati rice and whole wheat naan for a 500 calorie meal.


Chicken tikka masala can range widely in calories depending on preparation methods and portion sizes. At authentic Indian restaurants, orders are typically 600-800 calories. But takeout, delivery, and American chain restaurants can pack well over 1,000 calories per serving. Stick to white meat, minimize creamy sauces and extras, share portions, and take home leftovers to keep calories under control when enjoying this popular Indian dish. Making it at home using lower fat ingredients allows you to create a flavorful, significantly lighter chicken tikka masala.

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