Break out the barbeque grill and add a little spice to your life with these Indian takeout inspired Chicken Tikka Masala Skewers with Cilantro-Lime Dipping Sauce. They’re great for weeknight meals, delicious as leftovers served on a big salad, and a fantastic addition to your next backyard gathering. Note: This recipe originally appeared on the blog on July 25, 2017. It’s been updated with tips for making it more meal prep-friendly but the recipe has not changed.
When favorite foods collide
To say that I get excited about this recipe is an understatement. I get over-the-moon ecstatic whenever I make them because I love, love, love Indian food. And I love kebabs and skewers (like these Grilled Pork Kebabs with Peanut Sauce and these Teriyaki Chicken and Pineapple Kebabs) of all kinds. So naturally, these are a go-to in my house.
Though I love just about every Indian dish on the menu at my local curry shop, I often come back to Chicken Tikka Masala. Not only because I know my kids will eat it but because it’s so good with it’s thick, creamy tomato sauce and warm spices. It’s not complicated, just delicious, and comforting (like all food should be, IMHO).
Dip it like you mean it
While the Cilantro-Lime Dipping Sauce is totally optional, I’d highly recommend it. Especially if you plan to add a little extra cayenne pepper to the marinade to give these Chicken Tikka Masala Skewers a little heat.
The dipping sauce is made with yogurt but you can make it (and the skewers themselves) dairy-free by swapping out the plain yogurt for non-dairy yogurt or even full-fat canned coconut milk. The dipping sauce will be a little thin if you use coconut milk but adding a dollop of mayo will easily remedy that issue.
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Ingredients for Chicken Tikka Masala Skewers with Cilantro-Lime Dipping Sauce
- Chicken breast tenders – Tenders are convenient though they can be a bit pricey so consider swapping out boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs cut into 1-inch wide strips
- Plain yogurt – The acidity of the yogurt in the marinade keeps the super-lean chicken breast nice and tender.
- Lemon juice – Adds flavor and acidity to the marinade to tenderize the chicken.
- Tomato paste – Add richness and natural sweetness to the marinade.
- Spices – While it’s a longer list than you’ll typically find in our recipes, don’t let that scare you away. We suggest doubling or tripling the amount of spices in a separate bowl and storing what you’re not using now for another time. Keep spice mix in a jar with a tight-fitting lid in the pantry for up to 3 months.
- Lime juice – Adds a bright tanginess to the Cilantro-Lime Dipping Sauce
- Ground ginger
- Salt and Pepper
You’ll also need wooden or metal skewers and a grill. But if you don’t have either of these, don’t sweat.
You can also make these Chicken Tikka Masala Skewers in your oven. Here’s how:
- Position the top oven rack in the upper third of the oven.
- Turn the oven to broil (‘High’ works best, which is about 450ºF on most ovens)
- Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with foil and spray with non-stick oil spray.
- Arrange the marinated chicken in a single layer (on or off the skewers) on the baking sheet and broil 5 minutes. Flip the chicken over and broil an additional 5 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink inside (or registers 165ºF on an instant-read thermometer).
Tips for Meal Prepping or Prepping Ahead
For Meal Prepping
- Make the skewers as directed and allow to cool before removing the chicken from the skewers to a lidded storage container. Store in the fridge for up to 4 days.
- Make the Cilantro-Lime Dipping Sauce as directed. Store in a jar or other container with a lid in the fridge for up to 4 days.
- To Reheat Skewers:
- In the oven: Chicken can be reheated in a covered dish in the oven or toaster oven at 350°F. Adding a little water (about 2 Tbsp) to the bottom of the dish will keep the chicken from drying out.
- On the stovetop: Place chicken and a little water (about 2 Tbsp) to a skillet over medium-high heat. When the water starts to simmer, place a lid on the skillet and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook until chicken is heated through.
- In the microwave: Place chicken on a microwave-safe plate and heat 1-2 minutes or until chicken is steaming and heated through.
To Prep Ahead
Prepping ahead is great if you have time to cook later in the week but don’t want to make a recipe start to finish. It’s also a good compromise for those who like to prep ahead to get a head start on the week but also love a freshly-cooked meal when it’s time to eat.
- Prep the chicken – If you’re not using chicken tenders, you can slice boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs into 1-inch-wide strips and store in a covered container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- Make the marinade – Prepare the marinade as directed and store in a jar or other container with the lid in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- Make the dipping sauce – Prepare the dipping sauce as directed. Store in a jar or other container with a lid in the fridge for up to 4 days.
For the Skewers
- 2 lb. chicken tenders (or boneless, skinless breasts cut into 1-inch wide strips)
- ⅓ cup plain whole milk yogurt*
- Juice of ½ lemon
- 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
- 2 tsp. garam masala
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- ½ tsp. onion powder
- ½ tsp. ground turmeric
- ¼ tsp. ground ginger
- ¼ tsp. ground coriander
- ¼ tsp. chili powder
- ¼ tsp. cayenne (optional)
- 1 tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. black pepper
- 2 Tbsp. avocado oil
For the Sauce
- ¾ cup plain whole milk yogurt*
- Juice of ½ lime
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 bunch of fresh cilantro, bottom 2-3 inches of stems removed
- ¼ tsp. ground ginger
- ½ tsp. salt
- ⅛ tsp. black pepper
- If using wooden skewers, place them in a shallow pan or baking dish filled with water and allow them to soak for at least 30 minutes.
- Place chicken tenders in a glass bowl. Add lemon juice and plain yogurt, stirring to coat.
- Combine remaining ingredients (tomato paste through oil) in a small bowl. Add spice mixture to the yogurt coated chicken and mix well to combine. Allow chicken to marinate for up to 30 minutes in the fridge while you prepare the Cilantro-Lime Dipping Sauce.
- Place all ingredients for the dipping sauce in a blender or food processor. Blend to combine. Taste and add additional salt and pepper, as desired.
- Preheat the grill to medium-high heat (425-450℉).
- Thread chicken onto the skewers then grill for 4-5 minutes per side or until cooked through. Serve with Cilantro-Lime Dipping Sauce.
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* For Dairy-Free: Substitute unsweetened, plain non-dairy yogurt or full-fat canned coconut milk for whole milk yogurt
- Serving Size: 1 skewer with 2 Tbsp. sauce
- Calories: 226
- Fat: 7g
- (Sat Fat: 190mg)
- Sodium: 662mg
- Carbohydrate: 8g
- (Fiber: 1g
- Sugar: 3g)
- Protein: 33g
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