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Paneer Butter Masala vs Paneer Tikka Masala: 12 Things You Need To Know

Indian cuisine is favored by millions around the globe. How can each dish be so versatile yet include so many of the same ingredients? 

In this article, we are going to explore the difference and similarities between two of the most popular Indian dishes along with some surprising facts.

Paneer butter masala vs. paneer tikka masala, which one will be the winner?

1. The Difference Between Paneer Butter Masala vs Paneer Tikka Masala

Difference Between Paneer Butter Masala vs Paneer Tikka Masala

To the naked eye, it is hard to tell the difference between the two. However, by reading on, you will see that both dishes are not the same at all. 

Paneer Is Cooked Differently

The tell-tale differentiation is the way the paneer is cooked. The paneer in a tikka masala is grilled separately before being added to the gravy. In a butter masala dish, the paneer is simply added to the tomato base and is cooked through by the heat of the liquid. 

Paneer Tikka Masala Is Spicier

Paneer tikka masala is noticeably spicier than a butter masala which is often considered ‘tangy’ and ‘sweet’ to the taste. 


Paneer tikka masala is not as velvety or as smooth as a butter masala. In fact, tikka masala dishes do not contain as much gravy, and therefore the consistency is much thicker. 

2. Paneer Butter Masala vs Paneer Tikka Masala: The Similarities

Now let’s take a look at the similarities between these mouth-watering curries.

Similar Ingredients

Both dishes involve similar ingredients with a few additions here and there. The following items are included in each:

  • Onions
  • Fresh tomatoes
  • Garlic cloves
  • Butter 
  • Salt

The difference lies in the spices used in each, which we will take a look at further down. So keep reading! 

Similar In Colour

Both dishes take on an orange or red appearance when complete. However, this may be affected by how much cream you desire. Paneer tikka masala dishes tend to be more or a red colour, whereas butter masala is lighter due to the cream used. Chopped coriander leaves are often used to garnish each curry, along with an optional spoonful of yogurt for the finishing touch.  

3. Paneer Butter Masala vs Paneer Tikka Masala: What Spices Are Used In Each?

The table below outlines the spices used in each dish. While both contain a number of the same in each, we can see that there are additional spices used in each. The variety of spices is what sets each dish apart. 

Paneer Tikka MasalaPaneer Butter Masala
Red chili powderRed chili powder
Paprika Green chili 
Garam masalaTurmeric 
Coriander powderCoriander powder
GingerKasuri methi (Fenugreek leaves)
Cinnamon stickDried Red Chillies
Curry powder 

4. Which Is Better, Paneer Tikka Masala or Paneer Butter Masala?

This comes down to personal preference. If you enjoy spicy food, then a paneer tikka masala may be your preferred choice. If you enjoy mild curries, then you might enjoy a paneer butter masala more. There is no right answer, so the choice is yours! 

5. Paneer Butter Masala vs Paneer Tikka Masala: Both Dishes Are Vegetarian

Yes, both dishes are vegetarian but feel free to add meat if you feel like it. When we think of tikka masala, many of us expect a chicken dish. However, paneer tikka masala only contains paneer. The same can be said about butter masala, as it is often associated with its sister dish, butter chicken. 

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Kadai paneer vs tikka masala is another comparison that may be of interest to you.

6. Paneer Butter Masala Originated From Delhi In The 1950s

The dish was supposedly first introduced to the world by Punjabi’s in the 1950s. Legend has it that the recipe was first concocted in the Moti Mahal restaurant. It has since become a firm favorite, particularly among young children, as it is not as spicy as other Indian curries. 

7. Tikka Masala Was First Made In Glasgow

According to history, the tikka masala dish was invented by a Bangladeshi chef based in Glasgow in the 1970s. It is thought that in order to please his customer, the chef added a mild, creamy sauce to the dish. Although it is difficult to find much evidence to prove this, it does make sense. Indian cuisine is extremely popular throughout the Western world, but many cannot hack the spiciness! 

8. The Term ‘Masala’ Means Mixed Spices

You may have often wondered why so many Indian curries contain the word ‘masala’. This is the name given to the mixture of spices included. It makes sense if you think about it. It would be pretty long-winded if the name of every spice was in the title! 

9. You Can Make a Vegan Version Of Both Dishes

You Can Make a Vegan Version Of Both Dishes

Indian cooking is renowned for its use of butter, cream, and other animal products (mainly meat). However, there is nothing wrong with opting for a plant-based diet. There has never been a better time to switch to non-animal products, as vegan food is all the rage in this day and age. Paneer can be swapped for tofu or other vegetables, including mushrooms, potatoes, and corn kernels. 

The addition of cream or yogurt can also be swapped for a non-dairy alternative. To make a butter masala creamier, you can use extra cashew nuts. 

If you, or someone else, suffers from nut allergies, you can always swap cashew nuts for the following:

  • Watermelon seeds
  • Poppy seeds
  • Sunflower seeds

10. Similar Dishes Using Paneer

Shahi paneer vs paneer butter masala

The paneer used in Shahi paneer is the star ingredient. The recipe includes onions, a selection of spices, and the use of cashew paste. It is often served with roti and steamed rice. For more details about Shahi paneer vs paneer butter masala, please check out our other article.

Paneer butter masala vs Kadai paneer

Kadai paneer is a simple dish that focuses on the four main ingredients; onions, tomatoes, green peppers, and paneer. 

The name ‘Kadai’ refers to the pan in which the dish is cooked. This curry is also known as a karahi paneer. 

For more details about Paneer butter masala vs Kadai paneer, please check out our other article.

11. Paneer Butter Masala vs Paneer Tikka Masala: How Is Each Dish Served?

Paneer tikka masala is a popular Indian starter dish that can be served with naan/paratha/kulcha. Similarly, paneer butter masala can also be served with:

  • Naan
  • Roti
  • Steamed rice
  • Basmati rice
  • Jeera rice

These delicious curries are a popular choice during special occasions, including parties and weddings. 

 Here is a video on how to prepare an authentic paneer tikka masala:

12. Paneer Tikka Masala vs Paneer Butter Masala: Preservation Methods

It is so easy to make too much curry, and there is nothing wrong with that! There is no need to be wasteful, so instead, we’ll let you know how best to preserve it! 

Air-tight containers are essential when storing leftovers and can be left in a refrigerator for up to 3 days. Ideally, you may want to freeze whatever you have left, and you won’t need to worry about whether or not it is safe to eat. 

Tip: If you have leftover rice, it is best to get rid. Reheating rice can be harmful as bacteria can form on parts that are uncooked. If you choose to refrigerate rice, be sure to consume the leftovers within 1 day.

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