On The Table

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Creamy Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe

A traditional Indian chicken tikka masala recipe can take hours on end. The outcome might be worth the time and effort, but our version takes a quick 30 minutes and tastes just as great!

Creamy Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe

Chicken tikka masala originated in India, Scotland… Well, there is much debate on the culinary ties of this dish is tethered. 

Despite its much-debated origin, one thing is for sure: Chicken tikka masala is a worldwide favorite. And with its creaminess, warmth, and vibrancy, it is easy to see why!

Chicken tikka masala is traditionally prepared with marinated chicken, requiring steps of covering, refrigerating, and, well, waiting for hours.

But we expedited the preparation process without compromising the flavors. In fact, serve up restaurant-style tikka masala in just a quick 30 minutes! 

Learn what makes chicken tikka masala such a favored meal, along with prep ideas for dairy-free and vegan-friendly options!

Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe

Yield: 6 servings 

Nutrition per serving: 200 calories, 8 g fat, 26 g protein, 8 g total carb, 2 g fiber

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes


• 1 Tbsp olive oil
• 1 small yellow onion, diced
• Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
• 1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1" pieces
• 3 Tbsp tomato paste
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated or minced
• 1 1/2 tsp garam masala
• 1 1/2 tsp turmeric
• 1 1/2 tsp ground coriander leaves
• 1, 15-oz can tomato sauce, no salt added
• 1 cup prepared chicken stock
• 1/4 cup heavy cream
• 2 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped


1. Heat olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Once hot, add onions and cook for about 3 minutes. 

2. Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Add chicken to the pot and sear on all sides until golden, about 5 minutes.

3. Stir in tomato paste, garlic, ginger, garam masala, and turmeric until fragrant, about 1 minute.

4. Stir in tomato sauce and chicken stock. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally. After about 10 minutes, the sauce should be reduced and slightly thickened.

5. Stir in heavy cream and allow to heat for about 1 minute.

6. Garnish with fresh cilantro and lemon juice as desired.

Prepping & Pairing Suggestions

Chicken tikka masala can be served with a number of side dishes to ignite flavor. So if you loved this recipe, you do not want to miss out on the pairing suggestions below.

The dish is also simple to modify to best accommodate certain dietary needs and preferences, including dairy-free and vegetarian-friendly diets. 

Pair with Authentic Indian Side Dishes

If you loved this recipe, you are going to love the pairing suggestions! 

Delicious ideas include serving hot alongside cumin basmati rice and chana masala. Tucking into naan bread is a tasty win, too!

Cumin basmati rice: Cumin basmati rice, or traditionally known as jeera rice, is a popular Indian rice dish prepared with fragrant spices. The 4-ingredient recipe takes a quick 30 minutes to prepare, too!

• Riced cauliflower: For a lower-carb and calorie option, prepare and serve with riced cauliflower. Add fragrant spices to liking, including cumin, turmeric, and mustard seed.

Chana masala: Chana masala is a chickpea-based side flavored with tomato puree, onion, turmeric, garam masala, and other warm spices. 

• Naan bread: Naan is an Indian flatbread often served alongside tikka masala. The soft bread is perfect for scooping up juicy dishes, including this tikka masala recipe!

Prepare a Vegetarian Option

With the side dishes list above being plant-based, there are also ways to make tikka masala vegetarian-friendly.

The spiced tomato sauce pairs well with most veggies, including: 

• Bell pepper
• Carrot
• Cauliflower
• Peas
• Sweet potato

For a boost of protein, add a plant-based protein such as:

• Chickpeas
• Lentils
• Seitan
• Tempeh
• Tofu

Make the Dish Dairy-Free

For a dairy-free tikka masala, sub out the heavy cream with coconut milk. Using full-fat coconut fat will offer greater creaminess and richness to the dish. 

While this recipe is expedited, tikka masala is customarily marinated in whole milk yogurt. If wishing to marinate, continue to use coconut milk or unsweetened, vegan yogurt. 

Use Chicken Thighs or Other Chicken Cuts 

Our tikka masala recipe uses lean chicken breast but feel free to use other chicken pieces such as chicken thighs.

Dark meat cuts are higher in saturated fat and calories compared to white meat. However, dark meat tends to offer more iron, zinc, and other nutrients while being great sources of protein.