Tikka Masala

I love Chicken Tikka Masala, but an authentic recipe requires an overnight marinade, grilling, a multitude of ingredients, and many dirty dishes. So, I set out to create a flavor that was pretty close, but could be made by anyone in less than 30 minutes in just one pot.

Photo courtesy Miranda Shultz

Garam masala spice blend which gives this dish its signature flavor can now be found in many conventional grocery stores, but you’ll get it fresher and cheaper at a health food store in their bulk spices section. The same goes for turmeric if you don’t have it in your spice collection already.  If you’ve never visited and tried bulk spices at a health food store, you’re missing out. The savings are substantial and you can purchase only the amount you need for a recipe.  If you’re not sure you will like a recipe, you are not stuck with a $6 bottle of spice you’ll not use again.

Quick One Pot Chicken Tikka Masala
**Vegetarian and Vegan option at the bottom of the recipe**

2 TBS Coconut Oil
2 chicken breasts cut into 1” pieces
1 medium onion, diced
1 TBS garlic
3 medium tomatoes finely diced or pulsed in food processor/chopper
1 heaping TBS garam masala spice
½ teaspoon turmeric
juice of ½ lime (1 TBS)
salt and pepper to taste (start with 1/2 teaspoon of each)
handful chopped cilantro leaves and stems (fine chop stems)
1/3 cup of plain Greek yogurt (heavy cream or sour cream can be substituted)

Chicken Tikka Masala Ingredients
Photo courtesy Miranda Shultz

Heat the oil in a dutch oven or large frying pan over medium heat. Add cubed chicken breast, onion, and garlic. Cover. Stir a few times in the first five minutes and when it starts to brown, remove the lid and stir frequently to keep from sticking/burning.  When the chicken is browned to your liking, add tomatoes and their juices and cover again for a few minutes. If a sauce isn’t forming because your tomatoes weren’t very juicy, add in ¼ to ½ cup of water. Add lime juice,  garam masala, turmeric, and salt pepper and stir until well combined. Stir in cilantro—use a small amount if you’re not sure, and you can add more as a garnish. Reduce heat to low and simmer for at least 5 minutes. Stir in the Greek yogurt. Adjust seasonings needed. If your tomatoes weren’t quite ripe and make the dish a little bitter, add a pinch of sugar.

Serve over rice and/or steamed veggies.  Green beans, cauliflower, and zucchini all are good, but any veggie you’d eat in a curry is a good choice. Approximately 4 servings, but recipe can be doubled or tripled easily.

Chicken Tikka Masala over veggies
Photo courtesy Miranda Shultz

**You can also make this recipe vegetarian by substituting the chicken for vegetables and/or beans. Suggested substitution from Whitney D:  Use 1 head of cauliflower cut into bite size pieces. Add at the beginning, like the chicken. When adding the tomatoes, cover & let it cook until the cauliflower is soft. Then add a 15 oz can(2 cups) of garbanzo beans at the end and heat through. To make it vegan, use vegan sour cream or yogurt. **

Photo courtesy of Whitney Donohue
Photo courtesy of Whitney Donohue

If you cannot find garam masala spice you can make your own with commonly found spices.

4 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon nutmeg
pinch of cayenne pepper (or more to taste)

Mix well. You can increase proportionately to make as much as you’ll need for this or other recipes. This will make more than you’ll need for this recipe, so still remember to measure when making the chicken tikka masala.


  1. Just made this dish and it was amazing! The only change I made was adding 2TBSP of olive oil with 2TBSP of cream of coconut since I have a limited grocery store selection and couldn’t get the coconut oil. Whole recipe was simple and easy and my husband and I haven’t had marsala chicken this good since we went to London!

  2. Excellent! I made this a couple nights ago, using canned tomatoes to save some time on chopping (I recommend blending/food processing a third or half of canned tomatoes to make it more “saucy). For some reason I have a hard time getting chicken to brown, especially if i’m cooking it covered because all the moisture condenses. But it didn’t seem to matter in the end. Threw in a can of chickpeas and sprinkled with roasted cashews. I recommend adding the lime gradually, to taste. As a side dish alternative to rice, I used basket veggies I had on hand: I mashed about 4 large boiled potatoes with a roasted acorn squash, added garram masala spice, yogurt and chopped green onions – YUM. My new favorite mashed potatoes I think.

  3. Laura Garcia

    Oh my goodness! That looks delicious. Chicken Tikka Masala is one of my favorites, too. I’m gonna get adventurous and try this. Thanks!

  4. Tammie Duckworth

    Great post! I am going to try this with paneer and chick peas.

  5. JoAnn Williams

    This sounds delish and is gluten-free! Thanks for sharing!

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