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Delicious Homemade Chicken Tikka Masala | Dairy-Free

by Capri Lilly
Published: Last Updated on

Chicken Tikka Masala is made with luscious cashew cream, dairy-free yogurt marinated chicken, and aromatic spices. This outstanding dish is a rich, robust, flavorful Indian staple that can be made at home in one pot.

If you’re looking for more dairy-free Indian dishes, try my Dairy-Free Butter Chicken next!

Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe goodfoodbaddie

Indian food is my favorite type of cuisine! Unfortunately for me, some of the Indian dishes I love the most are loaded with dairy: yogurt marinated chicken, and heavy cream in the sauces. Since I live a dairy-free lifestyle, it means I have to forgo some of my favorite dishes. Instead of saying goodbye to traditional Chicken Tikka Masala forever, I decided to try to recreate this dish without the dairy. 

After some trial and error, I have nailed it! This creamy, dairy-free Chicken Tikka Masala is phenomenal! It also passed the dairy lover’s taste test! I made this dish for a dinner party and everyone gobbled it up!

delicious dairy free chicken tikka masala

How do you make Chicken Tikka Masala?

Chicken tikka masala is a lot easier to make than it seems! You may very well have all the ingredients you need at home and if not, you can easily find what you need in the grocery store. Authentic Chicken Tikka Masala is made with yogurt marinated chicken that is chargrilled for immense flavor. To save time, and recreate this delicious dish easily at home, we are making this Chicken Tikka Masala in one pot— our favorite type of recipe! 

How to make Chicken Tikka Masala dairy-free?

You may be wondering, “How can we make this yogurt marinated chicken in a heavy cream sauce dairy-free?” Well, don’t you worry! I have figured out the perfect non-dairy substitutes to recreate this incredible dish!

To make this Chicken Tikka Masala Dairy-Free I use Forager’s Project Yogurt to marinade the chicken. It is a cashew-based yogurt and it has quickly become my favorite yogurt. It has a perfect consistency, similar to Greek yogurt, and it is also vegan, soy, and refined sugar-free.  No affiliate posting or collaboration, just my honest love for the brand!

As for the heavy cream substitute, I have tested multiple options and luscious homemade garlic cashew cream blew me away. Cashew Cream is so quick and easy to make at home and it is the perfect non-dairy substitute for cream. With its smooth, creamy consistency and ability to absorb whatever flavors it is mixed with, it is the perfect addition to this dish! (If you want to learn more about cashew cream and how to make it check out this post.)

one pot chicken tikka masala dinner

Marinating the Chicken (breast or thighs)

This is the most important step. This marinated chicken is what brings this dish to life! You can use chicken thighs or chicken breasts. Chicken thighs are great because it quickly absorbs the flavors of the marinade (up to 1-hour minimum) and the bones help to give the sauce an even richer flavor. 

I use chicken breast, which works perfectly too! If using chicken breast, it is best to cut the chicken breast into large cubes and marinate it for at least 2 hours. If time permits, marinating the chicken overnight provides even more flavor as the yogurt and lemon tenderize the chicken and help it better absorb all of the seasonings.

Browning the Chicken

For this Chicken Tikka Masala dish, I’ve tried cooking the chicken breast multiple ways. In the recipe instructions below, I brown the chicken cubes first in a pan and set them aside to add to the sauce for later.

I have also skipped this step and browned the chicken cubes in the tomato paste mixture (before adding tomato puree). I cooked the chicken for about 5-7 minutes. This dish turned out perfect both ways! So, feel free to cook the chicken either way.

If you are using chicken thighs, I would suggest browning the chicken first before adding to the sauce.

Spices Needed for Tikka Masala

  • Garam Masala
  • Ground Corriander 
  • Cumin
  • Tumeric
delicious chicken tikka masala recipe

To make the robust flavors that enhance this dynamic dish you will need to use these spices. Don’t be shy when it comes to seasoning this dish. You’ll be pleasantly surprised as the savory flavors compliment this creamy tomato-based sauce.

easy chicken tikka masala recipe

Variations on this recipe

This Chicken Tikka Masala recipe is dairy-free. However, if you do not mind dairy, you can make this recipe exactly the same, but instead of using non-dairy yogurt you can use regular plain yogurt and instead of cashew cream you can use heavy cream. 

To note: If you do not have cashews to make cashew cream, you can also sub 1 (13oz) can of full-fat coconut milk. The results are similar, but the coconut milk will add a subtle sweetness to the dish. 

What to serve with Chicken Tikka Masala?

This dish is best with a side of hot, fluffy Basmati Rice and Naan! I also enjoy making Crispy Chickpeas and having them on the side with vegetables. With this delicious tikka sauce poured on top, you cannot go wrong with any side!

easy chicken tikka masala recipe-2

I hope you enjoy this Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe!

If you try the recipe, don’t forget to rate the recipe and let me know what you think in the comments below! Take pictures, tag #goodfoodbaddie, and share them with me on Instagram! I love seeing my recipes come to life in your kitchen.

More Dinner Ideas!

Chicken Tikka Masala Dairy-Free

Chicken Tikka Masala is made with luscious cashew cream, dairy-free yogurt marinated chicken, and aromatic spices. This outstanding dish is a rich, robust, flavorful Indian staple that can be made at home in one pot.
4.95 from 36 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dinner, Main Course, Sauce or Marinade
Cuisine: Gluten-Free, Healthy Options, Indian
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 526kcal
Author: Capri Lilly

Ingredients

For the Marinade

  • 1 1/2 pounds Boneless Chicken Breast
  • 1/2 Lemon, juiced
  • 5 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 3 tsp Fresh Ginger, minced
  • 1 cup Forager's Dairy-Free Yogurt (or other plain non-dairy yogurt alternative)
  • 2 tsp Garam Masala
  • 2 tsp Cumin
  • 1 tsp Turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp Salt

For the Chicken Tikka Masala

  • 2 tbsp Cooking oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 7 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp Tomato Paste
  • 2 tsp Garam Masala
  • 2 tsp Cumin
  • 2 tsp Ground Coriander
  • 2 tsp Turmeric
  • 1 tsp Red Crushed Pepper
  • 1 tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 tsp Sea Salt, plus more to taste
  • 28 oz Tomato Puree (or petite diced tomatoes)
  • 2 cup Cashew Cream
  • 2 Jalapenos, roughly chopped (optional)

For the Cashew Cream

  • 24 oz Water
  • 1 1/2 cup Raw Cashews
  • 2 cups Chicken Broth
  • 2 Garlic Cloves

Instructions

  • Cut the chicken breast into medium bite-sized cubes. In a large bowl, combine cubed chicken breast with all of the ingredients for the marinade. Let the chicken marinate for at least 1-2 hours, or overnight if time permits. 
  • In a large skillet or dutch oven, over medium heat add ~2 tbsp olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add chicken pieces and saute for 2-3 minutes on each side (no more than 6 minutes). Cook chicken in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan. Remove the chicken when it becomes golden on the outside and set aside. The chicken will finish cooking in the sauce.
  • In the same pan, add 2 tbsp cooking oil. (You can wipe the remains of the chicken out first if you like.) Next, add onion and saute for 5 minutes. Then, add garlic and ginger and saute for an additional 2 minutes (making sure to stir continuously to prevent burning).
  • Add tomato paste to the mixture and stir well. Add the remaining seasonings to the mixture and saute for about 30 seconds, until fragrant.
  • Add the diced chicken and remaining marinade and mix well, saute for about 2-3 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Pour in the tomato puree and mix well. Add chopped jalapenos (optional). Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • While the chicken tikka masala is simmering, prepare the cashew cream. Bring 24 ounces of water to a boil. In a bowl, pour the water over 1 1/2 cup of cashews and allow the cashews to soak for 15 minutes.
  • After 15 minutes, drain the cashews and add to a high-powered blender with 2 cups chicken broth and 2 garlic cloves. Blend until smooth, about 1-2 minutes.
  • Add the cashew cream to the sauce and stir well. Over medium-high heat, allow the dish to cook for 5-10 minutes, until the sauce is thick and bubbling.
  • Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve with basmati rice and naan. Enjoy!

Nutrition

Calories: 526kcal

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55 comments

Jessica May 17, 2020 - 7:02 pm

5 stars
I love this! Looks so creamy and delicious, I can’t wait to try it for dinner! One pot meals are my favorite.

Reply
Capri Lilly May 21, 2020 - 6:07 pm

Aren’t one-pot meals the best! I hope you enjoy this one!

Reply
Emese May 17, 2020 - 7:28 pm

5 stars
I love tikka masala. I have never tried making one at home but it is one of my go-to dishes I order when eating out. I might just try this recipe first as it looks pretty close to what I would expect. Creamy and rich with flavors.

Reply
Capri Lilly May 21, 2020 - 6:06 pm

Definitely! I’ve been making tikka masala at home often! It’s even better homemade 🙂

Reply
Chris Collins May 17, 2020 - 7:40 pm

5 stars
Chicken tikka masala is my all time fave! You’ve made it look so easy and delicious!!

Reply
Capri Lilly May 21, 2020 - 6:05 pm

I promise, it’s super easy! Hope you enjoy!

Reply
Jordin May 17, 2020 - 8:57 pm

5 stars
Wow talk about a delicious and comforting meal! My family would love this recipe, I will need to make it asap!

Reply
Mama Maggie's Kitchen May 18, 2020 - 8:09 am

5 stars
This Chicken Tikka Masala Dairy-Free is making me super hungry that I could hear my tummy growl! I just can’t wait to go to my kitchen and check if ingredients are avialabe.

Reply
Capri Lilly May 21, 2020 - 6:05 pm

Hi Maggie! I hope you enjoy! 🙂

Reply
Teresa April 1, 2021 - 5:46 pm

5 stars
Looks great and making as we speak 🙂
I’m a bit of a cooking newbie! Silly question, can this be batch made and frozen? Thanks

Reply
Capri Lilly April 1, 2021 - 6:01 pm

Hi Teresa! I’m exited for you! This is one of my fav dishes! You can most definitely freeze it and save it for later. Just I thaw it overnight in the fridge when you are ready to enjoy it!

Reply
Summer Hussain June 25, 2020 - 3:00 pm

5 stars
Yummy! I made this dish for my husband and me last night! We loved it. I served it over mashed potatoes and I enjoyed every bite!

Reply
Ungria July 8, 2020 - 2:28 am

5 stars
I just made this today and it was SO delicious! Let me know if you have a recipe for the crispy chickpeas. Thank you so much

Reply
Capri Lilly July 8, 2020 - 2:52 am

Hi Ungria! I am so happy you enjoyed the recipe! I will most definitely share a recipe for the crispy chickpeas!

Reply
Katie October 27, 2020 - 1:16 am

5 stars
This looks so good! I know my family will go crazy for this.

Reply
Capri Lilly October 27, 2020 - 2:09 am

It’s such a great dish! I hope you and your family enjoy it!

Reply
veenaazmanov October 27, 2020 - 2:30 am

5 stars
This is definitely a flavorful and festive dish. I love your recipes and the spices used . Creamy and delicious and yum too.

Reply
Capri Lilly October 27, 2020 - 2:46 am

Hi Veena! I am so happy that you like the recipe!! 🙂

Reply
Jessie October 27, 2020 - 4:36 am

5 stars
I can say I have never had much Indian food but this sounds amazing!! I am going to be trying this soon.

Reply
Capri Lilly October 27, 2020 - 5:11 am

I am excited for you to try it! Hope you like!

Reply
Dannii October 27, 2020 - 9:05 am

5 stars
This is my favourite curry to order, but I prefer making a lighter version at home. This looks delicious.

Reply
Creamy Wild Rice Mushroom Soup | Vegan + GF - Good Food Baddie December 9, 2020 - 9:44 pm

[…] Dairy-Free Chicken Tikka Masala (SO GOOD!) […]

Reply
Raquel January 8, 2021 - 5:46 pm

5 stars
So delicious! Tikka Masala is a favorite of ours!

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Debra January 8, 2021 - 8:15 pm

5 stars
Loved this dairy-free version….that was still nice and creamy.

Reply
Capri Lilly January 8, 2021 - 9:49 pm

Hi Debra! I am so glad you enjoyed it!

Reply
Alexandra January 8, 2021 - 10:03 pm

5 stars
This is so full of flavour – the perfect dinner!

Reply
Audrey January 8, 2021 - 10:33 pm

5 stars
So good!!! I can’t believe it’s dairy free

Reply
Capri Lilly January 8, 2021 - 11:02 pm

Hi Audrey! I am so happy you enjoyed the recipe!

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Kim Guzman January 8, 2021 - 11:41 pm

5 stars
I’m so glad to have found this recipe. I’ve been timid to try it but you make it look so easy.

Reply
Capri Lilly January 11, 2021 - 5:41 pm

It’s super easy with this recipe! I hope you enjoy it!

Reply
Jess January 9, 2021 - 2:58 am

5 stars
I adore a Indian food and this is one of my favorite dishes to order! I can’t wait to try to make this at home!

Reply
Capri Lilly January 11, 2021 - 5:43 pm

It’s one of my favorites as well! I hope you enjoy the recipe!

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Lizet Bowen January 9, 2021 - 6:23 pm

5 stars
Every time we make it, it turns out perfect. Great recipe.

Reply
Capri Lilly January 11, 2021 - 5:44 pm

Thank you!! I am happy you enjoy the recipe!

Reply
Swathi January 10, 2021 - 1:17 am

5 stars
Chicken tikka masala looks yum

Reply
Ksenia Prints January 18, 2021 - 3:20 pm

5 stars
Chicken Tikka Masala is a takeout favourite of mine!!! Love this adaptation.

Reply
Patrick McMullen June 12, 2021 - 2:34 am

3 stars
I followed recipe to a T. It’s great for the most part but tastes super acidic compared to any I’ve had from restaurants. I think I’ll try half the lemon juice next time

Reply
Capri Lilly June 13, 2021 - 4:46 pm

Hi Patrick! I am sorry to hear that you found the recipe acidic. I’ve never had that problem before. It could possibly be the yogurt you used or the tomato sauce. To cut the acidity, next time you can add a teaspoon or two of butter {vegan or regular} or sugar. Thanks for leaving a review!

Reply
Katie July 20, 2022 - 4:31 pm

It’s also good to make sure you use plain yogurt and double check it’s not greek yogurt

Reply
Jen July 21, 2021 - 10:53 pm

5 stars
This curry was creamy, delicious and bursting with flavor. I served mine with bread and it was amazing! I can’t wait to make this again.

Reply
Capri Lilly July 22, 2021 - 8:43 pm

Hi Jen! I am glad you enjoyed the recipe! Thanks for leaving a review 🙂

Reply
Chenee July 26, 2021 - 1:30 am

5 stars
I love that this chicken tikka masala is dairy free! I made it for a couple friends who don’t love dairy and they were raving about it!

Reply
Capri Lilly July 27, 2021 - 9:13 pm

Hi Chenee! I am so happy to hear it!!

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Robin July 26, 2021 - 4:33 am

5 stars
I served this over quinoa and it was a complete success.

Reply
Marta July 27, 2021 - 11:59 am

5 stars
Delicious recipe! One of my favorite Indian dishes and your flavors were on point.

Reply
Capri Lilly July 27, 2021 - 9:12 pm

Hi Marta! I am so happy to hear you enjoyed the recipe! Tikka Masala is one of my favorite Indian dishes too!

Reply
Shanna Jones July 27, 2021 - 11:32 pm

5 stars
This is one of my absolute favorite Indian dishes! And wow…the flavors were exactly what I expected. I had never attempted this recipe at home until I tried yours! Very easy to follow and so good.

Reply
Capri Lilly July 28, 2021 - 5:46 pm

Hi Shanna! I am glad you found the recipe easy to follow! Thanks for leaving a review 🙂

Reply
Jazz July 28, 2021 - 4:53 pm

5 stars
Made this for dinner for my dad the other day with coconut cream and he has already requested I make it regularly!

Reply
Capri Lilly July 28, 2021 - 5:46 pm

Hi Jazz! That makes me so happy! Thanks for leaving a comment!

Reply
Kaluhi July 28, 2021 - 5:12 pm

5 stars
This is one of the best things i have ever put in my mouth! So juicy! So flavorful!

Reply
Victoria August 25, 2021 - 2:01 am

Any suggestions for the cashew cream if one does not have a high powered blender?

Reply
Capri Lilly August 25, 2021 - 2:20 am

Hi Victoria, a food processor would work as well.

Reply
Janet November 29, 2021 - 9:45 pm

5 stars
Excellent recipe! Serving mine over riced cauliflower. Question about the cashew cream – had some left over – how long can it last in frig in air-tight jar?

Reply
Capri Lilly November 29, 2021 - 9:52 pm

I am so glad you enjoyed it! I just made myself a large batch of this recipe today!!
You can store any leftover cashew cream in an airtight container for up to 5 days in the fridge (give it a good stir before using again). If you’re looking for ideas on how to use your extra sauce, I have a few pasta (& dessert) recipes on my site! Thanks for leaving a review 🙂

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