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Super Easy Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe

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This easy Chicken Tikka Masala recipe is ready in about 20 minutes thanks to the pre-made masala paste that turns this into a pantry-staple, quick make meal your family will love!

This easy Chicken Tikka Masala recipe is ready in about 20 minutes thanks to the pre-made masala paste that turns this into a pantry-staple, quick make meal your family will love! 
A bowl of chicken tikka masala with rice on a wooden table


A bowl of chicken tikka masala on a blue napkin with fresh cilantro


Even the best laid plans sometimes go awry. I mean, I am a huge proponent of meal planning, but even I have days where dinner is a struggle – I don’t feel like what I have scheduled, or sometimes comes up, or heaven forbid I forget an ingredient at the store. uuuuuuuuugh that’s the worst! (I am so not admitting how often that happens….)


A white wooden table with two bowls of chicken tikka masala and rice, with naan on the side


Having easy melas you can make with pantry staples you have on hand is super important. One of our favorite meals for times like these is Chicken Tikka Masala, and its one we turn to often – either through ordering take out or through ready made simmer sauces. The problem with the store-bought summer sauces is, while they are indeed quick, cheap, and easy – they are sooooo not at all healthy. And we have never really found one we liked, either. And we’ve tried just about all of them.


Two bowls of chicken tikka masala with rice and two naan breads on a blue napkin


While I enjoy making Chicken Tikka Masala from scratch, sometimes you just need something SUPER easy, you know? Thats why I am super excited to share this recipe with you!

The trick is you pre-make a masala paste with just a few aromatic ingredients and then you divide it into 6 portions and freeze it for when you need it! As long as chicken, tomato sauce and coconut milk are things you regularly stock in your pantry, you will be ready to eat in about 20 minutes! And if you don’t regularly stock these items in your kitchen, here is your personal written invitation to start. Because awesome delicious dinners should be hella easy. It’s flavorful and lovely without being spicy or too harsh.


Two bowls of chicken tikka masala with rice and naan on a white wooden table with a blue napkin and silver fork


Speaking about meal planning and making these as easy for yourself as possible, another item you NEED to have in your life is a handy-dandy planner to keep all the pieces of your life together. I am madly in love with my Day Designer planner and I think you all need to be as well. It has one day per page, with plenty of room for timed events, lots of space for notes, to-do lists, a spot for you to write down important things to do that day, meal plan, and tons of other space.


I have spent a lot of time and money trying to find a system that works for me, and I gotta say – This is the one that works! I would be totally and 100% lost without my Day Designer!


For real.


Some days I even feel like I need to write down “take a shower” – ok that was a total lie. I have written that down before... But between the girl’s activities, work, and home things, I NEED a space where I can write everything down and not feel overwhelmed. And that’s why I am SO dang reliant on my Day Designer !


Serve this chicken tikka masala recipe with some cucumber raita on the side! Not only does it offer a cool and refreshing contrast to the curry, but it also helps cool down the spice level for any sensitive palates.


A bowl of chicken tikka masala with rice on a wooden table


Get Your Kids in the Kitchen:

  • Kids 0-3: Can help measure out ingredients for the paste and pour the tomato sauce and the coconut milk
  • Kids aged 4-7:  Can help squeeze lemon juice, help measure out the masala paste into freezer baggies, and help stir the saucepan.
  • Kids aged 8-12: Can help cut the chicken (with assistance).


A bowl of chicken tikka masala with rice on a wooden table

Super Easy Chicken Tikka Masala

This easy Chicken Tikka Masala recipe is ready in about 20 minutes thanks to the pre-made masala paste that turns this into a pantry-staple, quick make meal your family will love! 
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Course: One Pan
Cuisine: Indian
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 681kcal
Author: Jenni


Masala Paste:

  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 1 small red onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 " piece of ginger peeled
  • 3 TBSP garam masala
  • 1 TBSP mild chili powder
  • 1 TBSP Turmeric (affiliate link)
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 ½ tsp ground cloves
  • 2 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ cup sliced almonds
  • a handful of cilantro leaves
  • juice of 1 lemon

Chicken Tikka Masala

  • 1 portion masala paste about 1/4 cup
  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast
  • ½ cup plain yogurt
  • 1 ½ cups tomato puree
  • 14 oz can coconut milk full fat

For serving:

  • Rice
  • Cilantro
  • Naan


Masala Paste:

  • In a food processor, combine the yellow onion, red onion, garlic, ginger, garam masala (affiliate link), chili powder, turmeric, cumin, cinnamon, cloves, salt, cayenne, cilantro, almonds and juice of 1 lemon.
  • Blend until you form an even and thick pate.

Chicken Tikka Masala:

  • Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces and toss with the yogurt. Set aside.
  • Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat with 1 TBSP of olive oil.
  • When warm, place the masala paste in the skillet and stir for 30 seconds - 1 minute, until the paste becomes nice and fragrant.
  • Add in the chicken/yogurt and cook until mostly cooked through, stirring frequently.
  • Pour in the tomato puree and the coconut milk and allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat and allow to sit for a few minutes to let the sauce thicken up a bit.
  • Spinkle with chopped cilantro and serve with either rice or naan (or both!)
  • Enjoy!


  • You will need to thaw out your masala paste for a few hours before using it - it doesn't have to be totally thaw, just not rock solid.
  • This makes enough masala paste for 6 meals - each meal makes 4 servings - so there are 24 servings in total.


Serving: 1g | Calories: 681kcal | Carbohydrates: 49g | Protein: 48g | Fat: 35g | Saturated Fat: 21g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 98mg | Sodium: 1482mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 10g


  1. Spaghetti is usually what I reach for when I need something fast and easy that I know the kids will eat. I’m also known for “mommy surprise.” It’s a stirfry type mix of whatever I have on hand. It’s a surprise because it’s always different. Put cheese on top, and the kids will almost always eat it. 🙂

    1. You can’t go wrong with pasta and red sauce when you need a quick and easy meal!! Love the idea of your “mommy surprise!”

  2. I don’t have a pantry staple favorite. But this looks like it could possibly end up on the list to try!

  3. I hate to admit it but loose meat (ground beef) sandwiches with homemade pickles and pork n beans!

  4. I don’t know that I have a “pantry staple,” but I do have a freezer staple! A recent discovery is Bird’s Eye zucchini lentil pasta. So good.

  5. My favorite pantry staple meal has to be tacos!!!

  6. I love Indian food, and this looks wonderful! One of my pantry staples is chickpeas to make chana masala or chickpea gyros!

  7. Shelley Blechar says:

    Spaghetti (booooooooooring). I’m excited to get this recipe from you because I have a freezer full of Thai curry paste so this sauce will be a nice addition to mix things up!

  8. Katie Ingle says:

    Pantry staple is probably rice so this dish would work great.
    Just one question. Is this spicy? I am not a huge spicy fan and only can handle a little.

    1. It is spiced flavorfully, but not SPICY HOT – My children can eat this no problem. My husband always adds hot sauce to his, because he likes his entire intestinal tract to be on fire when he eats food…

  9. Kara Earhart says:

    My family’s favorite staple seems to be rice right now! We usually do cauli rice, but being pregnant has made me want real rice haha

  10. Oh goodness – probably my hubby’s arroz con pollo. Whenever we can’t decide what to eat, he pulls out the pinto beans and rice and away we go. SO much flavor – just like this tikka! 🙂

  11. Sarah McElvaney says:

    Oye my pantry staple is Knorr sides 😀 … and Italian beef sandwiches. aside from the meat, it’s peppercinis and zesty italian dressing mix. <3 SO easy, variations of it has been on our table once a week for the last few months.

  12. This looks yum! Is there a non-dairy substitute I could use for the yogurt?

    1. Hi Naomi! I am not really familiar with cooking with non-dairy yogurts, but you could probably exchange it for coconut milk or a non-dairy based yogurt. You will have to do some experimenting! When you find out what works best, please come back and let me know! I will add a note for others!

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