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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!


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

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

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! 


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
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 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
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 1/2 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, 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!)



  • 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.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 681Total Fat: 35gSaturated Fat: 21gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 98mgSodium: 1482mgCarbohydrates: 49gFiber: 7gSugar: 10gProtein: 48g

Did you make this recipe?

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Friday 8th of February 2019

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


Monday 18th of February 2019

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!

Sarah McElvaney

Thursday 3rd of August 2017

Oye my pantry staple is Knorr sides :D ... 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.


Thursday 3rd of August 2017

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! :)

Kara Earhart

Thursday 3rd of August 2017

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

Katie Ingle

Thursday 3rd of August 2017

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.


Thursday 3rd of August 2017

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...

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