Chicken Tikka Masala (GF / DF)

Curry is one of my food addictions and I don’t care who knows it. I especially love a good, spicy curry during the cooler months, when all you want is a nice bowl of something warm and filling. This version of Chicken Tikka Masala is close to the original, but is a little different because of my food allergies to certain spices and dairy products. It’s also lighter on the calories and waistline since it’s both gluten and dairy free. Only don’t tell your family…they’ll never believe something with such rich, vibrant flavor isn’t laden with heavy cream and butter.

Chicken Tikka Masala from

If you’ve never had Chicken Tikka Masala before think of it as a creamy tomato sauce with a slight kick. In place of heavy cream, I use a can of coconut milk. Sounds weird, but I promise it adds incredible flavor to an already amazing tomato-based sauce. I mean, the thickness of the coconut milk (coconut fat) is used as dairy free whipped cream. Think about that silky texture in the sauce. It may not be heavy cream, but I guarantee it’s so yummy you’ll never miss the dairy.

One trick to getting a perfectly balanced curry–full of savory flavor–is making sure you sauté your onions until they’re golden. Not caramelized, but perfectly golden. Like this:

Golden onions for curry sauce from

Once your onions look like the picture above (about 15-20 mins on a medium heat, adjusting if necessary) add your garlic and curry blend. You want the spices to release their full potential, and toasting them is a great way to infuse hours of flavor into your sauce in a short amount of time. The curry blend with the onions and garlic should look like this while you’re toasting it for a minute or two:

Golden onions for curry sauce from

After your curry is toasted and is finished hanging out with its garlic and onion friends, add the coconut milk and tomato sauce, stirring until everything is evenly mixed. Turn the heat down, toss in the chicken and simmer until you’re ready to serve.

Chicken being added to tikka masala via

You can either dig into it right away, or, if you’re a stronger person than me, you can let it sit there stewing in all its glorious goodness while you’re waiting for your sides. (Some people actually prefer to cook the chicken in the sauce, but I usually sauté it first out of personal preference.)

Chicken Tikka Masala from

Speaking of sides, I love serving coconut rice and homemade naan with this meal, and highly recommend taking a few extra minutes to whip up your own naan. I’ve got a quick and tasty gluten free / dairy free naan recipe that can be found here. It takes about five minutes to prep, an hour for the dough to rise, and then another 15 minutes to cook them on a skillet. I’d start your dough first and let it sit while you’re chopping up onions and sautéing the chicken. By the time the sauce is ready and simmering, your dough should be ready to go.

Gluten Free / Dairy Free homemade garlic naan bread.

When you’re tearing pieces of fresh bread off and dunking them in the silky, spicy goodness of the sauce, you’ll be so thankful for the extra work. In fact, I’d double the naan recipe and freeze whatever you don’t finish. Then you’ll have naan ready to go the next time you make Chicken Tikka Masala….

Because I guarantee you’ll be making it again soon. REALLY SOON. Because…addictions.

Chicken Tikka Masala from

Here’s what you’ll need for your dairy free / gluten free Chicken Tikka Masala tonight:

Chicken Tikka Masala (GF / DF)

Chicken Tikka Masala (GF / DF)


    For the curry blend:
  • 2 Tablespoons curry
  • 1 Tablespoon garlic powder
  • 2 Tablespoons ground ginger
  • 2 Tablespoons garam masala (here's my recipe for homemade garam masala, but you can use a pre-bought one)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • For the sauce:
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Curry blend from above
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • 1 (28 oz) can of Hunt's sauce (or any tomato sauce)
  • For the chicken:
  • 1.5 lbs. boneless/skinless tenders
  • garlic powder
  • onion powder
  • salt
  • cinnamon
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Fresh cilantro to garnish the dishes


  1. Mix all ingredients for curry blend together and set aside in a bowl.
  2. In a deep skillet or non-stick pan add diced onions and 1/4 cup of vegetable oil. Cook on medium for 15 - 20 minutes, until onions are nice and golden. (Not carmelized. Turn your heat source down if they’re cooking too quickly.)
  3. Add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil to another skillet and set on medium high heat.
  4. Lightly cover both sides of chicken tenders with garlic powder, onion powder, cinnamon, and salt.
  5. Sauté chicken on both sides until cooked through. Cut into 1 inch pieces and set aside.
  6. When the onions are golden, add minced garlic and sauté for an additional minute or two.
  7. Next add the curry blend and stir around bottom of pan for a minute, letting the spices release all their aromatic goodness.
  8. Add coconut milk and Hunt’s sauce to onions and curry blend. I like to add water to the Hunt's can and fill about halfway then add it to the sauce too. Stir until well mixed.
  9. Toss chicken in and turn down to a simmer.
  10. Cover and simmer until ready to serve! And don't forget the fresh cilantro on your dish - it really adds to the flavor profile.

*I’ve noticed the printable recipe doesn’t appear in the email notification. Be sure to click through to the website for the full/printable recipe card for your recipe box. 

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