Is Tikka Masala Dairy Free? Dairy-Free Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe

Traditional tikka masala often contains dairy in the form of heavy cream or yogurt, which is used to create a rich and creamy texture. However, you can make a dairy-free version of tikka masala using alternatives like coconut milk, almond milk, or cashew cream. Please note that the taste and texture may vary depending on your chosen alternative.

Tikka Masala

Dairy-Free Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe


  • 2 lbs chicken, cut into chunks
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 can (14 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 1 can (14 oz) coconut milk
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • Fresh coriander for garnish


  • Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat.
  • Add the onion, garlic, and ginger, and cook until the onions become translucent.
  • Add the garam masala, turmeric, cumin, and chili powder, and cook for another minute.
  • Add the chicken pieces and cook until they are browned on all sides.
  • Add the diced tomatoes, coconut milk, and salt, and stir well.
  • Cover the pan and let it simmer for about 20-30 minutes until the chicken is cooked and the flavors are well combined.
  • Garnish with fresh coriander before serving.
  • Please ensure to adjust the spices according to your taste preference. Enjoy your dairy-free tikka masala!

Dairy-Free Indian Dishes to Make with Tikka Masala

Tikka Masala Rice Bowl: Cook your favorite type of rice (basmati is a good choice), then top it with dairy-free tikka masala. Add some roasted vegetables or chickpeas for extra protein and texture.

Tikka Masala Wraps: Use a soft tortilla or roti, add some tikka masala, fresh lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers. It’s a perfect lunch or quick dinner.

Tikka Masala Pasta: A fusion dish. Cook your favorite pasta (penne or spaghetti work well), then toss it with the tikka masala sauce for a spicy, creamy pasta dish.

Tikka Masala Stuffed Bell Peppers: Hollow out bell peppers and stuff them with a mixture of cooked quinoa and tikka masala. Bake until the peppers are tender.

Tikka Masala Pizza: Use dairy-free tikka masala as the base sauce on a pizza crust, add dairy-free cheese and your favorite pizza toppings. Bake until the crust is golden brown.

Tikka Masala Chickpea Salad: Toss chickpeas in the tikka masala sauce, then mix with fresh greens, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and a light vinaigrette.

Tikka Masala Lentil Soup: Add a generous amount of tikka masala to a pot of simmering lentils. The result is a flavorful, hearty soup.

Tikka Masala Tofu Scramble: Scramble tofu with vegetables and tikka masala for a vegan alternative to scrambled eggs. Great for breakfast or brunch.

Tikka Masala Potato Hash: Pan-fry diced potatoes until crispy, then stir in tikka masala for a spicy, comforting side dish.

Tikka Masala Veggie Skewers: Marinate vegetables in tikka masala, then grill on skewers for a tasty and healthy barbecue.

Dairy-Free Indian Dishes to Make with Tikka Masala

Tips to Ensure that You Always Eat Dairy-Free Tikka Masala

Communicate Your Dietary Needs: Inform your server or the chef about your dairy allergy or intolerance, so they can guide you accordingly.

Ask About Ingredients: Always ask about the ingredients used in the dish. Some restaurants may use cream, butter, or yogurt in their tikka masala.

Request a Customized Dish: Most restaurants are willing to accommodate dietary restrictions. Ask if they can prepare the tikka masala with a non-dairy alternative like coconut milk.

Check for Vegan Options: If the restaurant offers vegan dishes, these will be dairy-free by definition. A vegan tikka masala would be a safe choice.

Do Some Research: Look at the restaurant menu online before you go. Some establishments list their ingredients or mark dishes as dairy-free.

Consider Indian Restaurants with Health-Conscious Menus: Some Indian restaurants specifically cater to various dietary needs and may have a dairy-free version of tikka masala.

Tips to Ensure that You Always Eat Dairy-Free Tikka Masala

Frequently Asked Questions

Is tikka masala vegan?

Traditional tikka masala is not vegan as it typically contains chicken and dairy products like cream or yogurt. However, you can make a vegan version using plant-based proteins like tofu or chickpeas and replace dairy with plant-based alternatives like coconut milk.

Is tikka masala vegetarian?

Traditional tikka masala, which is made with chicken, is not vegetarian. However, you can make a vegetarian version by substituting the chicken with vegetables, tofu, or paneer (if you’re not avoiding dairy).

Is tikka masala gluten-free?

Tikka masala sauce is typically gluten-free, made from spices, tomatoes, and cream or yogurt. However, you should always check labels or ask about ingredients, as some pre-packaged sauces or restaurant versions may contain hidden gluten.

Is tikka masala healthy?

Tikka masala can be healthy with lean proteins and plenty of vegetables. However, it can also be high in fat and calories due to using cream or yogurt. Opting for a version with a lighter sauce or a plant-based cream can make it healthier.

Is tikka masala sauce dairy-free?

Traditional tikka masala sauce is not dairy-free, as it often contains cream or yogurt. But you can make a dairy-free version using alternatives like coconut milk or cashew cream.

Does tikka masala contain cream?

Yes, traditional tikka masala recipes typically contain heavy cream. The cream helps to balance the heat of the spices and gives the sauce its characteristic creamy texture.

Is roti dairy-free?

Traditional roti is usually dairy-free, made from whole wheat flour and water. However, some variations may contain ghee (clarified butter) or milk, so checking the ingredients or asking when eating out is important.

Is curry dairy-free?

Not all curry is dairy-free. Many Indian curries use ghee, butter, or cream. However, there are many types of curry from various cuisines, and some may use coconut milk or other dairy-free ingredients instead.

What can I serve with tikka masala?

Tikka masala pairs well with basmati rice or naan bread to soak up the flavorful sauce. You can serve it with brown rice or quinoa for a healthier option. A side of steamed or roasted vegetables also complements the dish well.


I live in Los Angeles with my better half, Dave, and our child, Corey. Each second with them is the acknowledgment of my fantasies working out as expected — and for that? I am so extremely thankful. Hi! I am Diana Rodriguez, the founder, author, and photographer of ATD.

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