bowl of chicken tikka masala over rice with another bowl of tikka masala

Chicken Tikka Masala – paleo, whole30

  • Author: Allie
  • Prep Time: 20
  • Cook Time: 40
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 5-6 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Indian


Warming Indian spices, rich tomato flavor, and luscious coconut milk make the perfect Paleo chicken tikka masala dish!



For the marinade

  • 2 pounds chicken thighs, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt or plain non-dairy yogurt (see note. You can omit the yogurt for whole30)
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 5 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon each ground cumin and ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon each ground coriander and red chili powder

For the tikka masala dish

  • 20 oz tomato passata (or tomato puree)
  • ½ cup water plus more as needed
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
  • 1 ½ tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons butter or ghee, divided
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream or coconut cream (for whole30, Paleo preparations)
  • 1 teaspoon each ground turmeric, coriander and red chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons each of ground cumin and garam masala
  • Avocado oil
  • Rice or Cauliflower rice for serving
  • Cilantro for garnish (optional)


  1. Mix and combine the ingredients for the marinade and add the cut chicken thighs. Marinate for as long as possible, preferably overnight, before cooking
  2. In a large heavy-bottomed dutch oven or deep skillet heat about 2 tablespoons avocado oil over medium high heat. Working in batches, sear and brown the chicken thigh pieces, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer pieces to plate and keep warm in 200 degree oven while you prep the sauce
  3. Drain the dutch oven of excess oil, but keep the browned bits in the bottom. These will add lots of flavor
  4. Melt two tablespoons butter/ghee over medium high heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic and cook another minute until fragrant
  5. Add the spices (cumin, turmeric, coriander, chili powder and garam masala) to the onions and toast for 30 seconds
  6. Add the tomato passata and ½ cup of water and simmer for 10 minutes to let flavors combine
  7. Using an immersion blender, carefully puree the tomato spice mixture until smooth
  8. Add in the heavy cream (or coconut cream if using), remaining tablespoon of butter/ghee and chicken and its juices. Simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 10 more minutes. Add water as needed to thin the sauce to desired consistency
  9. Serve chicken and sauce over rice, cauliflower rice, or with side of your choosing


  1. To make my own non-dairy yogurt, I like to use coconut cream and apple cider vinegar. Combine a cup of coconut cream and 2-3 teaspoons apple cider vinegar. Check for acidity and add more vinegar if needed
  2. I can find tomato passata at my local Whole Foods. Look near the canned tomatoes, but if you can’t find it, feel free to swap with peeled crushed tomatoes or tomato puree (not tomato paste!)

Keywords: indian, paleo, tikka masala, whole30, chicken tikka