This Vegan Chicken Tikka Masala recipe is a spin off of the the Indian classic – without the meat or dairy, but with just as much flavor! It is seriously so rich and delicious you could probably trick your dinner guests into thinking that you ordered it from your favorite Indian restaurant.

Instead of chicken, I used super firm tofu for its meaty texture. I drained and pressed the tofu to get as much liquid out as possible, then broke it into pieces to give it more of an organic shape, but you can also cut it into cubes if you would prefer. Next I marinated the tofu in coconut milk, lemon juice, and spices while I prepared the Tikka Masala sauce, and then baked it to help it take on more of the flavor from the marinade and firm up more.

I was so excited to discover this way of preparing tofu, that I have made it again and just eaten it on its own. But the Tikka Masala sauce takes it to a whole new level. Just you wait!

Don’t forget to make a batch of my amazingly delicious (and easy) vegan naan to soak up all of that yummy sauce with!

Vegan Chicken Tikka Masala

For the marinated tofu
  • 1 block of super firm tofu, pressed and cubed
  • ⅓ cup canned coconut cream
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper


For the masala sauce
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger (about a 1-inch piece), grated or finely minced
  • 1 serrano pepper, seeded (for less spice) & diced 
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1, 14 oz. can tomato sauce 
  • 1, 14 oz. can coconut milk, light or full-fat
  • 1 cup coconut cream (use the remainder of can used for marinade/naan)
  • 1 tablespoon coconut sugar
  • 2-3 cups baby spinach or your favorite leafy green 


For serving
  • Garlic naan
  • White or brown basmati rice
  • Fresh cilantro


Order of Operations

  1. Prep the naan dough (if making) and set aside to rise. 
  2. Slice the block of tofu into 4 slices and place on a clean kitchen towel or paper towels. Fold the towel over the top of the tofu so it covers the slices, and gently press to remove excess liquid. Remove from the towel and use your hands to break slices into 1” pieces. 
  3. In a tupperware with a lid or ziplock bag, add the coconut cream (melt if needed), lemon juice, cumin, garam masala, turmeric, salt & pepper and mix to combine. Add the tofu to the mixture and shake gently to coat. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes. 
  4. Chop the onion, garlic, ginger, and serrano pepper. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  5. In a large, deep skillet or pot, heat 2 tablespoons avocado oil over medium-high heat. Once hot, add 1 ½ teaspoons cumin seeds and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Next, add the onion, garlic, ginger, and serrano and saute for about 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent.
  6. Add the following spices and stir to combine. Let cook for 1 minute more. 
      • 2 teaspoons garam masala
      • 1 ½ teaspoons sweet paprika
      • 1 teaspoon turmeric
      • 1 teaspoon coriander
      • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
      • ½ teaspoon black pepper
      • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
  7. Stir in the can of tomato sauce and coconut milk, the coconut cream, and 1 tablespoon coconut sugar. If the sauce seems too thick add a little water, 1-2 tablespoons at a time. Adjust seasoning to taste.
  8. Bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover and let it simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in greens and let wilt. 
  9. While the sauce is simmering, remove the tofu from the refrigerator and arrange on a lined baking sheet so that there is a little space between each piece. Bake for 15-20 minutes. 
  10. Meanwhile, make the naan (see recipe below). 
  11. Remove the tofu from the oven and stir into the sauce. Serve sauce over rice with a sprinkle of fresh cilantro and naan on the side.