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Chickpea Tikka Masala

This Chickpea Tikka Masala recipe is an easy dinner to whip up when the Indian food cravings hit (plus, it’s vegan!)

Vegan tikka masala with naan and rice in a white bowl

I know I’m not supposed to admit this on account of being a *food blogger* and all, but we have an ordering in problem. As in, we order dinner in more often than I care to admit.

But after a day full of cooking for the blog, sometimes you just want a hot dinner delivered to your door, ya know?

So in an effort to order in a tinsy bit less, I recreated one of my most crave-worthy Indian recipes, tikka masala! Chickpea Tikka Masala, to be exact. It’s creamy with coconut and spiced to perfection, all while being totally vegan!

Chickpea Tikka Masala Video

Vegetarian tikka masala with naan and rice in a white bowl

How to make tikka masala sauce

To make this plant-based tikka masala sauce, you’ll need a few ingredients (that you probably already have in your kitchen):

Flavor Base: Onion, garlic, and ginger lay the foundation of flavor to tikka masala. Saute them until soft and fragrant!

Spices: Then we’ll throw in garam masala (make your own here), cumin, turmeric, coriander, salt, smoked paprika.

Making vegan tikka masala in a pot

Tomato Puree: A few cans of pureed tomatoes give major umami (and that distinct color) to this Indian curry.

Canned Coconut Milk: I prefer using full-fat coconut milk here to get a full-bodied curry. Go for the canned stuff (not the cartoned milk in the refrigerator section).

Making vegan tikka masala in a pot

What to serve with tikka masala

Serve this Chickpea Tikka Masala over a bed of rice, with some homemade naan to sop up the curry! You can substitute the rice for cauliflower rice to make this dish lower in carbs (and the curry is so flavorful, you won’t tell a difference). It’s also great with fluffy homemade naan and a mango lassi on the side!

Vegan tikka masala in a pot with a ladle to serve it

Variations of this tikka masala

Tikka masala isn’t an exact science, and there are a lot of fun variations you can try out to make it your own! Here are some ideas:

  • Cauliflower: Cut cauliflower into florets and us it in place of the chickpeas! Steam or microwave the cauliflower before adding it into the curry.
  • Paneer: For even more Indian-inspired flavor, panfry cubes of paneer and use them in place of (or with) the chickpeas.
  • Tofu: Tofu also makes a great protein in this curry (here’s how I get my tofu crispy)
  • Store Bought Chicken Substitute: The plant-based “chicken” options are getting pretty good nowadays! You could try using some in this curry!
Vegan tikka masala with naan and rice in a white bowl
Vegan tikka masala with naan and rice in a white bowl

Chickpea Tikka Masala

This Chickpea Tikka Masala recipe is an easy dinner to whip up when the Indian food cravings hit (plus, it’s vegan!)
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Dishes, Soups
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: tikka masala, vegan curry, vegan tikka masala
Diet: Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Occasion: Valentine’s Day
Time: 30 minutes or less, 45 minutes or less
Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Total: 20 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 526kcal
Author: Sarah Bond
4.64 from 19 votes


  • 1 Tbsp olive oil 15 mL
  • 1 white onion chopped, about 1 cup
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 Tbsp fresh grated ginger
  • 1 Tbsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp each cumin, ground coriander seed, turmeric, smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 15-oz cans chickpeas drained, 425 g cans
  • 2 15-oz cans tomato puree 425 g cans
  • 1 14-oz can full-fat coconut milk 400 g
  • Serve with: rice, sliced naan, cilantro


  • Saute: Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and ginger, cooking until soft and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add seasonings and continue cooking for 2 minutes.
  • Combine: Add chickpeas, tomato puree, and coconut milk. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until hot and simmering.
  • Serve: Serve hot over a mound of rice with sliced naan, optionally garnishing with fresh cilantro.


Serving: 1serving (does not include rice and naan) | Calories: 526kcal | Carbohydrates: 69.9g | Protein: 15.1g | Fat: 24.3g | Saturated Fat: 16.9g | Cholesterol: 0mg | Sodium: 1198mg | Potassium: 1548mg | Fiber: 14.7g | Sugar: 14.1g | Calcium: 100mg | Iron: 8.6mg
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PS: This tikka masala is great for meal prep!

Vegan tikka masala with naan and rice in meal prep containers

Hi, I’m Sarah!

Showing you how to make easy vegetarian recipes, one ingredient at a time.  Read more

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Comments (31)

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Recipe Rating

  1. Renuka says:

    As an Indian I would never cook chickpeas this way. The recipe would be okay if either the coconut milk or the tomato puree is omitted. And where is the Tikka?

    1. Sarah says:

      Thanks for dropping in Renuka! I wanted to provide a lighter/vegan option for folks who didn’t want cream, yogurt, or chicken in their tikka masala, so coconut milk and chickpeas were the answer πŸ™‚

  2. Sanjay says:

    Hi Sarah,

    I think “tikka” means cooked in Indian grill( tandoor), whether it’s chicken, paneer, cauliflower or onions. However, any oven can replace the tandoor. Most importantly there should be some sort of grilled flavour in the recepie. In your recipe even if you grill onion and tomatos then it would justify the name “tikka” and bring that smoky flavour in to the dish. I would also garnish my dish with freshly chopped coriender.

    1. Sarah says:

      Thanks for the tips, Sanjay! πŸ˜€

  3. Jessica says:

    Hi Renuka. May I ask how you would make it? I made this tonight, but I’d love to try a more traditional recipe.

  4. Nandita says:

    I think what we are trying to say is that, out of respect for the culture that this dish is attributed to, perhaps call it something other than “tikka masala.”

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Nandita, I’ll definitely consider it moving forward. Thanks so much for letting me know πŸ™‚

  5. Mom of Two says:

    This was super yummy! AND both of my boys (11 and 14) ate it- so there’s the proof!! I made it in the instant pot. Dumped it all in, mixed it, and set it at low pressure for 4 minutes.
    Came out perfectly! (Oh and I used the can of coconut milk.) Thnx for sharing!

    Not sure if it’s technically tikka, but it sure is tastey. πŸ™‚5 stars

    1. Sarah says:

      So happy to hear! And thanks for the Instant Pot tip, that’ll be useful for others looking to make this even quicker! πŸ˜€

  6. Elizabeth Fine says:

    This meal looks very simple and delicious. Can’t wait to try it. My daughter is refusing meat and lucky i found your website.

    1. Sarah says:

      I hope you and your daughter love it! Enjoy πŸ˜€

  7. glenda says:

    On the Chickpea Tikka Masala, is it 1 TBS garam masala and the 2 tsp each of cumin, coriander seed, turmeric and smoked paprika? Maybe its 1 TBS garam masala OR the other spices?

    1. Sarah says:

      Great question Glenda! It’s garam masala AND the other spices (though you could probably sub the spices for more garam masala, giving you a slightly different flavor profile).

  8. Rebecca says:

    Made this last night but didn’t have any turmeric, it was delicious and made a ton!
    Do the leftovers freeze well?5 stars

    1. Sarah says:

      So happy to hear it, Rebecca! I haven’t tried freezing it, but I think it would work. The coconut milk may split a little, so the texture could be slightly grainy after freezing.

  9. Jill says:

    Quite tasty and easy. For nutritional purposes, strongly suggest using brown or red rice – white rice (as shown) is not a healthy ingredient. Thank you!

    1. Sarah says:

      Definitely! Quinoa would be another good one πŸ™‚

  10. ISAURA says:

    I also love this dish, quick to prepare and delicious
    !5 stars

    1. Sarah says:

      So happy to hear it, Isaura! πŸ˜€ Thanks for dropping a note!

  11. Manisha says:

    Looks tasty! How long do you let it cook once all the ingredients are combined?

    1. Sarah says:

      Anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes! Just until it’s all hot πŸ˜€

  12. Alice says:

    I don’t know what the traditional dish calls for, but boy! this recipe was delicious! The flavor profile reminded me all of the tikka masala I’ve eaten pre-vegetarian days. Thank you for sharing your recipe, Sarah!5 stars

    1. Sarah says:

      So happy to hear it, Alice! Enjoy! πŸ˜€

  13. Michelle says:

    Absolutely loved this. Loved how quick it all came together. I had rice and naan just waiting to go with this dish. I’d like to give it a little kick. What do you suggest for a little spice? Glad to read that freezing may not be a good idea. I will freeze one portion and see how it goes. I want to tag you on Instagram are you on there?5 stars

    1. Sarah says:

      So happy to hear it, Michelle! You could add a pinch of chili powder or even some fresh hot peppers. Also, I’d love to hear how it goes if you try freezing! I’m on Insta as @liveeatlearn πŸ˜€

  14. Katy says:

    I followed the recipe, using canned chopped tomatoes as it was what I had in the pantry.

    I found the sauce very runny so ended up using an entire catering sized can of chickpeas to bulk it out. I then also added more spices, probably almost doubling the original recipe amounts.

    Everyone ate it, even the fussiest of our blended family of nine, and there were plenty of leftovers.

    It may not fit the official definition of tikka, but it was certainly delicious!5 stars

    1. Sarah says:

      I’m happy you found adjustments to make it work for you and the family! Enjoy! πŸ˜€

  15. Erin D says:

    Quick, easy, delicious, and mild-yet-flavorful enough that even my pickiest eaters went back for seconds! Thank you.5 stars

    1. Sarah says:

      So happy to hear it, Erin! Enjoy! πŸ˜€

  16. Jessica says:

    My husband, who’s not super excited about Indian food, loves this recipe! The large quantity of spices is key. We usually make it with tofu instead of chickpeas because my kids like their chickpeas plain, LOL! It’s also really good with shrimp or broccoli.
    I generally make a double batch so we can freeze half of it and pull it out when we need a quick dinner. We think it freezes really well.
    I’ve learned how to make naan, so we usually have it with fresh naan. Amazing!!5 stars

    1. Sarah says:

      I’m so happy to hear it freezes well for you guys, and those additions all sound delish! Thanks for letting us know how it went! πŸ˜€