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Easy Creamy Tikka Masala Simmer Sauce

  • Author: Lauren Grant
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 3 cups sauce 1x
  • Category: Sauce/Dip
  • Method: Stove top
  • Cuisine: Indian
  • Diet: Vegan


This Tikka Masala Simmer Sauce is creamy, flavorful and even vegan.  It's great for meal prep—just add meat (or tofu), simmer and serve over rice. Store in the freezer and reheat whenever you need a quick no-stress dinner!


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or ghee
  • 1 yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 serrano, seeded and minced
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 (28 ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 (14 ounce) can coconut milk 
  • 3 cups cooked jasmine or basmati rice and/or naan bread
  • Cilantro or mint for serving 


Heat oil in a 12-inch satué pan over medium. Add onion and 1 teaspoon salt; cook until softened and starting to brown, 8–10 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Reduce heat to medium-low and add garlic, serrano, and ginger; cook stirring frequently until onions are softened and golden brown, about 7 minutes. Stir in garam masala, cumin, and cardamom; cook 1 minute. 

Add tomatoes with juices, crushing them with your hands as you add them (or use your kitchen shears to cut them in the can). Bring sauce to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring frequently and scraping up browned bits from bottom of pan, until thickened and deep in color, 15–20 minutes. Add coconut milk and simmer until thickened, 5–7 minutes. 

Serve with rice, cilantro, and naan if desired. 


Made with olive oil, this sauce is vegan. It’s also gluten-free. 

Make it a full vegan meal: add crispy tofu, tempeh, shredded jackfruit, or cooked chickpeas.

Make it a full meal with meat: add charred chunks of cooked chicken (thighs) or lamb. Or add chunks of chicken thighs right to the sauce and simmer until cooked through. 

Keywords: tikka masala, tikka masala sauce, tikka masala simmer sauce

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