This classic creamy Indian dish is full of flavor and spice, and can be made in your slow cooker or Instant Pot!! Instant Pot Chicken Tikka Masala only takes 10 minutes of prep time. A super simple weeknight dinner that is sure to be a crowd pleaser! Paleo, Keto, and Whole30.
Using the Instant Pot for a Nutritious and Quick Dinner!
I am not sure how many of you have an Instant Pot, but if you haven’t quite jumped on that bandwagon yet, let me just introduce you.
It cooks meals with the same taste and texture of the slow cooker, but it can cook in the shortest time EVER. Like take this Tikka Masala for example. It took me 20 minutes from start to finish! WHAT?!?! Pretty crazy I know.
As a nutritionist, I am always looking for the best ways possible to make nutrient dense meals in the easiest and fastest way possible. We are doing all of that here with Chicken Tikka Masala! It’s loaded with anti-inflammatory spices, protein, and healthy fats in the form of coconut milk. So cozy, and a perfect way to warm your body on the inside!
What is Chicken Tikka Masala?
One of my absolute favorite Indian dishes!! Chicken Tikka Masala is a tomato and cream based chicken Indian dish with classic spices such as turmeric, and garam masala. In some variations, yogurt or heavy cream is used. In my rendition, we use coconut milk or coconut cream for the creamy portion!
Typical Chicken Tikka Masala is normally made for hours and served a day later. But with a slow cooker or Instant Pot, all the flavors meld much faster.
How to make Chicken Tikka Masala in the Instant Pot:
This bright and flavorful dish was whipped up on a busy school night last week. Full of flavor and spice (but not spicy), a little creamy texture with the coconut milk, and just downright delicious!
- Select the saute function on the Instant Pot. Once hot, saute the onion, garlic, and ginger in oil.
- Now add in the spices, chicken, tomatoes, and broth. Secure the lid and cook on high pressure for 8 minutes.
- Once cooking is complete, add in the coconut milk, lemon, and cilantro.
How do I make in the Slow Cooker?
- For the slow cooker, mix together the onion, ginger, garlic, and spices with tomatoes in a bowl. Pour in the bottom of the slow cooker, and nestle the chicken on top.
- Top with chicken broth and cook on low for 4 hours. At the end of cooking, stir in coconut milk, lemon, and top with cilantro to serve!
- After you saute the veggies, use the chicken broth to “de-glaze” the pan. Make sure to scrape any browned bits in the IP after adding the broth to help prevent the burn signal.
- Do not add the coconut milk until the end! This helps for the Tikka Masala to be extra creamy and prevents the separation that sometimes happens with coconut milk.
- Below I’ve given directions for BOTH the instant pot and slow cooker. I’ve tried them both and love it equally. It really just depends on time constraints. If you are working all day and don’t have time to program a slow cooker, the Instant Pot may be a great solution for you. If you have a very busy afternoon and want dinner done when you arrive home, the slow cooker option is probably better.
Chicken Tikka Masala works perfectly over rice or cauliflower rice, with salad, or naan. I top with some fresh cilantro to give the dish an nutritional punch, but also balance out the bold flavor.
Store in the fridge for up to 1 week (the flavors get better after the first day). You can also freeze this dinner for up to 3 months and bring to room temperature up before heating on the stovetop.
Other Indian Dishes to make:
We love Indian food, and here are a few of our absolute favorite Indian dinners:
- Slow Cooker Chicken Korma
- Slow Cooker Chicken Vindaloo
- Indian Butter Cauliflower
- Cauliflower Rice Chicken Biryani
Slow Cooker (or Instant Pot) Chicken Tikka Masala
This easy Chicken Tikka Masala recipe comes together in less than 30 minutes using the Instant Pot! You can also make in the Slow Cooker with minimal prep time.
- 2 tbsp olive oil or avocado oil
- 1 small onion chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 1- inch piece of ginger peeled and chopped
- 2 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper optional
- 1 14 oz can diced tomatoes with juice
- 1.5 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 1/2 cup canned coconut milk
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp arrowroot starch optional
- Chopped fresh basil or cilantro optional
For the Slow Cooker:
Mix together onion, ginger, and garlic with tomatoes in a small bowl. Add in all the spices and continue to whisk until well blended. Place on the bottom of the slow cooker, add chicken on the top, then chicken broth.
Set the slow cooker to low, and cook for 4 hours. Once cooking is complete, add in 1/2 cup coconut milk. Remove chicken for a minute to shred or cut, and place back into slow cooker. If mixture is too watery, add in arrowroot starch to lemon juice. Add to slow cooker for an extra 10-15 minutes and mixture thickens. If not using arrowroot starch, add the lemon juice and serve immediately with fresh basil or cilantro. Season with salt.
For the Instant Pot:
Select saute on your instant pot and turn to high heat. Once pot is hot add olive oil, ginger, onion, and garlic. Cook for 3-4 minutes stirring until onion is translucent.
Select cancel, and add all the spices to the onion mixture scraping the bottom to form a paste. Add the tomatoes, stir, then nestle the chicken on top. Pour chicken broth on top. Secure the lid.
Select manual and cook on high pressure for 7 minutes.
Once cooking is complete, use a quick release. Remove the lid and chop chicken (a fork is fine since it will be nice and tender). Place chicken back into the Instant Pot.
Select saute, and simmer for another 4-5 minutes. Add in coconut milk. If mixture is too thin, add in arrowroot starch to the lemon juice, then pour into mixture.
Season with salt as needed, and once mixture is thick, serve immediately with fresh basil or cilantro.
*RECIPE UPDATE!! I make this recipe often and have added in an additional tsp of garam masala, because I think it enhances the flavor of the dish.