This is going to be your favorite EASY slow cooker chicken tikka masala recipe! Tender cooked chicken in a flavor bursting tomato based sauce and warm spices like turmeric, red chili powder and garam masala served over hot basmati rice with authentic flavors that takes only half the efforts! Here is how…
This is a sponsored post. I’m partnering with Pomi USA to help share recipes and meal ideas. All opinions expressed are my own.
First, thank you for the overwhelmingly positive feedback on my Instant Pot Chicken Tikka Masala recipe and making it go viral on social media. I am thrilled that you have enjoyed the easy recipe with authentic flavors.
Are you wondering why a slow cooker recipe? Many of you have asked about making the Instant Pot recipe using the delayed timer mode. The concern here is to let the raw chicken sit for hours at room temperature. So instead I decided to test the tikka masala recipe using Instant Pot’s slow cook mode. I loved the fact that you can simply add all the ingredients and let it cook over slow heat. Note: This is Slow Cook (Hi) setting on the Instant Pot.
Knowing many of you also have a crockpot slow cooker, I then also tried the recipe in the crockpot and I was thrilled with the results. The only change I made, is to saute the onions for 5 minutes before adding them to the crockpot. This brings in the subtle sweet flavors of the onions and avoids crunchy texture to the final dish. Note: Please do not puree onions (one of the mistakes I made), as it will leave a raw onion taste to the curry.
What is Chicken Tikka Masala?
Chicken Tikka Masala is a restaurant-favorite Indian Curry with chunks of marinated chicken in a rich-creamy tomato-based sauce. Traditionally, the marinated chicken is grilled in a tandoor oven before adding it to the creamy curry. Many places like Northern India, Scotland and United Kingdom claim to be the origins of this curry. It has also been declared Britain’s National Dish!
Chicken Tikka Masala Ingredients:
Before we get started with the recipe, let me explain the ingredients I like to use and the reasons why!
Ingredients for marinade:
- Chicken – Boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 2 to 3 inch cubes. The 2 to 3 inch cubes allows the chicken to cook perfectly without making it so soft that it starts to shred.
- Yogurt – Preferably plain full fat yogurt. In a pinch you can also use greek or low fat yogurt.
- Lemon – I like to use fresh lemon juice but bottled one works too.
- Ginger & Garlic – Freshly grated ginger and finely minced garlic.
- Kashmiri Red Chili Powder – I really love this mild and vibrant chili powder that adds a nice orange hue to the curry. Read more about Kashmiri Chili in my Indian Spice Guide. If you are using different chili powder please adjust the quantity accordingly. You can always add more chili powder in the end after tasting the curry.
- Garam Masala – I use my homemade easy 5-ingredient garam masala but feel free to use the one you like. I truly believe that fresh and flavorful garam masala really makes this dish, so if you haven’t already; please check out my easy recipe.
- Onions – Finely diced yellow onions work best in this recipe. For this slow cooker recipe, I highly recommend sauteeing them with some oil for 5 minutes or until they become soft and translucent. This adds a subtle sweetness to the dish and eliminates chance of crunchy onions in the final dish.
- Tomato Puree – I LOVE Pomi Strained tomatoes in this recipe. The puree is made with 100% fresh Italian tomatoes and adds a burst of flavor to any dish. It comes in a convinient glass bottle and does not need any refrigeration until opened. Pomi products are super handy especially when fresh tomatoes are not in season.
- Tomato Paste – Another Pomi product that I love to stock up in my pantry. Pomi double concentrated tomato paste is available in easy to squeeze tubes and brings bold aromatic flavor while adding a beautiful vibrant color to the recipe. I like to add tomato paste in the end along with heavy cream and fenugreek leaves as my finishing ingredients. Note: Depending on the sourness of the tomato puree you used while cooking, tomato paste can be optional. So make sure to taste the curry before adding the paste.
- Fenugreek Leaves – Adds complex sweetness and that restaurant-style flavor to curries. Crush them between the palms of your hands to release the aromatics, before adding them. There is no good substitute for these leaves; you can skip them in a pinch but never replace them with whole or ground fenugreek seeds, which have a different flavor profile.
- Cream – Traditionally heavy cream is used in this recipe. Although I often make chicken tikka masala without cream by using cashew cream and coconut cream. I will explain more about this below.
Ministry Of Curry’s PRO tips for making the best slow cooker chicken tikka masala:
- Use plain full-fat yogurt, or greek yogurt for the marinade
- Pat dry the chicken to avoid extra liquids in the marinade
- Homemade garam masala brings out the authentic flavors, so please make it at home using my easy garam masala recipe or make sure the garam masala you have is not too old
- You can substitute Kashmiri red chili powder with any mild red chili powder. If using spicy chili powder reduce the quantity accordingly
- Do not forget to saute the onions (except if you have awesome knife skills and can finely dice the onions). This step adds subtle sweetness to the curry without leaving crunchy onions in the final dish
- Allow the curry to cool down a bit before adding the cream. This will result in a smooth and creamy sauce. You can add 1/3 cup of cream for lighter version or add upto 3/4 cup for a more creamy tikka masala
- To make chicken tikka masala without cream or dairy-free, you can either use unsweetened coconut cream (I love Trader Joe’s) or homemade cashew cream. To make the cashew cream at home simply blend 1/2 cup of cashews in half cup of warm water and make a smooth paste.
- I have tested this recipe using a Crockpot slow cooker, Instant Pot slow cooker function and Instant Pot AURA Multi Cooker. The advantage with the Instant Pot models is that you can saute the onions in the same pot. With a crockpot slowcooker, you saute the onions in a seperate pan on stovetop.
- If you do not have a good brand of tomato puree like the Pomi one, you can puree 3 fresh tomatoes in a blender and use that instead.
- I like to use chicken breasts in this recipe, but you can also use chicken thighs, simply cut each thigh into 2 pieces.
How to make Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala:
Here is my step-by-step recipe for the best slow cooker Indian meal –
step 1: Cut the chicken breasts into 2 to 3 inch cubes. Add 2 teaspoon salt and lemon juice and mix well. Add yogurt, red chili powder, turmeric, garam masala, ginger and garlic. Mix well and allow to marinate while you prep remaining ingredients (photos 1 – 4).
step 2: Heat oil a medium pan. Add onions and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes stirring frequently until the onions start to soften and turn translucent. Note: If you are using Instant Pot as a slow cooker, you can saute in the Instant Pot itself (photos 5 – 6).
step 3: Add the cooked onions to the crockpot / slow cooker and spread it evenly. Spread tomato puree over the onions. Line the marinated chicken over the tomato puree. Place the crockpot lid and set the cooking time to Slow Cook (Hi) and adjust the cook time to 4 hours. You can also cook in Slow Cook (Low) setting for 6 to 8 hours (photos 7 – 10).
step 4: After 4 hours, your kitchen will be filled with the beautiful aromas of the curry. Add heavy cream, crush the fenugreek leaves on the palm of your hands and add to the curry. Mix well, taste first and then add tomato paste. Mix well and add more cream if needed (photos 11 – 12).
Note: Optionally you can add 1 teaspoon of sugar to balance all the flavors. Garnish with cilantro and enjoy with basmati rice and naan or try these homemade whole wheat parathas!
Did you enjoy this restaurant favorite curry? Here are few more curries I would suggest you try:
- Murgh Makhani – Authentic tasting Instant Pot butter chicken recipe without butter is easy to make at home. Check the quick video that will show you how!
- Aloo Gobi Masala – Ready in 15 minutes this restaurant style cauliflower and potato curry is our weeknight go to recipe.
- Quick Palak Paneer – Taste the authentic Punjabi palak paneer flavors with this no-fuss recipe that is sure to impress your guests.
- Easy Dum Aloo – My most shared recipe, these curried baby potatoes in a creamy sauce are simply DELISH.
- Shahi Chicken Korma – This royal Mughlai dish has chicken cooked in a creamy spicy sauce that is garnished with golden fried nuts and raisins to add subtle sweetness.
- Chana Masala – One of my favorite weeknight curries and also one of reader’s favorite from The Essential Indian Instant Pot Cookbook, this recipe is a must try for all the Punjabi Chole / Chickpea Curry lovers.
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Tender chicken marinated in aromatic spices is slow cooked in a delicious tomato-based curry for the best Indian meal.
- 2 pounds chicken breasts skinless boneless
- 2.5 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons plain yogurt
- 1 tablespoon kashmiri red chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1.5 teaspoon garam masala
- 1 tablespoon ginger grated
- 1 tablespoon garlic minced
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 2 medium yellow onions finely diced
- 1.5 cups tomato puree
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 to 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons dried fenugreel leaves kasoori methi
- 1/2 cup cilantro chopped
Cut the chicken breasts into 2 to 3 inch cubes. Add 2 teaspoon salt and lemon juice and mix well. Add yogurt, red chili powder, turmeric, garam masala, ginger and garlic. Mix well and allow to marinate while you prep remaining ingredients.
Heat oil a medium pan. Add onions and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes stirring frequently until the onions start to soften and turn translucent. Note: If you are using Instant Pot as a slow cooker, you can saute in the instant pot itself.
Add the cooked onions to the crockpot / slow cooker and spread it evenly. Evenly layer tomato puree over the onions. Line the marinated chicken over the tomato puree. Place the crockpot lid and set the cooking time to Slow Cook (Hi) and adjust the cook time to 4 hours.
After 4 hours, your kicthen will be filled with the beautiful aromas of the curry. Add heavy cream, crush the fenugreel leaves on the palm of your hands and add to the curry. Mix well, taste and add tomato paste. Mix well and more cream if needed. Note: Optionally you can add 1 teaspoon of sugar to balance all the flavors. Garnish with cilantro and enjoy with basmati rice and naan.
To make chicken tikka masala without cream or dairy-free, you can either use unsweetened coconut cream (I love Trader Joe's) or homemade cashew cream. To make the cashew cream at home simply blend 1/2 cup of cashews in half cup of warm water and make a smooth paste.
If you do not have a good brand of tomato puree like the Pomi one, you can puree 3 fresh tomatoes in a blender and use that instead.
I like to use chicken breasts in this recipe, but you can also use chicken thighs, simply cut each thigh into 2 pieces.
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