Instant Pot Chicken Tikka Masala — Make this Indian favorite at home in 30 minutes in your pressure cooker, or make it in your slow cooker!! Juicy chicken is coated with an ultra FLAVORFUL creamy sauce! You don’t need to go to a restaurant because this EASY recipe tastes BETTER!!

overhead view of instant pot chicken tikka masala and rice in a white dish

Easy Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe

I think chicken tikka masala is one of the most popular recipes I see in Indian restaurants or in the ethnic section of the freezer section of my grocery store. 

With this easy recipe you won’t need either the Indian restaurant or the frozen dinner. Whew. And it tastes better than either, I promise.

The chicken is juicy, moist, and tender with a richly developed flavor profile thanks to warming spices like garam masala, cumin, coriander, ginger, smoked paprika, and more. The sauce is fragrant, creamy, and I want it on everything.

overhead view of instant pot chicken tikka masala and rice in a white dish

I made the recipe using the new Crock-Pot® Express Crock Multi Cooker. It combines the functions of a pressure cooker, slow cooker, steamer, sauté/browning, along with 8 built-in preset buttons that effortlessly cook a variety of great tasting meals. You can choose whatever function you need with the touch of a button.

The new Crock-Pot® Express Crock Multi Cooker can help prepare meals fast, which is perfect for busy schedules and hectic weeknights.

Because now with the option to pressure cook –as well as slow cook –the meals you love from the Crock-Pot® brand can be ready up to 70% faster than traditional cooking, so you can spend less time in the kitchen and more time with friends and family.

serving of instant pot tikka masala and basmati rice in a white dish with a fork

One of the reasons I tend not to use my traditional slow cookers as much is because I don’t enjoy the step of dirtying a pan to sauté things on the stovetop (but you just have to if you want to develop rich flavor or to sear anything). And then after transferring everything to the Crock-Pot, waiting around for many hours isn’t my favorite. Patience is not my virtue.

With the Crock-Pot® Express Crock Multi Cooker, all the challenges are solved! <— Love this.

If you haven’t already, you’re going to want to jump on the pressure cooking  bandwagon and this new multi cooker is going to be your new BFF.

Crock-Pot® Pressure Cooker

What’s in Instant Pot Chicken Tikka Masala? 

To make the marinade and the chicken tikka masala sauce, you’ll need: 

  • Chicken breasts
  • Plain Greek yogurt
  • Garlic
  • Olive oil 
  • Lemon juice
  • Spices 
  • Sweet Vidalia onion
  • Unsalted butter
  • Tomato sauce
  • Heavy cream (or half and half) 
  • Fresh cilantro 

Crock-Pot® Pressure Cooker filled with easy chicken tikka masala

How to Make Instant Pot Chicken Tikka Masala

Add the tikka masala marinade and chicken breasts to a zip-top bag and allow chicken to marinate in the fridge for at least 1 to 2 hours. 

Once the chicken has had time to marinate, sauté the onions and garlic in the Crock-Pot® Express Crock Multi Cooker before adding the marinated chicken. 

After sautéing, I added the sauce ingredients, and switched over to pressure cooking mode for 10 minutes, finished it with half-and-half, and this impressive-tasting dish was ready in no time.

portion of instant pot tikka masala in front of a Crock Pot Pressure Cooker

Can I Make Chicken Tikka Masala in a Slow Cooker? 

Yes! If you’re not in a rush, you can use the slow cooker mode rather than the pressure cooking mode, and let things simmer away for hours like you would with a traditional slow cooker. I’ve given detailed instructions on making slow cooker chicken tikka masala in the recipe card below. 

Can I Freeze Chicken Tikka Masala? 

I don’t recommend freezing leftovers of this Instant Pot tikka masala since the sauce contains so much dairy. I worry it’d split once frozen and have a grainy texture upon being thawed. 

Pressure Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala - Make this Indian favorite at home in 30 minutes in your pressure cooker, or make it in your slow cooker!! Juicy chicken is coated with an ultra FLAVORFUL creamy sauce! You don't need to go to a restaurant because this EASY recipe tastes BETTER!!

Tips for Making Pressure Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala 

This is a very saucy dish, which we love. However, if you prefer less sauce, you can halve the amount of butter and/or cream and use 1.50 pounds of chicken.

A few readers have asked if they can substitute the cream in the chicken tikka masala sauce. If you can’t have dairy, you may get similar results using full-fat canned coconut milk. Or, look for a dairy-free half and half at your grocery store. 

Leftovers of this Instant Pot chicken tikka masala will keep up to 4 days in the fridge. 

Pressure Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala
Yield: 4

Pressure Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala

Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes

Make this Indian favorite at home in 30 minutes in your pressure cooker, or make it in your slow cooker!! Better than a restaurant!

Ingredients

Chicken Marinade

  • about 1.25 to 1.50 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 6 ounces plain Greek yogurt (I use 0% fat)
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced or finely pressed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (or regular paprika)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • one small sweet Vidalia onion, diced small
  • 1/4 cup (half of 1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 4 to 5 cloves garlic, minced or finely pressed
  • one 15-ounce can tomato sauce or tomato puree
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1  teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (or regular paprika)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional an to taste
  • 1/2 cup cream or half-and-half (use a dairy-free milk if desired)
  • about 1/4 cup finely minced fresh cilantro, divided for garnishing
  • naan, basmati rice, etc. for serving, if desired

Instructions

Chicken Marinade:

  1. Add all ingredients to a gallon-sized ziptop bag, seal, squish contents around to distribute evenly, and allow chicken to marinate in the fridge for at least 1 to 2 hours (overnight is ideal).

Sauce:

  1. Turn Crock-Pot® Express Crock Multi Cooker to brown and sauté mode, add the onion, and cook until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes; stir intermittently.
  2. Add the butter, garlic, and cook until butter has melted and garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute; stirring nearly constantly.
  3. Add the chicken (fish it out of the marinating bag, and discard the bag with the marinade and the marinating mixture), tomato sauce, garam masala, coriander, cumin, smoked paprika, ginger, salt, pepper, optional cayenne, cover, lock the lid, and set to pressure cook mode by touching the meat/poultry button on the top lefthand corner. Make sure the steam valve is set to lock on the top/backside of the machine. It will take about 10 minutes for it to 'preheat' into the pressure cooking mode and when it has preheated, '15 minutes' will appear on the screen. You don't need all 15 minutes of pressure cooking time. Stop cooking after 10 minutes has elapsed by pressing the stop button.
  4. Allow pressure to naturally release for 10 minutes, then flick the steam valve with a utensil (the steam that escapes is hot) and remove the lid.
  5. Alternatively, rather than pressure cooking you can use the slow cooker mode and cook for about 4 hours on low or about 2 hours on high, or until chicken is cooked through and sauce is as thickened as desired.
  6. After the lid is open, set to brown and sauté mode, add the cream, stir to combine, and cook for about 2 minutes or until sauce is warmed through.
  7. Optionally, allow sauce to simmer for 5 to 10 minutes to reduce and thicken in volume. Taste sauce to check for flavor balance and if desired make any necessary tweaks, i.e. more pepper, salt, cayenne, etc. to taste.
  8. Portion chicken and sauce into bowls (use a slotted spoon if desired because there is a lot of sauce), evenly garnish with cilantro, and serve with naan, basmati rice, etc. or as desired.

Notes

  1. Step 5 in the directions discusses using either pressure cooking or slow cooking.
  2. This is a very saucy dish which we love. However, if you prefer less sauce, you can halve the amount of butter and/or cream and use 1.50 pounds of chicken.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

5

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 612Total Fat: 28gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 147mgSodium: 1730mgCarbohydrates: 40gFiber: 5gSugar: 12gProtein: 53g

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