Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala

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Slow cooker chicken tikka masala is an easy sweet and spicy sauce that is thick, rich, and creamy. It is so flavorful with spices like garam masala, paprika, and even cinnamon! It’s not too spicy and perfect served over rice and with a side of naan.

I love a good slow cooker recipe! Slow cookers are good for so many reasons, but my favorite reason is how easy they make making a full meal. You can throw everything in the crock pot and have a delicious and flavorful meal in a few hours. If you love slow cooker recipes, you should try these Slow Cooker Beef Tips, this delicious Slow Cooker Jambalaya, and this quick and easy Slow Cooker Lasagna.

Chicken tikka masala in a slow cooker with a wooden spoon.

 

Chicken Tikka Masala Slow Cooker

The hubby and I went to an amazing Indian restaurant last year. I always get the butter chicken and I realized I had never tried anything else! I ordered the chicken tikka masala and I was blown away! The spices were incredible. I was so glad to try something new and love it!

I knew right away that I had to make a slow cooker recipe! The flavor of the dish is really complex and usually requires a few hours on the stove to blend together. The slow cooker is the perfect solution for being short on time! I love all of my slow cooker recipes on my blog, but this one just might be my favorite! I love serving this with coconut rice, or instant pot rice when I need to be totally hands-off.

Ingredients

Don’t let this ingredient list scare you away! It is mostly spices and things that you will already have on hand. This slow cooker chicken tikka masala is simple to put together and throw in the crock pot. The slow cooker is going to do it all for you. Simply add in all the ingredients together in a certain order and you will be AMAZED once you serve it! You can find the measurements below in the recipe card.

Fresh Ingredients

  • Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts: The chicken does not need to be cooked prior to adding in the slow cooker, it is that simple!
  • Onion: Even if you are not an onion fan like myself, this is actually a small and subtle hint of flavor in this chicken tikka masala recipe. 
  • Garlic: Always a favorite in my book!
  • Ginger: Fresh and grated. Using a grater with the smallest grated holes is best.
  • Tomato Puree: This is the base and does turn the sauce to a orange/red color. 
  • Plain Greek Yogurt: I am a huge fan on using yogurt when possible. It is rich, thick and creamy with an extra flavor.
  • Olive Oil: Adds flavor as well as richness to this creamy sauce. 
  • Heavy Cream: Thick, flavorful cream that adds flavor and texture.
  • Cornstarch: Finely coats the chicken and helps to thicken the sauce.
  • Cilantro: Chopped and used for a garnish.

Seasonings

  • Garam Masala: This is a special seasoning with a blend of seasons within it. This seasoning will add warmth and sweetness to the sauce.
  • Cumin: This spice is perfect for using in a curry mixture.
  • Paprika: Adding a little bit of spice to this is a fun touch!
  • Salt and Pepper: Just a pinch.
  • Cinnamon: A secret ingredient that adds so much flavor and sweetness!
  • Cayenne Pepper: A little extra heat added to the sauce.
  • Bay Leaves: This is strictly for flavoring and soaking in throughout the slow cooker process. Before serving, you will remove the bay leaves. 
The process of adding ingredients into the slow cooker making the chicken tikka masala.

Recipe for Chicken Tikka Masala Slow Cooker

This slow cooker chicken tikka masala is so simple to make and is effortless in so many ways. Simply mix together the tikka masala sauce, then add the chicken. It is basic and no extra prepping or cooking. Within hours you will be smelling a delicious dinner that will be hands down one of the BEST you make!

  1. Mix together sauce: In your slow cooker combine onion, garlic, ginger, tomato puree, greek yogurt, olive oil, garam masala, cumin, paprika, salt, cinnamon, black pepper, and cayenne pepper.
  2. Add in chicken and cook: Add in the chicken pieces and then toss to coat in the sauce. Then add in the bay leaves. Cook on low for 6 hours or high for 4 hours.
  3. Mix and cook a little longer: During the last 20 minutes of cooking, whisk together cornstarch and heavy cream. Then add in to the sauce and continue to cook for another 20 minutes.
  4. Serve: Serve over rice.
Chicken tikka masala with rice and naan bread on the side.

Tips for Making Chicken Tikka Masala

This slow cooker chicken tikka masala is so easy! There really isn’t anything to it. I just wanted to share some tips that I think will be helpful when you go to make this dish.

  • Finding the Spices: Garam masala should be in the spice section of your local grocery store. You will probably be able to find it in a powder or liquid form. I use powdered spices, but there are a lot of benefits to the liquid one too! You can use whatever you like best. If you can’t find garam masala, all-spice mixed with cumin is a great substitute! You will mix 1 part cumin with ¼ part all-spice.
  • Serve with Naan: To get the full restaurant experience, you will definitely want to make some naan. It is a great bread to make at home, or you can get some premade naan at the store. Whatever you do, just make sure it’s on the table!
  • Make It Dairy Free: You can substitute coconut milk for plain yogurt and heavy cream in this recipe. You will get a slightly different flavor but it will still be amazing. You will want to get the coconut milk in a can that still has all the coconut fat in it.
Chicken Tikka Masala up close dipped in Naan bread.

Storing Leftovers

I love this slow cooker chicken tikka masala recipe so much because it makes great leftovers! It is an easy recipe to make a big batch of and have leftovers throughout the week.

  • In the Refrigerator: You can store your leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • In the Freezer: You can freeze your leftovers for up to 3 months in a plastic bag or freezer safe airtight container.

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala

5 from 5 votes
Slow cooker chicken tikka masala is an easy sweet and spicy sauce that is thick, rich, and creamy. It is so flavorful with spices like garam masala, paprika, and even cinnamon! It's not too spicy and perfect served over rice and with a side of naan.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 6 hours
Total Time 6 hours 15 minutes
Author Alyssa Rivers
Servings: 4 people

Ingredients
  

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh ginger grated
  • 1 29 oz can tomato puree
  • cups plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Garam Masala
  • 1 Tablespoon cumin
  • ½ Tablespoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • ¾ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¾ tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ½ Tablespoon cornstarch
  • cilantro chopped for garnish

Instructions
 

  • In your slow cooker combine onion, garlic, ginger, tomato puree, greek yogurt, olive oil, garam masala, cumin, paprika, salt, cinnamon, black pepper, and cayenne pepper.
  • Add in the chicken pieces and toss to coat in the sauce. Add in the bay leaves. Cook on low for 6 hours or high for 4 hours.
  • During the last 20 minutes of cooking, whisk together cornstarch and heavy cream. Add in to the sauce and continue to cook for another 20 minutes.
  • Serve over rice.

Notes

Updated Jan, 2023
Updated Post on February 5, 2020
Original Post on October 6, 2014

Nutrition

Serves: 4

Calories484kcal (24%)Carbohydrates12g (4%)Protein34g (68%)Fat33g (51%)Saturated Fat16g (80%)Cholesterol158mg (53%)Sodium1349mg (56%)Potassium689mg (20%)Fiber3g (12%)Sugar4g (4%)Vitamin A1567IU (31%)Vitamin C5mg (6%)Calcium155mg (16%)Iron2mg (11%)

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods and portion sizes per household.

Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Keyword chicken recipes, Chicken Tika Masala Recipe, Chicken Tikka Masala
Tried this recipe?Mention @alyssa_therecipecritic or tag #therecipecritic

Alyssa Rivers

I am Alyssa and the blogger behind The Recipe Critic. I started my blog in June of 2012 as a place to share my passion for cooking. I love trying new things and testing them out with my family.

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  1. Hello, I plan on making this recipe but before I did I wanted to clarify the exact time it takes to cook. Is it really ten hours of cooking time? First, six hours on low and then four hours on high? If not I would change the wording in your recipe; instead of “and” I would put “or”. Thank you for your help.

  2. 5 stars
    This was excellent! I didn’t want to make it in a slow cooker, so I did it on the stove. I used 1.3 lbs of chicken thighs. I think I’d increase it to 2lbs next time. There’s plenty of sauce for it.

    I reduced the cayenne to 1/4tsp and I don’t think I’d want it more spicy.

    I cooked the chicken first, then simmered the sauce for 20 minutes. Added back in the chicken. I skipped the cornstarch because it was plenty thick already.

    Loved it, will definitely be making it again!

  3. hi 4 chicken breasts.. is there a weight? about how many pounds? want to be sure i have the right ratio chicken to sauce! my chicken breasts seem big!!

  4. Questions… my husband can’t handle spice too well, but this seemed like a safe Indian intro recipe 😉

    Do you think this would be okay for someone who doesn’t love spice?

    Also, the chicken starts out raw right?

    Thanks!

  5. 5 stars
    Just made this in our Ninja Foodi on the pressure cooker setting as instructed above. It is sooo good!

  6. 5 stars
    I didn’t have time for the slow cooker, and I didn’t get a reply on the Pressure cooker; instead, I cooked it stove top. I always tweak recipes. I didn’t have bay leaves but added dill weed and poultry seasoning. A dash of nutmeg and tsp. of pumpkin pie spice. I, also, added a tsp.of another Indian spice blend from my pantry. Because it cooked on the stove, I did not need cornstarch. This was absolutely a hit paired with Jasmine rice and the home made naan! Everyone raved over it! I’m making it in the crock pot today!

    Indian food is a balance of spice kind of thing. 2 TBS of garam masala to me was perfect. My daughter wanted more. I ended up adding some sugar/whole earth blend to balance the flavors.

    1. PS: I used frozen chicken tenders, so I cooked them in coconut and olive oil and set them aside while I made the sauce. I added them back in the end and simmered about twenty minutes on low to bring it all together.

  7. I want to make this in the pressure cooker! Instant Pot! Would I wait to add the yogurt?Or do you think, still add it in the beginning? How long should I let I try letting it cook on high pressure before releasing and adding cornstarch and cream on sauté?

  8. 5 stars
    Made this dish tonight and forgot the final step to add cream and cornstarch. It was still good but super spicy hot. Looked at recipe again and realized the missed step. Wasn’t too late so added the missed step and tried again. Adding the cornstarch and heavy cream helped to cut down the spicy hot and added additional flavor. Will make again, it was delicious. Next time, perhaps cut down on the cayenne and black pepper.

  9. Like the Tikka Masala recipe, but it says total cook time 6 hours ad the instructions say 6 hours on low and 4 hours on high…can you clarify

  10. O….M…..G!!! I never ever EVER leave comments under blog recipes, but I just had to this time, because I made this dish for a party last night after having pinned it ages ago. Often, recipes I find on Pinterest end up just ok, or a bit bland….this was UNBELIEVABLE. My guests all raved about it and said that there was literally nothing I could or should change. I made it exactly as directed, cooking it 4 hours on high.

    Thank you!! Going to check out your other recipes!

  11. This was outstanding!! I followed the recipe exactly except for the heavy cream. I used some low fat milk. I will definitely make this agin. My slow cooker runs hot so 3 hours on high was plenty of time.

    1. You can omit the cream and cornstarch step, however, it helps to cut down the spicy hot and does make the dish taste better.

      1. Definitely use coconut milk and not heavy cream. Adds so much more to this wonderful Indian dish!

  12. By puree, do you mean tomato sauce or tomato paste? Also, you inicate 6 hours cooking time, but in the body of the recipe you say 6 hours PLUS 4 hours. Don’t you mean 6 hours OR 4 hours?

    1. Tomato Puree is finely milled Tomato Sauce, Not crushed or peeled or paste which is thicker in consistency. Generally you can find cans from various different brands that actually say Puree but if not just use Sauce its fine. Also the cooking directions say 6hrs on low 4hrs on high – this means a total of 10hrs total time in slow cooker – beginning with low heat setting for first 6hrs then an adjustment to high heat for remaining 4 of the 10. Hope this helps

      1. Sorry I should probably clarify the cooking time. It is 6 hours on low OR 4 hours on high. It will definitely be way too overcooked in the slow cooker that long.

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