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This Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala is the easy homemade version of your Indian food-loving dreams!  Bold and flavorful, yet with a fraction of the work! #chickentikka #tikkamasala #curry #indianfood #slowcooker #crockpot #easyrecipe
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5 from 9 votes

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala

This Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala is the easy homemade version of your Indian food-loving dreams! 
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time3 hrs
Total Time3 hrs 10 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: crockpot indian food, easy curry recipe, easy indian food recipe
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 454kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 3 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion minced
  • 1 serrano pepper seeded and minced
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground tumeric
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 - 2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp fresh ginger grated
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 3/4 cup whole-fat plain yogurt (not greek)
  • 2 Tbsp fresh cilantro minced

Instructions

  • Heat oil in a large skillet over MED HIGH heat. Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper, then add to the skillet once hot. Sear chicken 2-3 minutes per side, until very browned. Remove to a cutting board and slice into 1 inch pieces.
  • Add onion, serrano, tomato paste, garam masala, tumeric, smoked paprika, cumin and sugar to same skillet over MED HIGH heat. Cook 3-4 minutes, until onion is soft and slightly browned at the edges.
  • Stir in garlic and ginger and cook another 30 seconds or so. Add 1/4 cup of water or chicken broth to scrape up any browned bits in the skillet.
  • Transfer skillet contents to bottom of slow cooker. Top with diced chicken and tomato sauce, stirring well to combine.
  • Cover and cook on LOW 3 hours.
  • After 3 hours, remove 1/2 cup of sauce from the slow cooker and slowly pour it into the yogurt, while whisking quickly. This tempers the yogurt so it doesn't curdle.
  • Stir all yogurt into the slow cooker and let sit, covered, for 5 minutes. Stir in cilantro and serve.

Video

Notes

Recipe loosely adapted from America's Test Kitchen's The Complete Slow Cooker Cookbook

INSTANT POT VERSION

All ingredients are the same, but add 1/2 cup chicken broth
  1. Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Add vegetable oil to Instant Pot and select "Saute". When hot, add chicken and cook for a 2-3 minutes per side each side, until well browned. You don't want to overcrowd the pot, so you may need to do this in batches.
  2. Remove chicken to cutting board and cut into bite-sized pieces.
  3. Add onion, serrano, tomato paste, garam masala, tumeric, smoked paprika, cumin and sugar to Instant Pot. Cook 3-4 minutes, until onion is soft and slightly browned at the edges.
  4. Stir in garlic and ginger and cook another 30 seconds or so. Add chicken broth to scrape up any browned bits at the bottom of the pot. Browned bits on the bottom can result in a BURN notice from the Instant Pot.
  5. Return chicken pieces to the pot, along with tomato sauce.  Stir slightly.
  6. Close lid securely and make sure the valve is set to "sealing". Select "Manual" or "Pressure Cook" and adjust the +/- button until it reads 8 minutes.
  7. When finished cooking, carefully turn the valve to "venting" for a quick pressure release. When the steam has all escaped, and the pin has dropped, remove the lid.
  8. Use a slotted spoon to remove chicken to a plate and cover to keep warm. Select "Saute".
  9. Add yogurt to a small mixing bowl. Ladle about 1/2 cup of the sauce from the Instant Pot and slowly pour it to the yogurt, while whisking quickly. This tempers the yogurt so it doesn't curdle.
  10. Stir the yogurt mixture into the Instant Pot and let simmer for several minutes, until thickened to your liking.
  11. Return chicken to the pot, along with minced cilantro. Stir and serve hot.

FOR A SMOOTHER SAUCE

  • Scoop chicken pieces out of slow cooker or instant pot and set aside in a bowl (I like to use a slotted spoon for this).
  • Use an immersion blender to blend the sauce right in the slow cooker, or transfer the sauce to a standard blender and blend until smooth.  Be careful, as the sauce is very hot!
  • Add chicken back to pureed sauce and proceed with step 6

Nutrition

Calories: 454kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 48g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 221mg | Sodium: 1136mg | Potassium: 1109mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 833IU | Vitamin C: 13mg | Calcium: 103mg | Iron: 3mg