I was craving the aromatic spices of Indian food this week, so I thought I’d try my hand at a Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala. Normally the chicken in Tikka Masala is marinated in yogurt, grilled, and then combined with a rich and creamy tomato sauce, but I wanted to make a simple “set it and forget it” style slow cooker version, even if it’s a bit inauthentic. All I really care about is whether it tastes good, is easy, and cheap. This recipe is definitely all of those things.
I used this simple recipe from thekitchn.com as a guide and adjusted it to fit my needs. The resulting mixture is so rich, complex, and delicious. It’s been one of those meals where an hour after breakfast I’m already like, “is it lunch time yet?” because I’m just so excited to eat it. NOM. You can serve this over rice, or just with some sort of flat bread (like homemade naan) to sop up that delicious sauce.
Because of the simplicity of the recipe (meat + sauce), this Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala actually works just as well in a pressure cooker. I was short on time, so instead of using the slow cooker setting on my Instant Pot, I used the pressure cooker function and whole thing was finished in 45 minutes. How awesome is that??
Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala
- 1 yellow onion $0.31
- 2 lbs. chicken thighs, skin removed $5.66
- 3 cloves garlic $0.24
- 1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger $0.11
- Freshly cracked pepper $0.05
- 1 Tbsp garam masala $0.50
- 2 15oz. cans tomato sauce $1.58
- ⅓ cup half and half or cream $0.30
- ¼ bunch fresh cilantro, chopped $0.25
- Dice the onion and place it in the bottom of your slow cooker. Remove the skins from the chicken (if not already skinless) and nestle the chicken thighs into the slow cooker on top of the onions. Top the chicken with the minced garlic, grated ginger, some freshly cracked pepper, and the garam masala.
- Pour two 15oz. cans of tomato sauce over top of the chicken and spices. Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook for 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low (or pressure cook for 45 minutes).
- When it's finished cooking, carefully remove the chicken thighs from the sauce and transfer them to a cutting board. Use two forks to shred the chicken and remove the bones.
- While the chicken is out of the pot, taste the sauce and add any salt or extra garam masala if desired. Once seasoned to your liking, stir in the half and half or cream.
- Finally, return the shredded chicken meat to the pot and stir to combine. Serve the meat and sauce over rice or with flat bread for scooping up the delicious sauce. Top with freshly chopped cilantro.
Step by Step Photos
Dice one yellow onion and place it in the bottom of your slow cooker.
Nestle six chicken thighs (about two pounds) into the pot on top of the onion. Make sure the skins are removed. You can use bone-in or boneless. I used bone-in, but removed the bones later. Mince three cloves of garlic and grate about one inch (1 Tbsp) of fresh ginger. Sprinkle the garlic and ginger on top of the chicken, along with a little bit of freshly cracked pepper. (If you need help with working with fresh ginger, check out this post about How to Cook with Ginger.)
Sprinkle 1 Tbsp garam masala on top of the chicken. My garam masala was very fresh and strong, so 1 Tbsp did the job. If yours is older or of lesser quality, you may need to use more. You can add it later, though, after tasting the finished sauce. If you can’t find garam masala spice blend at your local grocery store, here is a recipe for making it with individual spices.
Finally, pour two 15oz. cans of tomato sauce on top of the chicken. I used this “extra thick & zesty” sauce because I knew I wanted my sauce to be fairly thick. I took a look at the ingredients on this sauce and it appeared to be more heavily spiced than the generic tomato sauce that I usually buy, but the garam masala is so flavorful that I have no doubt this would still be delicious with a more plain tomato sauce. If your sauce is particularly thin, you can use a tablespoon or two of tomato paste to help thicken it up.
After pouring the tomato sauce over the chicken, place the lid on your slow cooker and cook on high for four hours or low for 8 hours (or 45 minutes for a pressure cooker).
After cooking it looks like this–not much different! It smells amazing, though.
Carefully remove the chicken from the sauce and transfer it to a cutting board. Use two forks to shred the meat and remove the bones.
While the chicken is out of the sauce, give it a taste and adjust the salt or garam masala if needed. Then, stir in 1/3 cup half and half or cream.
Finally, add the shredded chicken back to the pot and stir to combine.
You can serve the Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala over rice or with some flat bread to sop up the amazing sauce. Top it with a little chopped fresh cilantro.
Seriously, though. Is it lunch time yet??