Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala: A warmly spiced classic Indian dish made simply in the slow cooker and lightened up with yogurt with just a little heavy cream.

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala

Faithfully and strategically designed each week, my weekly menu is my sanity to organizing my weeknights.  But there are some weeks when I’m terrible at sticking to my weekly menu.

Sometimes I get out of work much later than anticipated and other times life gets in the way.  Such was the way the past couple of weeks have been: the kitchen design center three evenings in a week, Lowe’s, meetings with our builder, to the house to three or four times in the late afternoon to see the “ooooo the roof!” or “yay the windows and siding!”

Needless to say, my perfectly planned menu doesn’t always work out. And sometimes I’m left with food in the freezer that either I don’t feel like using for its original intention or I’ve completely forgotten what the original intention actually was.

Are you with me??

Such was the case with the package of boneless skinless chicken thighs that I found last week. I let Google do all the hard work to find a new recipe and the one I found not only sounded amazing, but I already had all of the ingredients in the house for it: this slow cooker chicken tikka masala.

Now, I’m not at all well-versed in Indian food and I can probably count on 2 fingers the number of times I’ve eaten it but I’ve been curious about the flavors and I’ve been wanting to try it at home.  You know, in a controlled environment.

And I have to say that both Kyle and I loved this slow cooker chicken tikka masala!

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala

The yogurt, tomatoes, and all of the spices combine into a warmly spiced stew that soaks into and tenderizes the chicken and leaves you with this amazing meal for a cold night.

I especially loved the minimal prep, the slow cooker method, and being able to enjoy the smell of the cooking stew all afternoon long, but I’m sure you could make the whole recipe on the stove top if you don’t have 4-5 hours to let the slow cooker do its thing.

And because this is a hands-off recipe, you’ll have some time to make some easy homemade naan bread or garlic butter naan bread and some cilantro lime rice. They’re perfect for sopping up all of that delicious sauce!

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time (LOW) : 5 hours
Total Time: 5 hours 20 minutes

Chicken tikka masala is a simple and utterly delicious Indian meal you can make at home in your crock pot or Instant Pot (on the slow cooker setting). The sauce is thick and rich and the whole meal is a comforting one that will satisfy the whole family. Serve over rice or try zucchini noodles for a gluten-free option.


For the chicken:

  • 9 whole boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 2 lbs)
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 whole jalapeno pepper, stem removed, pepper pierced several times with a sharp knife

For the sauce:

  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1 whole large onion, peeled and diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 tbsp Kosher salt
  • 3 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 piece fresh ginger, about 2-3 inches, peeled and grated or very finely minced
  • 4 cups crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp heavy cream

For serving:

  • 4 cups cooked rice, hot
  • Cilantro for garnish


  1. To prep the chicken: Cut the boneless, skinless chicken thighs into 1- to 1 ½-inch pieces. Sprinkle the coriander, cumin and salt over the chicken, then stir in the yogurt until all the pieces are evenly coated. Place the chicken in the bottom of a 6-quart slow cooker and put the jalapeno on top of the chicken.
  2. To prep the sauce: Melt butter in a medium saute pan over medium high heat. Add the onions, garlic, and salt, then stir. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions begin to lightly brown around the edges.
  3. Stir in the garam masala and ginger and cook until fragrant (about 1 minute) before adding the crushed tomatoes and sugar. Stir well, scraping the caramelized bits from the bottom of the pan, and bring to a boil. Pour the sauce over the chicken in the slow cooker.
  4. Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours, or until the chicken is very tender.
  5. Pour heavy cream into the slow cooker and stir gently until the color is even. Replace the lid and let cook for 10 minutes or until bubbly around the edges. Serve over hot rice topped with a generous amount of chopped cilantro.


The only change I made to the recipe, which I've reflected above, is that I chose not to brown the chicken before putting it in the slow cooker. I didn't want the extra fat and calories from the butter and I wanted to let the yogurt help to thicken the stew so I could also cut back on the heavy cream in the last step. My changes worked perfectly to help lighten up the dish and I think I've found a new favorite for us!

adapted from Tasty Kitchen Blog

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Leave a Comment

  • November 9, 2011 at 7:26 AM

    Wow, Indian food in the slow cooker – I love it! Tikka Masala is definitely my favorite Indian dish, this sounds like a great recipe for it.

  • November 9, 2011 at 9:15 AM

    This looks really great! I’ve only eaten Indian food a few times, as well. I’ve always wanted to buy garam masala, but shied away from it. I’ll definitely be buying it now and trying this out!

  • November 9, 2011 at 12:07 PM

    Wow, this looks amazing! I have wanted to try Indian food, but it seems so intimidating. Putting it in a crock pot makes it seem more doable. Thanks for sharing the great recipe!

  • November 9, 2011 at 4:03 PM

    Indian food are one of my favourites. I’ve eaten it much more times than you have but never tried to cook one up EVER. Cheering for your bravery!

  • November 9, 2011 at 4:23 PM

    This is one of my favorite Indian dishes…I will definitely try this, since I’m on a roll with the slow cooker. Beautiful color on the finished dish!

  • November 9, 2011 at 4:35 PM

    My husband would eat Indian food every night if I let him, this will be the perfect thing to serve him on a busy weeknight. You are my new hero!

  • November 9, 2011 at 6:16 PM

    I love the idea of cooking tikka masala in slow cooker! Recipe saved! Yum!

  • Ellen
    November 9, 2011 at 7:23 PM

    Yes, I’ve been wanting to try making Chicken Tikka Masala again (did it once last year), and this looks like a great way to do it. Bookmark! 🙂

  • November 10, 2011 at 4:01 PM

    Cooking ethnic food is so daunting for me…especially if it’s something I’m not very familiar with. You make it look easy! Truth be told you had me at “slow cooker” 😉

  • A Geek's Wife
    November 10, 2011 at 4:18 PM

    This looks soooo good. My husband and I love Indian food. I will definitely try this next week and come back to write a review on the recipe!

  • Annah
    November 11, 2011 at 6:46 PM

    I would like to try this but have a few questions first.
    Cut the boneless, skinless chicken thighs into 1- 1 1/2 inch pieces.
    What is 1- 1 1/2 size? I understand 1-1/2, but not the numbers shown.
    Also what is garam masala? What does it taste like. I am hesitant in buying something I know nothing of, as I do not need any more ingredients in my TINY cupboard that my PICKY husband will not eat. ;-(

    • November 13, 2011 at 5:37 PM

      Annah: The chicken should be cut into 1 to 1 1/2 (one and one half) inch pieces. Garam masala is an Indian spice mix so if you check Google for a recipe, you’ll be able to see the ingredients and you may already have them in your pantry. To me, garam masala is a warm spice mix but it’s difficult for me to tell you what it tastes like…but keep in mind that it will taste different to everyone, and especially because it is a mix, it could actually be different depending on where you eat it. Hope that helps!

  • November 13, 2011 at 8:41 AM

    This looks wonderful! I am an Indian food virgin but throwing all the ingredients in a crockpot somehow seems less scary.

    I adore using my crockpot. How awesome is it when supper is cooked as you walk in the door??

    I just found your blog (via twitter) and can’t wait to check out more of your recipes. 🙂

  • Melissa
    November 13, 2011 at 2:42 PM

    Made it today and turned out great! Easy to make and perfect for a gloomy fall day! Loved it, thanks!!

  • Meagan
    November 13, 2011 at 3:41 PM

    I was just wondering how many servings are in this dish (so that I can count the calories for it)? I really want to try it out since the only Indian dish I cook is Curry Chicken and I am soooo addicted to it!

  • November 14, 2011 at 9:27 AM

    I love using my slow cooker. I am trying this recipe soon.

  • November 17, 2011 at 11:51 AM

    Isn’t this recipe awesome?? I made it a few weeks ago (I also found it via Tasty Kitchen–love that site) and will blog about it at some point, heh heh. I love your picture–it’s totally making my mouth water!

  • November 18, 2011 at 3:18 PM

    This awesome! We love Indian food, but I was always afraid to try it at home until I saw your recipe. I thought, why not give it s shot? So I did, and it came out really good! We devoured it! I mean really, it was that good! No time to talk while having dinner, we were too busy eating! lol Thanks for sharing

  • December 14, 2011 at 12:24 PM

    Hey there!

    Just put everything in the crock pot – looking forward to eating it tonight!

    Just a few questions on substitutions – 1. Can I substitute chicken breast for thighs and if so, what would you recommend on cooking time?; 2. Can I throw frozen chicken in there instead of thawed and just cook it longer?; 3. Is it possible to sub olive oil for butter and leave out the sugar?

    Thanks. 🙂

    • December 14, 2011 at 12:31 PM

      Courtney: 1) Yes. For chicken breasts (cubed as the instructions indicate), I’d cut the cooking time down to 4 hours. 2) Yes – but I assume the would be whole breasts (i.e. not cubed) so you’ll need cook them for closer to 8hrs on low. 3) Yes, you can use olive oil in place of butter. I don’t know about the sugar since I haven’t made the recipe without sugar. I think the sugar is there to balance the heat in the dish so I’m not sure I would leave it out. Hope that helps! Let me know how it turns out for you tonight. 🙂

  • January 2, 2012 at 9:42 PM

    I made this with cut up chicken breasts tonight. Delicious!!

  • Lisa Cotrone
    February 1, 2012 at 10:04 PM

    Made this today.. Absolutely delicious! Thanks for sharing!

  • Nancy
    February 21, 2012 at 1:44 PM

    Hi. This recipe sounds wonderful, but wondering if you know the nutritional info – I’m on Weight Watchers and wondering how to figure out the points. Thanks.

    • February 21, 2012 at 5:45 PM

      Nancy: I haven’t calculated the points for this recipe but if you use WW Online or the WW mobile app, you can build a recipe to figure out the points.

  • March 7, 2012 at 9:01 PM

    This looks absolutely delicious, and I think it’s misleadingly easy (the ingredient list might scare folks off). Definitely needs some naan bread alongside! This one looks like a keeper!

  • Hannah P
    December 4, 2012 at 6:12 PM

    I’m making this right now with breasts w/ bones and thighs w/ bones. Can I cook this on high? If so, for how long do you recommend? The fam bam is VERY hungry! =)

    • December 4, 2012 at 6:47 PM

      I can’t guarantee that this recipe will work on high because I haven’t tried it but try it for 2 hours. Just make sure the chicken is cooked through – it should be 165 degrees F.

  • Beth
    January 11, 2013 at 4:31 PM

    Love this – thanks! Will definitely brown the meat in a bit of healthy oil – there’s no substitute for the layer of flavor browning produces!

  • Honlde
    November 19, 2013 at 8:55 PM

    I like trying new things, & I randomly found thi recipe. Didny even now what garam masala was until I smelled it & thought uh oh, husband isn’t going to like something this crazy (he’s a meat & potatoes guy). Turned out, he loved it & asks for me to make it frequently!

    • taraliptak
      November 21, 2013 at 7:17 PM

      Kyle (my husband) had the same reaction after I had the same reservations about whether the would like it. It’s such a winner!

  • taraliptak
    December 11, 2013 at 10:12 AM

    Yes, take the jalapeno out and discard it.

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    Delicious and wonderful looking very nice and yummy..

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