Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala is a delicious, healthy way to enjoy Indian cuisine, and it cooks all day on low so you can enjoy a tasty curry after a long day without all the legwork!
Ingredients in chicken tikka masala
This chicken tikka masala recipe is easy to make and uses ingredients that you'll most likely already have on hand in your pantry! The only unfamiliar spice you'll see is garam masala, which is a key component of providing that authentic Indian-inspired taste. If you can't find it at your local grocery store, I highly recommend ordering some off Amazon!
Here's what you need for this recipe:
- chicken breasts
- brown sugar
- garam masala
- chili powder
- crushed tomatoes
- sour cream
How to make chicken tikka masala in the slow cooker
This Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala recipe is the perfect make-ahead meal for busy nights, too. In the morning, put everything into the slow cooker; when you walk in the door later that day, your house will smell amazing.
Get some rice cooking, then go change out of your work clothes. By the time you get back to the kitchen, you will only need to stir some sour cream into the slow cooker to finish off the chicken tikka masala.
Serve it in bowls with some of the rice, and get ready to enjoy a warm bowl of comfort food!
Here are the step-by-step instructions for this recipe:
- Add all ingredients except for sour cream, rice, cilantro and naan to slow cooker and cook on high for 3 hours, or on low for 6 hours.
- Remove lid and stir in sour cream.
- Add rice to large bowls and top with chicken tikka, then garnish with cilantro and serve with naan.
Is slow cooker chicken tikka masala healthy?
Because of its delicious creamy sauce, chicken tikka masala isn't the healthiest Indian dish you can make. That being said, one of the things that I like about this recipe is how versatile and easily adaptable it is!
If you want to cut the calories and fat a bit, it's easy to do; just swap the full-fat sour cream for low-fat sour cream or yogurt.
Instead of white rice, you can also serve this tikka masala with brown rice or even quinoa!
What's the difference between chicken tikka masala & butter chicken?
The ingredients in chicken tikka masala and butter chicken are similar. Actually, the dishes are so similar that in some areas, the names are used interchangeably. The biggest difference between the two is in the flavor. Chicken Tikka Masala is very fragrant, with a complex flavor from the masala spices, whereas the taste of butter chicken is very basic and, well, buttery.
Simple dishes like this one are a great way to introduce people who have never eaten Indian food to the flavours of Indian cuisine. Because Slow Cooker Tikka Masala is so effortless to make, it's also the perfect curry recipe for beginners to make!
This recipe is so easy to change up and make your own! Here are some ingredient substitutions if you need to make some changes.
Chicken – You can use chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts, or even tofu, chickpeas, lentils or stewing beef will work. Feel free to switch up the protein to suit your taste.
Spices – This recipe calls for garam masala, turmeric, cumin and chili powder as the main spices, along with fresh garlic and ginger. If you're in a bind, you can leave out the fresh ginger and use powdered ginger (1 tsp worth), and you can also leave out the turmeric and chili powder altogether if you have to. You really do need the garam masala and cumin for the authentic flavour though, so I recommend ordering some off Amazon if you can't find it at your local grocery store in the spices or ethnic foods section.
Cream – This recipe calls for sour cream to lighten things up, but you can also use canned coconut milk or heavy cream to add creaminess. I would recommend 1/3 cup heavy cream, or one 400mL can of full-fat coconut milk.
Rice – I recommend serving basmati rice on the side, but you can serve any type of rice you'd like. You can also try serving the dish with quinoa, naan or just plain as is.
Vegetables – There are no vegetables in this recipe besides the garnish of cilantro, but you can certainly add some to boost nutrition! I recommend adding sliced red pepper in the last half hour of cook time, or stirring in some spinach at the end.
Do you need to marinate the chicken ahead?
Making this recipe truly could not be any simpler – it's a dump and go recipe!
There some tikka masala recipes that call for the meat to be marinated overnight, but not with this recipe.
The slow cooker does all of the work, leaving the chicken so tender, it will practically melt in your mouth!
What to serve with chicken tikka masala
You can eat the chicken tikka masala on its own, or serve it with some sides. Here are what I recommend:
- Naan bread, for dipping
- Basmati rice
- Side salad
- Roasted or steamed broccoli/cauliflower
Storing and reheating
You can store the leftovers in the fridge up to 5 days. Reheat in the microwave for 2-3 minutes, stirring halfway through, then enjoy! It's as simple as that – and the good news is that the leftovers taste just like new!
Does chicken tikka freeze well?
Some curry dishes freeze better than others. Because coconut milk can separate when frozen, curries with a base of coconut milk don't freeze very well.
The good news is, Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala has a tomato base, so it freezes beautifully!
To Freeze Chicken Tikka Masala:
- Cook and cool the dish completely.
- Place it into an airtight container, plastic zip-top bags, or freezable glass meal prep bowls .
- Transfer the containers to the freezer and it should stay good for up to 3 months!
When you'd like to defrost it, just remove it from the freezer and let it defrost overnight in the fridge. If you've frozen it in microwave-safe meal prep bowls you can also heat up individual serving sizes in the microwave for 7-8 minutes, stirring halfway through.
More delicious crockpot recipes
Meal prep tools
- Order some garam masala if you can't find it at your local grocery store
- Glass meal prep bowls are so great for microwaving and reheating your food safely
- A Rice Cooker will automatically cook the side dish of rice for you
- Restock your freezer with free-range poultry from Butcher Box
- These Bento box containers are perfect for packing the rice and curry separately in the same container
Meal prep challenge
If you'd like some more help with meal planning, then you'll love my free 5-day meal prep challenge! Sign up for free below:
Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 yellow onions, diced
- 1 lb chicken, diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tbsp gingerroot, grated
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp garam masala
- 2 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 (796mL) can crushed tomatoes
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- Fresh cilantro, for garnish
- Naan bread (optional)
- 1 1/4 cup water
- 1 cup basmati rice
- 1 tsp butter
- 1 pinch salt
- Add all ingredients except for sour cream, rice, cilantro and naan to slow cooker in the order they are listed above and cook on high for 3 hours, or on low for 6 hours.
- Remove lid and stir in sour cream. Add rice to large bowls and top with chicken mixture, then garnish with cilantro and serve with naan (if desired). Serve and enjoy!
- Add all ingredients to a rice cooker or on the stove top and cook according to package directions.