Recipe: Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala

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(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

I didn’t think chicken tikka masala could really get much better, but then I remembered my best gadget friend: the slow cooker. This is a curry dish that benefits from a nice, long simmer anyway, so why not let that happen while I’m off doing other things? That’s what I call smart cooking.

Spooned over some steamed rice, this easy slow cooker tikka masala is about to make your busy days very happy indeed.

Slow-Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala: Watch the Video

Marinating the chicken in some yogurt while sautéing the onions and garlic with the spices helps both flavor the chicken, tenderize it, and help make a thicker finished sauce. Serve this with a simple pot of basmati rice — if you start cooking the rice at the same time you add the cream at the end of cooking, the whole meal is ready at the same time.

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(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

Tester’s Notes

Based on feedback from users who have made this recipe, we have retested and tweaked it, starting with sautéeing the onion, garlic, and aromatics to really develop the deep flavors that are the hallmark of tikka masala. There is also now a spice blend of garam masala, coriander, cumin, and turmeric, and we’ve increased the amount of chicken to feed more people.

Draining the tomatoes also helps to reduce the amount of liquid that form the basis of the sauce, and simmering the final sauce uncovered with the cream or coconut milk helps to thicken it. I’ve really enjoyed this with rice or even some naan for dipping!

Christine, April 2018

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(Image credit: Emma Christensen)
570 Ratings

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala

Serves4 to 6

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds

    boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces

  • 1/2 cup

    whole-milk plain yogurt (not Greek)

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    kosher salt, divided

  • 1

    large yellow onion, diced

  • 3 cloves

    garlic, minced

  • 1 tablespoon

    peeled and minced fresh ginger

  • 2 teaspoons

    ground coriander

  • 2 teaspoons

    garam masala

  • 1 teaspoon

    ground cumin

  • 1 teaspoon

    ground turmeric

  • 2 tablespoons

    tomato paste

  • 1 (15-ounce) can

    diced tomatoes, drained

  • 3/4 cup

    heavy cream or coconut milk

  • Chopped fresh cilantro

  • Cooked rice or naan, for serving

Instructions

  1. Place the chicken, yogurt, and 1 teaspoon of the salt in a 4-quart or larger slow cooker and stir to combine.

  2. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, coriander, garam masala, cumin, and turmeric and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and cook until darkened in color, about 1 minute. Add the drained tomatoes and remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt and bring to a simmer, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Transfer to the slow cooker and stir to combine with the chicken.

  3. Cover and cook on the HIGH setting for 4 hours or LOW setting for 8 hours. Stir in the cream or coconut milk. If you prefer a thicker sauce, leave the slow cooker uncovered and cook on the HIGH setting for 30 minutes. Taste and season with salt as needed. Serve garnished with cilantro with rice or naan.

Recipe Notes

Using chicken breasts: Chicken breasts can be substituted for the thighs, although I find thighs hold up better over the long cooking and breasts tend to fall into shreds. Still delicious, though!

Smoky flavor alternative: For a little of that smoky tandoori flavor, try using smoked paprika and roasted tomatoes.

Cooking rice: Here's my favorite method for cooking basmati rice in about 20 minutes: How To Cook Perfect Basmati Rice.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 3 months.

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