Instant Pot Chicken Tikka Masala

By: Cassy Joy Garcia

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. Any purchases made through these links will result in a small commission for me (at no extra cost for you), but all opinions are my own. You can find our full affiliate disclaimer here

jump to recipe print

This Instant Pot Chicken Tikka Masala comes together quickly, but is packed with flavor, making it the perfect weeknight meal! We'll also show you how to meal prep it for your freezer, so you have dinner on hand whenever you need it.

a plate of tikka masala and a bed of rice with a spoon resting on the plate

The Best Instant Pot Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala remains one of the most popular recipes from my first cook book, and for good reason! The combination of the warm Indian spices, bright acidity from the tomatoes and lime juice, and creaminess from the added coconut milk have me returning to this dish again and again. Today though, we've simplified this Instant Pot chicken tikka masala to make it an even easier weeknight dinner that can also be prepped in advance for your freezer!

Tikka Masala Instant Pot Ingredients

Here's everything you'll need for this easy Instant Pot dinner:

the ingredients for chicken tikka masala in different sized bowls sitting on a marble surface
  • Extra-Virgin Olive Oil – to start, you'll need about a tablespoon of ghee or extra-virgin olive oil to saute your onions, garlic, and ginger in.
  • Onion – 1 diced yellow onion adds a really delicious depth of flavor to the dish.
  • Garlic – along with the onion, 3 cloves of minced garlic go a long way in adding flavor to the dish.
  • Ginger – one more aromatic: 1 tablespoon of grated ginger.
  • Tomato Paste – 2 tablespoons of tomato paste provides a really rich punch of tomato flavor to the tikka masala.
  • Tomato Sauce – to add volume and some more tomato-y goodness, 14 ounces of tomato sauce gets tossed in the Instant Pot too.
  • Spices and Seasonings – to bring the really delicious, classic flavors of tikka masala, you'll need 1 tablespoon of garam masala, 2 teaspoons of turmeric powder, a ½ teaspoon of ground coriander, a ½ teaspoon of ground cumin, a ½ teaspoon of fine sea salt, ¼ teaspoon of red pepper flakes.
  • Chicken – to add some protein to the dish, you'll need 2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes.
  • Full-Fat Yogurt – 1 cup of full-fat plain yogurt (use an equal amount of coconut milk for dairy-free) will really up the creamy factor!
  • Lime Juice – 2 tablespoons of fresh lime juice (the juice from about 1 lime) adds a touch of brightness and acidity to the finished dish.
  • Rice – serve your tikka masala over white rice or cauliflower rice — whichever you prefer!
  • Cilantro – a sprinkle of fresh chopped cilantro finishes each serving off beautifully!
  • Jalapeno – if you like a kick of spice like we do, top your bowl with fresh sliced jalapeno.

Does Chicken Tikka Masala include tree nuts?

If you make this recipe as written (using full-fat yogurt), it's free of tree nuts! Since coconut is a tree nut, though, subbing the yogurt for full-fat coconut milk won't be an option for those allergic to tree nuts.

How to Make Chicken Tikka Masala

Here's how you'll bring this dish together:

  1. Saute the onion, garlic, and ginger – set the Instant Pot to saute mode and add the ghee. Once melted, add the onion, garlic, and ginger. Saute for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened.
  2. Add the tomato paste, tomato sauce, and spices – add the tomato paste and tomato sauce to the pot and whisk to combine, then stir in the garam masala, turmeric powder, coriander, cumin, sea salt, and red pepper flakes.
  3. Add the chicken to the Instant Pot, seal, and cook – add the chicken to the pot, stir to combine, then seal the lid and set to cook for 18 minutes.
  4. Stir in the yogurt and lime juice – once the timer goes off, release the pressure and remove the lid, and stir in the yogurt and lime juice.
  5. Garnish and serve – serve over white rice, garnished with the cilantro and jalapeno.
instant pot chicken tikka masala cooked in the instant pot with a wooden spoon resting in the instant pot too

Can I make Instant Pot Chicken Tikka Masala if I don't have an Instant Pot?

Absolutely! If you don't have an Instant Pot, use your slow cooker! To do this, saute the onion, garlic, and ginger in a pan on the stovetop first, and once finished, add the sauteed aromatics to the slow cooker along with the tomato paste, tomato sauce, spices, and chicken, and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours. Once the time is up, stir in the yogurt and lime juice, garnish, and serve!

What is the difference between Butter Chicken and Chicken Tikka Masala?

These dishes are actually really similar! The main differences here are that Butter Chicken tends to be much creamier than Tikka Masala, and Tikka Masala has a slightly stronger tomato flavor than Butter Chicken.

What is good to serve with this easy Chicken Tikka Masala?

If you're serving your Tikka Masala with rice, it really doesn't *need* anything else to go along with it. If you're looking for a veggie addition, though, steamed broccoli would be great!

two servings of tikka masala and white rice (one on a plate, and one in a bowl that's sitting on a plate) next to a small bowl of chopped cilantro and a small bowl of sliced raw jalapenos

Storing and Reheating Chicken Tikka Masala

Store your leftover Chicken Tikka Masala in an airtight container in the refrigerator, and reheat either in the microwave or in a pot on the stovetop!

Print

Instant Pot Tikka Masala Recipe

For a fast spin on weeknight takeout, this Instant Pot Chicken Tikka Masala is a great new recipe for your rotation!

  • Author: Jess Gaertner
  • Prep Time: 00:15
  • Cook Time: 00:25
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4 1x

Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 tablespoon ghee or extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 14 ounces tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 cup full-fat yogurt (use an equal amount of coconut milk for dairy-free)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (about 1 lime)
  • White rice or cauliflower rice, for serving
  • Fresh chopped cilantro, for garnish
  • Fresh sliced jalapeno, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Set the Instant Pot to saute mode and add the ghee. Once melted, add the onion, garlic, and ginger. Saute for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened.
  2. Add the tomato paste and tomato sauce to the pot and whisk to combine, then stir in the garam masala, turmeric powder, coriander, cumin, sea salt, and red pepper flakes.
  3. Add the chicken to the pot, stir to combine, then seal the lid and set to cook for 18 minutes.
  4. Once the timer goes off, release the pressure and remove the lid. Stir in the yogurt and lime juice.
  5. Serve over white rice, garnished with the cilantro and jalapeno.

Notes

For the Slow Cooker Method: saute the onion, garlic, and ginger in a pan on the stovetop first, and once finished, add the sauteed aromatics to the slow cooker along with the tomato paste, tomato sauce, spices, and chicken, and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours. Once the time is up, stir in the yogurt and lime juice, garnish, and serve!

Did you make this recipe?

Share a photo and tag us — we can't wait to see what you've made!

Comments

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe rating

  1. Jessi says:

    This recipe sounds amazing, I’m excited to make it! Would I do less time if I am cooking it fresh, not frozen?

  2. Jaynie says:

    We made this last night- fresh not frozen and it turned out awesome! We did add one tablespoon of a cornstarch slurry at the end because the sauce was very watery. This recipe was INSANELY easy!

    5.0 rating

  3. Victoria says:

    Is the chicken pre-cooked before going into the instant pot?

    1. Debbie C says:

      What size instant do you use?

  4. Danielle says:

    Hi! I accidentally left the chicken breasts whole and have it in the freezer now. Can I still cook this recipe per the directions?

  5. April says:

    Hi! Could I make this recipe without the chicken? Sort of a vegetarian version? I guess I just want the sauce! LOL

    1. I-Rod says:

      Hello April, I make a very similar sauce to cook garbanzo (chickpeas) or lentils in…cauliflower, eggplant, potatoes, asparagus…all of these things would go well in this sauce. As another thing you could use, for a vegetarian version, is cubed tofu or plant-based “sausage”. Enjoy!

  6. Jennifer Withrow says:

    So do you put the raw chicken in the ziploc to freeze or pre-cook the chicken before freezing?

  7. Jen says:

    Could you sub cream for the coconut milk and still freeze ok? I’m allergic.

  8. Dust says:

    We tried this recipe. The first meal it was delicious, but tasted like something was missing. We added a 1/2 cup or so of Greek yogurt to the leftovers when we reheated them, and it was PERFECT.

  9. Laurie says:

    Excited to try this! Could I use store bought rotisserie chicken in this recipe?

  10. Kristi Pearson says:

    On the first step, the second sentence isn’t complete. Am I missing something?

    1. Brandi Schilhab says:

      Whoops! Thanks for catching that, Kristi. It’s fixed now!

  11. Kristen says:

    Can you use bone-in chicken for this?

    1. Brandi Schilhab says:

      Definitely!

  12. Serina says:

    Hello 🙂 I know this question might sound absolutely ridiculous BUT I was wondering… is it possible to make this with BEEF instead of chicken? I’m pregnant and for some reason I CANNOT stand chicken, but I’m in love with beef! Has anyone ever tried it with beef? Thanks for your thoughts! <3

    1. Brandi Schilhab says:

      I haven’t tried it, but I don’t see why not! Let us know how it is if you try it, Serina!! Congratulations on your pregnancy!

  13. Stephen says:

    Maybe this is a stupid question, but I’m unclear… If I freeze the recipe as instructed in a vacuum sealed bag, can I add water to the Instant Pot and leave the chicken and sauce in the freezer bag? Or am I only cutting the bag away, dropping the frozen chunk into the Instant Pot, and turning it on without adding any other liquid or waiting for it to thaw?

    1. Brandi Schilhab says:

      The 2nd one, Stephen! You’ll take the frozen sauce + chicken out of the bag and place it in the Instant Pot. You shouldn’t need to add any extra liquid!

  14. katie says:

    Random question, if I’m doubling the recipe do I also need to double the cook time in the instant pot?

    1. Brandi Schilhab says:

      No, cook time will stay the same, Katie! Enjoy!!

  15. Kelly Leonard says:

    Any chance you have the nutrition information?

    1. Brandi Schilhab says:

      It’s in there now, Kelly! Keep in mind that the nutrition information is just for the freezer meal itself, so you’ll need to calculate the nutrition of whatever rice you’re serving it with (cauliflower, white, or brown rice). Enjoy!!

  16. Amy J Foster says:

    Hey! I’ve been making this recipe for years. It’s our go to on busy nights because no chopping! Or it was — but it seems you’ve recently changed it? Now it has fresh onion instead of onion powder….and recipe isn’t written out in typical recipe form. Am I missing something? Would LOVE to get a copy of the original, onion powder version if possible! Thank you!! We LOVE this recipe.

    1. Brandi Schilhab says:

      Hi Amy! So sorry for the confusion — we actually did update this recipe to be a regular (non-freezer-style) dish using fresh ingredients, but we still have the original recipe on our freezer meals post (HERE). The recipe should show up in a recipe card now!