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This slow cooker chicken tikka masala is a great at-home Indian option for those nights that you can’t quite shell out the money for takeout. This incredibly flavorful at-home alternative will be sure to satisfy any craving! Be sure to serve it with some homemade naan as well.

Overhead image of slow cooker chicken tikka masala on a dark brown plate on top of a bed of rice with naan on the side. The dish is garnished with lots of fresh parsley.
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Indian food is one of my favorite cuisines and I am always craving it. I love the complex flavors of Indian cuisine and it always makes my tastebuds come alive. I think that’s why I love Indian cuisine so much — I’m obsessed with flavor and richness.

I always look to create restaurant favorites at home and this slow cooker chicken tikka masala recipe is one of them! I actually have several Indian favorites on my site, including stovetop butter chicken, dal makhani, biryani, samosas, and gobi manchurian.

When you’re tired after work, the whole dinner part of the evening is kind of daunting. That’s where this slow cooker chicken tikka masala comes into play. I prepped everything the night before and put everything into the slow cooker right before I left for work. It’s so nice to walk into your house after work and smell dinner already prepared. It’s as if you have an in-house chef!

What is chicken tikka masala?

Chicken tikka masala is a dish that’s consisted of marinated chicken that is cooked in a super flavorful creamy tomato-based sauce. It is served worldwide and a popular dish at many Indian restaurants.

An up close photo of the chicken tikka masala with white rice on a dark brown plate.

Ingredients You’ll Need

For exact measurements, scroll to the bottom of the post.

  • Boneless, skinless chicken thighs – I prefer using dark meat over white meat for slow cooker dishes. They tend to retain moisture a lot better and they’re so much more tender and juicy.
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Tomato puree – this is the base of the sauce.
  • Plain yogurt – you’ll be marinating your chicken in this. Yogurt helps tenderize the chicken.
  • Garam masala – a blend of spices originating from India and the most common spice you’ll see in Indian cooking.
  • Turmeric powder
  • Ground cumin – for that earthy flavor
  • Sweet paprika
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Ground black pepper
  • Cayenne pepper – if you don’t like heat, you may omit this and if you love heat, you may add more!
  • Bay leaves
  • Heavy cream – for that ultra creamy, luxurious sauce.
  • Cornstarch – to help thicken the curry stew a bit.
  • Lemon juice – to help brighten up the flavors.
overhead image of slow cooker chicken tikka masala on a bed of white rice and a side of naan all on a dark brown plate. there is another plate of chicken tikka masala in the upper right corner.

How to make chicken tikka masala

For detailed instructions, scroll to the bottom of the post.

Marinate the chicken. In a large bowl, you’ll add majority of the ingredients with the chicken and stir to ensure all the chicken is coated. Cover and refrigerate for two hours or overnight.

chicken tikka masala mixture in the insert of a slow cooker with seasonings on top

Cook the chicken. Once you’re ready, add everything into the insert of the slow cooker and cook on high for 2 hours or low for 4 hours.

Make the cornstarch slurry. While the mixture is still hot, make the cornstarch slurry and stir it into the slow cooker to thicken up the sauce a bit.

Serve. Serve on a bed of basmati rice and with Homemade Naan.

Tips to make this slow cooker chicken tikka masala dish

  • Try to prep/chop everything the night before so you can put this into the slow cooker before you head out for the day
  • Read the instructions carefully — some of the ingredients are not added at the beginning
  • Use the correct spices

Common questions

Is chicken tikka masala spicy? It depends! If you like spice you can make it spicy by adding in more cayenne pepper than the recipe calls for. If you don’t like it spicy then you can omit it or use less.

Can you make this vegan or vegetarian? I don’t see why you can’t! You could substitute out the chicken for firm tofu (but I’d add that in at the end of cooking).

Can I omit any of the spices that I cannot find? No! It is what creates the flavor of this dish. Indian cuisine is highly flavorful because of the spices used.

Can I substitute sour cream for the yoghurt? You can, but it MIGHT be too sour.

I accidentally added everything into the slow cooker, will my recipe be ruined? No, it will be fine.

What can I serve with chicken tikka masala? Homemade Naan, Vegetable Samosas, and Mango Lassi!

Storing and reheating instructions

This will keep in an airtight container for up to five days in the refrigerator. To reheat, simply pop it in the microwave for 1 minute (or more) or reheat on the stovetop.

slow cooker chicken tikka masala on a dark brown plate with white rice and naan. a fork can be seen on the side in the rice covered with the curry.

Other slow cooker recipes to love:

Slow cooker chicken enchilada soup

Slow cooker beef and broccoli

Slow cooker pumpkin coconut curry

Mississippi Roast

Slow cooker chicken pot pie soup

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4.21 from 109 votes

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala

If you love chicken tikka masala, this is an easy way to make it while you're away from the home!
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 25 minutes
Servings: 8

Equipment

Ingredients 

  • 5 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 ½-inch cubes
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
  • 29 ounce (822 ml) can of tomato puree
  • 1 ½ cups (368 g) plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons Garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon tumeric powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • ½ tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • ¾ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¾ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 13 teaspoons (1 teaspoon) cayenne pepper, depending on your heat preference
  • 2 (2 leaves) bay leaves
  • 1 cup (237 ml) heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • Lemon juice from half a small lemon
  • Chopped parsley or cilantro, for topping

Instructions 

  • Place chicken, onion, garlic, ginger, tomato puree, yogurt, olive oil, garam masala, tumeric powder, cumin, paprika, salt, cinnamon, ground black pepper, and cayenne pepper in a large bowl. With a spatula, stir to combine everything and make sure the chicken is coated well.
  • Cover and refrigerate for two hours or overnight.
  • Once marinated, gently place the mixture in the insert of the crockpot and add the two bay leaves.
  • Cover and cook for 4 hours on low (or 2 hours on high).
  • When done, in a medium bowl, whisk together heavy cream and corn starch, then pour the mixture into the crockpot and gently stir. Let cook an additional 20 minutes to thicken up. Squeeze half a lemon over the mixture then stir to incorporate.
  • Serve hot over a bed of white (or brown) rice.
  • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Video

Nutrition

Serving: 1Serving, Calories: 356kcal, Carbohydrates: 16g, Protein: 27g, Fat: 21g, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 9g

This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For the most precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator based on the actual ingredients you used in the recipe.

The default measuring system for this website is US Customary. Unit conversions are provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. While we strive to provide accurate unit conversions, please be aware that there may be some discrepancies.

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Photography by Jesse Reilly

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Recipe Rating




454 Comments

  1. This was incredible!!! It was so easy and flavorful and the chicken was so tender. I did marinate overnight and added more chicken thighs than recipe called for. Otherwise made it exactly as written and will most definitely keep this in our rotation. Thanks so much for creating this masterpiece!

  2. definitely not bland like others have mentioned—it was actually a little too flavorful! it tasted far too cinnamony, so I think next time we’ll use either less garam masala or no cinnamon—both of them together was just way too overpowering. the tikka masala that I’m used to from my favorite indian restaurant has a much stronger tomato taste to it, which I think I’m missing here. based on what others are saying, I think we’ll also add more chicken next time! bottom line though, there *will* be a next time—it was super easy to make :)

  3. The recipe as written (and downloaded) doesn’t call for marinating for 2 hours or overnight. The “story” says to marinate the chicken.

    Might be a good idea to mention the marinating in the recipe if one were to download and save it. If not needed, why mention it at all?

    1. hi Johnny, you’re right. it was missing from the written recipe card. i’m not sure what happened as this recipe from five years ago was updated recently and in the process of that, i must’ve mistakenly deleted that step from the card. i apologize and thank you for pointing it out!

  4. I was really hoping this would taste as good as it looks in the photos, but I found it too tangy and the sauce to chicken ratio was off. I would recommend less yogurt to strive for less tangy sauce.

  5. See is where I am on the fence, I’ve never had authentic from an Indian restaurant tikka masala so I am unsure on how it is supposed to taste. I have made it once before, not this recipe. And this recipe tastes more tomatoy (though I did use diluted tomato paste as no grocery stores had purée) it tastes strong of spice but also not strong at the same time. Like over whelming of one spice, and it does have a kick too it but not to spicy for us. Unsure if I will make again. Thank you for the recipe!

  6. I don’t know why some people are calling this recipe bland, with all the different spices this Indian dish is superb! Although I will agree with adding some extra chicken because it makes a lot of sauce but still a tasty dish! 5 stars!

  7. Tha Bomb recipe!!!
    I made a double batch, follow the recipe to the tea. It is Dy-no -mite!!
    Hosting a party today to celebrate my Indian friends 20 years at work, and aside from making the decorations for it, Indian I wanted to make some thing from scratch that, honored her family’s history and bring back some good memories from her of childhood, eating good food :-) this recipe is definitely it. Thank you for giving me a Quality recipe. Authentic ingredients in the power to do it myself!

  8. Delicious mix of seasonings. The only time-consuming part was cutting up the chicken thighs — everything else was easy. I would do a bit less sauce for the amount of chicken.