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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

4.23 from 113 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 cayenne pepper, depending on your heat preference
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup (237 ml) heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • Lemon juice from half a small lemon
  • Chopped parsley or cilantro, for topping
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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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458 Comments

  1. Do you have an instant pot version of this recipe? I love it but don’t always have the time for a crockpot recipe.

  2. This was a huge hit tonight, except for my 5 year old. I probably should have omitted the cayenne for him. I used a whole chicken in the crockpot, otherwise followed the recipe exactly. It was wonderful! And so easy!

  3. Very disappointed in this recipe. The flavour was very bland, and I expected it to be very flavourful because there were so many spices added and it was slow-cooked! My stove-top curries that I cook for 1 hour max and with fewer ingredients have more flavour. Not an authentic or restaurant-quality Indian meal.

  4. I tried this recipe tonight and the flavor was ok, but the chicken was SO dry. I followed the recipe exactly. Any ideas what went wrong?

  5. This was so incredibly good! I’ve had the hardest time finding good Indian food recipes but this hit it out of the park! Everyone licked their plates clean! Thank you!!!

  6. If I don’t have crockpot and would like to cook this on stove, how long do I cook it for and what heat level??