Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala


I feel like I’m 95 years old this week. I’ve been so tired every night. I’m struggling writing this blog post as we speak. It looks like I’m crying because I’m yawning so much. On top of all that, I have noticed that I’m getting really bad lower back pain. I sit all day long and sometimes I don’t even get up to take a walk. Does that happen to you? If it’s raining out, I typically don’t go out for a walk so that really isn’t good, but some days I get so busy or involved at work, I forget to leave my chair, only to the bathroom. I think that’s really affecting my lower back. Why do we have to get old?! I’d be perfectly fine if I were 25 forever :)

Being tired after work doesn’t help the whole dinner part of the evening. When I’m tired, I’m usually too lazy to cook or make anything decent. That was this entire week. We ate horribly this week because I was so tired so we would go out to eat. I hate doing that but what can ya do? You can’t force yourself to cook when you can barely keep your eyes open.

That’s where slow cooker meals come into play :) a few weeks ago, I prepped everything the night before (mostly all the chopping) and threw everything in the crock pot right before we left for work in the morning and we came home to the most amazing and comforting dinner. 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.

I have seen crockpot tikka masala all over the place but a lot of them had you cooking some parts of it as a prep step. This is just my opinion but what’s the point of a set it & forget it meal if you still have to cook it before you set it? I hate those. I just like chopping things up and throwing it in a crockpot. So when I finally found this recipe on Jaclyn‘s site, I was thrilled. Definitely a keeper. Tastes just like the real thing and it makes a ton! Leftovers in this household = less days I have to cook during the week, haha

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
8 hrs
Total Time
8 hrs 15 mins

A great way to make the classic Indian dish at home!

Servings: 6 -8
  • 8 boneless skinless chicken tenderloins, or about 5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 3 lbs.) - cut into 1.5" cubes
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 1: 29- oz can of tomato puree
  • 1 1/2 cups plain yogurt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp Garam masala
  • 1 tsp tumeric powder
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1/2 tbsp paprika
  • 2 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1-3 tsp cayenne pepper, depending on your heat preference
  • 2 leaves bay
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • Lemon juice from half a small lemon
  • Chopped parsley or cilantro, for topping
  1. 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.
  2. Gently place the mixture in the insert of the crockpot and add the two bay leaves.
  3. Cover and cook for 8 hours on low (or 4 hours on high).
  4. 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.
  5. Serve hot over a bed of white (or brown) rice.
  6. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Recipe Notes

Source: adapted from Cooking Classy



Posted on October 19, 2012

dinner for two by julie wampler



Perfect for: singles & couples, newlyweds, empty-nesters, college students, YOU!


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  1. jen
    02/14/2013 at 9:11 pm

    Great recipe. My son said it tasted just like what we get in the Indian restaurant (high praise from him). Tons of sauce so make lots of rice or better yet get some Naan.

  2. Ken
    02/17/2013 at 7:54 pm

    You should correct the recipe to say that “combine all indredients except heavy cream and corn starch…I just made an expensive boo boo.

    • 02/17/2013 at 8:35 pm

      Hi Ken! Sorry it didn’t work out for you. You didn’t elaborate on what went wrong but this was how I have made it and how others have too, and it worked out for them. Sorry I can’t help you out but if you’d like to explain what happened, maybe we can troubleshoot!

  3. Kathryn
    02/17/2013 at 8:49 pm

    Made this today and everyone loved it. I used diced canned tomatoes because I didn’t have the pureed, and I did brown my chicken and onions a bit before I put it in the cooker. (That’s my habit with making meats in the slow cooker, I think they turn out better tasting that way.) For the commenter who thought the cinnamon smelled too strong: I thought the same thing. I was worried, because I’m not a big fan of cinnamon. But the taste was amazing.

  4. Ken
    02/19/2013 at 6:44 pm

    Hi Julie,

    I ended up adding all the ingredients together to include the cream and cornstarch per the first instruction….leave it to a guy I had not read down to the end, BUT it ended up great…I added a little water to keep the cream from making it too dense and it cooked just fine. I added a recipe for Palak Paneer and made some Naan. The family was very happy with the end results. I will read all the way thru next time….Great Recipe.

  5. Lisa
    02/20/2013 at 2:41 pm

    Hi Julie,

    I followed the recipe to a T minus the ginger because…well, Ginger and I are not friends so I used a lot less. Mine came out pretty bland. Not sure what I did wrong. :-(

  6. 02/21/2013 at 9:11 pm

    I made this today with minor modification (I reduced the ginger a little and replaced the majority of cayenne pepper with fresh hot chili peppers finely chopped). By far the BEST tikka masal in the crock pot I have made to date. I’ve tried several and none have come out so delicious. We like our indian very spicy and found using fresh chili’s is the trick.

    Thanks for the recipe, it will now be a part of our monthly rotation! SCORE!

  7. Christine
    02/26/2013 at 7:30 pm

    Is there a substitute for the tomato paste? My fiancé is allergic to tomatoes. We miss out on a lot of recipes because of it. If there’s not, that’s fine, but I was curious if this recipe would still work with something non-tomato?
    Thank you.

    • 02/26/2013 at 8:22 pm

      Hi Christine! Unfortunately, the tomato base in this recipe is what makes this recipe taste correctly (I would’ve suggested red bell pepper but that would probably be really gross) :( I wish I had another way around it for you! I’m so sorry!

  8. Christine
    02/26/2013 at 8:57 pm

    Ok, thank you anyway! I might have to make a small batch for myself and make something special just for him. It sounds too good for me not to try.

  9. Laura
    02/27/2013 at 1:06 pm

    Can I substitute Greek yogurt?

    • 02/27/2013 at 9:15 pm

      For which part of the recipe? The plain yogurt part or the heavy cream part? If you’re talking about the plain yogurt part, then yes. If the heavy cream part, no.

  10. Elizabeth Burchfield
    02/28/2013 at 6:10 pm

    Ok this recipe ROCKS! I have made it about four times now and each time it is better than the last! Thank you sooooo much for sharing the love:)

  11. mary
    03/03/2013 at 12:50 pm

    I just made the crockpot tiki masala for the first time! I am a huge fan of Indian food! This was an excellent recipe..very flavorful! Thank you for making one of my favorite foods easier to make!

  12. Melanie
    03/17/2013 at 11:30 pm

    Do you think I could combine the majority of the ingredients ahead of time, freeze and then cook it in the slow cooker? I’m getting ready to return to work after my maternity leave and would love to prep some meals!

    • 03/18/2013 at 8:25 am

      I’ve never done that before so I can’t say for sure, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work.

  13. Daphne
    03/21/2013 at 8:22 pm

    Kind of dumb question but is the tomato purée tomato sauce or paste? I really want to make this! I had Indian food for the first time the other night and loved it. I actually saw this recipe awhile back but was afraid to make it without knowing what it was supposed to taste like! Ha! Can’t wait to try it.

  14. Daphne
    03/22/2013 at 12:15 pm

    Thank you! I always buy diced, whole, tomato sauce or paste so I’ve never really seen this before. Good thing I asked!

  15. Kathy
    03/24/2013 at 12:49 pm

    I am going to try to use coconut milk instead of the heavy cream…hope it works!!

  16. Amanda
    03/25/2013 at 8:52 am

    This sounds great! As I am infamous for overlooking a vital detail in a recipe, I just wanted to clarify that the chicken should be uncooked when it goes into the crockpot?

    I’ll be trying this with my in-laws this week! Thanks.

  17. Beth
    03/28/2013 at 9:37 am

    Julie, what a great recipe! I had to cut the recipe in half to fit my little crockpot and used plain tomato sauce instead of purée, but it still made plenty and came out absolutely delicious. Half of my family is Indian, but chicken tikka masala is the one dish I never make bc traditionally you need tandoori chicken which takes forever to marinade, then use that in the sauce. But somehow doing this in the crockpot eliminated the need for those extra steps and now I can make CTM in just a few min of prep :)

  18. Jenna
    03/28/2013 at 1:16 pm

    Looks delicious!!!! Thank you for posting this. Can I just use more yogurt instead of the heavy cream? Or almond milk? I’d like a lower-calorie/healthier substitute for the heavy cream, if possible.

    • 03/28/2013 at 3:04 pm

      You need some kind of fat in there so the yogurt doesn’t curdle. You could maybe add like 1/4 cup of heavy cream and a little more yogurt? Or if you want, just use almond milk instead. I’m not sure flavor-wise though if that’d interfere, but I doubt it.

  19. 03/31/2013 at 11:06 pm

    I tried this and it was so good! I’m writing a post about recipes I’ve tried recently, and will definitely be linking to this post! :)

    Thanks for sharing!

  20. Pamela
    04/08/2013 at 9:06 pm

    I tried the recipie but it didn’t turn out. Maybe its because I used sourcream because I didnt have yogart. I cooked it on low for 8 hours and found the chicken way over cooked and the sauce didn’t taste good. (I usually love Indian food). If I was to do this again, I would cook the chicken separtely and just add it in at the end to warm up. Thoughts?

    • 04/08/2013 at 10:22 pm

      Traditional Indian dishes always use yogurt. I’m pretty sure the sauce didn’t taste good because of the substitution of sour cream. I think you should try that next time. The yogurt also tenderizes the chicken throughout the cooking process so the omission of yogurt might’ve just been why your dish didn’t turn out. If you want to make this again, I definitely suggest using yogurt and if you want, you could definitely cook the chicken separately and then add it in at the end!

  21. Megan Esser
    04/16/2013 at 10:03 am

    Thanks for the recipe. I made this last night and wanted to share my take on the spiciness level. I’m an absolute wimp when it comes to spice. I used 1.5 tsp of cayenne and for me it was too much. My husband is a spicy enthusiast and added more red pepper to his plate. I’m going to try adding some extra greek yogurt to my plate of leftovers tonight to try and cut down on the spice for me. My husband raved about this dish and offered to be in charge of eating all of the leftovers this week :) So I’d say it was a success!

  22. 04/22/2013 at 1:30 pm

    Made this pot of goodness over the weekend, and we loved it. Very complex flavors, easy to throw together, and gave us plenty of leftovers. Considering it a regular in our rotation now!

  23. Stephanie
    04/24/2013 at 1:25 am

    Made this tonight and it was fantastic! Easy to throw together and came out delicious. The chicken ended up really tender, pretty much shredded but that’s probably because it cooked for about 10 hours since I work long shifts.

    For anyone looking for a slightly lighter alternative, I used light coconut milk in place of the heavy cream and it turned out great – the spices definitely covered any coconut taste. I also used plain Greek yogurt, which kept the sauce nice and thick.

    Thanks for the great recipe! I will definitely make this again

  24. Ale
    05/13/2013 at 12:22 am

    Can I use curry as a substitute for garam masala?
    or is there a susbtitute for it

    • 05/13/2013 at 7:38 am

      You could but I wouldn’t recommend it. Garam masala is a mixture of spices and your dish probably would just end up being a chicken curry dish as opposed to a tikka masala.

  25. TC
    05/15/2013 at 9:53 pm

    Is there a typo in this recipe? I made it with 29oz tomato puree and it was soooooo tomatoey and didn’t need thickening. Should it be 29oz tomato sauce?

    • 05/16/2013 at 8:00 am

      No, there is no typo in the recipe. I made it myself with 29 oz. tomato puree.

  26. 05/25/2013 at 6:47 pm

    We are HUGE Indian food fans around here – so I couldn’t wait to try my hand at this. We really liked it – I would cut down a tad on the cayenne next time (sometimes I forget it’s better to start easy on the spice because you can always add, but you can’t really take away!)

    I felt like it was missing a little something – something I can’t quite put my finger on. Maybe more salt! Either way, it’s a fantastic recipe and it is definitely going into our rotation! Thanks for sharing!

  27. Meli
    06/03/2013 at 2:36 am

    Tried this recipe and it was amazing! Hands down mine and my hubbies favorite meal. One thing, we both LOVE spicy. What can we add to this to give it that extra kick? It would be much appreciated!

    • 06/03/2013 at 8:17 am

      You could add more cayenne pepper to give it an extra kick!

  28. TC
    06/06/2013 at 6:51 pm

    Hahaha! I’ve realized my mistake. I’m from England and we call tomato paste tomato puree. I will try it again with American tomato puree :)

  29. 06/13/2013 at 2:24 pm

    This looks way easier than I thought It would be. I make this with the canned stuff alot but would love to make it without all the sodium. Can not wait to try this out soon!

  30. Abiha
    07/11/2013 at 1:39 am

    Can’t wait to try making this!8 just have a question about the you cut the chicken breasts or tenderloins into pieces before putting in the crockpot? Or do you just cook the chicken breast whole?

    • 07/11/2013 at 8:27 am

      Yup, cut it into pieces before marinating it in the yogurt sauce.

  31. Sallie
    07/13/2013 at 3:42 pm

    The best antidote for fatigue is vitamin B12. Make sure the bottle says “vitamin B12 (methylcobalamin).”. We like the chewable kind. Take 10,000 mcg per day, always in the morning so you’ll be able to sleep at night. Also suggest you take a multi-vitamin and d-ribose. I have fibromyalgia and this helps fight the “black fatigue.”

  32. Derek
    07/29/2013 at 7:21 pm

    Made this tonight. I put everything in a ziploc last night and poured it in the crock this morning. The checkin had some time marinating in the mixture and allowed the yogurt to tenderize the meat. I used boneless thighs and left them whole. Let me say the house smells amazing and tastes great…This is a keeper!!

    • 07/30/2013 at 8:04 am

      Lovely! So glad you enjoyed :)

  33. Veru
    07/30/2013 at 2:30 pm

    This looks yummiii¡ do u think i can add some potato? Should i added right at the beginning or wait ? What do u think? Thanks so much!

    • 07/31/2013 at 9:46 am

      Hi Veru, yes you could definitely add potatoes if you want. I think you should add them halfway into the cooking process so they don’t become mush.

  34. 08/09/2013 at 3:16 pm

    I just wanted to let you know that this recipe is nothing short of magical. I make it with a side of garlic mint yogurt and naan bread to go with it and every time I make it I never end up with leftovers because my husband and friends devour it.

    • 08/11/2013 at 11:02 am

      Yum! That sounds great!! So glad you enjoyed :)

  35. Emily
    08/20/2013 at 6:31 pm

    Just made this tonight and it’s yummy! It was easy to make but seems fancy. :) Thank you for yet another delicious recipe, ESPECIALLY a crockpot one!

    • 08/21/2013 at 8:40 am

      Thank you for coming back to let me know what you think! Glad you enjoyed :)

  36. Amanda
    08/24/2013 at 1:01 am

    I’m sorry if this has been asked, I read through the comments but only briefly… Garam masala seems to be a combination of the spices already being added (with only a couple extra).. do we need to add garam masala AND all the components in it separately??
    Thanks! Look forward to trying this! I LOVE tikka masala but haven’t ever made it homemade :)

    • 08/24/2013 at 9:49 am

      Hi Amanda! Yes, you need to add garam masala and all the other components! Enjoy!

      • Amanda
        09/04/2013 at 2:32 pm

        I LOVE this recipe!!!!!! I have told all my friends about it :) I even had some people over for dinner when I made it, and they love it too! THANK YOU so much for sharing :)

  37. Ann
    08/25/2013 at 2:08 pm

    Love the idea of a different dish in a crock pot!I just made chicken veggie kabobs with masala sauce from a jar and my bible study group just LOVED it! I wanted a recipe for a crock pot and yours is perfect.

    Thank you for sharing. We are making it today. I share my crock pot meals with my mom and our adopted grand pa. It makes there lives easier and mine. They get a different meal that they would normally not make or buy and it is very healthy.

    • 08/25/2013 at 8:51 pm

      Aw how sweet of you to cook for your mom and adopted grandpa! I hope everyone enjoys!

  38. Carmen
    08/27/2013 at 8:27 pm

    This was amazing! I made it because my husband loves Tikka Masala. I couldn’t stop eating the stuff. Wow! Can’t wait for left overs. Thank you for sharing this recipe. I found it on Pinterest month ago and I’m so happy we tried it.

    • 08/28/2013 at 8:55 am

      Yay! So glad you enjoyed this!

  39. 08/31/2013 at 1:50 pm

    Yum, I definitely need to try this! It looks amazing – and I love using the crockpot! :)

    • 08/31/2013 at 9:09 pm

      I love the crockpot! Makes dinners so easy :)

  40. maria
    09/04/2013 at 10:57 pm

    What did I do wrong? It was so spicy, we couldn’t even eat it… Yikes. I am not a crock pot cooker

    • 09/05/2013 at 8:20 am

      Hi Maria, sorry yours turned out too spicy. Unfortunately, you didn’t give me enough information for me to properly diagnose what went wrong. Did you happen to mix up TSP (teaspoon) for TBSP (tablespoon) in the cayenne pepper? That’s the only thing I can think of that could make this too spicy. Garam masala and the other ingredients don’t have that much heat – they’re more flavor, and the yogurt should’ve helped with the heat component. From what you’ve told me, I can only assume that you added too much cayenne pepper or you are just really sensitive to heat/spice so maybe next time leave out the cayenne?

  41. Caroline J
    09/16/2013 at 12:18 pm

    Hi, I had a quick question about you what kind of yogurt to use. Should I use regular plain yogurt or could I use Greek plain yogurt? Could I use fat-free or should I get a yogurt with a little bit of fat? Also I saw in an earlier comment that you said that I could sub half & half for the heavy cream, but could/should I use fat-free half & half or would that really alter the taste? I am just trying to lighten up the recipe a tad, as I am watching what I eat!

    Thanks for sharing an amazing sounding recipe!

    • 09/16/2013 at 8:16 pm

      Hi Caroline, I used plain Greek yogurt. You could use fat-free Greek yogurt. I wouldn’t sub fat free half & half, I hear that stuff is actually worse for you than the real thing, so just use regular half & half. Enjoy!

  42. Patrick P
    09/16/2013 at 9:34 pm

    Please help. I didn’t read instructions all the way through and added the heavy cream with everything else (not at the end). I have not started cooking. If I cook it will it be OK? Please help!!! I won’t start cooking it till in about 4 hours.

    Seems like this is a typical guy mistake…. fail!

    • 09/17/2013 at 6:58 am

      Hi Patrick! Sorry I didn’t get to you last night. Hope it still turned out. But yes, it would’ve been fine if you added the cream early.

      • Patrick
        09/18/2013 at 7:50 pm

        Julie, thanks for getting back, you are right it did turn out fine. I look forward to trying it the correct way next time!

      • 09/19/2013 at 8:25 am

        Wonderful! So glad it worked out for you, Patrick!

  43. Kate
    10/09/2013 at 9:43 am

    Oh no, I accidentally added the heavy cream to the mixture before adding it to the crockpot!? Will it turn out ok?! Haven’t added the cornstarch. Will add then in later. Help!

    • 10/10/2013 at 8:19 am

      Hi Kate, yes, it’ll be ok. Someone actually asked the same thing right above your comment and his turned out fine, as well! :)

  44. Lisa
    10/11/2013 at 4:11 pm

    I’m sorry, but this recipe feels like it’s missing half of the flavor of real tikka masala. It tastes flat. I wasn’t impressed. I wish there was a way to rate these recipes. I would have avoided it had there been an honest rating system.

    • 10/11/2013 at 5:43 pm

      Sorry you felt this way Lisa! The comments on this recipe serves as a pretty good rating system since a lot of them are actual people who made it and had a positive experience with it! Thank you for your feedback, though, and sorry this dish disappointed you.

  45. Danielle
    11/06/2013 at 10:18 pm

    We used to live in England where Indian food is like Chinese food here. We have had lots of tikka masala and since we moved away from there a year ago, I have tried many recipes trying to recreate the flavor. This was the closest I have come! It was delish and so easy. Thanks so much-will be making it often!

    • 11/07/2013 at 9:09 am

      Oh, I’m so happy that this is your new fav! Thank you for the feedback!

  46. 11/19/2013 at 1:52 pm

    This looks delicious. Have pinned to try soon. I usually stick to dishes that are a little more WW friendly but I have a 2-1/2 year-old grandson who just moved here from England. Tikka masala is one of his favorite foods and I’ve been looking for an easy recipe to try out for him. Thanks so much.

    • 11/19/2013 at 9:52 pm

      Oh that’s wonderful! I’m so glad you found this recipe. I hope you all enjoy :)

  47. Erin
    11/23/2013 at 8:53 pm

    I googled a crockpot tikka masala recipe and came across this. I just made it tonight and it was REALLY good for a crockpot dinner. Almost tasted like I was dining in my favorite Indian restaurant!! Thanks for the post!

    • 11/24/2013 at 10:31 am

      Awesome, Erin! So glad you enjoyed it! :)

  48. Christine Lang
    11/24/2013 at 8:25 pm

    I found it to be a little bland…..spicy but bland. Needed more salt. I am not a salt adder when I cook but there definitely was not enough.

    • 11/24/2013 at 8:42 pm

      Hi Christine! Glad you tried this! Everyone’s salt preference is different, which is why I noted “2 tsp. of salt, or to taste” so if you didn’t think 2 tsp. was enough, then by all means, go ahead and add more to your liking! I hope you try it again with more salt next time! Thanks for the feedback :)

  49. Amber C.
    12/01/2013 at 1:33 pm

    I thought this turned out pretty well. If it’s missing anything I think it’s that hint of sweetness I get from my stovetop recipes that use coconut milk. I’m wondering if that would be too thin to use in place of heavy cream at the end? Maybe thicken it with more cornstarch? Perhaps will try that next time. Thanks for the recipe!

    • 12/02/2013 at 12:49 pm

      Hi Amber! You can certainly do that! I bet that would be delicious :)

  50. 12/08/2013 at 10:44 am

    Hi! Great site and I’m so excited to try this tomorrow night. One question — for Step 4, should I keep the crockpot temperature on low or high when I pour the heavy cream/corn starch mixture into the crockpot?

    Thank you!

    • 12/08/2013 at 9:57 pm

      Hi Melissa, I would keep the crockpot temperature on high. Enjoy!

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