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. Candace
    12/31/2013 at 12:42 am

    I’m so excited to try this! I made the mistake of combining all the ingredients then transferring to the crockpot. Is it ruined? Also how will red pepper flakes do instead of cayenne pepper? Thanks!

    • 12/31/2013 at 7:39 am

      Hi Candace, sorry I didn’t get back to you until now. Not sure if you got a chance to read the other comments in this post but others have done the same thing as you and theirs turned out fine so I hope yours turned out ok, too! Cayenne’s heat intensity is a lot higher than red pepper flakes so I’d suggest adding more red pepper flakes if you like it hotter! Enjoy.

  2. Megan
    02/11/2014 at 10:58 am

    Hi Julie,

    I thought that I was all set to make this today, but just saw in a comment above that you used plain greek yogurt, not regular yogurt, when you made this. Having not seen that before I went to the store, I only have normal yogurt. Is there anything I can and should do to get the thickness and tangyness of greek yogurt into my dish? Thanks!

    • 02/11/2014 at 1:19 pm

      Hi Megan, I’ve used both and they both turned out fine. You’ll be ok to use regular yogurt :)

  3. Jen
    02/14/2014 at 12:04 am

    I made this tonight and it was de-lish! I was excited to find this recipe that was close to the kind in the restaurants. However, we had a lot left over – Do you know if the leftovers can be frozen??

    • 02/15/2014 at 10:32 pm

      Hi Jen, yes, you can freeze the leftovers. Glad you enjoyed!

  4. Joseph
    02/24/2014 at 2:05 pm

    I haven’t had a chance to make this yet as it makes a lot (could be something to keep in mind during low-budget times when we could use some meals that can be stretched out) but it looks good and flavorful. For lazy cooks like me they actually make diced cooked chicken breast that you can get in the freezer case at the supermarket. I can also find diced onions in the freezer case too. And for lightening it up I could replace the yogurt called for with plain fat-free Greek yogurt, and I could probably use light cream or fat-free half-n-half instead of heavy cream. And I like that they make smoked paprika now too. Using Smoked paprika should give this recipe a nice smokey flavor :-)

    • 02/25/2014 at 7:58 am

      I hope you make this sometime soon, Joseph! Sounds like you know how to make it work!

  5. Megan
    03/11/2014 at 11:39 pm

    Made this tonight, and it was a hit! Thought the flavor was pretty close to what you get at the local Indian places, at a fraction of the cost. I forgot to buy half and half, so used a little more nonfat Greek yogurt and a little less whole milk, and it was still fine, just not quite as creamy. Used 2 tsp. of cayenne, and found it very spicy — probably about a “4 stars” on the restaurant heat scale. Served with naan and basmati rice. Thanks for the recipe… You’ve got a new blog follower. :)

    • Julie
      03/12/2014 at 11:30 am

      So glad to have you as a follower, Megan! I’m glad you enjoyed this crockpot dish!

  6. Ruth
    04/02/2014 at 5:47 pm


    how would I adapt this to using a Curry Masala paste? It’s from Himalayan Gourmet. Thanks!

    • Julie
      04/03/2014 at 8:21 am

      Hi Ruth, I have no idea. I’ve never used curry masala paste before. Sorry!

  7. Ruth
    04/03/2014 at 8:50 am

    Thanks for responding anyway!

  8. Bethany
    04/07/2014 at 12:45 pm

    Have to say – I was very excited to try this as I have recently moved and haven’t found any great indian food take out places near my new home. This was spicy but bland – I thought it would taste great since it has all the spices that should make this come out right, but tasted nothing like chicken tikka masala.

    • Julie
      04/08/2014 at 8:33 am

      Aw, sorry to hear this, Bethany!

  9. Caitlyn
    04/18/2014 at 3:21 pm

    Hey there! This is in the cooker now! I’m so excited. Just curious, why did you leave the lemon juice out of your version of the recipe? (Cooking Classy originally had 2 TBSP)

    • Julie
      04/19/2014 at 11:23 am

      Hi Caitlyn, I left it out because I thought it made the sauce too tart.

  10. daddy
    05/04/2014 at 12:43 am

    OK I followed the instructions to the T I have been a cook for quite some time I have to say that the sauce came out really good but the chicken came out very dry. I can’t even eat the chicken due to how bad this came out. The best thing for this recipe is to cook the chicken separate. That way it does not come out dry.

  11. Kimberly
    05/08/2014 at 10:20 pm

    Hi, are you certain that you only meant to write 1 can of puree because I followed this recipe to the T and it’s quite light almost tan in color before the cream. I’m added another box of puree and it looks and tastes better now. Am I wrong? Just wondering?

    • Julie
      05/09/2014 at 5:49 pm

      Hi Kimberly, yes I’m certain it’s only 1 can of puree. Did you use the 29 oz. can or something smaller?

    • Tom Windsor
      02/27/2015 at 12:59 am

      Ihad the exact same problem. I used tinned tomatoes, maybe that is why. I read online that it is what you guys called tomato puree in the USA

      • Michael
        08/08/2015 at 10:03 am

        I believe tomato puree is what we call passata in Europe. Normally you can find it in grocery stores, but if not, you can make your own by taking a can of peeled whole tomatoes and turning it into a puree using a blender.

  12. Priyanna
    05/13/2014 at 10:31 am

    This turned out wonderfully! Tender and delicious. Thanks for the easy recipe!

    • Julie
      05/13/2014 at 10:04 pm

      Glad to hear, Priyanna! Thanks for the feedback!

  13. matt
    05/25/2014 at 10:22 pm

    Thanks for this! Wpund up turning out absolutely delicious. Now if only I had a decent recipe for na’an…

  14. Nana Phyllis
    06/01/2014 at 9:23 am

    Made this yesterday for my son’s 38th birthday. Everyone loved it. I did cut down on the cayenne and cornstarch, but followed the rest. I used 4 lg. chicken breasts and have a lot left over. I froze it for future meals.

  15. Katie
    06/03/2014 at 9:39 am

    I made this yesterday and it was incredibly delicious. I used four boneless chicken thighs and one large breast, subbed coconut milk for heavy cream and kind of fudged the spices (being more heavy-handed with my favorites). The end result was super flavorful, and just the right amount of spicy/sweet. The sauce was so good my boyfriend actually licked his bowl clean!

    For those of you who work crazy hours like me, the recipe is forgiving on time. I cooked it for eight hours on low, then left it for over three hours on the “warm” setting. My chicken was shredded, but the liquid/meat ratio remained good.

  16. Abraham
    06/04/2014 at 12:17 am

    If it is not too much of a hassle, can you post next to each ingredient needed in grams?

    Looks delicious! And a person said to make it REALLY good and more authentic is to use ground cashews instead of cornstarch. Have you tried this with ground cashews?

    • Julie
      06/04/2014 at 8:24 am

      Hi Abraham, I don’t measure anything in grams so it would take me a longer time to convert recipes to that, therefore, I don’t post in grams. There are online converters that you can use to help you with that if you need it! I’ve never tried it with ground cashews – sounds delicious!

  17. Jill
    06/05/2014 at 10:55 pm

    I only have a 4 qt crockpot. Should I cut the recipe in half or will a full recipe fit in the smaller size?

    • Julie
      06/06/2014 at 7:36 am

      Mine’s a 4-quart crockpot, too. It’ll fit but it’ll be a close one! Haha :)

  18. 06/09/2014 at 12:37 am

    So delicious! Easy dish with little to no hassle that packs lots of flavor. I followed the recipe to a T with the exception of using turkey breast instead of chicken. This recipe beats my favorite Indian restaurant’s chicken tikka masala. Thanks for sharing!

    • Julie
      06/09/2014 at 7:54 am

      Wow, great to hear, DeLea!

  19. christine k
    06/15/2014 at 7:23 pm

    I just made this and it was super easy and everyone liked it… but it didn’t taste like tikka masala. Tikka Masala is my favourite Indian dish and I’ve had it numerous times and different restaurants. This meal wasn’t bad, but it essentially tasted like a sourcream chicken. It didn’t taste like Indian food. I just stepped back through the entire recipe and made sure that I didn’t miss anything or add too little or too much of something. I did it perfectly (save the cilantro at the end because we just didn’t have any). I would totally make it again, but it is lacking in something and I can’t place it.

  20. Nikki
    07/02/2014 at 4:32 pm

    I agree with the above comment, I won’t say we didn’t enjoy it but I was not ready for it to taste so unlike the tikka masala we are used to. We tend to go out for Indian food at least twice a month. I followed the recipe every step of the way and it was really easy but the taste just wasn’t there for me. I seemed to get a lot of cinnamon taste even though I didn’t add anymore then I was supposed to and then chicken was a drop dry.

  21. Jill
    07/03/2014 at 7:56 pm

    I just made this recipe and I must say it is awful and nothing like what I expected. Either something is missing from the recipe that caused this epic fail or I just don’t like this recipe and I have had chicken masala many times and it never tasted this way. Very disappointed at the huge waste.

  22. Ali
    07/09/2014 at 3:51 pm

    There was something off about this dish so I did some research and realized you left out the lemon juice that basically every other chicken tikki masala recipe has. I added some and it helped a lot!

    • Julie
      07/10/2014 at 8:33 am

      Hey Ali – thanks for catching that! I actually added lemon juice to my tikka masala and I really didn’t like the way it tasted with it so I omitted it when I wrote the recipe because I didn’t want people to get angry about it, but maybe I should add it back in. Thanks!

  23. 07/16/2014 at 9:05 am

    I made this lovely dish on Monday, and it turned out amazing. The chicken was tender. The sauce was flavorful. And, it only took a few minutes to prepare. I definitely recommend making this. Thanks for sharing!

  24. Bethan
    08/10/2014 at 10:08 pm

    So I managed to forget to buy cornstarch when I made this today. Doh! Luckily I had some flour which worked as a good substitute. Pretty tasty dish over all. I think I may try and rub down the chicken before hand as that was the only part that I didn’t like so much. The sauce was amazing but it didn’t penetrate the meat like I’d hoped. Still super yummy though!

    • Julie
      08/11/2014 at 8:02 am

      Glad it turned out well for you!

  25. Matthew
    08/11/2014 at 4:18 pm

    Can I add curry powder to this recipe?

    Also, is smoked paprika better than regular paprika?

    Thank you!

    • Julie
      08/12/2014 at 8:49 am

      You can add curry powder to this recipe if you want but I haven’t tried it that way so I’m not sure how it’d taste with the other ingredients. Smoked paprika and regular paprika (which is sweet) are both different so I can’t say if one is better than the other. If you’re looking for a smokier taste, then I’d use smoked paprika (my personal favorite) but if you just want a hint of sweetness, use regular.

  26. Rima
    09/20/2014 at 11:51 am

    Hi everyone.. I made this the other day and it was really good, but it was missing something… So close, but some flavor note was missing for sure my fiancé and I agreed. I figured it out. It’s TUMERIC POWDER! Added it afterward, and then it was PERFECT. Tastes identical to Indian restaurant Chicken Tikka. Try it!

    • Lisa
      06/01/2015 at 1:28 pm

      I’m also wondering, I had found a recipe years ago that included cardamon seeds… that might help as well. I’m looking forward to giving this a try this weekend. Thanks for posting, I LOVE crockpot cooking & I agree 100%, set it & go is the only way to go

  27. sanya
    10/13/2014 at 8:12 pm

    Tonight I was desperate for a good curry recipe and luckily I came across this. By far the best I’ve made. I didn’t have heavy cream so I threw in a can of coconut milk. Thank you very much for the delicious recipe!

  28. Tracy
    10/24/2014 at 10:26 pm

    Since I do not have a crock pot, can you suggest how long I would cook this on the stove top? Thanks :)

    • Julie
      10/26/2014 at 2:54 pm

      Hi Tracy, I’m not positive but I would maybe start with 2 hours on low and longer if you want the flavors to develop more.

  29. Theresa Reddell
    10/29/2014 at 9:13 am

    Hi, I just put this in my crock pot and realized I wasn’t supposed to add the cream, cornstarch and lemon at the end. Do you think it will still turn out okay?

    • Julie
      10/30/2014 at 7:39 am

      Hi Theresa, it’ll be fine. In previous comments, numerous people did the same thing as you and I wrote back to them saying it’ll be fine. Hope you enjoyed this!

  30. Alden
    11/01/2014 at 3:31 pm

    Why does it say to place everything into the bowl and then later say add cornstarch and cream. Totally messed it up based on the first sentence.

    • Julie
      11/02/2014 at 4:48 pm

      Because it says place everything UP TO the bay leaves. If you don’t like the way I constructed the sentence, then you can always read the entire recipe first before making it.

      • Megan
        11/05/2014 at 8:02 pm

        I love this response:)

      • Susan Marie
        04/17/2015 at 6:02 pm


  31. Whitney
    11/12/2014 at 4:59 pm

    So I’m sitting at work thinking about this tasty recipe I have cooking at home when suddenly it hits me… How could I be so stupid?! I used tomato paste instead of tomato puree. OH GOD. WHAT HAVE I DONE.

    • Julie
      11/13/2014 at 1:57 pm

      Eek, that’s not good! Hope it was still salvageable!

      • 05/18/2015 at 3:50 pm

        Hey guys. I didn’t check the date on this, so I might be waaay late in the game, but…I used tomato paste on accident and it still worked and it was so, so good. I just had to use a lot of extra cream to thin out the paste a bit.

  32. 11/20/2014 at 11:11 am

    I am confused about cumin and cinnamon, is it cumin seeds and cinnamon sticks or cumin powder and cinnamon powder?

    • Julie
      11/20/2014 at 4:44 pm

      Both ground cumin and ground cinnamon!

  33. Hannah
    11/20/2014 at 3:13 pm

    This recipe is delicious! It tastes nearly the same as the Maya Kaimal Tikka Masala simmer sauce. Thank you so much for sharing. I left out the lemon juice because that usually makes things too tangy for me and I used rotisserie chicken. DELICIOUS.

    • Julie
      11/20/2014 at 4:47 pm

      So happy to hear this!! :)

  34. Amy
    11/20/2014 at 5:10 pm

    This is fantastic. I added four tablespoons of cayenne because we like it hot. My husband had never had Indian cuisine before and he loved this! Thank you for an awesome recipe. Oh also, we put ours over quinoa and it was delicious.

    • Julie
      11/22/2014 at 8:11 am

      So glad you enjoyed it!

  35. Lisa Kwan
    12/02/2014 at 6:12 pm

    This is an amazing recipe! So delicious and full of flavour. I’ve made many indian recipes before and this one is one of THE BEST! My family and guests loved it. Great job Julie. I’m now going to go through your other recipes…Yum!

    • Julie
      12/03/2014 at 9:22 am

      I’m so glad you enjoyed this! Hope you find some other recipes to try :)

  36. Kristy
    12/12/2014 at 1:14 pm

    Paprika — Hungarian (sweet) or Spanish (smoked)? They are so different and this could make a big difference in taste.

    • Julie
      12/14/2014 at 11:29 am

      Hungarian (sweet).

  37. megan
    12/12/2014 at 3:51 pm

    I just stirred and tasted this in the crock pot–I thought I could handle some heat but this is spicy!!:) I added more yogurt–any other suggestions? Taste is great besides that–thanks for sharing!

    • Julie
      12/15/2014 at 7:36 am

      Probably more yogurt and maybe some more tomato sauce?

  38. Keri
    12/13/2014 at 9:39 am

    I made this and mine also came out tan in color vs. orange/red. I did enjoy it but I used the other recipe with the lemon juice and totally agree with your assessment that it made the dish too tangy. I also make my own garam masala which has caramom in it so I wasn’t pleased with the lemon/cinnamon taste – a little too heavy. I also wonder about leaving the chicken beasts whole which I have done in other recipes until the last hour could that help with the dryness or would it not cook correctly. All that being said I will make again with a few adjustments. Thank you!

  39. Rundlesten
    12/14/2014 at 6:36 pm

    Tried this today and it was quite good, though still too spicy for my family (and i only used 1 tsp of cayenne). Do you think that chick peas could be used instead of chicken and if so how many cans would you recommend? Thanks!

    • Julie
      12/15/2014 at 7:53 am

      Chickpeas could possibly work instead of chicken – since this is a big dish, I would say at least 2-3 cans of it.

  40. Christine
    12/17/2014 at 12:56 pm

    I made this last night for my boyfriend who had been craving chicken tikka masala and it turned out great! The only modification I made was I marinated the chicken overnight in yogurt before putting it into the crock pot in the morning. I saw that tip on another recipe and thought marinating it might be worth a shot. Even though I half-ed the recipe (since there are only two of us) there was plenty of sauce to dip our naan in and tons of leftovers! Thanks so much for posting this!

    • Julie
      12/17/2014 at 8:52 pm

      Awesome! So glad you all enjoyed it!

  41. 12/18/2014 at 1:51 am

    Hi, Julie
    I plan to make this in this weekend (for 4 serves), but I’m curious I can’t find all these spices in my place. Is it ok to skip some ingredients?

    • 12/18/2014 at 1:56 am

      Such as tumeric powder and cumin.

      • Julie
        12/18/2014 at 8:01 am

        Hi Marian, I really wish I could tell you to skip those ingredients but they’re pretty key in this dish. Most Indian cooking is a lot of spice-based to give it the unique flavor. Sorry! :( have you tried looking on Amazon?

  42. Jennifer
    12/30/2014 at 1:28 pm

    Can I use Greek yogurt instead of plain?

    • Julie
      01/02/2015 at 9:28 am

      Yes, but use plain greek yogurt.

  43. Joy
    01/01/2015 at 11:12 am

    This was so easy and delicious! Made it yesterday and HAD to eat two helpings! Thanks for sharing.

    • Julie
      01/04/2015 at 6:17 pm

      Glad you enjoyed this!

  44. 01/05/2015 at 3:24 pm

    I can’t wait to make this meal for my family

  45. Cyndi
    02/05/2015 at 5:57 pm

    Have you ever tried adding curry paste to this? I make a stove top version that I use that in. It adds a great depth of flavor.

    • Julie
      02/06/2015 at 8:54 am

      No, I haven’t but sounds great!

  46. 02/07/2015 at 1:14 pm

    Just Made this Julie after having had it out. We don’t have an oven that works right now. It was masterful. Thank you for the Recipe.

  47. Silvia
    02/09/2015 at 1:27 am

    I only have a Brown Cow Maple Yogurt. Would that work, or could it ruin the recipe completely?

    • Julie
      02/09/2015 at 7:27 am

      No, it won’t work. As mentioned in the recipe, it needs to be plain yogurt.

  48. Dumas
    02/12/2015 at 3:44 pm

    I couldn’t fit all of the ingredients in my 5 quart crockpot, so I prepared the dish in 2 portions. Loved the consistency, but in the end it was too spicy (might have been the ginger, or the curry) maybe both :)

    • Julie
      02/13/2015 at 7:29 am

      Might have been the cayenne, actually! So maybe omit that next time :)

  49. Shivla
    02/16/2015 at 3:38 am

    I made this yesterday and followed the recipe to a T. However, at that stage I did not know that what you call ‘Tomato Puree’, we in the UK call passata and vice versa! So I used what you would call tomato paste. It didn’t generate much sauce but when I added the cream near the end, this rectified the problem. This was a delicious recipe which all of my family loved, praising my culinary skills. I think I will make it exactly the same way again as it worked so well. Thank you for posting, I love slow cooking (crock pot), it makes life just that bitless stressful of an evening.

    • Julie
      02/16/2015 at 8:26 am

      Good to know about the difference in names! I’m glad it worked out well for you :) slow cooker recipes definitely help out in life!

  50. 02/17/2015 at 7:36 pm

    I just made this tonight and I just have to thank you for the wonderful recipe! I am going to have some fabulous work lunches the next few days with the leftovers!!

    • Julie
      02/18/2015 at 8:29 am

      Leftovers for lunch are the best! So glad you enjoyed!

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