Slow Cooker Tikka Masala


Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala

I asked on my Facebook page the other day if you guys loved your slow cooker and wanted to see more recipes for it.  It was a resounding yes!  So I jotted down a few ideas, and am starting to work on it.  This is the first one I did.  My family loves Indian food, so it was kind of a no-brainer for me to start with Tikka Masala.

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala

Indian food can be higher in fat and calories sometimes.  I took the opportunity to lighten it up here, so that I didn’t feel guilty eating it.  The more often I can eat a comforting bowl of this stuff, the better!  Lots of people seem to love Indian food, but are somewhat intimidated making it at home.  It really is pretty easy.  A few spices (that you can find in your normal grocery store), and you are good to go.  The rest of the ingredients  are ones you probably already have on hand.

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala

My husband isn’t always thrilled when he comes home to see the slow cooker is out.  He has it in his head that nothing good (aside from pulled pork sandwiches) comes out of there.  This completely proved him wrong.  He was pretty surprised about this one, and was already talking about the next time I am going to make it.  He is pretty sure that white fish would be really good with this sauce  as well.  My 8 year old came home and could immediately smell we were having Indian food for dinner, and was excited.  The leftovers made perfect lunches too.

Slow Cooker Tikka Masala

Yields 8

Use your slow cooker to make a flavorful, comforting Tikka Masala

10 minPrep Time

6 hrCook Time

6 hr, 10 Total Time

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  • 5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 1 inch pieces (about 3 pounds)
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbls fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 (29 oz) can tomato puree
  • 1 1/2 cups plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbls olive oil
  • 2 Tbls Garam Masala
  • 1 Tbls cumin
  • 1/2 Tbls paprika
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (more if you like things spicy)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup half and half (or heavy cream)
  • 1/2 Tbls cornstarch
  • Serve over rice
  • Garnish with chopped cilantro


  1. In the insert of your slow cooker mix together onion, garlic, ginger, tomato puree, yogurt, olive oil, Garam Masala, cumin, paprika, salt, cinnamon, pepper, and cayenne. Once well combined and smooth, add chicken pieces, and toss to coat.
  2. Add bay leaves.
  3. Cover and cook for 6 hours on low (3 hours on high)
  4. Whisk together half and half with the cornstarch. During the last 20 minutes of cooking, stir in the half and half. Cover and continue to cook for 20 minutes.
  5. Serve over rice. Garnish with cilantro if desired.


Slightly Adjusted from Cooking Classy

Chicken Thighs could be used as well.



  1. LOVE tikka masala. Glad this one was a hit!

  2. I have got to start using my slow cooker more often….starting with this tikka masala! This would be such a hit at home!

  3. Can’t wait to try this. One of my FAVORITE dishes when I traveled to India! Think coconut milk would work for half & half or cream? Just thinking about what I have in my pantry!

    • It would for sure, just might give it a little coconut flavor. You went to India? I had no idea!

      • Awesome! I was in India for about a month right after I graduated from college – working as a recruiter for Epic Systems. Fantastic food but a rough country to visit.

  4. This tikka masala looks so good, a great weeknight meal option!

  5. I am the WORST at using my slow cooker! I really need to change that.

  6. Slow cooker Indian food…oh yes please! Going to try this out asap!

  7. Is the chicken raw or already cooked when you put it in the slow cooker?

  8. I need more recipes for my slow cooker and yours looks divine!!

  9. Pretty good flavors – but the result wasn’t anywhere near the color in that photo. Pale creamy pinkish/orange, not bright tomato red (as in the photo, and at most restaurants).

    • Did you use the full large can of tomato puree. I have noticed that substituting other tomato products has altered the color. Glad you liked the flavors.

    • Hey Annie,
      I had the same problem! The second I got everything in the pot immediately I knew the color was off. But I double checked everything, and my ingredients were right on. Maybe it’s just manufacturer differences? I was disappointed, though. Pink (other than salmon) is such a weird/hard to eat color for food.


      • I can only guess the color would be off a little because the tomato puree can be different depending on the brand. Did you add the cream at the very end, for the last 30 minutes of cooking?

  10. This recipe looks absolutely delicious! I live in Mexico, and all the natural Greek yogurts are sweetened. Would you recommend anything else to use instead of Greek yogurt? I’m wondering if sour cream would do the trick.

    • Sour cream would work great or even regular plain yogurt if they have that. Hope you enjoy!

    • Can you get regular plain yogurt and paper coffee filters? I always have regular plain yogurt in my house and if I need Greek for a recipe, I just put the filter in a strainer and the yogurt in the filter. Let he water drain off and there you go! You could also put the yogurt in muslin or cheesecloth and hang it – I’ve even used a couple of paper towels in a pinch, which also works well. Good luck!

      • Great tips! You could even use plain yogurt in this. I just went for Greek to up the health benefits a little. But really it just makes it creamy!

  11. YUM!!! Tikka Masala is MY FAVORITE Indian food! Can’t wait to try out your crockpot version! Pinning :)

  12. Found this on Pinterest– I can’t wait to try it! Greek yogurt is a great substitution for cream. Just know that if you use 0% fat, it’ll separate. This is one time when fat is good.

  13. Sunday is cleaning day, so think I will try out this recipe then. Love Indian food. I have my own version of this recipe, but not in a slow cooker. Will definitely switch out the half and half for a can of light coconut milk though. Sounds delish!

  14. I have a more time consuming (2 day, overnight marinating) version of this recipe, and I was very eager to give this one a try. I was not disappointed! I followed your recipe to the letter, and I thought it was FANTASTIC. I thought the color was perfect, I’m not sure what the other commenter had a problem with. I wonder if she used a 15oz can of tomato puree? Truly this was amazing.

  15. I was so excited to make this recipe that I added everything in at once, rather than waiting to add the half-and-half (I subbed in coconut milk) and cornstarch. Do you think it will still be ok? I feel like such a dummy and I’m hoping I didn’t waste all of these ingredients.

    • I am sure it will work out fine. It might not be exactly the same, but the flavors should be there. You might need to add in more cornstarch at the end to thicken. Just watch it at the end and see what you think.

  16. I made this recipe this week, and while the taste was fantastic, the cream and tomatoes did not blend well and looked like pink mush. Any suggestions for how to make this turn out creamier?

    • Did you use tomato puree? Tomato puree is smooth and when you use a whisk the cream (when added during the last 20 minutes), mixes in, and it should remain smooth. Did you make any substitutions?

  17. This past weekend I just made this same dish with another recipe. I wish I had found this one instead. The other recipe made waaaaaaaay too much sauce for the amount of chicken. Now I have to figure some way to use all the extra sauce. I did use boneless skinless thighs. That worked out fine, except I had breasts in the freezer and had to shop
    special for the thighs. Not that was a big deal. I also put it over linguini, which was deeply appreciated by my guests.

  18. Just made this dish over the weekend and it was AMAZING. Huge hit with my friends. It was my first time making it at home and it tasted just as good as some of my favorite restaurants.

  19. I’m going to make this today but I’m just wondering is the tomato puree tomato paste? All I could find at my grocery store was either tomato paste or crushed tomatoes.

    • There is a product called tomato puree. It is similar to tomato sauce only a little thicker, but not nearly as thick as tomato paste. You could use crushed tomatoes, I would just run them through the food processor or blender first. Tomato Paste would have to be thinned out with water. Any tomato product will work, it might just later the color some. Enjoy!

      • thanks! I ended up mixing half tomato paste and half crushed tomatoes because I didn’t have enough of either lol I just added some water to it so we will see. It already smells great!

  20. I’ve been looking for a chicken tikka masala recipe for a while now, without any kinds of hard-to-find ingredients. And it’s so great that this is done in the slow cooker! I’m a bit obsessed with my slow cooker. I can’t wait to try this- hopefully it will make my husband and I calm down on going out to get Indian food, which has not been good for our wallets. Thanks! :-)

  21. Woah! WAaaaay to spicy with 1 tsp cayenne. I like a little heat in my life but it was inedible. All I could taste was heat and burn. I had to add an additional 2 cups of half and half and cook another hour to calm it down. I am sure that threw off the other spice ratios as well. I would say no more than 1/4 teaspoon. If you like it hot, you can always sprinkle more on your personal plate.

    • I am sorry you found this too spicy. The original recipe called for 3 tsp, and I reduced it to 1 tsp. My 8 year old who does not like spice at all, enjoyed this. Some of the Indian spices (garam masala) can add a little spice to the dish as well. Different cayenne can have different heat levels as well. Hope you try it again and enjoy.

  22. Allison K says:

    It’s nearly right as is. My personal tweaks would be to reduce the amount of tomato puree to 24 ounces, and increase the amount of garam masala and salt by 1 tsp each.

    Really great recipe though!

  23. I found this recipe on Pinterest and just picked up all the ingredients! Excited to try it! I was wondering if you might have any freezing tips for leftover lunches? I generally portion lunch-size portions into small Rubbermaid containers (would do rice + sauce together). If it makes more than what we can eat in a couple days, do you think it would freeze OK like that? Thank you!

    • I do the same thing for the fridge. I think it would freeze well too! I might just freeze the chicken and sauce togethdr, make fresh rice when you thaw it. Hope you enjoy!

      • Thanks! That sounds like the way to go. I have yet to trust myself with this whole “cooking” thing. 😉 We had this for dinner tonight over jasmine rice with naan. It was wonderful. My husband really enjoyed it too. Thank you!

  24. Do you have any idea of what I could use to substitute for garam masala? I went to 3 different grocery stores in my area and could not find any. I eventually settled on a recipe I found online to make a “substitute” and I think it came out ok, but I’d like to know your thoughts.

    • Emily, I really do not think there is a good substitute. I can’t believe you couldn’t find it, it is a relatively common spice these days (I think I got mine at Walmart or Target) I know you can order it online, if you are at a complete loss. Glad you found a way to make your own!! As long as you liked the flavor of the dish, I think you were good. If you do find it, try again, and see if you like it better!

    • I couldn’t find it either but made my own w a recipe online. It tasted good to me but not sure if it tasted the same as it was supposed to? :)

  25. hi

    can you tell me by using chicken breasts were they tender or overdone?

    • I find that if you start with frozen, they will be tender and no over done. You can also use chicken thighs instead, they stand up much better to the cooking process, and do not dry out nearly as quickly.

  26. Tia Dalma says:

    Hi, i have no slow cooker at home can i cook it in a normal pot? I would love to do this recipe, it sounds really easy

    • You could easily make this without a slow cooker. You could do it on the stove top following the same directions. I would bring the mixture to a boil, cover and reduce to low for 20-25 minutes (until the chicken is cooked). Then stir in the cream and thicken slightly. Or you could do it in the oven in a large pan with your oven at 250 degrees for a couple hours. I have not tried either method so I can not guarantee the times, but it should work for you! Hope you enjoy!

  27. Hi! Is there a possible substitute for the yogurt if someone doesn’t eat dairy? Thanks!

    • I have only ever made this with yogurt. I know they have dairy free yogurt, you can try that for sure. But I have never tried it, so I can’t guarantee the results. Enjoy!

      • Thanks! I didn’t know such a thing existed! I will check the store for it!

        • Try a place like Whole Foods or Sprouts if you have one. I think you will have been luck at a healthier grocery store.

          • Thanks for the tips! My hubby has a casein allergy so I have to stay away from dairy ingredients. I will try looking at whole foods! Can’t wait to try it!

  28. Wonderful recipe. Stirred in Greek yogurt for my toddler as the kick was even kick-y for me, a lover of spices. Made a TON for our little family, so shared my leftovers with my momma. She shoveled it down with all sorts of happy grunts, sighs and comments.

  29. I used all the ingredients but not in this order and not in the crockpot because I didn’t have time. I used a Dutch oven and started with the oil and then carmelized the onions and added the ginger and garlic. Then mixed in the spices and let them season up. Then the tomato puree to carmelize. Once that was done I mixed in the yogurt, added the chicken, turned the heat to low, covered it and let it cook for about an hour – stirring every ten minutes or so. I added in the heavy cream and cornstarch with about twenty minutes to go and turned the heat off and let it sit and meld. Served over rice and topped with cilantro. Normally I would have let the chicken sit in the yogurt overnight to marinate but I didn’t decide I was going to do this today until just before I started prep. Cooking on low heat allowed it to remain tender without that step. The color was as pictured.

  30. Made this for my guy the other night, as he’s British and LOVES Indian food. It was a massive hit! Thank you for this great recipe!!!

  31. Thanks so much for this! It’s so good! I only used 1/4 tsp of cayenne and but added tad bit more garam masala and it had just enough kick for us. So excited to have this recipe to make again and again instead of getting take out!

  32. I made this recipe today – DELISH! Thank you so much! Hubby said he felt like he was eating at an Indian restaurant. :) I would like to add potato and cauliflower. Any thoughts on what point in the cooking time this should be added?

    Thank you,

    • Kathy – so glad you liked it!!! I think the potatoes can probably go in with the chicken. I would put the cauliflower in during the last 2 hours. That is just guesses based on some research though, I have never tried it! Let me know how it works out!

  33. Tracy Dye says:

    Made this last night. I also had the issue with the sauce being more pink than red, and that was even without 1 1/2 cups of yogurt (more like 1). Tasted good, though. 6 chicken breasts, I think there was enough for at least 8 good sized ladles of the stuff.


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