Instant Pot Chicken Tikka Masala

This healthy Instant Pot Tikka Masala recipe was inspired by the month I spent in India, otherwise known as 30 of the most delicious days of my life. India wasn’t a country I’d long planned to visit. In fact, before I went, I wasn’t even sure if I liked Indian food. Chicken tikka masala (and every Indian food recipe I tasted after) crushed that doubt in one bite.

Instant Pot Chicken Tikka Masala – a healthy, easy version of authentic Indian chicken tikka masala, made quick in the pressure cooker. Not too spicy, ultra creamy, filled with flavor, and great leftover too! Recipe includes dairy free option. #instantpot #easy #indian #pressurecooker

After college, I knew I wanted to take a month to visit somewhere abroad, and when my future roommate mentioned that she’d always wanted to go to India and would I go with her, I gave her my logical 20-something-year-old response:

Sure! Why not?

A travel addict who relishes new experiences, I suspected I’d like India. I was wrong.

I LOVED it.

Everything about India captured my heart, from its color to its chaos to the warmth of its people to its CUISINE.

Instant Pot Chicken Tikka Masala. A healthy, easy version of Indian chicken tikka masala made in the pressure cooker. Super flavorful with garam masala, turmeric, coconut milk, and Greek yogurt.

While there is much about India that I miss, it is the steaming, creamy curries, fluffy, tender naan bread, and vibrant spices for which I pine most.

As much as I adore Indian food, as does Ben—he lived and worked in India for two consecutive summers, though ironically we never overlapped—we almost never go out for it at home.

Perhaps it is the lack of a great Indian restaurant (anyone know of one in Milwaukee?), but part of me also is loathe to pay the high prices that Indian restaurants here command, when I know a) what the real deal should taste like (and cost) and b) that I can make something almost as good at home for a fraction of the calories and price.

I’d had prior success making healthy, Indian-inspired recipes in my own kitchen, Paneer Tikka Masala, Slow Cooker Chicken Curry, and Instant Pot Lentil Curry being three faves. (Any requests for others? Heidi’s recipe for Palak Paneer caught my eye). Since Chicken Tikka Masala is one of Ben’s favorite Indian dishes, I decided to try my hand at a skinny Chicken Tikka Masala that would do justice to the chicken curries we’d each experienced abroad.

Verdict: Success!

While this Instant Pot Chicken Tikka Masala cannot compare exactly to the ones we ate in India, for an at-home version that takes minutes to prep, is made from ingredients I can purchase in a Midwest grocery store, AND is healthy, I’m pretty darn happy with it, and I am betting that you will be too!

For an extra bump of protein, I made the Chicken Tikka Masala with Greek yogurt. Whole milk yogurt is more traditional, but I found that a scoop of nonfat plain Greek yogurt achieved a similar effect. The spices are modified to ones you should be able to find easily, and if you have any trouble, I’m willing to bet my last bite that you can find an option online too (feel free to leave a comment if you are having trouble).

Instant Pot Chicken Tikka Masala. A healthy, delicious version of the Indian dish, this Instant Pot chicken curry recipe is a great addition to your list of easy recipes. Not too spicy, filled with flavor, and ultra creamy from the Greek yogurt and coconut milk!

Why Make Chicken Tikka Masala in a Pressure Cooker?

As you no doubt deduced from the recipe title, I cooked this chicken tikka malsa in my Instant Pot.

Because authentic Indian food recipes often take hours to prepare (thanks to toasting and grinding whole spices, plus long simmer times), making pressure cooker Indian food is a natural, valuable shortcut to creating a similar effect in a fraction of the time.

Can I Make This Healthy Chicken Tikka Masala in a Slow Cooker Instead?

I haven’t tried yet, but I’m betting it would work! See tips for slow cooker and stovetop versions of the recipe in the notes section in the recipe below.

What to Serve with Chicken Tikka Masala:

I kept it simple and served our chicken tikka masala with brown rice that I made in the Instant Pot as well.

Unless you own more than one Instant Pot (for which I am not judging—if you can’t tell from the recent influx of Instant Pot recipes on my site, I’m hooked myself), it’s going to take some foresight to make the brown rice in advance. If you haven’t, you can always make the rice on the stovetop while the chicken tikka masala cooks or serve it with naan bread instead.

This healthy chicken tikka masala recipe does already have a serving of veggies built in (thank you peas!), but if you’d like to bump up the veggie content of your meal further, it would be delicious with a side of roasted cauliflower or sautéed kale.

Easy Instant Pot Chicken Tikka Masala. This delicious chicken tikka masala pressure cooker recipe will be a new family favorite! Healthy, easy, and made quick in the pressure cooker.

Whether you adore Indian food or are just starting to tiptoe your way in, this healthy twist on Chicken Tikka Masala is a wonderful mini vacation on a plate.

Close your eyes and inhale its sweet aroma. You can almost hear the Bollywood tunes playing through the streets!

Watch How to Make Instant Pot Chicken Tikka Masala (1 minute):

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Instant Pot Chicken Tikka Masala

Instant Pot Chicken Tikka Masala. A healthy, easy version of authentic Indian chicken tikka masala made quick in the pressure cooker. Not too spicy, ultra creamy, filled with flavor, and great leftover too!

Yield: 6 servings (5 cups chicken and sauce)

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter (or coconut oil, ghee, or extra-virgin olive oil…I do think the butter is worth it here!)
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala*
  • 1 teaspoon ground chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne (use more if you like the dish spicy)
  • 1 (8-ounce) can no salt added tomato sauce
  • 1 (14-ounce) can light coconut milk
  • 3/4 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • Prepared brown rice or naan, for serving
  • Fresh cilantro, for serving

Directions:

  1. Season the chicken with 1 teaspoon kosher salt and set aside.
  2. Add the butter to an Instant Pot and set to SAUTE. Once melted, add the onion, garlic, ginger, garam masala, chili powder, cumin, turmeric, and cayenne. Cook, stirring often, until the onion is soft and the spices are very fragrant, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the chicken pieces, stir to coat with the spices and onion, and cook, stirring often,  just until the outsides start to brown, about 4 minutes. Add the tomato sauce and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir to combine. Cover and cook on HIGH pressure for 8 minutes. Vent to immediately release the pressure.
  4. Uncover and stir in the coconut milk. Turn the Instant Pot back to SAUTE. Bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring occasionally, and let it continue to simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, about 10 to 15 minutes. Turn the Instant Pot off, and then stir in the peas. Let cool for 3 to 4 minutes, and then stir in the Greek yogurt (do not stir in the Greek yogurt right away or it may curdle). Enjoy warm with rice or naan and a sprinkle of fresh cilantro.
  • Garam masala is a blend of many spices and is very important to the final flavor of the recipe. It is available in most grocery stores and can also be found online here.
  • Instant Pot Brown Rice: I’ve been playing around, and so far my favorite ratio is 1 cup long-grain brown rice to 1 1/4 cups water. Stir the two together, add a pinch of kosher salt, and cook on high pressure for 22 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally for 15 minutes. PERFECT. (Please note, this applies to long-grain brown rice only. Other rice types may have different cook times and liquid ratios.)
  • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Reheat leftovers gently on the stovetop or in the microwave.
  • To make dairy free: Use coconut or olive oil in place of the butter; replace the Greek yogurt with a non-dairy yogurt, such as coconut milk yogurt.
  • To make on the stovetop: Instead of using the Instant Pot in step 2, melt the butter in a large saucepan or dutch oven over medium high and continue with steps 2 and 3. After stirring in the tomato sauce and salt in step 3, cover and simmer over medium low until the chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Uncover the pot, stir in the coconut milk, and allow to simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the peas. Let cool for 3 to 4 minutes before stirring in the Greek yogurt.
  • To make in the slow cooker: Follow step 1 as written. Melt the butter in a large skillet or dutch oven over medium-high heat and continue with steps 2 and 3. After browning the chicken pieces, transfer the contents of the skillet to your slow cooker and add the tomato sauce and salt. Stir to combine, cover, and cook on high for 3 to 4 hours or low for 6 to 8 hours. When the chicken is done, stir in the coconut milk and frozen peas. Let cool for 3 to 4 minutes, and then stir in the Greek yogurt. (Note that the sauce may be a thinner consistency when made in the slow cooker.)
All images and text ©/Well Plated.

Nutrition Information

Serving Size: 1 (of 6), about 5/6 cup with 1/2 prepared brown rice

  • Amount Per Serving:
  • Calories: 355 Calories
  • Total Fat: 10g
  • Saturated Fat: 5g
  • Cholesterol: 79mg
  • Sodium: 654mg
  • Carbohydrates: 32g
  • Fiber: 4g
  • Sugar: 5g
  • Protein: 36g

Did you try this recipe? I want to see! Follow Well Plated on Instagram, snap a photo, and tag it #wellplated. I love to know what you are making!

Instant Pot Chicken Tikka Masala – a healthy, easy version of authentic Indian chicken tikka masala, made quick in the pressure cooker. Not too spicy, ultra creamy, filled with flavor, and great leftover too! Recipe includes dairy free option. #instantpot #easy #indian #pressurecooker

Instant Pot Chicken Tikka Masala – a healthy, easy version of authentic Indian chicken tikka masala, made quick in the pressure cooker. Not too spicy, ultra creamy, filled with flavor, and great leftover too! Recipe includes dairy free option. #instantpot #easy #indian #pressurecooker

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About Erin Clarke

I’m fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food taste incredible. Wearer of plaid, travel enthusiast, and firmly convinced that sweets and veggies both deserve a place at the table. MORE ABOUT ERIN…

22 comments

  1. Sounds delicious – I really need to invest in an instant pot. I’d love to see a recipe for aloo gobi!

  2. We love Chicken Tikka Masala. Going to make this tomorrow night for dinner. We like our dishes on the spicier side. Any suggestions on how to add some heat to the dish? I plan on making it in my Instant Pot. Thanks!

  3. Give me ALL OF THIS!!!!

  4. Tikka Masala is my favorite! It’s my go-to order when I’m out. Now I think I MUST try it at home. Looks fabulous, Erin!

  5. Great job Erin!! One of my favourite curries (:

  6. Stop! You’re making me want an Instant Pot and I don’t have space for another gadget :( But these are so cool!  

  7. A whole month in India sounds fabulous! And speaking of fabulous, that’s the first word that comes to my mind when I see this dish! I’m ready to dig in!

  8. I love chana masala, or any dish with paneer. I always stir a bit of ghee into my warm rice for an extra burst of that Indian flavor.
    I love that you’re adding more instant pot recipes! I was using mine (and my former pressure cooker) mostly for cooking beans, and posts like these really help me branch out.

  9. I LOOOOVE tikka masala!!

  10. hey girl- this looks really good!

  11. I tried this recipe in the crock pot this evening and it was delightful! I roasted some cauliflower and threw them in at the end (not a peas person!) and did not regret it! Thank you for this wonderful recipe!

    Rating: 5
    • The cauliflower addition sounds excellent, Holli! Thanks so much for giving this recipe a try and taking the time to report back!

  12. Made this tonight and my husband raved and raved. Said to tell Erin that he gave it 2 thumbs up! I used the stove top method. I have a 3 qt Instant Pot and I did make the Brown Jasmine Rice in it which cooked perfectly, and which is the first and only thing I’ve cooked in it so far. I wasn’t sure if the Tikka Masala would fit in a 3-qt; they make it sound like anything that has a sauce that sputters would need to fill the pot only 1/2 way to keep it from clogging the vent. But I think it would have been close enough to the 1/2 volume mark to have made it do-able.

    I did make a couple of substitutions. I used a powdered coconut milk (about 3 to 4 TBSP) and did not add any additional liquid; just stirred it in and let it combine with the tomato sauce. I therefore did not have to cook it extra to thicken it, it was already plenty thick. And I used only about 2 TBSP of a whole milk yogurt (Belgian in my case) instead of the Greek yogurt. So fat grams and calorie wise, it was a bit higher than your version, but I think we will never order out for Tikka Masala again! Next time, I’ll try it in the Instant Pot. :-)

    PS: I prefer mild heat so 1/8 tsp of cayenne pepper was perfect–still got a little heat but not overwhelming.

    PSS: I commented to my husband that it would have tasted really good with some Naan. He said “can you make that next?” No good deed goes unpunished. But Naan with Tikka Masala sauce is my favorite way to eat Naan–so Naan is probably in my immediate future!

    Rating: 5
    • Beverly, I’m so glad to hear this recipe was a success for you! Thank you so much for taking the time to share these detailed notes and swaps—they are so helpful. :)

  13. I made this last night following the recipe closely, and it was a huge hit with the family!

    I was worried that there might not be enough liquid to allow the instant pot to come up to pressure (I have read elsewhere that 2 cups of liquid are suggested), but it worked perfectly.

    Thanks!

    Rating: 5
    • Mark, I’m so glad to hear the recipe was a hit! Thank you for giving it a try and taking the time to report back!

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