This healthy Instant Pot Chicken Tikka Masala recipe was inspired by the month I spent in India, otherwise known as 30 of the most delicious days of my life. We didn’t grow up eating Indian food so before I visited, I wasn’t even sure if I’d like it. Chicken tikka masala (and every Indian food recipe I tasted after) crushed that doubt in one bite.

A bowl of delicious, easy instant pot chicken tikka masala with rice

Everything about India captured my heart, from its color to its chaos to the warmth of its people to its cuisine. While there is much about India that I miss, it is the steaming, creamy curries, fluffy, tender naan bread, and vibrant spices I pine for most.

I’ve had prior success making healthy, Indian-inspired recipes in my own kitchen, Paneer Tikka Masala, Slow Cooker Butter Chicken, and Instant Pot Lentil Curry being three faves. Ben’s also spent time in India, and since chicken tikka masala is one of his favorite Indian dishes too, 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 a richly flavored at-home version that takes minutes to prep, is made from ingredients I can purchase in a Midwest grocery store, AND that is healthy, I’m pretty darn happy with it. I am betting that you will be too!

Easy, healthy Instant Pot chicken tikka masala served in a bowl with rice

What is in Chicken Tikka Masala?

Chicken tikka masala is a rich, flavorful Indian dish that consists of bite-sized pieces of juicy boneless chicken bathed in a rich, thick spiced curry sauce. It’s spiced in the sense of being intensely flavorful; it’s not spicy in the sense of being “hot.”  The tikka sauce is orange in color, and it usually contains a creamy ingredient like coconut cream or yogurt. There is not one true recipe for chicken tikka masala, and you can find dozens (and dozens) of versions of it online. Today, I’m sharing my favorite easy chicken tikka masala recipe that’s made with simple ingredients you can find at the average grocery store.

The Ingredients

  • Chicken. I opted for boneless skinless chicken breasts, which become perfectly moist and flavorful during cooking. (If you’re looking for a vegetarian recipe, try this Tofu Tikka Masala.)
  • Butter. While I think butter is best in this recipe, you could also try ghee, coconut oil, or extra-virgin olive oil.
  • Vegetables. Onion and frozen peas were an easy and tasty addition.
  • Garlic and Ginger. Fresh is the way to go with both of these.
  • Spices. The secret to the richly flavored tikka curry sauce! I used garam masala, chili powder, cumin, turmeric, and cayenne, which should all be easy to find in your local grocery store.
  • Tomato Sauce. Adds incredible flavor with little work.
  • Coconut Milk. Gives the sauce creaminess and richness.
  • Greek Yogurt. For an extra bump of protein and to make the sauce all the more creamy, I made the Indian chicken tikka masala with Greek yogurt.
  • Brown Rice or Naan. For serving! Both of these are delicious for soaking up the scrumptious sauce.

The Directions

  1. Season the chicken with salt.
  2. Melt the butter in the Instant Pot on SAUTE, then add the onion, garlic, ginger, and spices. Cook and stir until fragrant.
  3. Add the chicken, cooking until browned. Stir in the tomato sauce. Cover and cook on HIGH pressure for 8 minutes. Vent immediately.
  4. Uncover and add the coconut milk. Turn the Instant Pot to SAUTE, and let simmer until thickened. Turn the Instant Pot off, and stir in the peas. Let it cool for a few minutes before stirring in the Greek yogurt. Enjoy with your desired sides and toppings!

Is Chicken Tikka Masala Bad for You? 

  • While traditional chicken tikka masala calories may be considered high, this lightened-up version is good for you.
  • Thanks to the healthy swaps, this recipe is packed with protein and nutrients while staying relatively low in calories.

What Does Chicken Tikka Masala Taste Like?

  • Chicken tikka masala is creamy and has a richly flavored tomato base. It’s slightly earthy, has rich undertones of garlic and ginger, and a hint of spice that tastes exotic but won’t overwhelm you.
  • What is the difference between butter chicken and chicken tikka masala? While both dishes can be similar in appearance and texture, butter chicken has less spices and tomato flavor than chicken tikka masala. (Butter chicken is also DELISH. For a first-hand comparison, check out my favorite Instant Pot Butter Chicken recipe.)

Healthy Instant Pot chicken tikka masala served in a bowl with rice and fresh herbs

Why Make Chicken Tikka Masala in a Pressure Cooker?

As you no doubt deduced from the recipe title, I cooked this easy chicken tikka masala 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. Also, because the pressure cooker doesn’t lose moisture, the chicken stays wonderfully moist. I am smitten with Instant Pot Indian chicken recipes. This Instant Pot Chicken and Rice has a few of the same healing Indian spices (though its flavor profile is more subtle). (Check out more of my favorite healthy Instant Pot dishes in this post: 15 Healthy Instant Pot Recipes.)
  • Can I make this healthy chicken tikka masala in a slow cooker instead? I haven’t tried a chicken tikka masala slow cooker version 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. Also, check out my recipe for Slow Cooker Chicken Curry.

If you don’t have an Instant Pot, try this Chicken Tikka Masala instead.

How to Store, Reheat, and Instant Pot Tikka Masala

  • To Store. Store chicken tikka masala in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  • To Reheat. Gently reheat leftovers in a large pot on the stovetop over medium-low heat until hot. You can also reheat this dish in the microwave in a microwave-safe bowl until warmed through.
  • To Freeze. Place cooked and cooled leftovers in an airtight freezer-safe storage container and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating. The texture will become slightly grainy, but it will still be tasty.

What to Serve with Chicken Tikka Masala

  • Rice. I love serving this dish with a side of brown rice, but white or basmati rice would be great as well.
  • Naan. Fluffy and always delicious! Try my simple Homemade Naan recipe.
  • Vegetables. To bump up the veggie content of your meal, this would be delicious with a side of roasted cauliflower or sautéed kale.

Easy Instant Pot chicken tikka masala served in a bowl with brown rice

Recommended Tools to Make Instant Pot Tikka Masala

  • Instant Pot. I used this one to make my Instant Pot chicken tikka masala.

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!

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

4.97 from 199 votes
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!

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 50 mins
Total: 1 hr

Servings: 6 servings (5 cups chicken and sauce)

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 can no salt added tomato sauce (8 ounces)
  • 1 can light coconut milk (14 ounces)
  • 3/4 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • Prepared brown rice or naan, for serving
  • Fresh cilantro for serving

Instructions
 

  • Season the chicken with 1 teaspoon kosher salt and set aside.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Notes

  • 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.)
  • TO STORE: Store chicken tikka masala in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  • TO REHEAT: Gently reheat leftovers in a large pot on the stovetop over medium-low heat until hot. You can also reheat this dish in the microwave in a microwave-safe bowl until warmed through.
  • TO FREEZE: Place cooked and cooled leftovers in an airtight freezer-safe storage container and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating. The texture will become slightly grainy, but it will still be tasty.
  • 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 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.)

Nutrition

Serving: 1(of 6), about 5/6 cup with 1/2 prepared brown riceCalories: 355kcalCarbohydrates: 32gProtein: 36gFat: 10gSaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 79mgFiber: 4gSugar: 5g

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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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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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390 Comments

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  1. I got a burn signal when I tried to pressure cook for the 8 minutes (not enough liquid?) so I just simmered it instead. Tasted good!5 stars

    1. I’m so happy that you enjoyed the flavors, Jaimie! Thank you for trying the recipe and sharing your results!

    2. Hi, this has happened to me a few times, with different recipes. I think it happens when you use the saute mode (which is really high on the Instant Pot!) and then add in the rest of the ingredients. I just do the saute-ing in a separate pan (only 1 extra dish to clean, and it eliminates this aggravating issue) and add it in right before the pressure cook stage.

    3. A good tip for any Instapot recipe is to make sure you don’t have any brown bits before your pressure cook. I always deglaze my pot with a 1/4 cup of water or broth and scrape off any brown bits. Also helps not to mix the tomato sauce in (for any recipe) as I find when you do this you get a burn notice. I did both of these things with this recipe and it turned out great.

    4. I had that fear (the dreaded BURN). So I added the coconut milk before putting it in to pressure cook instead of after. Also I did the preprerare in another pan. Worked great!

  2. I was able to get a 6 year to eat this awesomeness! Lots of flavor, minimum spice. I did get the dreaded Burn. The next time I’ll add a little more chicken broth. Additionally, a half pound to another pound of chicken would be recommended with balancing of the ingredients for that mixture. Great intro to an Indian dish!5 stars

  3. Loved this dish! It’s easy and a great way to bring ethnic food home now that we can’t eat out during the pandemic.5 stars

  4. This was insanely delicious!!!! I served over cauliflower rice…husband called it one of my “best meals ever”! Thanks for the great recipe.5 stars

    1. Hi Ren! Honestly, I’d be worried about fully doubling it. I haven’t tried it myself, so I can’t say whether or not it would fit. Maybe start with 1.5 times and see how that goes first. I hope this helps!

        1. I’m so happy that you’ve enjoyed it, Nathan! Thank you for sharing this kind review!

    1. Hi Laura! I’ve only tested the recipe as written, so you’d be experimenting. If you decide to try it, I’d love to hear how it goes!

  5. What a hit! Kids loved it as well. So easy and the flavor was great… added more Cayenne and threw in some Black mustard seeds in the beginning. Just YUM!5 stars

  6. Great recipe! I added extra garlic, ginger, gram masala and cayenne pepper and a couple tablespoons of chicken broth and set IP to 6 mins for 1.5lbs of chicken. This recipe is very versatile. Plan to experiment more! Guaranteed deliciousness!5 stars

  7. This is, hands down, one of my favorite recipes ever. I make it as least once a month and the whole family LOVES it. I usually use the full fat/sodium/etc version of the ingredients because that’s typically what I have on hand but it turns out great no matter which way. It’s so flavorful, easy, and absolutely delicious!5 stars

  8. This sounds good, the only thing I wonder is how you make this and your excellent InstantPot brown rice recipe for the same meal?

    1. Hi Dale! You could make the rice in advance and store it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to reheat and serve it. I hope you enjoy the recipe if you try it!

  9. I’m absolutely in love with this recipe!! I’ve made it at least a dozen times since first discovering it. My family loves it too! I’ve even started to play with the recipe a bit for fun, adding a tbsp of curry powder, a can of chickpeas, or throwing a diced bell pepper in after it pressure cooks, etc. You can also hide finely diced spinach and/or cauliflower in the sauce SO easily. I cannot thank you enough for this FANTASTIC recipe!! It has become a permanent fixture in my home. ❤️5 stars

  10. This is so delicious and easy to make. It’s one of my husband’s favorites and I have to stop him from eating it all. I don’t like peas so I don’t add them and it’s still very good. I’ve made it so many times I almost know the recipe by heart.

    Thanks for sharing!5 stars

  11. This is the best chicken tikka masala recipe, it’s so tasty and so easy to make, I cooked mine in the slow cooker and for the last hour I left the lid off so it would thicken up. It’s such a delicious dinner and was a big family favourite5 stars

  12. This was delicious! Definitely adding it to the dinner rotation! I did add 1/2 cup of chicken broth to the browned chicken and spices, scraped up all the browned bits and made sure not to stir after adding the tomato sauce- no burn notice!5 stars

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