Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala

Slow cooker chicken tikka masala is the best recipe for easy family dinners and big batch meal prep. It’s creamy, spicy, and pairs perfectly with a side of basmati rice and naan.

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If you love Indian takeout as much as we do, you’re going to love this easy recipe for slow cooker chicken tikka masala. While it may not be quite as good as your favorite takeout spot, it’s a budget-friendly alternative that you can make in a big batch for family dinner or your weekly meal prep!

The ideal chicken tikka masala is creamy and complex, with a little sweetness and a little spice, and tender chicken that melts in your mouth. So we considered all factors – the flavor, texture, color, even the smell – while developing this recipe, which was a labor of love that took us almost an entire year. We’re so excited to finally share it with you!

A warm bowl of chicken tikka masala served with basmati rice

What Is Chicken Tikka Masala?

Chicken tikka masala is an Indian-inspired dish that was most likely created in the UK (its origins are still debated). If you’re new to South Asian cooking, this approachable recipe is a great stepping stone for getting comfortable with the unique flavors of this cuisine.

There are two parts to a traditional chicken tikka masala: the chicken tikka and the masala. The chicken tikka is boneless pieces of chicken marinated in Indian spices and yogurt, then cooked in a tandoor oven. Masala actually means spice blend, but in the context of chicken tikka masala it represents the creamy curry served with the chicken. 

We don’t have a tandoor oven (and we don’t expect you do, either), so we rely on our slow cooker to make tender chicken in a creamy sauce that just melts in your mouth!

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala Ingredients

You’ll need a handful of spices to make this flavorful Indian dish, plus a few ingredients to marinate the chicken and build the sauce. Here’s the full list of ingredients required for our slow cooker chicken tikka masala recipe:

  • Chicken breast
  • Salt
  • Lemon juice
  • Plain yogurt
  • Minced garlic
  • Kashmiri red chili powder
  • Onion powder
  • Powdered ginger
  • Garam masala
  • Cumin
  • Paprika
  • Ground turmeric
  • Ground coriander
  • Tomato puree
  • Heavy cream
  • Tomato paste
  • Butter
  • Powdered fenugreek
  • Fresh cilantro (optional)

You’ll also want steamed basmati rice and naan for serving. There’s nothing better than dipping fluffy, buttery naan in the creamy tikka masala sauce.

A note on the plain yogurt: we recommend using something with a thicker consistency, like Siggi’s (a type of skyr), to achieve the proper texture for this dish. If you can’t find it at the store, try using half the amount of traditional plain yogurt. We don’t recommend using Greek yogurt, as it yields a clumpy texture (you want the curry to be nice and smooth).

Kashmiri red chili powder and powdered fenugreek can be difficult to find if you don’t have a specialty spice store near you. Check online or look for an Indian market that may carry it. Alternatively, you can use cayenne pepper in place of the kashmiri and omit the fenugreek.

A bowl of homemade chicken tikka masala with a side of naan

How To Make Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala

Making our chicken tikka masala is a simple three-part process. First, you’ll marinate the chicken overnight in the refrigerator. Then, you’ll pop it in the slow cooker with the tomato puree the next morning. Finally, you’ll stir in the remaining ingredients once the chicken is cooked to finish the sauce and serve.

Here are step-by-step instructions for how to make this big batch crockpot meal:

  1. First, cut up the chicken into roughly 2-inch chunks.
  2. Then, add the chicken to a large bowl with the salt and lemon juice. Stir to combine, until the chicken is fully coated.
  3. Next, add the yogurt, minced garlic, kashmiri red chili powder, onion powder, powdered ginger, garam masala, cumin, paprika, turmeric, and coriander to the chicken. Stir again to combine until the chicken is fully coated.
  4. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  5. The next morning, pour the tomato puree into a large slow cooker or crockpot (we use a 4-quart slow cooker). Add the marinated chicken, cover, and cook on LOW for 6 hours.
  6. Finally, stir in the heavy cream, tomato paste, butter, and powdered fenugreek until the butter has melted and the ingredients are well-incorporated. The sauce should be a creamy consistency and slightly orange in color.
  7. Serve with steamed basmati rice and naan, optionally garnished with fresh cilantro.

This recipe is very straightforward, so it’s pretty hard to mess up! Just make sure to plan ahead so you can marinate the chicken overnight.

Storing & Reheating

Once the chicken tikka masala is ready, you can keep it on warm in the crockpot until dinnertime, serve it right away, or let it cool and store it in the fridge or freezer. In an airtight container, it will keep for up to 5 days in the fridge, or up to 3 months in the freezer.

We love to use this recipe for meal prep and freeze single servings in these Souper Cubes containers. It makes it super easy (no pun intended) to defrost just the right amount when we need a quick lunch or dinner!

To reheat, microwave for 1 to 2 minutes per serving, stirring halfway through.

A piece of homemade naan dipped in chicken tikka masala curry

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala FAQs

Is chicken tikka masala very spicy?

Chicken tikka masala is actually one of the least spicy Indian dishes. While our version does have a kick to it (thanks to the kashmiri red chili powder), it’s nowhere near as spicy as most curries. If you’re not a big fan of spicy foods, you can always scale back the amount of chili powder in this recipe.

What gives tikka masala its flavor?

Our tikka masala sauce gets its flavor from tomatoes and a variety of spices. A lot of tikka masala recipes traditionally use sautéed onion, but we rely on onion powder instead to preserve the smooth and creamy texture of our curry. Additionally, adding just a touch of butter at the end of cooking brings out the flavors even more!

Is it OK to put raw chicken in the slow cooker?

Yes, you can put raw chicken in a slow cooker! A slow cooker is one of the best ways to cook chicken, especially when it’s paired with a sauce like this chicken tikka masala. It’s really not much different than putting raw chicken in a Dutch oven and baking it.

Is it better to cook chicken on high or low in a slow cooker?

It’s better to cook chicken on the low setting in a slow cooker or crockpot. This keeps the chicken from drying out during cooking, so you end up with juicy, tender results. 

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

This slow cooker chicken tikka masala is perfect for when you need an easy hands-off dinner or a healthy meal prep recipe for the week. Here are just a few reasons to love this recipe:

  1. Easy preparation. Just add tomato puree and marinated chicken to a crockpot and turn it on.
  2. Hands-free cooking. Set it and forget it for 6 hours while you’re busy running errands or working from home.
  3. Large capacity. This recipe makes it easy to prepare 3 pounds of chicken all at once to feed the whole family.
  4. Time to prepare sides. Steam the rice and even try making homemade naan while dinner cooks itself.
  5. Easy cleanup. Slow cooker meals mean there’s only one pot to wash at the end of the night!

And honestly, how can anyone resist a thick and creamy curry with a side of buttery naan? This chicken tikka masala is a great excuse to indulge in a takeout style dinner without spending big bucks.

Try our easy slow cooker chicken tikka masala recipe and let us know what you think by rating, commenting, and sharing below!

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5 from 3 votes

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala

Slow cooker chicken tikka masala is the best recipe for easy family dinners and big batch meal prep. It’s creamy, spicy, and pairs perfectly with a side of basmati rice and naan.
Servings 6 servings
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 6 hours
Marinating Time 12 hours
Total Time 18 hours 15 minutes



Chicken Marinade

  • 3 lbs chicken breast
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 6 tbsp plain yogurt thick, like siggi's
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp kashmiri red chili powder
  • 2 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp powdered ginger loosely packed
  • 3 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground coriander


  • 3 cups tomato puree
  • cups heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp powdered fenugreek

Garnishes & Sides

  • Cilantro chopped, optional garnish
  • Basmati rice steamed
  • Naan


  • Cut the chicken breast into 2-inch chunks and add to a large bowl.
  • Season chicken with salt and lemon juice, then mix until well-coated.
  • Add yogurt, minced garlic, kashmiri red chili powder, onion powder, powdered ginger, garam masala, cumin, paprika, turmeric, and ground coriander to the chicken. Stir until marinade is well-combined and chicken is coated.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and marinate in the fridge overnight.
  • The next day, pour the tomato puree into the slow cooker. Add the marinated chicken, then cover and cook on LOW for 6 hours.
  • After 6 hours, turn off the slow cooker. Stir in heavy cream, tomato paste, butter, and powdered fenugreek until well-combined.
  • Optionally garnish with fresh cilantro and serve hot with basmati rice and naan.


Indian spices: Some spices (like kashmiri red chili powder, garam masala, and fenugreek) may be difficult to find but they’re totally worth the hunt – it’s these unique flavors that really make this dish! Some grocery stores carry these, but if you can’t find them head to your local spice store or Indian market.
Yogurt: It’s best to use a thick and creamy yogurt (we like using siggi’s) for the chicken marinade. Thinner yogurts will thin out the curry during cooking. Note: we don’t recommend using Greek yogurt for this recipe, as it leads to a grainy texture instead of the smooth, creamy curry you want!
Naan: A side of naan is a must with chicken tikka masala – it’s the perfect vehicle for soaking up all that delicious curry! We follow this recipe since it’s fairly quick and easy, and tastes amazing.
Storing and reheating: This is such a great meal prep recipe for busy weeks. We like to make a batch on Sunday or Monday, eat it for dinner that night, then portion out the leftovers with extra rice for lunches throughout the week. It’ll keep for about 4 days in the fridge stored in an air-tight container. When you’re ready to eat it, simply microwave one serving for about 2 minutes, stirring halfway through.
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Author: Nicole
Calories: 461kcal
Course: Dinner, Lunch, Main, Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: chicken breast, coriander, crockpot, fenugreek, garam masala, heavy cream, kashmiri chili powder, meal prep, slow cooker, tomato puree, turmeric, yogurt


Calories: 461kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 53g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 180mg | Sodium: 1210mg | Potassium: 1654mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 2097IU | Vitamin C: 24mg | Calcium: 110mg | Iron: 5mg

If you have any questions regarding the information presented in this post, please refer to our Nutrition Disclaimer here.

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  1. 5 stars
    Best Indian recipe I’ve ever made – and I’ve tried a lot. Tastes authentic!

    1. Nicole Author says:

      Thank you! We’re so glad you enjoyed it!

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