Anyone else been craving Indian food lately? I know this mama has. Give me EVERYTHING spicy!
Since Tony and I likely won’t be able to do a date night for another month or so, I’m dedicated to making some of my favorite comfort foods at home. Everything from easy baked chicken nuggets to global inspired meals like this beautiful slow cooker chicken tikka masala. #hellyes
If you’ve never had tikka masala before you’re in for a delightful surprise. And if you have, then you know how lip-smacking good this meal can be.
What is tikka masala?
Tikka Masala is a popular Indian dish made up of chicken in a curry-spiced tomato based sauce that’s typically infused with heavy cream and/or butter.
Making tikka masala healthier
I’ve lightened up this version so that it’s just as tasty, but lighter thanks to light coconut milk instead of heavy cream, so you can save room for pita bread or naan just for soaking up the creamy coconut milk tomato sauce.
How to make chicken tikka masala in the slow cooker
Making chicken tikka masala in the slow cooker is one of our favorite ways to enjoy a flavorful, global inspired dinner without all the work. It’s easy to make, bold and something different to try. A little spicy, a little sweet and hella delicious. Here’s how to make slow cooker tikka masala:
- First saute onions, jalapenos and garlic in a skillet until onions begin to soften. Transfer to slow cooker. You can always add these directly to the slow cooker without cooking, but I prefer to saute them a bit to release some flavor.
- Next add in crushed tomatoes or tomato puree, along with fresh lemon juice, fresh ginger and the following spices: garam masala, paprika, cayenne, turmeric, curry powder and salt and pepper. Give it a stir!
- Add chicken to the slow cooker with the sauce and spices, then cook on low for 6-7 hours or high for 2-3 hours.
- Once done cooking, shred chicken and add back to slow cooker. Then add in a cup of light coconut milk and cook on high uncovered for another 20 minutes to thicken it up a bit.
- Serve immediately over brown rice, quinoa or cauliflower rice for a low carb option. Garnish with cilantro and yogurt if desired. Soak up the extra sauce with naan or pita bread.
A few things to know about this slow cooker chicken tikka masala:
- It can be spicy: if you are sensitive to spice, you can leave out the cayenne pepper.
- This recipe contains a variety of spices: garam masala can sometimes be difficult to find, so head to a local spice shop. I know Whole Foods also carries it. Please do not omit from the recipe, it is crucial for flavor.
- Make it vegetarian: you can easily make this vegetarian! Instead of chicken, I suggest using 2 (15 ounce) cans of chickpeas that have been rinsed and drained.
What to serve with tikka masala
This recipe is absolutely to die for when served over brown rice, quinoa or cauliflower rice for a low carb option. We love to also soak up the creamy sauce with with pita bread or naan. I also recommend a dollop of plain yogurt (can be dairy free!) on top and a garnish of cilantro for a hint of fresh flavor.
More healthy dinner recipes to try:
See how to make slow cooker chicken tikka masala:
Healthy Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala
Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala is a lightened up comforting Indian dish made with tomato sauce, chicken breast, coconut milk and flavorful, bold spices like garam masala, ginger, cayenne, curry powder and so much more. Serve with brown rice or naan for a full meal!
- 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 white or yellow onion, chopped
- 1 jalapeño, seeds removed and finely diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes or tomato puree (do not use tomato sauce)
- 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
- 1/2 lemon, juiced (about 1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice)
- 1 tablespoon garam masala
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1 cup light coconut milk (from the can)
- Additional salt, to taste
- Optional for garnish: greek yogurt & cilantro
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add in onion, jalapeno and garlic; saute for about 5 minutes or until onions are slightly golden and translucent. Transfer to a large slow cooker.
Next add in tomato puree, ginger, lemon juice, garam masala, paprika, cayenne pepper, turmeric, and curry powder to the slow cooker; stir to combine.
Add chicken breasts and spoon sauce over the chicken to make sure they are covered. Cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours or on high for 2-3 hours.
Once cooked, remove chicken with a slotted spoon and transfer to a cutting board. Shred the chicken with two forks, then transfer back to the slow cooker.
Stir in coconut milk and allow to cook on high UNCOVERED for 15-20 more minutes to help thicken the sauce. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary, including adding more salt, if desired.
Serve with brown rice, pita bread/naan or enjoy as is. Garnish with plain greek yogurt and chopped cilantro.
If you want to make this vegetarian: instead of chicken, I suggest using 2 (15 ounce) cans of chickpeas that have been rinsed and drained.
If you'd like you can add 1 cup frozen peas when you add the coconut milk in step 5.
Recipe by: Monique Volz // Ambitious Kitchen | Photography by: Eat Love Eats