Slow-Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala

When I was in my middle school years, I was really into Scholastic’s Dear America diaries and the Royal Diaries series which give historical-fiction accounts from the point of view of teenagers.  The summer I turned thirteen, I read one on Jahanara (the daughter of Shah Jahan, who built the Taj Mahal) and subsequently became obsessed with Indian culture for a season. I picked up all the books on India that I could from the library and asked my parents to take me out for Indian food as my birthday treat, initiating a long-abiding love for Indian cuisine.

This recipe is adapted from thekitchn – they say that it can be refrigerated for 3 to 4 days or frozen for 3 to 4 months, but I’ve always had the entire pot disappear within a day. Every single time I make this my apartment smells amazing and Joe gets very excited because he can’t wait to scoop it up with naan and eat it. I made this for friends last night and they were equally enthusiastic.

Slow-Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala

Serves 4 to 6

1 to 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-inch piece whole ginger, peeled and grated
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 to 2 tablespoons garam masala (see below)
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
3/4 cup heavy cream or coconut milk
Fresh cilantro, chopped for garnish
2 cups cooked rice, to serve
Naan (Indian flatbread), to serve

Easy Garam Masala Mix from allrecipies (“What, you don’t keep a jar of garam masala in your kitchen?!” my sister said, astounded.) Mix the following together in a small bowl:
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

The spice must flow...
The spice must flow…

Cut the chicken thighs into bite-sized pieces and transfer them to a 3-quart or larger slow cooker. Stir in the onion, garlic, ginger, tomato paste, 1 tablespoon of garam masala, paprika, and kosher salt until the chicken is evenly covered with spices. Stir in the diced tomatoes with their juices.


Cover the slow cooker and cook for 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low. Fifteen minutes before the end of cooking, stir in the heavy cream. If you prefer a thicker sauce, leave the slow cooker uncovered for the last 15 minutes. Taste and add more garam masala or salt to your preference.

Serve over rice with fresh cilantro sprinkled over the top of each serving. Use naan to scoop up a big bite and eat it!


  • If desired, you can marinate the chicken in 1/2 cup yogurt for up to 6 hours. Shake to remove excess yogurt before transferring to the slow cooker. I always forget this step and feel that the recipe is still very delicious without it.
  • To give a little more depth of flavor, you can sauté the onions and garlic in a little olive oil over medium-high heat in a skillet until softened, then stir in the ginger, tomato paste, and spices until fragrant before transferring to the slow cooker with the chicken and diced tomatoes. Again, I often skip this step because I’m lazy.
  • I think I’m going to add some chili paste or dried chilies the next time I make this, because I love a little spice in everything.

2 thoughts on “Slow-Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala

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