Indian food is total comfort for me. There’s just something about the spicy heat, the simple side of white basmati rice and the chewy garlic naan that soaks it all up perfectly. And as much as I love hitting up my local Indian restaurant for take-out, I also really love making my own Indian food at home. So when I stumbled upon Rebecca’s recipe for Slow-Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala, I knew it was an immediate must-make.
I adore my cheap slow cooker from Target and had a feeling this recipe would be the perfect meal for a weekend full of cold rainy weather here in Northern California. Turns out, I was right! This recipe was, hands down, the best thing to ever come out of my trusty little slow cooker and I loved it so much that I re-made it two days later for a friend’s birthday dinner. I think you’re gonna love it!
You’ll need boneless, skinless chicken thighs (use thighs for the most flavor!), butter, yogurt, garam masala, coriander, salt, cumin, garlic, a jalapeno pepper, crushed tomatoes, cream, cornstarch, onion, fresh ginger and a pinch of sugar.
Now let’s get started!
First, chop the chicken thighs into small pieces and place in a large bowl.
Sprinkle the chicken with coriander, salt and cumin.
Then add the yogurt and toss everything together. Let this chicken mixture sit for ten minutes so that the yogurt can soak into the chicken a little bit.
Now, throw a little butter in a skillet and raise the heat to medium high. It’s go-time!
Add the chicken and cook quickly, working with half at a time as to not overcrowd the pan. Once the chicken has browned, remove and place in the slow cooker.
Take your jalapeno pepper and pierce it several times with a sharp knife. Place the pierced pepper on top of the chicken.
Then start making the delicious sauce! Melt a little more butter in the same skillet you were working with before and add your onion, garlic and salt.
Once the onion has softened a little, add the garam masala and fresh ginger. It will smell heavenly!
Add the crushed tomatoes to the sauce, then pour over the chicken in the slow cooker. Set heat to low and cook for five hours.
After five hours, the chicken should be fall-apart tender. Finally, whisk together the cornstarch and cream then pour into the slow cooker. Cook for ten more minutes until thick and bubbly.
Serve tikka masala with basmati rice and cilantro and experience comfort food at its best! You’re gonna love it. A big thanks to Rebecca for supplying us with yet another wonderfully delicious recipe. Have you checked out her blog Foodie with Family yet? You should. You really should.
Get the handy dandy printable version of the recipe below!
This classic Indian dish is sure to win over even the pickiest eaters with its creamy, rich, complex comfort food bona fides. This dinner is the perfect fall or winter warm-me-up and it reheats like a dream.
- FOR THE CHICKEN:
- 9 whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs
- 1 Tablespoon Ground Coriander
- 1 Tablespoon Ground Cumin
- 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
- 1 cup Yogurt
- 4 Tablespoons Butter
- 1 whole Jalapeno Pepper, Stem Removed, Pepper Pierced Several Times With A Sharp Knife
- FOR THE SAUCE:
- 4 Tablespoons Butter
- 1 whole Large Onion, Peeled And Diced
- 6 cloves Garlic, Peeled And Minced
- 1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
- 3 Tablespoons Garam Masala
- 1 piece Fresh Ginger, About 2-3 Inches, Peeled And Grated
- 4 cups Crushed Tomatoes
- 1 Tablespoon Raw Sugar (can Substitute White Granulated If Necessary)
- 2 teaspoons Cornstarch Or Cleargel
- 1-½ cup Heavy Cream
- TO SERVE:
- Hot Buttered Rice And Peas
- Chopped Fresh Cilantro
Cut the boneless, skinless chicken thighs into 1- 1 1/2 inch pieces. Sprinkle the coriander, cumin and salt over the chicken, then stir in the yogurt until all the pieces are evenly coated. Cover lightly and let sit for 10 minutes before proceeding.
Melt 1 tablespoon the butter in a large saute pan over medium heat. Raise the heat to medium high and quickly brown about 1/4 of the chicken. Transfer browned chicken to the slow cooker as it is finished, using 1 tablespoon of butter per batch, and repeat until the chicken is all in the slow-cooker. Throw the pierced jalapeno in on top of the chicken.
Prepare the sauce. Return the pan to the heat and melt the butter over medium high heat. Add the onions, garlic, and kosher salt, then stir. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions begin to lightly brown around the edges.
Stir in the garam masala and ginger and cook until fragrant (about 1 minute) before raising the heat to high and adding the crushed tomatoes and raw sugar. Stir well, scraping the caramelized bits from the bottom of the pan, and bring to a boil. Pour over the chicken in the slow-cooker.
Cover and cook on LOW for 5 hours, or until the chicken is very tender.
Use a fork or whisk to stir the cornstarch or cleargel into the heavy cream until smooth. Pour into the slow-cooker and stir gently until the colour is even. Replace the lid and let cook for 10 minutes or until bubbly around the edges.
Serve over hot rice and peas, topped with a generous amount of chopped cilantro.
Jenna is a food writer who has worked as a pastry chef and bread baker. Her blog Eat, Live, Run has great recipes, travel stories, and the perfect slogan: “Celebrating life, one crumb at a time.”
Comments are closed for this recipe.
Jorin on 1.28.2012
What a great treat. Missing this dish from a fun restaurant in Gent, Belgium where I first tasted this awesome meal and enjoying it now (better than ever) in Colorado. Thanks for the inspiration!!!
Ali on 1.24.2012
I also have had this in my bookmarks online for ‘recipes to try’. good thing Im a stay at home mom and can cook all day! seems like all the prep needed sorta diminishes the ease of a crockpot, so Im hoping for fantastic flavor in the finished product makes it worth the while!
My prep time took about an hour. I spent the 4 bucks on the garam marsala because i didnt know what it was til I got home and looked on the bottle. bummer! good to know for next time.
I think if I try this again, Ill be following in tiffanys( ^ ) footsteps and throwing it all in the crock.
Tiffany AF on 1.8.2012
This recipe has been on my “to cook” list for awhile now. Made it on a rainy Sunday. I admit that the 15 minute prep needs to be increased to at least 45 minutes. And it is super easy to make garam masla yourself (not worth spending $4.00+ dollars at the store when the ingredients are really everyday use). Smelling this made me super nervous, but wow the taste is pretty good. This particular recipe was not spicy at all, so I’ll certainly kick-it-up next time and…. next time I make it, I’m skipping all the pre-cooking, and throwing everything in to the pot. Thanks!
Eva on 12.15.2011
This was moderately tasty and the chicken was very tender, but I agree with those who said it was so much work ahead of time that it hardly counts as a slow-cooker recipe. Definitely 30-45 minutes of prep, and I’m not sure it was necessary. I suspect the results would be identical if you just tossed it all in the pot. But most importantly–this doesn’t taste or look anything like Chicken Tikka Masala.
Kristie on 11.21.2011
I made this last night, which a whole chicken cut up, and it was amazing It did make a ton, so we have lunch for the next two days and two dinner portions in the freezer. Hope it tastes good out of the freezer, too!
Kristie on 11.10.2011
I only buy whole chickens- do you think this would work okay with 1 whole chicken cut up into pieces? I might try it! Also, does it freeze well? It’s just me and my husband and that seems like it’d be a LOT of food for us!
Lala on 11.9.2011
This is one of the best recipes I’ve made in a while. It’s super spicy, creamy & delicious. I strongly suggest going to an Indian grocery store to pick up the garam masala- it really makes a difference in flavor when you’re making curries. This is a SPICY dish and kids probably wouldn’t like it but it would be perfect for entertaining since it makes a large batch. I can’t wait to make it again! Thanks for sharing.
Mary on 11.8.2011
Just made this recipe tonight; it was absolutely amazing! Very flavorful but not too spicy. Thanks!
Terry Lynn on 11.8.2011
While this dish was a success, it was most certainly not a 15 minute prep! If you decide to make it, please give yourself 30 to 45 minutes for preparation. I love crock pot meals, but could have easily made a nice meal in the same time it took to prepare this for the crock pot. My husband enjoyed it, but I did not so much… if you do not like dark meat, no amount of simmering in crock pot will change that, so you may wish to use white meat.
Amy on 11.6.2011
Jenna, THANK YOU for this! I made a vow to use my crock pot once a week this fall/winter and this came out perfectly. I used chicken breast and it came out great.
Lauren on 10.31.2011
This had a wonderful creaminess and the chicken was so tender. I would have liked just a little bit of a kick–the flavor was really good, but maybe next time I would cut open the jalapeno completely? Still, very, very yummy! Also, I forgot to add the cornstarch, and intentionally cut the cream down by about a 1/4 cup just to see if I could keep more of the flavor and not mute it any more than necessary. All in all, sauce was creamy and delicious. I served on top of brown basmati rice and green peas with a bit of salt and pepper. Great, comforting meal.
Wendy on 10.27.2011
I made this last Sunday and thought it was DELICIOUS! I agree that the spices were mild, but since I was serving this to my children, it was fine. You can definitely add more to your liking if necessary. Really good….I recommend it!
tikka on 10.26.2011
Threw this together last night so we can have it for dinner tonight (to celebrate Diwali!). I was so excited to make this and the chicken indeed was fall-off-your-fork tender at the end but the spices are definitely off. I had to throw in extras of everything (garam masala, cumin, coriander, etc.) into the sauce and also some crushed red pepper. The pierced jalapeno didn’t seem to impart much heat for me. Also, next time I’m going to cook the onions for much longer and then blend the onions/garlic/tomato/ginger mix before adding it to the rest of the recipe. My Indian mother in law cooks onions until they’re really soft and then mixes everything in the blender to smooth the sauce.
Overall, this was good but not knock-your-socks-off good. The flavor of sauteeing everything in butter was really good, though (of course!). It added a nice depth to the sauce.
Still searching for the perfect recipe!
Jenny M on 10.26.2011
I made this last week, following the recipe exactly, which doesn’t always happen for me. It turned out to be so delicious — definitely a do over at this house. The heat is not too much, tastes fantastic, and you would not believe how good the house smelled while it was cooking. Yum!
farmerswife518 on 10.24.2011
Tried the finished product tonight over buttered rice and garnished with cilantro…awesome!!! All picky eaters even had seconds! Will be making this again for sure…thanks for the step by step!
Kelly @ Dream. Strive. Succeed. on 10.24.2011
Upon looking at the calorie information for one pint of heavy cream (50 cal per serving for 32 servings = 1600 calories), I looked around the grocery store and decided to try a substitute: So Delicious brand coconut non-dairy creamer in original flavor.
I thought it worked very well. My family wouldn’t have noticed that it wasn’t heavy cream, and the creamer has 320 calories per pint (10cal per serving for 32 servings). Probably not as thick as heavy cream would be, but served over rice, the sauce covered the rice nicely.
Nancyanne on 10.24.2011
I made this yesterday. followed the exact recipe except I used Chicken breasts instead of thighs (it was what I happened to have). it turned out wonderful! I loved the flavor and the chicken was moist and tender. I will eat left overs tonight! this was my very first attempt at Indian food. I will most Definitely make this recipe again and soon! Simply delicious and very comforting!
farmerswife518 on 10.23.2011
@ LauraElle Tonight I made this up to the “cook 5 hrs in the crockpot”, sans the jalapeno. So far it is DELISH, that being said it is my first attempt @ Indian cuisine, and I don’t think it will be too spicy for my 3 picky boys and hubby. I will have hubby start the crockpot @ lunch and will let you know tomorrow nite how it turned out!! Can’t wait for dinner!!
LauraElle on 10.23.2011
Has anyone already made this and willing to give a review? Thanks!
Jenn on 10.23.2011
I just made this last night, and it was delightful! I think for my palate, next time I’ll increase the spices a bit, but otherwise, it was just right. And it satiated my need for Indian food without having to drive 45 minutes to the nearest restaurant. Thank you!
Linda on 10.21.2011
I made this for our family dinner last night and it was great. Even the eighteen month old loved it. I totally forgot the pepper though but it still had a nice heat to it. Great leftovers for lunch today.
Megan @ MegGoesNomNom on 10.20.2011
This looks incredible, I can’t wait to try the recipe.
Maureen on 10.20.2011
My brother and I made this tonight – DELICIOUS. It will be on the regular rotation now.
Cheralyn Mae on 10.19.2011
Definitely making this for the girls one night when the hubby is out….he’s not a fan of strong Indian flavors, but I am!
Deana @solesofamom.com on 10.18.2011
This looks amazing! It’ll be on the menu next week! Slow cooker here I come whoot whoot!
Violet on 10.18.2011
Julie P I would make it as it is shown then dilute your childrens portion with some single cream. It’s a medium heat tho and my kids love it. peshwari naan (filled with coconut and sultanas) would be great for the kids with this
M on 10.18.2011
Any ingredient substitution ideas for the cream?(doesn;t agree with my tummy,
but can handle milk?)
Can one just leave cream out altogether?
amy walters, adesigndock on 10.18.2011
Yum yum yum!
Jill @ A Cook's Nook on 10.18.2011
@Caitlin- Please let me know if you try this with tofu & it works! I love Tikka Masala….I just don’t love chicken (silly, no?).
dliff on 10.18.2011
Sounds great, I love tikka masala. But every time I make chicken in the slow cooker it comes out try, what can I do?
Jaime on 10.17.2011
This looks AMAZING and I JUST bought my first slow cooker 2 weeks ago so this dish will be my first attempt! I do have 2 questions regarding the meat: 1. What is the approx weight of the meat that you used? Incase I cant find the boneless, skinless thighs and I have to go with breasts. And 2. When you say “brown the meat” are you cooking it all the way through or just browning the outside and the cooking gets done in the crock?
Caitlin on 10.17.2011
I’m a huge fan of slow cookers, am a vegetarian and have never used tofu in said slow cooker. Would this recipe work with tofu in the slow cooker? If so, I will make it tomorrow morning so I can have it immediately upon reaching the 5 hour mark and effectively ruin my appetite for dinner.
Diane W. on 10.17.2011
Ree, how do you always know what I’m craving? It’s getting a little freaky. I’m definitely trying this recipe tomorrow!
gaelowyn on 10.17.2011
I wonder if it would taste as good if you just tossed it all into the crock pot w/out all the pre-cooking steps? To me, precooking everything then putting it in the crock pot, especially chicken pieces w/out bone, is more like using the crock as a big chafing dish. Not to be snarky, really! I mean.. just simmer the chicken chunks in the sauce on the stove top for a few more minutes and it will be done.. no waiting for five hours.
the recipe itself looks wonderful! I’ve been wanting to try/make tikka masala for some time now. I think it was a “Diners, Drive ins and Dives” episode where there was a British chef here somewhere in the US that made a great tikka masala. Looking at it then, and in the pictures above really makes me want to try it once I get the yogurt and cream!
Julie P on 10.17.2011
What spicy level would you say this is?? I have a 3 year old and 6.5 year old…they are willing to try new foods, but I prefer not to burn their little mouths….Thanks! Sounds yummy!!
Rebecca on 10.17.2011
Oooh, ooooh! Thank you! Finding this wonderful version of my recipe is an awesome treat on a windy Monday afternoon. Thank you, Jenna and TK!
@Becky- There are some good recipes online to make your own garam masala ( i.e. http://indianfood.about.com/od/masalarecipes/r/garammasala.htm ) and it uses pretty easy to source herbs and spices. Good luck!
A Cozy Kitchen on 10.17.2011
Chicken falling apart a.k.a. heaven!
Becky Campbell on 10.17.2011
I really want to make this, but I’ve never been able to find Garam Masala in my grocery store! It’s pretty up-to-date and carries lots of uncommon items, but I can’t find it!:( Any ideas?
Also, could you share your recipe for Chewy Garlic Nann!? Pretty please?;)
Trista on 10.17.2011
This looks absolutely divine! I will have to try this!
Jessica @ How Sweet on 10.17.2011
Rebecca has the best ever recipes! Can’t go wrong with any of them. This looks delish!
Heather (Heather's Dish) on 10.17.2011
i have actually been CRAVING indian food lately…this sounds and looks incredible!
The Mrs @ Success Along the Weigh on 10.17.2011
I think I might actually have all the ingredients on hand! (Well breasts over thighs so hopefully it’ll still taste as good as it looks here!) I’m off to raid the kitchen.