This ultimate Instant Pot Chicken Tikka Masala is the homemade version you’ve been dreaming of… bold and richly flavored, yet SO easy to make!
CHICKEN TIKKA MASALA RECIPE
When the weather is warm, the last thing you want to do is slave away in the kitchen for an hour. With this Instant Pot Chicken Tikka Masala, you don’t have to stand over a hot stove, and you still get to eat a home-cooked meal!
Pressure cookers are truly one of my favorite things… the ability to enjoy a flavor-packed meal, all while being able to walk away and attend to other things while this delicious curry is cooking away. It’s an amazing feeling!
Serve this chicken tikka masala with some basmati rice and naan bread for a perfect Indian meal at home!
HOW TO MAKE CHICKEN TIKKA MASALA
In an effort to make this Instant Pot version taste the most like the real deal, I added 2 extra steps to add seared flavor. But don’t worry, it’s still incredibly simple!
- Sear chicken in Instant Pot, remove and dice.
- Cook onion, peppers, spices, garlic and ginger in Instant Pot. Deglaze with chicken broth.
- Return chicken to the pot, along with chicken broth and stir in tomato sauce.
- Pressure cook.
- Mix sauce with yogurt, then add yogurt to the Instant Pot.
- Stir in cilantro and eat!
ADDITIONAL COOKING TIPS
- Take the time to sear – I know it’s a pain, and it’s an extra step or two, but searing both the chicken and the onion/pepper mixture adds SO much flavor!
- Use fresh spices – some of these spices may have been ones you’ve kept in the cabinet for a loooonnnggg time, but spices becomes less potent and flavorful over time, so use fresh spices for this recipe if possible.
- Temper the yogurt – if you add the yogurt to the hot sauce in the Instant Pot, it may curdle, so it’s best to temper the yogurt by whisking some of the sauce into the yogurt, then mixing the yogurt into the pressure cooker.
VARIATIONS OF THIS RECIPE
- The No-Sear Method – if you’d rather not take the time to sear the chicken, you can dice up the thighs ahead of time, season them with salt and pepper and add them to the pressure cooker raw. I do highly recommend cooking the onion and pepper with the spices though… it adds SO much flavor.
- Other Proteins – tikka masala can be made with other proteins besides chicken if you’d like. Turkey, pork, shrimp, or even tofu would work well.
- Yogurt substitutes – if you’re completely against yogurt, you can use heavy cream or full-fat coconut milk.
MAKING CHICKEN TIKKA MASALA AHEAD OF TIME
Most curries, in addition to this one, taste almost even better the next day! The flavors really have time to meld and intensify.
So feel free to make this dish ahead of time, then reheat the chicken in the sauce in a saucepan and enjoy!
Leftovers, if you have any, should last 3-4 days if kept covered and refrigerated.
SPECIAL EQUIPMENT FOR THIS RECIPE
- Instant Pot – I recently upgraded to this model and I love it!
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Instant Pot Chicken Tikka Masala
- 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 2-3 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 medium yellow onion - minced
- 1 serrano pepper - seeded and minced
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- 1 Tbsp garam masala
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp ground tumeric
- 1/4 tsp ground cumin
- 1-2 tsp granulated sugar
- 1 Tbsp fresh ginger - grated
- 3 cloves garlic - minced
- 1/2 cup reduced sodium chicken broth - divided
- 15 oz can tomato sauce
- 3/4 cup whole-fat plain yogurt
- 2 Tbsp fresh cilantro - minced
- Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Add vegetable oil to Instant Pot and select "Saute". When hot, add chicken and cook for a 2-3 minutes per side each side, until well browned. You don't want to overcrowd the pot, so you may need to do this in batches.
- Remove chicken to cutting board and cut into bite-sized pieces.
- Add onion, serrano, tomato paste, garam masala, tumeric, smoked paprika, cumin and sugar to Instant Pot. Cook 3-4 minutes, until onion is soft and slightly browned at the edges.
- Stir in garlic and ginger and cook another 30 seconds or so. Add 1/4 cup chicken broth to scrape up any browned bits at the bottom of the pot. Browned bits on the bottom can result in a BURN notice from the Instant Pot.
- Return chicken pieces to the pot, along with tomato sauce and remaining 1/4 cup chicken broth. Stir slightly.
- Close lid securely and make sure the valve is set to "sealing". Select "Manual" or "Pressure Cook" and adjust the +/- button until it reads 8 minutes.
- When finished cooking, carefully turn the valve to "venting" for a quick pressure release. When the steam has all escaped, and the pin has dropped, remove the lid.
- Use a slotted spoon to remove chicken to a plate and cover to keep warm. Select "Saute".
- Add yogurt to a small mixing bowl. Ladle about 1/2 cup of the sauce from the Instant Pot and slowly pour it to the yogurt, while whisking quickly. This tempers the yogurt so it doesn't curdle.
- Stir the yogurt mixture into the Instant Pot and let simmer for several minutes, until thickened to your liking.
- Return chicken to the pot, along with minced cilantro. Stir and serve hot.
- For a quicker version, you can skip steps 1 and 2. Just cut the chicken thighs into bite sized pieces when they're raw, and add them to the pot in step 5. Add an extra minute or two to the pressure cooking time.
- For a thicker sauce, in a small bowl, whisk together 2 Tbsp cornstarch and 2 Tbsp water until smooth. Stir into the sauce in step 10 and simmer until thickened.