Cooking chicken tikka masala in the instant pot is a breeze! No need to baby sit your food. All you need to do is dump and go. Instant pot Tikka masala is one of my favorite Indian style curry recipes which we have made over and over and my kids always ask for more.
With simple ingredients you’ll have this ready in no time. This curry is very similar to butter chicken if you are curious as to why, we share that too. In the mean time let’s get our chicken dinner ready by making this delicious chicken tikka in the pressure cooker.
This recipe post contains helpful tips, tricks and answers to FAQs. Please read through to ensure you get the recipe right when you try it.
What is Chicken Tikka masala?
Chicken Tikka Masala is a popular indian inspired British dish, which typically consists of marinated chicken pieces that are cooked in a spiced tomato-based sauce.
The chicken is usually marinated in a mixture of yogurt and spices like turmeric, cumin, and garam masala seasoning, which gives it a flavorful and slightly tangy taste.
The tomato-based sauce is often seasoned with a blend of spices, including coriander, cumin, ginger, and garlic. Tikka masala is commonly served with rice or naan bread and is enjoyed for its rich and aromatic flavors.
Why make chicken tikka masala in the instant pot
Dump and go: The Instant Pot is a versatile electric pressure cooker that allows for one-pot cooking. The pressure cooking process allows the flavors to intensify and blend together in a shorter time, resulting in a rich and flavorful Tikka Masala.
Easy clean up: Since everything is cooked in one pot, it reduces the amount of cleanup required after cooking.
Time saver: the instant pot significantly reduces cooking time compared to traditional methods.
Seeing that you love quick and easy in your pressure cooker, you should try this easy instant pot fajitas too.
The ingredients will divided into two for ease of cooking the chicken tikka marinade and the chicken curry.
Chicken tikka marinade
- Chicken: Boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts are recommended for the Instant Pot version. If you plan to grill or pan roast the chicken in the stovetop version, chicken thighs are preferred for their juiciness.
- Yogurt: Plain Greek or unsweetened regular yogurt can be used in the marinade.
- Lemon Juice: Freshly squeezed lemon juice is preferable, but bottled lemon juice works as well.
- Garam Masala: You can either make your own homemade Garam Masala seasoning or purchase it from stores or online.
- Others: Salt, fresh ginger, and garlic are additional ingredients that add flavor to the dish.
For the curry sauce
- Oil: Any flavorless oil can be used for cooking.
- Onions, garlic, and ginger: These aromatics are essential for building flavor in the dish.
- Spices: Garam Masala, turmeric, ground cumin, ground coriander, and chili powder are the key spices that add depth and warmth to the sauce.
- Tomato sauce: This provides the base for the sauce and contributes to its rich and tangy flavor.
- Heavy cream: Adding heavy cream lends a creamy and luxurious texture to the tikka masala.
- Butter: Salted butter is commonly used, but unsalted butter can be used if preferred.
- Salt: A pinch of salt enhances the overall taste of the dish.
Tools used for this recipe
Chicken tikka masala vs Butter chicken
While both dishes have similarities in terms of using chicken in a tomato-based sauce, the key differences lie in the preparation and flavors. Chicken Tikka Masala has a tangier and spicier profile with its grilled chicken and robust spices, while Butter Chicken offers a milder and creamier sauce.
Chicken Tikka Masala and Butter Chicken are both popular dishes in Indian cuisine, which are very similar in my opinion.
It is said that Chicken Tikka Masala is not a traditional Indian dish but rather a fusion dish of British and Indian cuisine.
The chicken is first marinated in a spiced yogurt mixture and then grilled or roasted or pan fried before being added to the rich and flavorful sauce which is seasoned with s variety of sauces including Garam masala.
Butter Chicken is indeed a traditional Indian dish which also included chicken bites cooked in a creamy and buttery tomato-based sauce. The chicken isn’t always marinated in a yogurt based marinade.
How to make Instant pot chicken tikka
See printable recipe card at the end of this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions!
Mix the the yogurt, lemon juice and the other spices to make the marinade. Toss thr chicken in the marinade till we’ll coated.
Cover and let chicken marinate in the refrigerator for 30 mins to 24 hrs. The longer the marination time, the more flavorful the chicken.
When the chicken has marinated for at least 30 mins, turn on the instant pot to the sauté function.
Sauté the onions for about 2 minutes then add the seasoning blend. Continue cooking for another minute.
Deglaze the inner pot, turn add the marinated chicken including it’s yogurt marinade to the sautéed onions. Stir and cook for another 2 mins, then add the tomato sauce.
Close the lid of the Instant Pot and ensure the valve is in the sealing position. Set the Instant Pot to manual pressure cook mode and adjust the timer to 8 minutes.
Once the cooking cycle is complete, perform a quick pressure release. Stir in the butter and heavy cream, and taste the sauce for seasoning.
Adjust the seasoning as desired.Turn on the sauté function again and sauté for approximately 5 minutes to reduce the sauce.
What to serve with chicken tikka masala
Basmati Rice: Fragrant and fluffy basmati rice is a classic choice to serve with chicken tikka masala. It helps balance the rich flavors of the dish.
Naan Bread: Soft and pillowy naan bread is perfect for scooping up the flavorful sauce. It adds a delightful texture and can be enjoyed plain or with garlic or butter variations. And who says we can’t have dessert right after? These jelly donuts are my go to when looking for something sweet!
Roti or Chapati: These traditional Indian flatbreads are another great option to pair with chicken tikka masala. They are slightly thicker and have a hearty texture.
Vegetable Pulao: A vegetable pulao or pilaf, made with fragrant rice cooked with vegetables, spices, and sometimes nuts or raisins, makes for a tasty and colorful side dish.
Raita: Raita is a refreshing yogurt-based condiment that helps balance the spiciness of the dish. It can be made with cucumber, mint, or other ingredients of your choice.
Salad: A crisp and fresh salad with cucumber, tomatoes, onions, and lettuce can provide a refreshing contrast to the rich flavors of the chicken tikka masala.
How to store and Reheat
Allow the dish to cool down to room temperature before storing it. Transfer the chicken tikka masala to an airtight container or individual meal prep containers. It can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
- Stovetop: Transfer the desired portion of chicken tikka masala to a saucepan. Heat it over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it is heated through. Add a splash of water or broth if needed to maintain the desired consistency.
- Microwave: Place the chicken tikka masala in a microwave-safe dish and cover it with a microwave-safe lid or microwave-safe wrap. Reheat it in the microwave in 1-minute intervals, stirring in between, until it is thoroughly heated.
For best flavor, marinate the chicken for at least 30 minutes, but if time permits, marinate it for a longer duration, such as 2 to 24 hours. This allows the chicken to absorb the spices and yogurt, resulting in a more flavorful dish.
After sautéing the onions and other spices, deglaze the inner pot with about 2 to 3 tablespoon of water.
Adjust heat to taste. If you prefer a milder tikka masala, reduce the amount of chili powder or cayenne or other spicy ingredients. On the other hand, if you enjoy spicier flavors, you can increase the amount or add additional red chili flakes.
You can substitute heavy cream with coconut milk for a dairy-free alternative.
Use the instant pot saute function to thicken the sauce if you find it watery. But be careful not to reduce it too much because the sauce will thicken as it cools.
The exact origins of Chicken Tikka Masala are a bit unclear, and its specific traditional Indian roots are debated.
Chicken tikka masala is believed to have originated in the United Kingdom, where it has become very popular.
However, it does incorporate elements of Indian cuisine, such as the use of spices and flavors commonly found in Indian cooking. Chicken Tikka Masala has evolved as a fusion dish, blending Indian and British culinary influences.
It has gained worldwide recognition and is enjoyed by many as a flavorful and satisfying dish.
The sauce will be slightly watery after cooking. However if you find that it’s still too watery after reducing it with the saute function for up to 5 mins,
You may have added more liquid than indicated in the recipe, Double-check the recipe and ensure you're using the correct amount of liquid and make notes for next time.
To fix a watery use the saute function and cook till sauce thickens to your liking.
Alternatively, to avoid over cooking the chicken, you can mix a slurry of cornstarch or flour with water and add it to the sauce to thicken it.
Remember to taste and adjust the seasoning accordingly.
The cooking time for chicken tikka in the Instant Pot can vary depending on the recipe and the size of the chicken pieces.
Typically, it takes around 8 to 10 minutes of pressure cooking time for boneless chicken pieces excluding the time it takes to build pressure which is about 10 to 15 mins.
Use the sauté function to brown the onions. It adds a nice caramelized depth of flavor to the dish.
Yes, marinating the chicken before pressure cooking is a great way to infuse it with flavor.
While it’s recommended, you can skip this step
and add the chicken directly to the pot after sautéing the onions and garlic.
This is because the pressure cooking process helps to tenderize and flavor the chicken as well.
More instant pot chicken Recipes
- Instant pot chicken and rice
- Instant pot boiled eggs
- Instant pot chicken bolognese
- Check out all our chicken recipes.
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Full recipe instructions
Instant pot Chicken tikka masala
- 6 qt instant pot
The chicken tikka
- 2 ½ lb chicken breast (cut into cubes)
- 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon Garam Masala
- 1 tablespoon ground fresh ginger
- 4 cloves of garlic (minced)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup oil
- 1 Large Onion (chopped)
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1 tablespoon ginger (minced)
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 2 teaspoon Garam Masala
- 2 teaspoon ground Coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground Cumin
- 2 teaspoon Chili powder
- 15 Oz Tomato sauce
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon powder
- 2 tablespoon butter
- 2 tablespoon freshly chopped cilantro or parsley (for garnish)
- In a bowl, combine yogurt and spices until well mixed. Add the chicken and coat it thoroughly with the yogurt mixture.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours for optimal flavor. Proceed to the curry stage when ready.
- Turn on the sauté function of the Instant Pot. Add oil and sauté onions, garlic, and ginger along with the spice blend for the curry. Stir continuously to prevent sticking.
- After approximately 2 minutes, deglaze the inner pot by adding 2-3 tablespoons of water.
- Add the marinated chicken, including the yogurt marinade, to the pot. Stir for another minute or two before adding the tomato sauce. Stir well to combine.
- Turn off the saute function. Close the lid of the Instant Pot and ensure the valve is in the sealing position.
- Set the Instant Pot to manual pressure cook mode and adjust the timer to 8 minutes.
- Once the cooking cycle is complete, perform a quick pressure release.
- Stir in the butter and heavy cream, and taste the sauce for seasoning. Adjust the seasoning as desired.
- Turn on the sauté function again and sauté for approximately 5 minutes to reduce the sauce.
- Serve the chicken tikka masala over rice and or with naan bread or other sides. Please refer to blog post for more options.
- For best flavor, marinate the chicken for at up to 24 hrs if time permits.
- After sautéing the onions and other spices, deglaze the inner pot with about 2 to 3 tablespoon of water. So you don’t get a burn notice while it cooks.
- Adjust heat to taste.
- substitute heavy cream with coconut milk for a dairy-free alternative.
- Use the instant pot saute function to thicken the sauce if you find it watery. But be careful not to reduce it too much because the sauce will thicken as it cools.