Instant Pot Chicken Tikka Masala is the epitome of good Indian food! It starts with a simple marinade, and it’s all cooked in the instant pot from start to finish! Serve with steamed basmati rice or my personal favorite, garlic naan!
This is the mic drop of all instant pot meals!
Chicken Tikka Masala in the instant pot is my go-to recipe when I want spicy Indian food in a flash without putting in a ton of effort!
So after months of recipe testing, I’m pleased to be bringing this meal to the blog! I love serving homemade chicken tikka masala with basmati rice, and if I’m feeling extra indulgent, I’ll also make a batch of homemade garlic naan.
This is the perfect meal to make when it’s cold out because the spices in CTM really warm you up. Plus, I love that the instant pot is the one doing all the hard work! Today’s instant pot chicken tikka masala recipe requires about 15 minutes of prep work, and the rest is all done in the instant pot! Meals that are easy on the cook are my favorite kind!
It’s been a while since I shared an Indian recipe on the blog. It’s not something we make too often around here, although I often find myself wondering why that is because we both tend to enjoy them so much. My homemade butter chicken was an instant hit here on the blog, and at home. It’s an authentic recipe that was previously used in an Indian restaurant many years ago and to be honest; we love it so much that I wouldn’t make butter chicken any other way.
In recent years I’ve also shared a chana masala with you. It’s super yummy and works really well with a dollop of yogurt to cool off all that spice. It’s a recipe I love whipping up when we’re going meatless! And for those of you that prefer a little protein, like hubby, there’s shrimp masala too.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MURGH MAKHANI, BUTTER CHICKEN, AND CHICKEN TIKKA MASALA?
Okay, so first – murgh makhani and butter chicken are the same thing! Literally translated ‘murgh’ means chicken and ‘makhani’ means butter. It always makes me crack up when I hear people arguing that a recipe tasted more like murgh makhani than butter chicken!
Now, the difference between murgh makhani/ butter chicken and chicken tikka masala. So as we know, butter chicken contains butter. This isn’t always in the form of butter as we know it. Sometimes, it’s in the way of clarified butter or ghee; which is what I prefer to use in my butter chicken recipe. Butter chicken is also a tad bit sweeter (because of either sugar or sauteed onions) and milder concerning spices than chicken tikka masala. Chicken tikka masala is heavier on the spices and may or may not contain any butter. I reserve the ghee for my butter chicken and opt for oil when I’m making chicken tikka masala. However, ghee would work lovely in place of the oil in this recipe should you choose to use it.
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO MARINATE THE CHICKEN?
- boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs (cut into 1-inch cubes)
- plain yogurt
- lemon juice
- grated ginger
- grated garlic cloves
- ground white pepper
- garam masala
Both chicken thighs and chicken breasts will work for this recipe. For those that like dark meat chicken, the thighs are a better option here as they’re more flavorful and more traditionally used. For the rest of us, chicken breasts work just fine too!
WHAT’S IN THE CHICKEN TIKKA MASALA SAUCE?
- olive oil
- tomato puree
- grated ginger
- grated garlic
- heavy cream
WHAT KIND OF TOMATO PUREE DO I NEED FOR INSTANT POT CHICKEN TIKKA MASALA?
You want to use a tomato puree that doesn’t contain anything but pureed tomatoes. Italian passata works really well! You don’t want to use whole tomatoes, diced, or crushed here. If that’s all you’ve got on hand, you can still use them, just run them through the blender, so it’s a puree before adding them to the instant pot. It’s important to do this, so our cream sauce doesn’t have chunks of whole tomatoes in it at the end.
A NOTE ABOUT THE GARAM MASALA
I’m giving a range when it comes to the garam masala that’s added to the tikka masala because I find that garam masala varies tremendously from brand to brand. Authentic Indian/Pakistani brands provide a more potent masala than a brand that isn’t known for spices from a specific cuisine – think the store’s brand or a brand that explicitly sells spices. If it’s not an Indian brand, you’ll need anywhere from 1 ½ – 2 teaspoons in the tikka masala.
At home, I use a homemade garam masala that my mom makes and keeps my pantry well stocked with. Her recipe uses whole spices that she measures and grinds. I find her homemade garam masala to be way more potent than the garam masala you find in most grocery stores but about the same as garam masala bought from an Indian/Pakistani store. If you’re using a traditional brand, you’ll need 1 – 1 ½ teaspoon of garam masala. If you’d like to make this even spicier, feel free to up it to 2 teaspoons!
HOW TO MAKE CHICKEN TIKKA MASALA IN YOUR INSTANT POT
- Start by marinating the chicken.
- Sauté the chicken in the instant pot for 2 minutes
- add all the remaining ingredients (except the cream)
- pressure cook, do a natural release
- add the cream
HOW TO SERVE INSTANT POT CHICKEN TIKKA MASALA
I like serving chicken tikka masala with basmati rice that I usually just boil. Basmati rice is cooked differently than traditional rice. The right way to cook basmati is to boil it in a pot of boiling water, the way you would pasta. Then you drain it, add a teaspoon of oil, and cover the pot and let the rice steam over the lowest heat setting for roughly 5 minutes.
I also love making and serving garlic naan when I’ve got the time!
REASONS WHY I LOVE MAKING INSTANT POT CHICKEN TIKKA MASALA:
- low effort on my part (marinate, add it to the IP)
- a tasty, flavorful meal
- easy cleanup
As simple as that!
Instant Pot Chicken Tikka Masala
Instant Pot Chicken Tikka Masala is the epitome of good Indian food! It starts with a simple marinade and it’s all cooked in the instant pot from start to finish! Serve with steamed basmati rice or my personal favorite, garlic naan!
- 1 ½ pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts (or thighs), cut into 1 inch cubes
- ½ cup plain yogurt
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 3 cloves garlic, grated or minced
- 1 teaspoon EACH: grated ginger (or paste) AND garam masala
- ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 (15-ounce) can passata (tomato sauce or puree)
- 1 ½ teaspoon grated ginger (or paste)
- 8 cloves garlic, grated or minced
- 2 teaspoons dried fenugreek leaves
- 1 teaspoon EACH: ground cumin, ground coriander, smoked paprika, AND garam masala (see notes for garam masala)
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- ¼ – ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ cup heavy cream
cooked basmati rice + naan + chopped cilantro, for serving
- MARINATE THE CHICKEN: In a medium bowl, whisk together the yogurt, lemon juice, ginger paste, garlic paste, ground white pepper, 1 teaspoon salt, and garam masala. Add the diced chicken and mix; set aside for at least 20 minutes. If you’ve got time, I suggest covering with plastic wrap and letting it hang out in the refrigerator for 1-10 hours.
- SAUTE: Select the sauté mode on your instant pot when it’s hot, add the oil followed by the marinated chicken (along with the marinade) and let sauté for 2-3 minutes, stirring so nothing sticks to the bottom.
- PRESSURE COOK: Add all of the remaining ingredients for the sauce (except the cream) along with ½ teaspoon salt and stir everything well. Cover with the lid, make sure it is set to ‘seal’ and let cook on manual high pressure for 9 minutes. Use the quick release lever to release the steam as soon as the timer goes off.
- FINISH: Hit the sauté button and drizzle in the cream; stir to combine. When the tikka masala reaches a gentle simmer. Turn off and serve warm with naan and cooked rice topped with chopped cilantro.
For the garam masala in the gravy or tikka masala portion of the recipe, you’ll need 1-2 teaspoons based on the type of garam masala you used. For authentic Indian brands, you’ll want to start with 1 – 1 ½ teaspoon, for all other brands, I suggest using 1 ½ – 2 teaspoons. Keep in mind that you can always adjust with additional garam masala at the end if it isn’t spicy enough for you!
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