Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala is one dish that I never get tired of ordering at Indian restaurants. It is SO GOOD. I’ve been making this recipe for years, but recently adapted it for the slow cooker. I may never go back! It’s super easy and tastes restaurant quality.

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala from The Food Charlatan

Do you guys have rules for how late you can text people? I mean of course it depends on who you’re texting. When I was growing up we didn’t make calls after 9pm. Is there texting etiquette these days? I’m always worried I’m going to wake someone up.

Eric and I are night owls and sometimes forget that people go to bed at normal times. One time my brother called me at midnight just to see if I really always stay up like I claim I do. I answered right away of course.

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala from The Food Charlatan

That same brother (who is also named Eric) went to college out of state in the same town that our uncle lives in. Uncle Ron had a habit of calling Eric waaaay too early in the morning. This was before cell phones, so when you call your nephew’s apartment at 6am on a Saturday, you definitely wake all the roommates up. Eric asked him not to call so early. So next time he called at 7am and still woke up the entire apartment.

Eric realized that if Uncle Ron was getting up so early, that meant he was getting to bed early. So he calls him up at 11:30pm the next night, wakes up Ron, and says all chipper, “Hey Ron! I was just calling to let you know that I’m planning on sleeping in tomorrow!”

I would worry that someone might call me super early to get me back for texting them too late at night, but it wouldn’t even work because I would sleep right through it.

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala from The Food Charlatan

This Chicken Tikka Masala is an old stove top recipe that I’ve been making for years. It’s a killer recipe. One time I made it for my friend Mir, who’s from Hyderabad, and he said it tasted authentic. He was probably just feeding my ego, but I don’t even care. This stuff is delicious.

I decided to see how it would work in the slow cooker and after a few trials I’m loving how it turned out. (I did the same this with this stovetop Basil Chicken in Coconut Curry Sauce; here’s a link to the slow cooker version. It’s one of the top recipes on my site now. I actually decided to start working on a slow cooker Chicken Tikka recipe at the suggestion of one of the commenters on that post. Thanks for the idea Bethany!)

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala from The Food Charlatan

The thing about Chicken Tikka is that the chicken is supposed to be grilled, or broiled on high, or something that gives you that roasted-on-the-outside, tender-in-in-the-center flavor. But cooking chicken in liquid all day in a slow cooker isn’t going to give you that.

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala from The Food Charlatan

So I basically just removed the liquid; chicken, spices, and a little butter is all that goes in the crock pot until the end when you add the sauce. The result is golden brown chicken that has that roasted flavor. (I’m really loving this method and want to try it with some other recipes!)

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala from The Food Charlatan

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala from The Food Charlatan

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala from The Food Charlatan

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala from The Food Charlatan

This recipe is pretty darn spicy as written. Feel free to reduce the cayenne pepper; there are 2 teaspoons total, which is quite a lot. (I wouldn’t omit the jalapeno though, it adds great flavor. Most of the heat comes from the seeds anyway, and we’re not using those.)

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala from The Food Charlatan

Next time I try this I’m replacing the cream with coconut milk, or perhaps coconut cream. It will make the final flavor a lot sweeter but would make this recipe dairy free, (if you used olive oil instead of butter) which is one reason people like the Slow Cooker Basil Chicken in Coconut Curry Sauce. They’re always tagging in #whole30, and and I’m over here like don’t look at me, I’m just here for the carbs.

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Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala

Yield: Serves 4

Recipe by The Food Charlatan


    For the chicken:
  • 1 pound chicken breasts (about 3), cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons butter, cut into chunks
  • For the sauce:
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 tablespoon butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1/2 to 1 cup plain Greek yogurt, as desired
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped


  1. Chop the chicken into bite size chunks. Add the chicken to the slow cooker.
  2. In a small bowl combine 2 teaspoons cumin, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon black pepper, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt.
  3. Sprinkle the spices over the chicken and use your hands to coat the chicken well. Sprinkle 1 and 1/2 tablespoons butter chunks over the chicken.
  4. Put the lid on and cook on high for 2-3 hours, or on low for about 5 hours.
  5. When the chicken is cooked, remove the lid and add the tomato sauce and cream (turn the crock pot up to high at this point if it's not already.)
  6. Add 1/2 tablespoon butter to a small frying pan. Add the garlic and jalapeno and sauté for 1 minute, or until fragrant.
  7. In a small bowl combine 2 teaspoons ground cumin, 2 teaspoons paprika, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt.
  8. Add the spices to the frying pan and continue sautéing for one minute.
  9. Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice to the pan, stir it in and then remove from heat. Add this mixture to the crock pot. Add the minced ginger as well.
  10. Replace the lid and let cook on high for another 20-30 minutes or until thickened and bubbly on the edges.
  11. Taste it and stir in some plain yogurt. The amount is up to you. This makes it a little more creamy and also tempers the heat. Sometimes I don't add any, if I'm feeding kids I add more.
  12. Stir in the fresh cilantro.
  13. Serve with hot rice and naan.

Source: adapted from this stovetop Chicken Tikka Masala; original recipe adapted from

Here are some other recipes you will love!

Here’s the original Chicken Tikka Masala. It may not look like much but it’s SO amazing. It tastes very close to today’s recipe:

Chicken Tikka Masala with Coconut Jasmine Rice from


Chicken Tikka Masala Meatballs: made with ground chicken and the same sauce. Can you tell I’m obsessed with this dish??

Chicken Tikka Masala Meatballs |


Slow Cooker Basil Chicken with Coconut Curry Sauce: << one of the top recipes on my blog!

Slow Cooker Basil Chicken in Coconut Curry Sauce from The Food Charlatan


More Indian food from awesome bloggers!

Indian Spiced Braised Chicken from A Dash of Sanity
Slow Cooker Indian Spiced Chickpeas and Potatoes from Oh My Veggies
Tandoori Chicken from Simply Recipes

This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for your support!





  1. stephanie says

    when i was growing up, there definitely was a rule – not before 10am. (we were always up way before 10am but my mom in particular would be NOT PLEASED if she had to answer the door in her bathrobe and/or in the middle of breakfast because someone was incessantly ringing the doorbell to see if i could come out to play.) this was also back when answering machines were a.) a thing and b.) separate from the phone so the other thing that would drive my parents crazy is that my friends would call, but not leave a message, and just keep calling back. so you’d have to listen to the phone ring AND the answering machine pick up, play the greeting, and beep, rinse, repeat. …did i mention it was in our dining room? haha. fond memories!

    now i encourage anyone to use the do not disturb feature on their phone. i have mine set to come on between 1am and 7am, and still allow calls from “favorites.” so i won’t be woken up/bothered by a random text from a friend, but if either of my parents call or it’s a rare night my partner and i aren’t together and he calls, those will come through. (because at those hours it’s probably an emergency.) and of course it doesn’t affect the alarm.

    anyway long comments about phonecalls aside, this chicken looks so good! i love the idea of doing the sauce at the end – i have really gotten away from using my crockpot lately in favor of the dutch oven just because i don’t like all the liquid that comes from crockpot cooking. this is a really smart work around.

    • says

      Ummm that is genius. Morning restrictions seem way more reasonable to me than night restrictions! Because seriously if you show up at my house before 10am these days I WILL be in my pjs :) I should totally use that Do not disturb feature, that’s so smart. I didn’t know you could set it to still get calls from certain people! PS you need to bust out the crock for this one. for reals.

  2. says

    I am soooo a night owl, I don’t understand people that are up at 6 ready to face the day!!!
    Chicken tikka is one of my favorites at the local Indian restaurant, this is a great technique!!!

  3. Misty says

    Oh man, as soon as I’m done nursing I’m making this first! We all went to our favorite Indian place around Christmas time. My dad cautioned me to get the mild instead of medium just in case. Even with little heat, my poor little man had a rash for days. Indian is one of my go tos for making dinner so I’m bummed.

    Our time and still is, no calling after 9:30pm or before 9:30 am. And no trampoline on Saturdays till 10 am.

    • says

      Oh man that’s such a bummer! I’ve never dealt with kids having allergies or problems with my milk (there’s just not enough of it :) But no spicy food! That would be so hard! Maybe you could make it but just leave out all the pepper?

      And no tramp before 10?? that’s how eric and I get to sleep in in the summers, haha! Trampoline at 7am…and earplugs.

  4. Nathan says

    So according to wikipedia, Tikka Masala was invented in Scotland by a Pakistani or a Bangledeshi guy. You need to find somebody from the UK to help you comment on the authenticity of this dish haha.

    • says

      Yes someone else just commented to say it was someone in Scotland who came up with it! I knew it originated in Britain somewhere. Buuut I figure it’s been around long enough that Indians (especially ones who’ve lived in the states for 20 years, like Mir) can comment on authenticity levels. Don’t they have chicken tikka masala in India? I don’t know, I’ve never been. Maybe not. Bottom line though…This stuff is amazing, I don’t care if it’s authentic or not!! :)

  5. Kelsey says

    I love your basil curry chicken and am so excited to try this recipe! Do you think it would work well using chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts?

    • says

      Hey Kelsey! Funny you should ask that. I tested this recipe first with thighs, because I liked it so much in the Basil curry. But my husband and I decided that for chicken tikka, we liked to have distinct chunks of chicken instead of shredded. It changes the consistency of the final result quite a bit. I did it with whole thighs, then shredded post slow cooking. Maybe if you cut it when the chicken was raw you would get the same effect as the pictures above. For the record, I really liked it with thighs, but it didn’t feel quite the same as traditional tikka masala. Let me know how it goes!

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