Instant Pot Chicken Tikka Masala

This Easy Chicken Tikka Masala recipe is made completely from scratch. The dish features tender chicken and a rich, aromatic Indian curry sauce that’s sure to become a family favorite. With just 10 minutes of prep time and 20 minutes of cooking time in your Instant Pot pressure cooker, you can enjoy this delicious and authentic Indian dish in just over an hour. Plus, it’s easy to customize with your favorite spices and ingredients to make it your own.

Pair this meal with this easy homemade Garlic Naan bread recipe over a bed of Indian rice like basmati.

A plate of steaming hot Chicken Tikka Masala made in an Instant Pot, with tender chunks of chicken in a creamy tomato-based sauce, served over a bed of fluffy white rice.

Making tikka masala at home is easy but requires a couple of steps to prepare the dish. It is tastier than going to an Indian restaurant and ordering the classic recipe. Firstly, the chicken should be cut into pieces and marinated in an Indian seasoned yogurt and garlic sauce. Next, the curry sauce should be mixed together and pressure cooked for a few minutes. Finally, the chicken and marinate are stirred into the curry sauce and pressure cooked for 6 minutes. Once the Indian dish is done, serve it with steamed rice and top it with chopped cilantro.

Marinating Chicken for Tikka Masala is Important for Many Reasons.

  • Flavor: By marinating the chicken breast pieces in a mixture of yogurt, lemon juice, and classic Indian spices like salt, garlic, ginger, and garam masala allows the flavors to infuse and penetrate the meat, resulting in a more flavorful dish.
  • Moisture: To lock moisture into chicken, marinating helps by preventing the chicken from drying out during cooking. Preparing the dish with a marinate will improve the texture of the meat.
  • Tenderness: The acid in lemon juice, and yogurt tenderizes meat by breaking down the fibers in chicken, resulting in a more tender and juicy bite.
Chicken Tikka Masala spices in a bowl lined up in the kitchen.

How to Make Chicken Tikka Masala in an Instant Pot

  1. Cut chicken breasts into bite size pieces.
  2. Make the chicken marinate by combining Greek yogurt, lemon juice, garam masala, fresh ginger, minced garlic, and salt. Marinate chicken in sauce for 45 minutes.
  3. Sauté onions, garlic, and ginger in the pressure cooker.
  4. Add the curry seasoning: Stir in garam masala, coriander, cumin, salt, and chili powder.
  5. Stir in diced tomatoes, and tomato paste.
  6. Pressure cook on high for 5 minutes. Allow the Instant Pot to naturally release for 10 minutes.
  7. Stir in butter, half and half, and chicken with the yogurt marinate.
  8. Pressure cook on high for 6 minutes.
  9. Serve with white rice and garnish with cilantro.
Classic Chicken Tikka Masala in a creamy Indian curry sauce with chicken breasts cooked in the pressure cooker. Served in a bowl with white rice.

Easy Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe Ingredients

CHICKEN: I like to use chicken breasts. White meat such as chicken breasts or dark meat such as chicken thighs can be used in the recipe. If using chicken breasts, cut the meat into equal bite size pieces. Doing this will allow more of the marinate to soak into the meat and will also result in less cook time.

YOGURT: Use plain Greek yogurt. Make sure it is not vanilla flavored. The yogurt marinade is a classic Indian marinade. The acidity in yogurt slowly tenderizes meat and produces great results.

SPICES: A variety of traditional Indian curry spices are used in tikka masala. Spices like turmeric, coriander, cumin, chili powder, and salt can easily be found in any grocery store. In addition, garam masala can, too. However, if garam masala is not in your local grocery store, try finding it on Amazon, or an Indian grocery store.

VEGETABLES: I highly recommend using fresh garlic and fresh ginger. Both can be found in the grocery store. Ginger resembles a root, or branch and will need to be peeled much like a potato. The skin can also be cut off. Once the skin is removed, it can be zested, grated, or minced.

TOMATO: While it may not seem like tikka masala uses tomatoes, it really does. Both diced tomatoes and tomato puree are added to give this recipe flavor.

CILANTRO: Cilantro is a delicious herb to top off the dish. Use as much or as less to your desired taste preferences.

Chicken Tikka Masala served in a bowl with steamed white rice. Garnished with chopped cilantro.

Frequently Asked Questions about Tikka Masala

Can I use chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts?

Yes, chicken thighs can be used in this recipe. Keep in mind that it may change the cooking time slightly.

Can I make this recipe on the stove instead of in a pressure cooker?

Yes, you can make this recipe on the stovetop. Simply cook the chicken on the stove and prepare and cook the sauce separately, then combine the two and simmer until the chicken is cooked through.

Freezing tikka masala. Can I freeze it?

Yes. To freeze it, allow it to cool completely. Transfer it to an airtight container or a large freezer safe ziplock bag with the air removed. Place it in the freezer for up to 3 months.

How long will leftovers keep in the refrigerator?

The leftovers will keep in the fridge for up to 4 days. Store in an airtight container. Keep chicken and rice separate.

Will frozen chicken work for this recipe?

If using frozen chicken, defrost it in the refrigerator first. Once it is thawed, it is ready to use to make the recipe. It is important that the chicken is defrosted because the meat will need to soak in a marinate prior to cooking.

Is chicken tikka masala spicy?

Homemade chicken tikka masala is typically considered a mildly spicy dish, but the level of spiciness can vary depending on the recipe and the preferences of the cook. The dish consists of marinated chicken pieces (tikka) cooked in a creamy tomato-based sauce (masala). The spiciness usually comes from a combination of spices such as cumin, coriander, turmeric, paprika, and chili powder. However, the heat level can be adjusted to suit individual tastes. If you have a low tolerance for spice, you can make it whatever spice level is best for you and your family.

difference between butter chicken and chicken tikka masala

While both dishes involve chicken and a creamy tomato-based sauce, there are a few key differences. Butter chicken tends to be milder and sweeter, while chicken tikka masala has a more complex and spicier flavor profile. Additionally, the cooking techniques for the chicken may differ, with butter chicken often involving a tandoor or grilling, while tikka masala typically involves marinating and then cooking the chicken in the sauce.

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Enjoy this healthy chicken tikka masala recipe!

A plate of steaming hot Chicken Tikka Masala made in an Instant Pot, with tender chunks of chicken in a creamy tomato-based sauce, served over a bed of fluffy white rice.

Instant Pot Chicken Tikka Masala

A rich and flavorful Instant Pot Chicken Tikka Masala recipe made with a spiced yogurt marinade, chicken breast chucks and tossed in a creamy Indian curry then cooked in the Instant Pot pressure cooker in just 20 minutes. If you like Indian cuisine, you'll love this Chicken Tikka Masala recipe served with basmati rice, naan bread, and cilantro. Alternatively, this Chicken Tikka Masala recipe can be made on the stovetop and includes directions to easily make it using the stovetop method.
4.67 from 3 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 6 servings
Calories 381 kcal

Instant Pot


  • 2 lb chicken breasts cut into 2 inch cubes
  • 2 cups plain Greek yogurt
  • 3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 5 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 tsp salt

Indian Curry Sauce

  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger peeled, minced
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp salt more to taste
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 14 oz fire roasted tomatoes, drained or regular diced tomatoes
  • ½ cups tomato sauce or passata
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1½ to 1 cup half and half
  • 5 tbsp cilantro chopped


  • Whisk together yogurt, lemon juice, garam masala, ginger, garlic, and salt.
  • Add cut chicken to the bowl and toss in the marinade until fully coated. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate in the fridge for at least 45 minutes or up to 24 hours.
  • Turn device on. To make the curry sauce, set the Instant Pot to "sauté " mode and heat vegetable oil. Sauté chopped onions; about 5 minutes. Stir in minced garlic, and minced ginger. Cook for 1 minute.
  • Stir in turmeric, garam masala, coriander, cumin, salt, and chili powder. Cook until fragrant; about 1-2 minutes.
  • Drain canned tomatoes; discard liquid. Stir in tomatoes, and tomato sauce.
  • Place the lid on top of the instant pot and secure it in place. NOTE: Do not add the chicken. The sauce needs to be cooked separately first.
  • Set pressure valve nozzle to "sealing". Select "manual" or "pressure cook" mode; set pressure cook time on high-pressure for 5 minutes.
    Note: Pressure cooker will beep once when it comes to pressure. Next it will count down from 5 minutes to cook. Once done, it will beep. Next, the Instant pot will count the minutes that it sits for and may display as "L minutes".
  • Select "cancel" to turn off device. Allow the pressure valve to "natural-release" for 10 minutes. This means you don't need to turn the pressure valve yet; leave it sealed.
  • Quick-release pressure after 10 minutes by turning the pressure valve from "seal" to "venting". Once the pressure pin drops, open the lid.
  • Stir in butter until melted. Stir in half and half. Add the chicken and yogurt marinade to the Instant Pot. Stir to combine.
  • Secure lid on Instant pot. Turn pressure valve to "sealing". Select "manual" or "pressure cook" mode. Set time to cook for 6 minutes.
  • After timer goes off, allow the pressure to "naturally-release" for 10 minutes. Turn pressure valve to "venting" to manually release remaining pressure.
  • Stir chicken tikka masala. Serve over rice or with naan bread. Sprinkle top with chopped cilantro.


Can I make this recipe on the stove instead of in a pressure cooker?
Yes, you can make this recipe on the stovetop. Simply cook the chicken on the stove and prepare and cook the sauce separately, then combine the two and simmer until the chicken is cooked through.
Where can I find garam masala, turmeric, and coriander?
These ingredients can easily be found in most grocery stores in the spice aisle and/or ethnic aisle. In addition, an Indian grocery store will have these spices as well as Amazon.
  • New to using Instant Pot? Read this article for more information.


Calories: 381kcalCarbohydrates: 16gProtein: 43gFat: 16gSaturated Fat: 8gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0.2gCholesterol: 131mgSodium: 1132mgPotassium: 1047mgFiber: 3gSugar: 8gVitamin A: 775IUVitamin C: 17mgCalcium: 202mgIron: 3mg

Nutritional information is only an estimate and it’s accuracy is not guaranteed to be exact.

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6 Responses

  1. 4 stars
    I tried this recipe and followed the directions exactly. I got 2 burn notices, once during the first part of the recipe and then another during the second part. The overall flavor wasn’t horrible but it wasn’t the flavor profile I was hoping for. The sauce broke up probably because I had to open the instapot when I had burn notices. There is also a confusing measurement in the recipe for the half n half. It says 1 1/2 to 1 cup half n half.

    1. I’m sorry to hear that you encountered some issues while making the Instant Pot Chicken Tikka Masala recipe. Let’s address your concerns and provide some possible solutions:

      Burn notices: Burn notices can occur if the food is sticking to the bottom of the Instant Pot and not allowing proper pressure buildup. To prevent this, make sure to deglaze the pot after sautéing the onions, garlic, and ginger. Scrape the bottom of the pot to remove any browned bits before adding the remaining ingredients. Adding a splash of water or broth can also help prevent sticking. Make sure the sealing ring is properly installed and there are no obstructions in the vent.

      Sauce breaking: Opening the Instant Pot during cooking can cause the sauce to lose its consistency. It’s important to follow the natural release and quick release times as mentioned in the recipe to allow the pressure to release properly. If you encounter burn notices and have to open the pot, try to salvage the sauce by gently stirring it and allowing it to cool slightly before adding the half and half. This may help prevent the sauce from breaking further.

      Confusing measurement: The measurement of “1-1 1/2 cup of half and half” is because some people do not like it at 1 1/2 and prefer 1 cup instead.

      To improve the flavor profile, you can adjust the seasoning to your liking. Feel free to add more garam masala, ginger, or garlic to enhance the flavors. You can also adjust the level of spiciness by adding more or less chili powder.

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