Back when I was pregnant I craved EVERYTHING spicy and dedicated lots of time to revamping and remaking some of my favorite comfort foods at home. This time of year is perfect for making lightened up comfort foods like my easy baked chicken nuggets, healthy turkey lasagna, and global-inspired meals like this beautiful slow cooker chicken tikka masala. #hellyes
If you’ve never had tikka masala before you’re in for a delightful surprise. And if you have, then you know how lip-smacking good this meal can be. Fire up that slow cooker and get this healthy chicken tikka masala on your dinner menu ASAP!
What is tikka masala?
Tikka Masala is a popular Indian dish made up of chicken in a curry-spiced tomato-based sauce that’s typically infused with heavy cream and/or butter.
Making tikka masala healthier
I’ve lightened up this version so that it’s just as tasty, but lighter thanks to light coconut milk instead of heavy cream, so you can save room for pita bread or naan just for soaking up the creamy coconut milk tomato sauce.
Everything you’ll need to make healthy chicken tikka masala
This delicious, healthier chicken tikka masala recipe has wonderful, bold flavors from tons of warming spices and is made extra creamy with coconut milk. Here’s everything you’ll need to make it:
- Veggies & produce: you’ll need a white or yellow onion, jalapeño, garlic, fresh ginger and a lemon for hints of delicious freshness in this dish.
- Spices: the key to this chicken tikka masala is the combination of spices. We’re using garam masala, paprika, cayenne pepper, ground turmeric, curry powder, salt and pepper.
- Chicken: you’ll also need about 1 1/2 pounds of boneless skinless chicken breasts. Feel free to use chicken thighs for even more flavor!
- Coconut milk: instead of heavy cream or butter, we’re using a can of light coconut milk to make the tikka masala rich and creamy.
- To garnish: I love topping my bowl with fresh cilantro and a little greek yogurt (especially when I make it spicy!)
How to make chicken tikka masala in the slow cooker
Making chicken tikka masala in the slow cooker is one of our favorite ways to enjoy a flavorful, global-inspired dinner without all the work. It’s easy to make, bold and something different to try. A little spicy, a little sweet and hella delicious. Here’s how to make it:
- Saute your veggies. First saute onions, jalapenos and garlic in a skillet until onions begin to soften. Transfer to slow cooker. You can always add these directly to the slow cooker without cooking, but I prefer to saute them a bit to release some flavor.
- Stir in the sauce. Next add in crushed tomatoes or tomato puree, along with fresh lemon juice, fresh ginger and the following spices: garam masala, paprika, cayenne, turmeric, curry powder and salt and pepper. Give it a stir!
- Add chicken & cook. Add chicken to the slow cooker with the sauce and spices, then cook on low for 6-7 hours or high for 2-3 hours.
- Shred & thicken it up. Once done cooking, shred chicken and add back to slow cooker. Then add in a cup of light coconut milk and cook on high uncovered for another 20 minutes to thicken it up a bit.
- Serve & enjoy! Serve immediately over brown rice, quinoa or cauliflower rice for a low carb option. Garnish with cilantro and yogurt if desired. Soak up the extra sauce with naan or pita bread.
A few things to know about this slow cooker chicken tikka masala
- It can be spicy: if you are sensitive to spice, you can leave out the cayenne pepper.
- This recipe contains a variety of spices: garam masala can sometimes be difficult to find, so head to a local spice shop. I know Whole Foods also carries it. Please do not omit from the recipe, it is crucial for flavor.
- Make it vegetarian: you can easily make this vegetarian! Instead of chicken, I suggest using 2 (15 ounce) cans of chickpeas that have been rinsed and drained.
What to serve with tikka masala
This recipe is absolutely to die for when served on top of brown rice, my famous coconut rice, fluffy quinoa or cauliflower rice for a low carb option. Don’t forget the pita bread or naan to soak up the creamy sauce!
How to store & freeze chicken tikka masala
Store this slow cooker chicken tikka masala in the refrigerator for up to 4 days in an airtight container.
- To freeze: Let the tikka masala cool completely before transferring to a freezer-safe container or bag. Freeze for up to 2 months. I would not recommend freezing the tikka masala with rice.
- To reheat: thaw the chicken tikka masala in the refrigerator. While the curry is thawing, feel free to make rice, cauliflower rice or quinoa to serve with it. Reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave for 2 minutes until heated through.
More healthy dinner recipes to try
Get all of my delicious dinner recipes here!
I hope you love this healthy slow cooker chicken tikka masala! If you make it be sure to leave a comment & a rating so I know how you liked it. xo!
Healthy Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 10 minutes
This wonderful, healthy slow cooker chicken tikka masala is my take on a comforting Indian dish made with tomato sauce, chicken breast, coconut milk, and flavorful, bold spices. Serve with brown rice or naan for the perfect weeknight dinner!
- 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 white or yellow onion, chopped
- 1 jalapeño, seeds removed and finely diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes or tomato puree (do not use tomato sauce)
- 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
- 1/2 lemon, juiced (about 1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice)
- 1 tablespoon garam masala
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1 cup light coconut milk (from the can)
- Additional salt, to taste
- Optional for garnish: greek yogurt & cilantro
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add in onion, jalapeno and garlic; saute for about 5 minutes or until onions are slightly golden and translucent. Transfer to a large slow cooker.
Next add in tomato puree, ginger, lemon juice, garam masala, paprika, cayenne pepper, turmeric, and curry powder to the slow cooker; stir to combine.
Add chicken breasts and spoon sauce over the chicken to make sure they are covered. Cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours or on high for 2-3 hours.
Once cooked, remove chicken with a slotted spoon and transfer to a cutting board. Shred the chicken with two forks, then transfer back to the slow cooker.
Stir in coconut milk and allow to cook on high UNCOVERED for 15-20 more minutes to help thicken the sauce. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary, including adding more salt, if desired.
Serve with brown rice, pita bread/naan or enjoy as is. Garnish with plain greek yogurt and chopped cilantro. Store any leftovers in the fridge for up to 4 days.
To make vegetarian: instead of chicken, I suggest using 2 (15 ounce) cans of chickpeas that have been rinsed and drained.
If you’d like you can add 1 cup frozen peas when you add the coconut milk in step 5.
See the full post for freezing instructions.
Servings: 4 servings
Serving size: 1 serving
Saturated fat: 3.8g
Recipe by: Monique Volz // Ambitious Kitchen | Photography by: Eat Love Eats