Chicken Saag, also called Palak Chicken, is a chicken and spinach curry from North India. This flavorful and healthy Chicken Saag can be made in just 30 minutes on the stovetop or in the instant pot. With this well-tested and easy-to-follow recipe, you can make authentic Saag Chicken with perfect results!

Saag Chicken in a bowl topped with cream.

Chicken is simmered in a creamy spinach sauce.  Sounds exotic?  Don’t worry; it is super easy to make. This curry is full of flavor and loaded with nutrients.

You will always find some version of this spinach curry at any Indian restaurant. But I can assure you, that this homemade version is better than any take-out!

My daughter loves everything saag, so I make multiple versions – Palak PaneerSaag Paneer, Sarson ka Saag, Saag Aloo, and Vegan Palak Tofu.

What is Chicken Saag?

“Saag” is a Punjabi term used for leafy green preparations. These could be made with spinach, mustard greens, chard, etc. We are cooking chicken along with the spiced leafy greens to make chicken saag curry.

Murgh Saag (chicken and spinach curry) in a bowl \.

I used spinach in this Chicken Saag, but feel free to use other greens you like.  This curry is a healthy way to incorporate leafy greens into your regular meals.

This curry is referred to by many names at restaurants – Palak Chicken, Murgh Saag, Chicken Saagwala, and also, Chicken Tikka Saag.

Love Spinach? Check out this collection of 21 Indian Spinach Recipes.

Saag Chicken Ingredients

Ingredients to make Chicken Saag
  • Spinach: The star ingredient of this dish. You can use baby spinach or regular spinach. You can also use a combination of greens such as kale, chard, mustard greens, or rapini, along with spinach.
  • Chicken: Use boneless, skinless chicken thighs for the best juicy results. You can also use chicken breasts or chicken tenders if you prefer.
  • Onion: It gives the dish a sweet and spicy taste and is also the base for the curry. I prefer to use yellow onions when making this curry.
  • Tomato: Adds a tangy and slightly sweet flavor to the dish.
  • Ginger and Garlic: Adds a spice kick and lots of flavor to the curry.
  • Spices: Use basic spices such as turmeric, red chili powder, coriander powder, salt, and garam masala.
  • Ghee and/or Oil: I use a combination of ghee and oil when making saag. You can replace ghee with your favorite oil to make this curry dairy-free.
  • Cream: It gives the dish a rich, creamy texture and balances the heat. Replace with cashew cream or coconut milk to make this curry dairy-free. You can also skip cream completely, and the curry will still be delicious.

How to Make Chicken Saag?

There are two main steps in making the curry – Blanch and puree the spinach, and make the curry.

Preparation

  • Clean and trim spinach leaves. Wash them thoroughly under cold water.
  • Prepare the chicken and cut it into 1 1/2-inch pieces. Dice or puree the onions based on your preference. If you like a smooth saag, then puree the onion. Puree the tomato. Set aside.

Blanch & Puree Spinach

  • Boil water in a large pot. Add spinach leaves to it and let it boil for 2-3 minutes.
  • Using a slotted spoon, remove the spinach leaves from the water and transfer them to an ice bath for a couple of minutes. Remove spinach from the ice bath, squeeze out extra liquid, and transfer to a blender. Blend to a coarse paste. It is good to have a little bit of texture to the pureed spinach.

Make the Curry

  • In a skillet, heat the oil and ghee. Then, add the cumin seeds and let them sizzle.
  • Add the onion puree and saute until it turns golden in color. Add ginger and garlic and saute for another minute.
  • Add the tomato puree and spices and saute for a few minutes until the oil leaves the sides of the pan.
  • Add the chicken and saute until it changes color on the outside.
  • Add the spinach mixture to the pan. Mix well, then cover with a lid and cook until the chicken is cooked through. If needed, add water to adjust the consistency. (Note: it is important to cover with a lid, as there could be splutters when the spinach cooks)
  • Remove the lid and give the curry a stir. Add the garam masala and, if using, cream to the curry. Cook for another couple of minutes.
Luscious Chicken Saag cooked in a pan.

Saag Chicken is ready to be served. It is delicious served with makki ki roti or naan!

Palak Chicken in a bowl topped with cream.

Instant Pot Chicken Saag

I have made this a quick, one-pot recipe when cooking in the instant pot.  

  • Start the instant pot on saute mode and add the oil, cumin, ginger, and garlic.
  • Then add in the chopped onions and sauté for a few minutes. The ingredients can be cut into large pieces as we are going to blend them later.  
  • Add the chopped tomato and spices and stir them with the onions. Add water and deglaze the pot (this is important for newer versions of the instant pot). 
  • Then, add the spinach leaves and place the chicken on top of the spinach leaves.  Cook on manual or high-pressure mode for 8 minutes.
steps to make palak chicken in instant pot
  • When the instant pot beeps, quick release the pressure manually.  
  • Remove the chicken pieces on the top and keep them aside.  
  • Then, use the immersion blender to blend the ingredients in the pot to a smooth puree. You can also use a normal blender to blend and then transfer the saag back to the instant pot.  
  • If needed, cut the chicken pieces to the desired size and transfer them back to the saag in the pot.
Steps to make chicken saag in instant pot
  • Simmer for a few minutes so the chicken is mixed well with the greens.  
  • Use a glass lid when simmering, as there could be some splutters when spinach boils.  Chicken Saag is ready to be enjoyed with naan or rice.
Chicken Saag Instant Pot Pressure Cooker

Pro-Tips

Spinach: You can use frozen spinach in this recipe. Make sure to thaw it and then blend it into a puree. I suggest using 6 ounces of frozen spinach instead of 10 ounces of fresh spinach leaves.

Saute the aromatics: When cooking this curry in a pan, I suggest patiently sauting the onions until golden. Then, saute the other aromatics. This is what adds a ton of flavor to this curry.

Make it Spicy: To add more heat to this spinach chicken curry, add 1-2 green chili peppers. You can add the green chili when pureeing the spinach. If using an instant pot, add green chili peppers along with the onions at the start.

Tomato: I used fresh tomato puree in this recipe. You can also replace it with 1 tablespoon of tomato paste. 

How to Serve Chicken Saag?

This palak chicken is best served with naan or homemade roti. But you can also enjoy it with jeera rice or peas pulao.

This curry is low-carb or keto, so if you want to keep your meal low-carb, pair chicken saag with cauliflower rice.

This curry pairs beautifully with cucumber raita and kachumber salad to round out the amazing Indian dinner.

Spinach Chicken curry served in a kadhai with naan on the side.

How to Store?

You can store leftover saag in an airtight container for up to 3 days in the refrigerator. In my opinion, saag tastes even better the next day. Don’t hesitate to pack it for your lunch at work. This curry will also freeze well for up to two months.

To reheat, first thaw it overnight in the refrigerator. Then heat it in the microwave or in a pan on the stovetop.

Can Chicken Saag be Made Ahead of Time?

You can surely make this dish a day before and have it ready if entertaining.

Another way to save time is to have blanced and pureed spinach ready in your refrigerator or freezer.

Chicken Tikka Saag in a bowl topped with cream.

Enjoy the goodness of spinach and chicken in this hearty and healthy recipe.  Give this recipe a try, and I am sure you are going to love it as much as we do!

More Indian Chicken Curries You’ll Love

Want to save this recipe?
Just enter your email and get it sent to your inbox! Plus you’ll get new recipes from us every week!
4.72 from 112 votes

Chicken Saag (Instant Pot & Stovetop)

Chicken Saag, also called Palak Chicken, is a chicken and spinach curry from North India. This flavorful and healthy Chicken Saag can be made in just 30 minutes on the stovetop or in the instant pot. With this well-tested and easy-to-follow recipe, you can make authentic Saag Chicken with perfect results!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients 

  • 10 ounces Spinach (Palak)
  • 1 lb Chicken thighs, boneless and skinless
  • 2 tablespoon Oil
  • 1 tablespoon Ghee
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cumin seeds (Jeera)
  • 1″ inch Ginger, grated
  • 6 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 large Onion, about 10 ounces
  • 1 small Tomato
  • 1/4 cup Water
  • 1 teaspoon Garam Masala
  • 2 tablespoon Cream , optional

Spices

Instructions 

  • Clean and trim spinach leaves. Wash them thoroughly under cold water.

Stovetop Method

  • Prepare the chicken and cut it into 1 1/2 inch pieces. Dice or puree the onions based on your preference. If you like a smooth saag, then puree the onion. Puree the tomato. Set aside.
  • Boil water in a large pot. Add spinach leaves to it and let it boil for 2-3 minutes.
  • Using a slotted spoon, remove the spinach leaves from the water and transfer them to an ice bath for a couple of minutes. Remove spinach from the ice bath, squeeze out extra liquid, and transfer to a blender. Blend to a coarse paste. It is good to have a little bit of texture to the pureed spinach.
  • Heat a skillet on medium heat. Add the oil and ghee, and let them heat for 30 seconds. Add the cumin seeds and let them sizzle.
  • Add the onion puree and saute for 6-7 minutes until they are golden in color. Add ginger and garlic and saute for another minute.
  • Add the tomato puree and spices and saute for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the chicken, and saute for 5-6 minutes until the chicken changes color.
  • Add the spinach mixture to the pan. Mix well, then cover with a lid and cook for about 8 minutes. Stir in between at least once. If needed, add water to adjust the consistency.
  • Remove the lid and give the curry a stir. Add the garam masala and if using, cream to the curry. Cook for another couple of minutes.
  • Saag Chicken is ready to be served!

Instant Pot Method

  • Chop the onion and tomato into small pieces.
  • Start the instant pot in SAUTE mode and heat oil and ghee in it. Add cumin seeds and saute for 30 seconds
  • Add the onions, ginger, and garlic.  Saute for a couple of minutes. Add the tomato and spices. Stir well. Add water and deglaze the pot.
  • Add the spinach and carefully place the chicken pieces on top of the spinach (you can place the whole chicken thigh or cut it into pieces). Press CANCEL and close the instant pot lid with the vent in the sealing position.
  • Press MANUAL or Pressure Cook mode for 8 minutes. When the instant pot beeps, do a quick pressure release.  PRESS Cancel. 
  • Open the lid, remove the chicken pieces and set aside.  Blend the spinach and other ingredients to a creamy texture preferably using an immersion blender.  
  • Cut the chicken into smaller pieces about 1 inch in size and then add it back to the spinach curry.  
  • Add the garam masala and, if using, cream to the curry. Press SAUTE and give the curry a quick boil.  This could splutter out, so cover with a lid. 
  • Chicken Saag is ready.  Enjoy with naan, roti or rice. 

Video

Notes

Greens: I used spinach in this recipe.  However, I have made this using a combination of spinach and chard, mustard greens, or kale, and the saag comes out great. 
Tomato: I used fresh tomato puree in this recipe. You can also replace it with 1 tablespoon of tomato paste. 
Instant Pot Method: 
  • As we are going to puree after cooking for this method, it is okay to chop the onions, tomato, ginger, and garlic into larger pieces. 
  • If you don’t have an immersion blender, you could transfer the ingredients to a regular blender and blend them to a smooth paste. 
  • If the chicken is not well cooked, then boil for a bit longer in step 7.
  • If using chicken breast, pressure cook for 6 minutes. 

Nutrition

Calories: 327kcalCarbohydrates: 10gProtein: 21gFat: 22gSaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 111mgSodium: 732mgPotassium: 726mgFiber: 2gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 6810IUVitamin C: 25.7mgCalcium: 100mgIron: 3.1mg

Additional Info

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: North Indian
Diet: Gluten-free, Low Carb, Paleo
Tried this recipe?Mention @pipingpotcurry or tag #pipingpotcurry!

About Meeta

I strongly believe that each one of us has a chef inside us, we just need to explore the ingredients and create great food. My passion is to share easy, healthy, and wholesome recipes made using Instant Pot & Air Fryer, that are well tested, so you can cook with confidence.

You May Also Like

Get new recipes sent to your inbox!
Don't miss out! Subscribe and get all the new recipes first.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




86 Comments

  1. Hi Meeta,
    Already made a few recipes of yours and they were great! So first of all, thank you!
    Second, I don’t have an instant pot or pressure cooker. Is there any way of doing this recipe on a regular stove top?

    Thanks
    Michal

    1. Hi Michal – Happy to hear you have been enjoying the recipes. To make this on a stovetop, blanch the spinach and then blend to a puree. In a pan, add some ghee/oil and saute the chicken until the color changes. Then add cumin seeds, finely diced onion, grated ginger, and minced garlic and saute until the onions are translucent. Then, add the pureed spinach and spices. Cook until the chicken is cooked through. Enjoy!

  2. Hello from Sydney, Australia!

    Just tried this one out and it is perfect! Been looking for a simple and delicious recipe for saag chicken for a while now and I think I’ve found it.

    Thanks for sharing Meeta, and look forward to trying out another one soon.

    Cheers

  3. I am a beginner cook, and this was the first desi dish I’ve made on my own and I could not be happier! It was super easy to follow the directions, and the flavor came out amazing. I had a few modifications – I used drumsticks with bone in (ended up pressure cooking for 8 minutes twice but probably could have done less), I didn’t blend the spinach mixture to make it easier for myself, and I used mixed coriander and cumin powder because I didn’t have plain coriander powder. The dish is so well spiced and mild. I will definitely be making it again, maybe even for a party!

  4. Great recipe. I used Costco boneless/skinless thighs (2 of 6 = 2+ lbs) an 4/5 power greens and proportional spice increases. Added pot-in-pot basmati. I added almond butter prior to immersion blender. Great meal with leftovers. Next ice I’ll add m so color doesn’t go from green to……

  5. The flavor seemed a bit off. I followed the recipe carefully. Maybe it should use a garam masalla spice mix rather than constructing the seasoning from scratch? IDK. I may try adding some tomato paste and yogurt and see if that improves the flavor. Also — for a short time my Instant Pot was showing the dreaded “burn” status, so maybe a bit more liquid.

    1. Hello Gerhard – Sorry to hear you did not enjoy the flavor of the chicken saag. Typically Garam Masala is added in addition to the basic spices. So feel free to add that at the end to any curry to taste. You can certainly add some tomato paste to this saag too. Cream or cashew cream can be added at the end to make it creamy.

    1. Hi Michelle – I would do 1.5x the spices if you are doubling on the spinach. If you are adding more chicken as well, then do 2x. Hope you enjoy the curry!

  6. Hi Meeta,

    The recipe looks delish!
    I do not have an insta-pot. Should I follow the same steps for regular pressure cooker cooking or is there a modified version of this recipe specially for regular pressure cookers?

    Thanks
    Sayani

    1. Hi Sayani – Thank you. You can follow same steps in a stovetop pressure cooker. But add 1/2 cup water and cook for about 2 whistles on medium-high heat. Hope you enjoy the chicken saag.