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.
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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.

Watch How to Make Chicken Saag (Chicken Spinach Curry)

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

4.71 from 117 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.

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88 Comments

    1. We Love this Recipe. I use lamb instead of chicken or mix both meats and every time come outside delicious. We also eat this with “Right Rice” made from vegetables. Delicious!

    1. Hi Deb – You can just about 1/4 teaspoon ginger powder in place of the fresh ginger root. Hope you enjoy the saag!

  1. I’ve been craving Chicken Saag but don’t eat out much since COVID so I decided to make it myself for my first time and I am so happy I stumbled upon your recipe. I’ve made your version twice so far, once with spinach and again with collards from my garden. Both versions were delicious and completely satisfied my craving for the restaurant version I’d grown so accustomed to. I did slightly modify the recipe by using fresh turmeric which I prefer over powder and I also added a small serrano chile for some extra kick.

  2. This is a really fantastic recipe! I had no idea it would have such a nice texture without adding cream or butter. It tastes like a treat but is so healthy! Quick and easy too. This will be a weekday staple at my house. Thank you!

  3. Outstanding! This recipe is soooo good, it will definitely be in my regular rotation. Made it exactly as the recipe calls for then added a very small amount of heavy whipping cream (1/8 of a cup) at the end to make it a little richer. Thank you so much!

  4. Absolutely lovely. For those who want a milder curry that doesn’t compromise flavor. The bright green color was invigorating, as well. I made this in a Dutch oven and used 1/2 cup chicken broth instead of water.

  5. Fantastic! And so much healthier than our favorite restaurant’s version, which I suspect has butter or heavy cream in it.
    I halved the salt.
    To thicken, I added 2 Tbsp Wondra flour (gravy thickening flour) and saute boiled for 10 minutes, with a lid!

  6. We’re plant-based smas i wonder if this would work with soycurls. If i renydrated the discussions before putting them in the IP, do you think it would ok to cook on hi pressure for only two min with quick release?

    1. Hi Janet – Unfortunately I have never tried using soy curls in this recipe, so it is hard for me to say how long they would take to cook. The spinach cooks very quickly and will be done even in 2 minutes, so go with the time it takes for soy curls to cook.