Instant Pot Chicken Tikka Masala is a super flavorful and aromatic Indian chicken curry made with marinated tender chicken cooked in a creamy sauce. This restaurant-quality chicken tikka masala is so easy to make in the instant pot that you will not consider take-out again. Make it along with pot-in-pot basmati rice for a complete meal.

Chicken tikka masala served over rice along with pieces of garlic naan
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Chicken Tikka Masala is one of the favorite Indian curries to order in a restaurant. Let’s take a minute to acknowledge some other Indian favorites – Butter Chicken, Chicken Korma, Salmon Tikka Masala, and for the vegetarians, Paneer Tikka Masala, Saag Paneer, Dal Makhani and Chana Masala.

You might think getting the exact flavor at home is hard. However, once you have the basic Indian spices, it is fairly easy to make this chicken curry in the pressure cooker or even on the stovetop.

Watch How to Make Instant Pot Chicken Tikka Masala

What is Chicken Tikka Masala?

Chicken tikka masala is a dish of chunks of roasted marinated chicken (chicken tikka) in a spiced curry sauce. The sauce is usually creamy and dark orange colored. We will change it up a bit to make it easy to make in the instant pot, with the same great taste.

What is the difference between Chicken Tikka Masala and Butter Chicken?

The two dishes are very similar but certainly have some subtle differences in how they are made.

Chicken Tikka Masala is a British invention. Below are some characteristics –

  • Uses chicken tikka as its base, which is marinated grilled boneless chicken cooked in a tandoor or on a grill (we will modify this aspect a bit to simplify and make this a one-pot recipe)
  • has a spicier tomato-based sauce
  • no butter used
  • made with white breast meat
  • Very little cream is used.
  • Lemon juice added

Butter Chicken is a Punjabi North Indian dish created in a restaurant in Delhi. Here are some distinctive features –

  • Has a tomato-based sauce. But less tomatoey than CTM.
  • more buttery & more creamy
  • very mild
  • made with dark thigh meat
  • cashew, honey used to sweeten

You’ll love this Chicken Tikka Masala because:

√ It is warm, flavorful, comforting, and rich in protein.

√ It is easy to make in under 30 minutes in the instant pot

√ The thick and creamy sauce is perfect with rice or for dipping naan

√ You can make pot-in-pot rice along with the curry for a complete meal.

Ingredients

  • Chicken: I used boneless, skinless chicken breast. Chicken thighs would work just as well.
  • Yogurt: Use plain full-fat yogurt or Greek yogurt. Adds a tangy and creamy element to the curry.
  • Ginger and Garlic: You can use freshly minced garlic and grated ginger or a store-bought ginger-garlic paste.
  • Lime juice: It adds a tangy and refreshing flavor to the chicken.
  • SpicesYou’ll need cumin powdercoriander powder, Kashmiri red chili powder, and salt.
  • Ghee or Oil: Adds richness and a buttery flavor to the curry.
  • Onion: I prefer to use yellow onions, but red onions will work just fine.
  • Tomato Puree: I used canned tomato puree. This is not tomato paste. It is called tomato passata or tomato sauce in some countries.
  • Cream: It is used to make the curry rich, creamy, and luscious.
  • Dried fenugreek leaves (kasoori methi): It adds a unique flavor that enhances the overall taste of the curry.

How to Make Chicken Tikka Masala?

There are 4 main steps to make Chicken Tikka Masala in the instant pot.

  1. Marinate the chicken
  2. Brown the chicken
  3. Make the sauce
  4. Pressure cook

Let’s get started with the easy step-by-step chicken tikka masala recipe.

Chicken Tikka Marinade

Mix the yogurt, spices, ginger, garlic, and lime juice to a bowl. Now add in the chicken breasts one by one and coat them with the marinade on both sides. Refrigerate this chicken tikka marinade for 30 minutes to 8 hours.

Marinated Chicken for Chicken Tikka Masala along with other ingredients

After getting the marinade ready, I gathered all the other ingredients and kept them ready.

Brown the chicken

Start the instant pot and let it heat on the sauté high mode (Press Sauté, then Adjust to more).

Layer the chicken breasts in the instant pot and let them cook a bit on both sides. It will just take a couple of minutes on each side. Take out and cut into pieces. Note that the chicken is not completely cooked at this point. It just helps to seal the flavor of the spices into the chicken.

If you prefer cutting the chicken into smaller pieces before marinating, that would work too.

Change from the traditional recipe

This part is different from the traditional Chicken Tikka Masala recipe. Ideally, the marinated chicken pieces would be broiled in a tandoor (or grill) until they start to char and then added to the sauce.

To go the traditional route, cut the chicken to pieces before marinating. Then broil in the oven until they start to char (about 5-10 minutes). Then, use it in the recipe.

We are simplifying the recipe by browning the chicken in the pot. The only thing we lose is a bit of the smoky flavor from the chicken cooked in a tandoor. But trust me, you will still love this version of chicken tikka masala and will not hesitate to enjoy it for a quick weeknight dinner.

Making the Sauce

I like to have lots of sauce in my chicken curries, just like my coconut chicken curry and malai chicken, so I can enjoy them with rice or naan.

You don’t have to clean the pot. Heat oil in the instant pot to make the chicken tikka masala sauce. Add onions, ginger, and garlic. Sauté for 3-4 minutes. Add water and deglaze the pot so there are no brown bits sticking to the bottom.

Now add the tomato puree, spices, and chicken. (Diced or crushed tomatoes will work too)

Pot-in-pot Basmati Rice with Chicken Tikka Masala

If you are planning to make pot-in-pot rice along then keep it ready and place the trivet and the pot-in-pot steel bowl of rice with water. I used white basmati rice, which cooks well at the same time. Other rice varieties may take longer to cook, which might not work well to cook along with chicken.

Learn more about the instant pot pot-in-pot method with this comprehensive guide!

Pressure Cook the Curry

Close and pressure cook for 4 minutes, followed by 5-minute NPR (release pressure manually 5 minutes after the beep).

Open the instant pot and carefully remove the rice bowl (I use these tongs). Add in the cream and dried fenugreek leaves and stir it well.

Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro leaves. This easy chicken tikka masala is ready to enjoy with rice.

If you like flavored rice, check out my cumin rice and turmeric yellow rice recipe. It goes really well with chicken curries.

If you are new to the Instant Pot, check out this Instant Pot Quick Setup Guide to get you started.

Can this Chicken Tikka Masala be made on the stovetop?

Yes, of course. The instant pot helps to make cooking faster when food is cooked under pressure. You can cook the exact same recipe in a skillet. Cover the chicken after adding it to the sauce and simmer until it is cooked well. Stir at regular intervals.

Pro-Tips

  • Use ghee or butter in place of oil to enhance the flavor.
  • Use plain, full-fat fat, or Greek yogurt for the marinade. Pat dry the chicken to avoid extra liquid when marinating.
  • I use mild Kashmiri chili powder, which adds a beautiful color to the curry.
  • I use canned tomato puree; however, diced tomatoes will also work. If using fresh tomatoes, use three and puree or dice them.
  • Use coconut milk and dairy-free yogurt to make it dairy-free.
Instant Pot Chicken Tikka Masala - served over rice in two plates

How to Serve?

This chicken tikka masala can be served with roti, paratha, or naan. Like other Indian curries, you can also serve it with basmati rice or cumin rice.

We love to pair curries with cucumber raita and kachumber salad.

Check out more serving options at 20+ Easy Sides for Curry.

How to Store?

When I make this for a special dinner, there are usually no leftovers, as it is always the most popular curry. However, if you make a big batch, you can store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days in airtight containers. Reheat the curry in the microwave.

You can also make extra gravy and freeze it for later. That way, you can cook some marinated chicken breasts and add them to the tikka masala sauce for a quick meal.

Looking for more easy Instant Pot Indian Recipes? Here are 23 Best Instant Pot Indian Recipes for you to try!

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4.83 from 100 votes

Instant Pot Chicken Tikka Masala

Flavorful and aromatic Instant Pot Chicken Tikka Masala made with marinated tender chicken cooked in a creamy sauce. This restaurant quality chicken curry is so easy to make in the instant pot. Make it along with rice pot-in-pot for a complete meal.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients 

  • 1 lb Chicken breasts

For marinade

Spices for sauce

For sauce

For Rice

Instructions 

Marinate the chicken

  • Combine all ingredients for the marinade (except chicken) in a bowl and mix well. Add chicken and coat on each side with the marinade. Let it rest for anywhere between 30 minutes to 8 hours in the refrigerator.

Brown the chicken

  • Start the instant pot in Sauté mode and adjust to the high setting. Add 2 tablespoons oil. Add the chicken pieces and lightly brown on each side for about 2-3 minutes. Take chicken out of the pot and cut into pieces about 2-3 inches in size. (Note: The chicken is not completely cooked yet)

Prepare the sauce

  • Add the rest of the oil to the instant. Add the onions, ginger, garlic and sauté for about 4 minutes until onions are golden.
  • Add water and deglaze the pot making sure nothing is stuck to the bottom. 
  • Add tomato puree, spices and mix well. Add any leftover marinade too. Add the chicken pieces and stir it. 
  • (optional) In a steel bowl, add the ingredients for rice. Put a tall trivet and the bowl of rice on top of the trivet.

Pressure Cook the Curry

  • Press cancel and close the lid with vent in sealing position. Change the instant pot setting to high pressure for 4 minutes. When the instant pot beeps, let it rest for 5 minutes then manually release the pressure. 
  • (optional) Using tongs, carefully take out the bowl of basmati rice. Then take out the trivet. 
  • Add cream, kasoori methi and stir well. 
  • Garnish with cilantro. Chicken tikka masala is ready. Enjoy with basmati rice and naan. 

Video

Notes

Make it dairy-free: Use coconut milk in place of heavy cream in this curry. 
Using chicken thighs: Chicken thighs could work in this recipe too. 
Tomatoes: I use canned tomato puree, but diced tomatoes will work, too. If using fresh tomatoes, use three and puree or dice them.
Marination: Use plain full-fat or Greek yogurt for the marinade. Pat dry the chicken to avoid extra liquid when marinating. I marinated the chicken breasts as is, then cut them after searing. You can cut before as well. 
How to store? Store any leftover curry in an airtight container; it should last up to 3 days in the refrigerator. But if you’d like to make more for the week or month ahead, I suggest you freeze it. Make sure it’s fully cooled down before sealing. Once the curry is frozen, it will keep well for 3-4 months.
In a hurry? You can skip searing the chicken when in a hurry. Dont skip marinating for at least 15 minutes (while you get the other things ready). 
Make it the traditional way: Typically, marinated chicken is broiled in the oven until it just begins to char. You can cut the chicken into pieces before marinating and brow in the oven before adding it to the instant pot. 
Pot-in-pot rice: I used this trivet and pot-in-pot steel bowl to make rice along with the chicken tikka masala. 
Have seen a burn? If your ip is prone to burn, then add 1/4 cup extra water. 
Created: This recipe was created in a 6qt Instant Pot DUO60 Multi-use Pressure Cooker.

Nutrition

Calories: 596kcalCarbohydrates: 51gProtein: 31gFat: 30gSaturated Fat: 17gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0.01gCholesterol: 147mgSodium: 1364mgPotassium: 934mgFiber: 3gSugar: 7gVitamin A: 1268IUVitamin C: 14mgCalcium: 93mgIron: 3mg

Additional Info

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Diet: Gluten-free, Low Carb, Nut-free
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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4.83 from 100 votes (71 ratings without comment)

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70 Comments

  1. I want to try this and am dairy free. I see the coconut milk sub for the heavy cream. What do you sub for your yogurt/marinade?

    1. Hi Jay – You can use dairy-free yogurt to marinate the chicken. If that is not available, then marinate with the spices excluding the yogurt, that would work too.

  2. I’ve made this recipe 4 times in the last 2 weeks since I found and decided to try this one!

    Let me start off with how impressive this is! I did it the hard way my first time making tikka masala with roasting the chicken after marination via the oven and then slow cooking the sauce and yadda yadda. It was terrible and I never wanted to try again lmao.

    However, I’ve been on an instant pot kick lately and I’ve had these spices taking up my cabinet so I thought maybe an instant pot recipe for this existed and sure enough there were!

    I add a whole small onion because I love onion as well as always add a corn starch slurry right before the cream so the sauce gets very thick because without it seems like it would be very soupy. I’ve also started deglazing the pot with chicken broth (for me it’s Knorr chicken flavor powder to the water it calls for) and it adds a little extra chicken essence to it in the end.

    I love this recipe and guarantee it’ll be permanent in my rotation of meals. It’s also not too bad for watching my calories!

    1. Hi Keaton – So glad you found this instant pot version and enjoyed it. Thank you for sharing back your experience.

  3. I tried this in my multi cook food ninja on a high setting and it always says not enough water :/ I have to release steam, open it up than redo it again :/

    1. Sorry to hear that it did not work well. I would suggest to do one change of not mixing in the tomato puree, rather just add that on the top after adding the other ingredients and then pressure cooking. Would love to hear if this works out. Thanks!

  4. I’ve made this several times, after trying other recipes that didn’t taste authentic at all. This recipe is perfect. I could eat this all day, every day. I make it with 2x ingredients, and it makes probably $40 worth of what you’d get at an Indian restaurant, but tastes much better.

    1. Hi Denise – So glad to hear you have been enjoying the chicken tikka masala. Thanks for sharing back!

  5. can you freeze chicken tikka masala if you do it before you add the cream. other than that the meal was excellent. thank you.

  6. I’m wondering if this could be made without the chicken? I’m vegan. Do you think I could just make the sauce and then add in some tofu or chicken substitute after the pressure cooking? Or maybe some canned chickpeas? Or would the sauce not thicken without the chicken?