top of page


Instant Pot Chicken Tikka Masala

Updated: Jun 21, 2020

I can't call myself The Well Patel and not have some slammin' Indian food on the blog, can I? Now, I am not saying that this is the most "authentic" chicken tikka masala you will ever have, but I am saying that it is "pretty damn delicious".

I love the fact that this dish has so many nourishing spices. It is the perfect warming meal for these cooler months.

Truth be told, I look forward to when I can finally cook Indian food as intuitively as I can many other cuisines. I am not sure where my lack of confidence comes from, other than the fact that my MIL is a freaking AMAZING cook and her Indian cooking will rock your world. And I am not even saying this knowing that she will read this and hopefully love me because of my praise. She already loves me A LOT - like thinking I might be able to pull of 1st place over my hubs and his brother...She also thinks that I am great at cooking Indian food but I always have to remind her that she is standing by me and telling me what to do the entire time...on my own, not quite as good. But that is okay! One day I will be there and hopefully able to impress my own DIL with my mad cooking skills. Can you imagine how shocked they will be too when they have bomb ass Indian food at their white MIL's house?

Now, if you have had the real deal Tikka Masala then you know that it is ohhhhhh-so-creamy. That is part of what makes this dish so delicious. I have decided to swap out that beloved heavy cream for some whole-fat coconut milk that still makes this dish suuuper creamy but totally #dairyfree. This is also #Whole30 compliant if you serve with cauliflower rice instead of basmati rice and totally #Paleo too. This dish is guaranteed to please. Also, if you are a bit unsure of how you feel about Indian food (even I was there at one point in my life, but tbh it is 100% due to lack of exposure) then I think that this would be a spectacular place to start. Best part is, since it cooks in the #Instantpot then you don't have a ton of aromatic spices permeating your house while it cooks like you would if you cooked this stove top.

I mean just look at that creamy, spicy goodness. Best part is that you can make it as spicy or mild as you like.

Speaking of, you could totally cook this on the stove in a Dutch oven and keep it simmering for a couple of hours or try it in the #crockpot on high for 4 hours or low for 8. Also, if you prefer chicken thighs (which is how you will find many traditional recipes made) then sub those out for the chicken breast! Basically, this recipe can cooked any way you want but the main things here are:

  • Don't skimp on the spices

  • Cook the chicken slow and steady to you get meat that falls apart and isn't chewy

  • Indian food is your friend, not your foe

Also, I feel like I am coincidentally sharing this recipe on Diwali which is the Festival of Lights, but then I also think that maybe I did this subconsciously. You're welcome. Sunil and I don't do anything to specifically celebrate but we do always get a really nice text from his Mom and that's about the extent of our celebration - maybe I will light a candle too. As for you, you're gonna make this Instant Pot Chicken Tikka Masala AND light a candle. Go you!


Instant Pot Chicken Tikka Masala


1-2 lbs. organic chicken breasts, cubed

½ cup full-fat coconut milk

½ lemon, juiced

1 tsp. turmeric

2 tsp. garam masala

½ tsp. ground pepper

½ tbsp. ginger, minced

1 tsp. salt

3 cloves garlic, minced

The Main Event

2 tbsp. ghee, butter or olive oil

1 white onion, chopped

½ tbsp. ginger, minced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp. turmeric

1 tsp. paprika

1 tbs. garam masala

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cumin powder

1 tsp. dried coriander

1 tsp. chili powder

½ tsp. cayenne (add more or less depending on how spicy you like it)

½ tsp. cinnamon

1 bay leaf

6 oz. can of tomato paste (BPA free lining!)

¾ cup chicken broth

1 cup full-fat coconut milk

1 tbsp. tapioca powder or arrowroot starch

½ lemon, juiced

For serving

Basmati rice or cauliflower rice

Fresh cilantro, chopped

Naan if not on Whole30, Paleo, and well tolerated (I'd go for garlic naan...drool)

  1. Mix together all ingredients for marinade in a large bowl. Add cubed chicken,cover & let sit in fridge at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours.

  2. Turn Instant Pot onto Sauté setting. Once heated, add ghee followed by onion, garlic & ginger. Sauté for 3 minutes. Add all spices (except bay leaf) & continue to saute for an additional 2 minutes.

  3. Add marinated chicken (including the marinade) to Instant Pot, tomato paste & chicken broth. Stir to combine. Add bay leaf on top.

  4. Cover Instant Pot, seal vent & set to Poultry setting for 20 minutes.

  5. Once Instant Pot timer goes off, release manually (be careful for steam!). Set to Sauté setting.

  6. Mix tapioca starch (or arrowroot starch) with coconut milk in a bowl. Add to Instant Pot and stir until completed combined. Let simmer about 5 minutes, or until thickened.

  7. Add lemon juice & stir to combine.

  8. Serve with basmati rice or cauliflower rice. Also recommend making some quick sautéed greens (think lacinato kale or rainbow chard) to serve along with for some extra whole-food nutrients.

*I fully support the following:

  • Add ½ cup of frozen organic peas when adding the coconut milk after pressure cooking. Simmer 5 minutes to thicken sauce & heat peas throughout.

  • Add thinly sliced red bell peppers when adding the coconut milk after pressure cooking & simmer until bell peppers are softened.

  • There is an option to NOT marinade the chicken (though, I think you will get a slightly weaker version of this recipe). Instead, add un-marinated cubed chicken breasts as usual with the tomato paste & chicken broth.


Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page