Slow Cooker Indian-Style Chicken

This slow cooker Indian-style chicken marinates chicken thighs in spiced yogurt and then cooks it with tomatoes and Indian spices. Think of it as a short-cut chicken tikka masala.

A bowl of slow cooker Indian-style chicken with cinnamon sticks and pieces of naan on the side.

There are many theories for how chicken tikka masala came about. One is that a Bangladeshi-British chef in the United Kingdom came up with the idea to add tomatoes and cream to the original tandoor-cooked chicken and masala. Regardless, the popularity of chicken tikka masala in the West, especially in Great Britain, is indisputable. I modified the recipe for the slow cooker and eliminated the step of first grilling the chicken. It still tastes great. If you prefer, grill the chicken before adding it. But try it my way first—you may just find you like it and don’t want to bother with the extra step.–Anupy Singla

Slow Cooker Indian-Style Chicken

  • Quick Glance
  • Quick Glance
  • 1 H, 15 M
  • 11 H, 15 M
  • Serves 8
Print RecipeBuy the The Indian Slow Cooker cookbook

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Special Equipment: 7-quart or larger slow cooker


  • For the chicken
  • For the masala


Prepare the chicken

In a large bowl, whisk together all the ingredients except the chicken. Add the chicken and mix gently until all the pieces are coated.

Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours, or, ideally, overnight.

Make the masala

In a food processor grind the onions, garlic, fresh chiles, tomato paste, garam masala, coriander, red chile powder, sea salt, brown sugar, almonds (if using), cinnamon, and water until completely smooth, 3 to 5 minutes. Stop and scrape down the sides as needed.

Add the tomatoes to the food processor and pulse a few times until they break down but are not completely blended. Pour this mixture into the slow cooker, along with the crushed cardamom pods.

Tester tip: Want an extra layer of flavor? In a skillet or griddle over medium heat, brown your marinated chicken pieces before adding them to the slow cooker.

Using a slotted spoon or tongs, slowly add the marinated chicken to a 7-quart or larger slow cooker. Some of the marinade will cling to the chicken, and that is ok. If you prefer a thinner sauce, stir in any remaining marinade.

Cover and cook on high until the chicken is very tender, 6 to 8 hours. If you prefer a thicker sauce, remove the lid for the final hour of cooking.

Stir in the cream and cilantro. Garnish with the chopped onions and fresh chiles. Serve with roti or naan.

Print RecipeBuy the The Indian Slow Cooker cookbook

Want it? Click it.


    • Tux variation

      To make this dish in a 3 1/2-quart slow cooker, halve all the ingredients and proceed with the recipe. Marinate for at least 2 hours, then cook on high until tender, 6 to 8 hours. A half recipe makes 8 cups.

    Recipe Testers' Reviews

    This was fabulous! My boyfriend is from Essex just outside of London and his favorite dish is chicken tikka masala so when I saw this as a test recipe I knew that I had to make it and it didn't disappoint. It had a lot of depth in flavor and I can see how easy it is to adjust the spiciness level without changing the flavor of the dish.

    Some of my past attempts of making chicken tikka masala resulted in a dish that was just hot or too bland. We like spicy dishes but we don't want to lose the actual flavor of the dish and this recipe was "spot on" (as my boyfriend would say). This is a keeper! I made the full recipe and this could easily have served 8 people, especially if serving with naan and rice.

    We’ve enjoyed chicken tikka masala in restaurants but I never made it at home before testing this recipe. I'm including this recipe in my "Go-To" file because the results were delicious, preparation is easy, and the house smelled of warm spices!

    I used boneless skinless chicken thighs which are better suited to long, slow cooking than chicken breasts. I substituted a 28 - ounce can of drained San Marzano tomatoes for the 6 fresh tomatoes and pulsed them very slightly in the food processor. I didn't add the almonds but might try that next time. I decided to try the optional step of browning the marinated chicken thighs. I’m glad I did because the crispier texture of the thighs and warmth of the cooked spices were a nice touch.

    My chicken was tender after 6 hours in the slow cooker. I didn’t remove the lid to allow the sauce to thicken as it seemed thick enough, even though I added the marinade to the masala. If you aren't into slow cookers, this dish translates well to Dutch oven cooking.

    The finished dish was eaten with joy served alongside steamed Basmati Rice and green beans sautéed in olive oil and shallots (and I have amazing leftovers in the refrigerator).


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    1. Just when you thought you had too many Indian chicken curries in your backlog, even the Twilight Zone would evict you into another reality.

      This baby sounds too good not to consider cooking. Whoever is sick of Indian cooking, I hope I don’t know them.

      It has stuck its claws into many countries’ cuisines, and I thank them for it.

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