Prepare time: 15 min    Pressure Cook Time: 10 min    Release Type: Quick
                         Cook:20 min    Ready in: 45 min   Pressure: High
There’s no need to order Chicken Tikka Masala takeout when you can make it lightning-fast in the Instant Pot.


  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (2-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth, divided
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can petite diced tomatoes, juices included
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, half-and-half, plain yogurt, or coconut milk
    Fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 cups cooked rice, for serving


1 Prepare Pressure Cooker: Heat up your pressure cooker (Instant Pot: press Sauté button and click Adjust button to Sauté More function).Make sure your pot is as hot as it can be (Instant Pot: wait until indicator says HOT)
2 Sauté the aromatics: Set an electric pressure cooker to the sauté feature. Add the oil and heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add the onion and sauté until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook until soft and fragrant. The mixture might stick a little to the bottom of the pot; this is normal.
3 Deglaze and add spices: Add 1/4 cup of the chicken broth. Cook, gently scraping the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to loosen any stuck-on   bits, until the chicken broth reduces by half. Add the garam masala, paprika, turmeric, salt, and cayenne pepper, and stir to combine.
4 Add the chicken, broth, and tomatoes: Add the chicken and stir to  combine. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of chicken broth and the tomatoes.
5 Pressure-cook: Close and lock lid. Pressure-cook for 10 minutes at HIGH pressure. When cooking time is complete, do a quick release of the pressure.
6 Add the creamy element: Stir the cream, half-and-half, yogurt, or coconut  milk into the sauce. Top with chopped cilantro and serve over rice.

Useful Tips

The Chicken

Boneless, skinless chicken thighs bring lots of flavor and tenderness to this recipe. Before cutting the thighs into pieces, remove any excess fat. You want the chicken pieces to be bite-sized, so aim for a cut about 1 1/2 inches.

Traditional chicken tikka masala recipes start with marinating the chicken in a yogurt sauce. During testing, I found that the yogurt-marinated chicken sometimes scorched, so skip this step. Thanks to the pressure cooker, the chicken still comes out tender and flavorful — even without the classic marinade.

The Sauce

The only time my electric pressure cooker ever failed to reach the correct pressure happened with a batch of chicken tikka masala. For the sauce, I had used a 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes. After a little research, I learned that if a sauce is too thick, the pressure cooker might have trouble reaching or maintaining pressure.

Since the thickness of canned crushed tomatoes varies so much from brand to brand and batch to batch, I replaced the can of crushed tomatoes with a 14-ounce can of petite diced tomatoes and one cup of chicken broth. This solved my problem. The petite diced tomatoes break down quite a bit during cooking, leaving you with a somewhat chunky but very pleasant sauce. (If you can’t find petite diced tomatoes, use regular diced tomatoes. You’ll end up with a chunkier sauce, but the flavors will be great — and most importantly, your pressure cooker will reach pressure with no trouble.)

The Spices

The spices that make this dish so tasty allow for quite a bit of interpretation. I like my chicken tikka with a nice ginger kick, so I use a two-inch piece of ginger. If you aren’t a big fan of ginger, reduce it to a one-inch piece or less.

Garam Masala brings the rest of the flavor to the recipe. Be sure yours is fresh. If it’s older and has lost some of it’s potency, increase the amount called for by a teaspoon or two.

Since the chicken is cooked in the pressure cooker and not grilled, I use smoked paprika to bring a light smoky flavor to the dish. If you don’t have any on hand, use regular paprika.

Releasing the Pressure

Once the cooking time completes, do a “quick release” of the pressure. This prevents the chicken from overcooking. (Consult your owner’s manual if you have any questions about how to do a quick pressure release.)

Finishing the Sauce

One of my favorite aspects of this dish is the rich sauce. I usually finish the sauce with half-and-half — and on nights I’m feeling especially decadent, I go for heavy cream. If you want something a little lighter and with a tangy zip, use plain yogurt. For a dairy-free option, coconut milk works great. It changes the flavor of the final dish, but coconut goes so well with all the other flavors that it’s a nice option even if you don’t require a dairy-free diet.

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