From my front porch I can slip on my flip flops and walk to waterfront restaurants serving gluten-free eats like hummus with veggies, smoothie bowls and kombucha in less than five minutes. If I’m willing to drive a bit I can order a grass-fed burger or pick up paleo donuts.
I’m so happy that wholesome ingredients are becoming easier to find on grocery store shelves and restaurant menus, but in my little town some choices are still pretty limited. Indian food has been a favorite date night meal ever since my husband and I were newlyweds, but there isn’t a local place that makes it with carefully sourced, real-food ingredients.
Actually, scratch that. There isn’t an Indian restaurant, period.
While I don’t have a traditional tandoor oven for cooking chicken tikka, I do have an Instant Pot. And with this delicious, easy recipe, that’s all I need. We’re talking tender marinated chicken folded into a creamy curry sauce made with aromatic spices like garam masala, diced tomatoes, fresh ginger and more. The flavor is rich but not overly spicy. Even my littlest who doesn’t like hot foods adores this recipe.
I usually serve our tikka masala with basmati rice or cauliflower rice, but you can use this gluten-free flatbread in place of naan bread, too.
Instant Pot Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe
Chicken Tikka (Marinated Chicken)
- 3 tbsp avocado oil
- 4 cups chopped onions
- 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 1 tbsp garam masala
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tsp paprika
- ¾ cup water (To deglaze the pot)
- 2½ tsp unrefined sea salt (Or more to taste)
- 1 cup diced tomatoes
- 1 cup tomato sauce (I make my own version by blending 1 cup chopped fresh diced tomatoes with 6 tbsp tomato paste and 3-4 tbsp water)
- 1 cup heavy cream (Or coconut cream if dairy-free)
- 5 tbsp arrowroot powder
- 4 tbsp water
- cilantro for garnish (Optional)
- cayenne to tasta (Optional)
Marinating The Chicken
- Add chicken tikka ingredients to a medium bowl and mix thoroughly. Cover with a moist towel and place in the fridge to marinate. I usually marinate mine for 2 hours, but 30 minutes to 24 hours will work. Tip: If you have time, measure out the spices you’ll need for the curry sauce and set them aside. I put all mine in the same container since they all go in together.
Making The Tikka Masala
- When you’re ready to prepare your meal, turn on your Instant Pot, set it to sauté, and add in the avocado oil.
- When the Instant Pot has warmed up, it’s time to start the curry sauce. Add the onions, ginger, garlic, garam masala, coriander, cumin, chili powder, turmeric and salt. Sauté for about 4-5 minutes.
- Turn off the sauté setting. Pour 3/4 cup of water into the pot (with the onion mixture) and use a wooden spoon or spatula to deglaze the bottom. In other words, scrape up any browned bits. If you don’t, there’s a good chance your Instant Pot will give you a “burn notice” error during pressure cooking.
- After you’ve deglazed the pot, add in diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and chicken including all of the yogurt marinade. Stir until everything is well combined.
- Lock the lid in place and set the valve to the "sealing" position. Cook on high pressure for 7 minutes.
- After the cooking time has been reached, allow the pressure to naturally release. If you’re in a rush, you can use the quick release method, too. I use a long-handled spoon to move the release valve so that I’m able keep my hand far away from the steam. When the float valve drops, carefully unlock and remove the lid.
- Set the Instant Pot to sauté and stir in cream. The sauté setting will help with the next step, which is thickening the sauce.
- Make a slurry of 5 tablespoons arrowroot powder mixed in 4-5 tablespoons of water and pour the mixture into the pot. Stir well and then continue stirring frequently until it thickens – the process should take a couple of minutes. Serve with gluten-free flatbread or over basmati rice or cauliflower rice.
More Instant Pot Recipes To Try
Quick Instant Pot Taco Meat – This flavorful Instant Pot taco meat can be quickly made with frozen ground beef – no thawing needed! It’s easy, kid approved, and perfect for busy weeknights.
Instant Pot Chicken Soup – This recipe for belly-warming instant pot chicken soup was declared one of the most satisfying and flavorful ever by my husband, and it’s so easy to make!
Pressure Cooker Pulled Pork – Infused with honey chipotle BBQ sauce, this tender pulled pork is simple and delicious.
Whole “Roast” Chicken – This pressure cooker whole chicken yields juicy, flavorful white meat, fully-cooked dark meat, and with just five minutes under the broiler you can still get the crispy, golden brown outside, too.