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Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala

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Dinner tonight is Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala! This pseudo-Indian classic gets a slow cooker makeover. Let the slow cooker do the work for you! (Plus, it’s gluten free, dairy free, Paleo, and Whole30 approved!) 

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala - We LOVE this dish!

I can tell it’s getting close to the seasons changing, since it seems like I’m seeing slow cooker recipes pop up everywhere on Pinterest and Facebook. I guess I’m not the only one craving a little comfort food (and an easy idea for dinner!).

I’d originally planned to make this Chicken Tikka Masala on the stovetop, but with several appointments in a day and errands to run, I ended up making it for the slow cooker. I’m SO GLAD I did! Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala is a revelation!

Comfort is calling! Tuck into a bowl of this Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala.

It’s very much in the same family as Butter Chicken (my other slow cooker fave). It’s got a velvety sauce loaded with flavor, and tender cooked chicken that makes the whole house smell amazing. We LOVED this dish!

The spice list might look a little intense, but the combination of warm spices is mouthwatering. Savory, complex, and layered, this sauce was absolutely my favorite part.

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala - One of our favorite dishes gets a slow cooker makeover!
Paleo Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala - Flavorful, fabulous, HEALTHY comfort food!

Notes on the recipe

My favorite slow cooker. If you’re looking for a slow cooker, I can’t recommend mine highly enough. It’s programmable, which is great for a recipe like this. You can set it on HIGH for 3 hours or LOW for 6 hours, and it will automatically switch to the WARM function, so you’ll never burn or overcook your dinner! (I’ve found the best prices are at Amazon or Target and you get free shipping at both!)

Serve it with…This Tikka Masala recipe is paleo friendly, which means it’s gluten, dairy, and grain free. If you’re eating paleo, you can serve it with cauliflower rice, or over steamed veggies. Otherwise, I love a little coconut rice with mine. #teamwhiterice

Let the slow cooker do the work for you with this Chicken Tikka Masala. (gluten free, dairy free)

Like this recipe? You might also like…

Slow Cooker Paleo Chicken Tikka Masala - so full of flavor!
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Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala from One Lovely Life

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

4.6 from 11 reviews

  • Author: One Lovely Life
  • Total Time: 6 hours 10 minutes
  • Yield: 45 servings 1x


You do not have to do the sautéing steps as outlined. I prefer this for a softer texture on the onions, but you can absolutely put all the ingredients in the slow cooker, give it a good stir and set it to cook–your choice!


  • 11 1/2 lbs. chicken breast or thighs (boneless, skinless)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 34 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 tsp fresh turmeric (or about 1 tsp dried)
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp dried coriander
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • pinch cloves
  • 23 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 (14oz) can coconut milk (I prefer full-fat)
  • 1 cup broth or water
  • 1/41/2 cup fresh cilantro, minced

Optional: if you like a thicker sauce:

  • 2 Tbsp arrowroot powder or 1 Tbsp cornstarch


  1. Place the chicken in the crock of your slow cooker.
  2. To make the sauce, heat coconut oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook 5-7 minutes, or until translucent.
  3. Add ginger, garlic, turmeric, garam masala, coriander, cumin, chili powder, chili flakes, cloves and salt. Cook 1-2 minutes more, or until very fragrant.
  4. Stir in tomato paste, coconut milk, and broth (or water) and stir to combine.
  5. Pour sauce over the chicken.
  6. Cook on HIGH about 3 hours or on low 5-6 hours.
  7. (If you like a thicker sauce, mix arrowroot OR cornstarch with about 1 Tbsp water. Add to slow cooker in the last 3-5 minutes before serving.
  8. Stir in cilantro right before serving.
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 6 hours
  • Category: Main Dish, Chicken
  • Method: Slow Cooker
  • Cuisine: Indian
Paleo Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala - Flavorful, fabulous, HEALTHY comfort food! (the sauce is amazing!)


  1. Indian food is my favorite! I’ll definitely be making this. Do you have any favorite Indian restaurants in the Valley?

      1. India Oven at Gilbert and Southern is pretty good, especially the lunch buffet. I know you’re off gluten, but if you ever decide that naan is a worthy reason to indulge, this is the place. INCREDIBLE curry: perfectly spiced, with just a hint of cinnamon. Not super kid-friendly, and no takeout. I’d definitely recommend it if you’re ever across the street at Seagull Book or Target by yourself though! (I know, I know… fat chance of that happening).

        I also love Curry Garden at McQueen and Elliot. Their paneer is unreal! I’ve had a few other things and all were amazing. This place does takeout, and the portions are extremely generous. You could definitely feed you and Michael from one entree, or have lunch for the next day. (It’s a little hard to find, but shares a building with a Filiberto’s that has a much bigger sign.)

        Skip Guru Palace at Gilbert and Baseline. It looks fancy, but it’s not that good.

  2. I am so excited to try out this recipe. Did you put the chicken breasts into the slower cooker whole or cut them up?

    1. Natalie – I usually put them in whole. They shred easily when they’re cooked through. If you cut them, they’ll cook slightly faster (which is no problem!) You’ll just want to keep an eye on them 🙂

  3. Made this today. Halved the ingreds but still got four portions. So tasty. Thanks so much xx

  4. Do I have to cook the sauce separately before I pour it over the chicken or can I just pour all the ingredients into the crockpot and turn it on? Thanks!

    1. I’ve found that at least mixing the sauce beforehand will prevent scorching. When I “dump and go” I’ve found that some spots can scorch around the edges. It’s up to you, though! Some people have no trouble with that at all.

    1. Thanks for catching my mistake Katy! I’ve corrected the recipe to reflect this–I usually just stir it in right at the end so the flavor is as bright as possible. You can add it in with your slow-cooker ingredients, if you prefer. The flavor will dilute a bit, but won’t be a problem!

  5. I’m going to make this but I need a substitute for coconut oil. It doesn’t agree with me. Can I use olive oil?

  6. What can I substitute for coconut milk…If anything? Coconut doesn’t agree with me. I should have mentioned it in my early post.
    I’ll use olive oil but hesitant about the coconut milk.

    1. Estelle – Coconut milk is pretty essential to this one. Hmm….. if you can tolerate dairy, you can use cream or half & half, or even some green yogurt stirred in at the end.

  7. We DO cut all the fat off the thighs right? No recipes mention this part & my chkn thighs r Filled with fat..it seems to be the hardest part. Perhaps I Should’ve used Breast Meat. 🙄

    1. Stephanie – I typically buy boneless, skinless chicken thighs. I don’t usually trim any extra fat since mine don’t usually have very much. If yours have skin, you’ll probably want to remove it as it would make your end result too greasy.

  8. Hi Emily, I’m so excited to try out this recipe. It looks delicious! I just have a question- I want to triple the ingredients. Does that mean that I have to extend the cooking time as well? I want to leave it on a timer but I’m not sure for how long.

    1. Yael – Honestly, I *think* it would be done in a similar amount of time. I’d give it 3-4 hours on HIGH or 5-6 on LOW. I hope you love it!!!

          1. Hi Emily,
            I remember this recipe being so good so I want to make it again. The thing is, I’m using my slow cooker for a different recipe tonight😅
            So can this be adapted to a pot on the stove?

          2. Yael – SUCH a good question. I haven’t made this one on the stovetop, but I imagine that a low simmer for at least and hour or so would give you similar results. I’d LOVE to know how it turns out if you try it on the stove!

  9. Hi there! This does make the house smell amazing! I’m just worried about the chicken drying out. I have a meat thermometer and the chicken is definitely up to temp but the sauce hasn’t thickened yet.

    1. I apologize for the late reply! If you’re not using a slow cooker, then I’d saute the chicken before doing the onions and garlic. Hope that helps!

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