You’ll love this Whole30 Instant Pot chicken tikka masala recipe! It uses Whole30-compliant ingredients and a restaurant-style technique paired with the Instant Pot for an easier, insanely delicious Indian dinner recipe. The sauce is creamy, super rich, perfectly spiced but not too spicy, and the chicken is so tender. Low carb, too!
What Makes This Whole30 Instant Pot Chicken Tikka Masala So Good
- We use the Instant Pot to cut down on the simmering time without cutting corners on flavor.
- Caramelizing the aromatics and tomato sauce creates that authentic restaurant-quality chicken tikka masala taste that the whole family will love.
- The dried fenugreek leaves add a flavor to the dish that you’ll recognize from Indian restaurants but likely have left out of your own Indian cooking. I highly recommend getting some for your pantry!
- It’s perfect for a variety of dietary needs. All of the ingredients are Whole30-compliant, which makes this one paleo-friendly, too. It’s also low carb!
Can I Make This Whole30 Instant Pot Chicken Tikka Masala in the Crockpot?
Yes and no. You can absolutely use the Crockpot to simmer the mixture once you’ve caramelized the aromatics and tomato sauce, but you won’t be able to do those two things in the Crockpot.
Here’s what I recommend:
Follow the directions in my Restaurant Style Chicken Tikka Masala recipe for caramelizing the onion, serrano chile, garlic, and ginger, and then simmering the tomato sauce on the stovetop. Transfer the mixture to your Crockpot or slow cooker after step 5 and cook on low for about 3-4 hours, or until chicken is cooked through. Cook on High for about 2-2 1/2 hours.
- For a mild Instant Pot chicken tikka masala, use only one serrano chile and deseed it first before chopping.
- Swap the green bell pepper for a red bell pepper for a slightly sweeter veggie.
- Use chicken thighs for even-more-tender chicken.
- For a dairy-free version, use refined coconut in place of the ghee or butter.
- When steaming your cauliflower rice, throw in a jasmine tea bag to infuse a classic basmati flavor.
- If you’re on a Whole30, make sure you use a compliant yogurt to marinate your chicken. Kite Hill Unsweetened is great! If you can’t find it or prefer not to use it, that’s fine, too. Just leave it out of the marinade.
- Don’t skip the caramelization process! Yes, it takes time, but it’s completely worth it. If you skip this part, you’ll be missing out on the restaurant-quality flavor you’d otherwise get from this Instant Pot chicken tikka masala.
Other Whole30 Recipes You’ll Love
- Breakfast Egg Roll in a Bowl (Whole30, Paleo)
- Whole30 Beef Stroganoff
- Egg Roll in a Bowl with Creamy Chili Sauce (Keto, Whole30, Paleo)
- Paleo Chinese Chicken Salad (Whole30)
- Brussels Sprouts Salad (Whole30, Paleo, Non-Dairy)
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Whole30 Instant Pot Chicken Tikka Masala (Paleo, Low Carb)
- Instant Pot
For the Chicken
For the Sauce
- ¼ cup ghee 4 tablespoons
- 1 medium white onion diced
- 2 serrano chiles minced (deseeded for mild, seeds left in for medium/hot)
- 5 cloves garlic minced
- 1 ½ tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- 4 ½ teaspoons garam masala
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
- 1 green bell pepper deseeded, sliced into strips
- 1 tablespoon dried fenugreek leaves
- salt to taste
- 1-2 cups coconut cream just the solid white part from a can of coconut milk
- steamed cauliflower rice
- fresh cilantro chopped
- In a medium bowl, whisk together all marinade ingredients besides chicken. Toss chicken in marinade to coat well. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour, up to overnight.
- In the Instant Pot in Sauté Mode, Normal Heat, heat the ghee. Add onion and cook until softened, about 4-5 minutes.
- Reduce heat to Low Heat. Add serrano chiles, garlic, and ginger, and cook, stirring occasionally, until a nice, even toffee-brown color, about 10 minutes. Add 1-2 teaspoons water as needed if you notice the mixture sticking or drying out. If you cook this part over Normal Heat, monitor the mixture very closely. It will burn if you don't watch it well!
- When mixture is a toffee brown color, add garam masala and paprika; stir well. Cook a few minutes, or until fragrant, adding a couple tablespoons of water to reduce sticking, if necessary.
- Add the tomato sauce and stir well; transfer mixture to the blender and blend until smooth. Return sauce to pot and simmer for 15-25 minutes over Normal Heat or until thick like a paste, rather than like a sauce.
- Add chicken, sliced bell pepper, fenugreek leaves, and salt. Secure lid and cook on Manual High Pressure for 6 minutes. Carefully Quick Release.
- Add the coconut cream and stir until smooth. Taste and correct seasonings, adding more salt or fenugreek leaves as necessary. Serve over steamed cauliflower and top with plenty of chopped fresh cilantro.
- Yogurt: Use a compliant non-dairy yogurt, or skip it entirely and just marinate the chicken in the lemon juice and spices.
- Make it Dairy Free: Use refined coconut oil in place of the ghee.
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Cheryl Malik is the recipe developer, writer, and photographer behind the healthy, flavorful, family friendly recipes at 40 Aprons. She’s been a blogger for 10+ years and is known for her delicious recipes and detailed recipe instructions. Cheryl is a mom of three who lives in Memphis, TN.