Healthy Slow Cooked Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala is one of those amazing dishes that tastes different at every restaurant you order it. I’ve yet to meet a version I didn’t like, although some I’ve enjoyed more than others.

Healthy Slow Cooked Tikka Masala

I have an awesome tendency to stuff myself whenever we go out for Indian food because I have to try a bite of absolutely everything I can get my hands on (and especially the Mulligatawny Soup!).

Because I like to stuff my face to the point that I feel more like Jabba the Hutt than a reasonably sized (albeit, tall) woman, I thought I might try my hand at lightening up this Indian buffet classic.

And guess what, guys – it totally works!

Healthy Slow Cooked Tikka Masala

Annnnnnd just in case you had any qualms about trying this recipe, let me just point out to you that it’s made in a slow cooker. With no pre-marinating, pre-searing, pre-anything. Just dump it in and turn it on.

Healthy Slow Cooked Tikka Masala


So, some notes about the ingredients and instructions:

  • Yes, you absolutely must find yourself some garam masala. I buy mine on Amazon, but you can usually find it on the spice aisle of a well-stocked grocery store.
  • You’ll want to use a good-sized slow cooker; anything smaller than 3 quarts probably won’t work out. I used my awesome handy-dandy self-stirring Crockpot and it came out quite tasty.
  • Please, please, please follow the recipe and don’t add the yogurt in until you’ve let the slow-cooker contents cool. And please be sure to temper the yogurt by stirring in some of the warm Tikka Masala sauce as directed. Using non-fat yogurt is awesome for your waistline, but low-fat dairy products have a tendency to curdle and get generally ticked off if you introduce them to high temperatures.

Healthy Slow Cooked Tikka Masala

This was really, really yummy and I’m really, really happy to share the recipe with you.

It’s a really simple and delicious dinner served over some basmati rice (check out this post to see how I make my basmati rice fluffy and delicious —> How to Cook Perfect Rice) or with some homemade warm Naan Bread.

Healthy Slow Cooked Tikka Masala

Here’s Your Recipe!

Healthy Slow Cooked Tikka Masala
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 6
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh ginger, grated
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 Tbsp. cumin
  • 1 Tbsp. garam masala
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 tsp. coriander
  • ½ tsp. cardamom
  • ½ Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 4 oz. fat free plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp. Cornstarch
  • Salt to taste
  • 4 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  1. Combine the ginger, garlic , tomatoes, coconut milk, spices, and chicken in your slow cooker. Cook on high for 4 hours, or low for 8 hours. Uncover and let cool ten minutes.
  2. Stir together the yogurt and cornstarch in a small bowl. Let it sit for 5 minutes to activate the thickeners. Stir few spoonfuls of the warm Tikka Masala sauce into the yogurt to bring the temperature up and prevent curdling. Pour the yogurt mixture into the slow cooker, stir, then let thicken for 15 minutes. Taste and add salt as needed.
  3. Serve over basmati rice with a sprinkling of cilantro leaves.



  1. says

    Oh, this looks so amazing. I LOVE tikka masala, and I have all of these ingredients in my pantry/fridge pretty much all of the time. Can’t wait to make this!

  2. says

    I’m so glad I found this recipe! My house smells delicious and it has 15 more minutes but I liked the spoon and swooned. I’m wondering if the crockpot is supposed to stay on low when the lid is off for those 10 minutes toward the end, and if it’s supposed to stay on once the yogurt is added, and if the lid is supposed to stay off. Thanks so much for posting great recipes!

    • says

      Hi, Jillian!

      I’m so glad you like the recipe :) Go ahead and turn the slow cooker off to let it cool for 10 minutes. You can keep the lid off for the rest of the recipe at that point!

      Enjoy :)

  3. Jennifer says

    Sounds like a great recipe and can’t wait to try it. Quick question- what size can of crushed tomatoes, 14 oz. or 28 oz.? Thank you!

  4. Ashti says

    Few quick questions. 1 do I thaw the chicken before putting it in the slow cooker
    2. How often do I stir the pot

    Thanks!! Can’t wait to try it today!

  5. Sierra says

    Hi there! I know it’s been a while since you posted this, but I was wondering if you have any suggestions for a substitute for the coconut milk. I’m allergic to coconut :(

  6. Holly says

    I’ve got this in my slow cooker right now! Can’t wait to get home & try it!
    As another reader commented, I totally read the instructions wrong and used the whole can of tomatoes & coconut milk. Hopefully that will be ok.
    Thanks for the recipes, Anetta. I’m a newby at this whole cooking thing and I’ve really enjoyed your blogs! :)

    • says

      Awesome, Holly! I hope it still turned out alright with the extra tomatoes and coconut milk. Too much sauce never killed anyone, right? ;)

  7. Karen says

    Made this last night. For a slow cooker recipe, it was very good. My complaint with slow cookers is that they cook all the taste out of everything. However, the spices in this recipe held up rather well – but I only cooked it for 3 hrs on high. Chicken was very tender, so mine didn’t need 4 hrs. All 4 children enjoyed this recipe.

  8. Michelle says

    Can not WAIT to try this….it’s on the menu plan for the month! Have you tried with with light coconut milk? Just curious….. I KNOW that there is NOTHING better than regular coconut milk, but I’m just wondering if you ever experimented with it.
    Thanks for posting!! LOVE all Asian food! :slurp: :)

  9. Brenda says

    This is in the crock pot now and smells delicious! I used coconut milk sold in the dairy section instead of the canned coconut milk. Do you think one is better than the other? Can’t wait to try this and see what other recipes you have :)

    • says

      Hi, Brenda!

      I use the canned kind – I’ve never tried it with the kind sold in the dairy section. I know that the canned stuff is much thicker, so you may want to up your cornstarch slurry in the end to thicken it up a bit :)

  10. Peter says

    Followed the recipe – two problems I had were that the sauce curdled the second I put the yogurt in (even though I warmed it first) and it tasted kind of rough – too much turmeric.

    • says

      Hi, Peter! I’m so sorry to hear that this recipe didn’t turn out for you. I’ve never had trouble with the sauce curdling, but there are so many different brands of ingredients and yogurts out there it is hard to predict how they will react every time. The lower the fat content is, the more likely it is to curdle. You might try using a full fat yogurt instead of non-fat and seeing how that goes!

  11. Onee0895 says

    The original recipe calls for full fat greek style yogurt. This one calls for fat free yogurt. In then end we’re talking about 4oz of full fat yogurt (5%) spread across 4 servings (1 0z of yogurt per serving). The amount of fat from the original recipe would make absolutely no difference in ones dietary intake for the day. Shrug.

  12. says

    Ahhh, I’m so excited! I’ve been looking for healthy Indian Recipes for the longest time now. The best I’ve been able to create with my non-Indianness is the Curry Pita at I never thought about adding coconut milk, but I can imagine that it definitely helps balance out the spices. I’ll be trying this recipe next weekend :) Thanks so much!

  13. Patrick says

    Hi Anetta! I have this in my crockpot right now with a few subs. First of all, I used the whole can of tomatoes and the whole can of coconut milk. I couldn’t bring myself to throw the remainder away. I also chose the light coconut milk. Knowing that the sauce may be runny, I have a can of tomato paste on standby. I also pulled all the meat off of a rotisserie chicken instead of using the boneless/skinless chicken breasts. The only powdered cardamom I could find in the supermarket was literally $18, so I found a substitute recipe online — one part nutmeg to one part cinnamon. I also couldn’t find garam masala in the supermarket, but I found a recipe for that spice mix online as well, and it was all things I had in my pantry already. Smells good so far… I’ll report back!

  14. Patrick says

    Reporting back! Rotisserie chicken — not recommended. The slow cooker really disintegrates the chicken. It becomes more like stewed shredded chicken. Not bad in flavor, of course, but missing the tikka masala texture. Stick with the boneless/skinless chicken breasts. Because I used rotisserie chicken, which was already cooked, I didn’t need to cook the tikka masala for 4 hours. I cooked it for closer to 2, and it turned out just fine. My substitute spices — perfect! I also used a 6 oz. container of yogurt instead of 4 oz., again, because I wanted to use it up. Turned out just great! No curdling at all of you go slowly. Add a dollop of the tikka mixture to the yogurt mixture, stir, repeat.

    So in short:

    -You won’t die if you use a whole (14 ox.) can of crushed tomatoes.
    -You won’t die if you use a whole (13.5 oz.) can of coconut milk.
    -You won’t die if you use w whole (6 oz.) container of Greek yogurt.
    -You WILL die if you use rotisserie chicken. Ok, you won’t die, but you won’t be as happy with the result.
    -Spices laying around your kitchen, like cinnamon and nutmeg, are a quick substitute for cardamom and garam masala.

    I will DEFINITELY be making this often!! Thanks for the recipe, Anetta!

  15. Kerry says

    I can’t have dairy at the moment (nursing a baby with milk intolerance), but LOVE tikka masala. How much would it change the taste if I skipped the yogurt at the end? Still worth making? It looks delicious!

  16. Abby says

    This is in my slow cooker now. Followed the recipe exactly EXCEPT replacing tofu for chicken….very nervous! Will report back as to how it comes out!

  17. Abby says

    Just following up – I turned the slow cooker off of HIGH after 3 hours instead of 4, because the sauce was starting to look extremely dry (this may be b/c I have a large slow cooker, so the sauce was spread thin). The texture of the tofu is PERFECT. Like I couldn’t have asked for better, so I’m really happy about that. I finished the recipe with the yogurt as directed. I have to say, although its tasty, this recipe tastes nothing like tikka masala. Like if someone had given this to me to taste and asked me what Indian dish I thought it was, tikka masala would not be in my top 5 guesses. There are distinct flavors lacking (namely, butter (I would use Earth Balance – we’re not cows milk fans here) and onion). That said, the purpose of making this dish is to feed my 8 month old for dinner tonight – he LOVES indian food, and this is certainly tasty enough that he should eat it no problem. Thanks for the idea of subbing coconut milk for cream – I think I will try a different tikka masala recipe next time but use that idea!

    • says

      Hi, Abby! I love all of your ingenuity in making this recipe! Tikka Masala is one of those recipes that is made different just about everywhere you go! I read once that in a study of tikka masala recipes from more than 50 different restaurants, the only thing that all of the recipes had in common was the chicken! It’s possible that you and I have just been eating two VERY different version! I’m glad you like the coconut milk idea – let me know what other recipe you try, I’d love to check it out!

    • says

      Haha! Freudian slip ;)
      I don’t know how many WW points are in each serving. You could use a website like My Fitness Pal to enter the ingredients and determine nutrition information! I would not use NF milk instead of coconut milk.

  18. Lauren says

    I craved…. I googled… I found…. I read…. And I instantly rushed to the store!! It’s in the crockpot now and it smells divine! Thank you for posting!!! :) #youreahero

  19. Katie says

    Hi Anetta,

    I bought some brown basmati rice for this dish and would like to add it to the crockpot. I was thinking, if I cook it on low, I’ll add the rice two hours before the end and I’ll just make sure there is at least twice as much liquid as there is rice. Do you have any experience with adding rice to a slow cooker dish? Does it work? I don’t see why it wouldn’t, but it doesn’t seem like a lot of people do it. In the recipes I’ve seen, everyone says to prepare the rice separately.
    Let me know what you think!



  20. Amit Sheth says

    I want to try this… But have one question. I bought a bottle of already made tikka masala sauce. Can I just use that instead of mixing up all the ingredients separately?

    • says

      Hi, Amit! I haven’t tried this, and I don’t know what the ingredients in the jar would be. You could try it, but I don’t know how it would turn out!

  21. Kamala says

    My 6 year old son and I just inhaled your delicious dish which I made with several adaptations. No crockpot, so I baked it in my cast iron dutch oven for 2 hours at 310 F. I used lite coconut milk, tomato sauce (what I had on hand) and 1 t. arrowroot instead of corn starch. Halfway through I tasted and thought the sauce was a bit intense so I added cut up red potatoes and cauliflower for the last 45 minutes. Everything blended beautifully. Thank you for posting.

  22. Jasmine says

    Hi I was wondering if it is necessary to use low fat yogurt instead of regular? Also was wondering if you turn the slow cooker back on when you leave the masala to thicken for 15 minutes?

  23. David says

    Hi, we have been feeling a little deprived as we moved from England to the USA 12mths ago and have struggled to find a quality Tikka. We have tried local Indian restaurants but have found the curries inconsistent and salty.
    We have just tried your recipe and it worked like a dream – still confused by cups so went for a 28oz tin of toms and 18oz tin of coconut milk, this created plenty of sauce!
    One question I would like to ask – the chicken used in Balti Chicken Tikka’s we have eaten in the UK looks like it is marinated, have you tried marinating the chicken before cooking? I am intending to prepare the curry the day before and then seeing what happens to the chicken.

  24. Debbie says

    I made this last night and it was excellent; husband was thrilled. My slow cooker has a timer on it, and it turned out perfectly. I also did NOT use the lowfat coconut milk, and I used the fat free Greek yogurt; it turned out great. Will definitely be making this one again; thank you so much for sharing it.

  25. Ella says


    I am dairy free… would it work to replace the yogurt with the solid part of a can of coconut milk at the end? I have been searching for a recipe just like this and hope to try it!!

    • says

      Hmmm I haven’t tried that before, so I’m not sure how well it would work. Maybe try it with a bit a lime juice so you still get a little tang :)

  26. Pamela says

    Made this tonight and absolutely loved how it came out. I have never eaten tikka masala so have nothing to compare it to on that level but in terms of taste I really liked it. I made a few changes; as I’m a vegetarian I substituted Quorn chicken style pieces, I also omitted the yogurt and cornflour all together. Slow cooked on high for 4 hours, by the end my sauce had thickened itself, maybe even a little too much, I can see by the images that there should probably have been a lot more sauce (could be that Quorn absorbs more liquid than real meat would have) so either a shorter cooking time or more liquid the next time but it didn’t spoil my enjoyment. Best part was how quick it was to prepare! Thanks for sharing.

  27. Laura says

    Hello! I know it’s been a while since you posted this recipe, but hopefully I can still get some advice. I am planning on making this for my weekly food prep, but I would love to add veggies to the mix so I don’t have to cook them separately! Would that throw this off? I’m trying to figure out which vegetables might work- any suggestions? Maybe cauliflower, peas, carrots, spinach? (I’m thinking of typical vegetables in other Indian dishes)…would they hold up in the cooking process? Thank you!

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