This chicken tikka masala recipe is restaurant quality, made from scratch, and easy to make in a pressure cooker. The chicken is tender and flavorful, simmered in a creamy tikka masala sauce with a hint of lemon.

Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes mins
Yield4 servings
Total Time: 1 Hour& 40 Minutes


Marinating Chicken:

  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 7-ounce container plain greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger


  • 15-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • ▢1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
  • ▢1 cup heavy whipping cream, added last


1-Marinate Chicken: Stir together all marinade ingredients except chicken in large bowl until well-mixed; set aside. Pat chicken dry with paper towels, and cut into bite-sized chunks, 1/2 to 1 inch in size. Stir chicken chunks into marinade until well-coated. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

2-Sauté Chicken: Select sauté mode on pressure cooker for medium heat. Once heated, add chicken chunks (along with any marinade sticking to them) to pressure cooker. Sauté until chicken is cooked on all sides, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn off sauté mode, and deglaze if needed.

3-Pressure Cook: Add all sauce ingredients except cream to pressure cooker, over chicken chunks, and stir. Secure and seal lid. Cook at high pressure for 10 minutes. Perform quick pressure release by turning pressure knob to venting position.

4-Finish & Serve: Uncover, and select sauté mode on pressure cooker for low heat. Once heated, add cream to pot, stirring with other ingredients. Simmer until sauce is slightly thickened, a few minutes. Serve.


(1) Chicken. I use fresh chicken; if yours is frozen, defrost in the refrigerator until thawed before using in this recipe. I use chicken breasts and they come out tender and moist, and don’t get tough. I haven’t tested with other cuts, but chicken thighs should also work well.

(2) Greek Yogurt. Greek yogurt is used because of its thick consistency; don’t use American yogurts, which would result in a watery marinade. Select one with at least 2% fat, plain flavor, and unsweetened. I use the Fage brand. This can’t be substituted with sour cream.

(3) Garam Masala. This is one of those spices that can’t be easily substituted because it gives a characteristic taste to Indian dishes like chicken tikka masala. It’s a blend of ground Indian spices including pepper, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and cumin. You can easily buy garam masala online, or find it at many U.S. supermarkets.

(4) Tomato Sauce. I use canned tomato sauce that is unsalted and plain (no added herbs). Tomato sauce is the same as tomato purée. Don’t substitute with other tomato products like diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, or pasta sauce.

(5) Heavy Whipping Cream. I haven’t used anything other than dairy-based cream, but readers have told me that they have successfully substituted some or all of the cream with half and half or coconut milk. I think the taste of coconut milk would go wonderfully with the flavors in chicken tikka masala, especially if you use full-fat coconut milk. For a thicker, luxurious sauce, a better substitution might be coconut cream.

(6) Deglazing. After sautéing the chicken and prior to pressure cooking, deglaze the pot if you see anything stuck to the bottom of the pot — this will help avoid “burn errors” during pressure cooking. Use a sturdy wooden utensil to loosen any browned bits, adding a bit of water.

(7) Serving. Traditional serving pairings include basmati rice or naan, and garnishing with chopped fresh cilantro. For a low carb meal, serve alongside fried cauliflower rice, creamed spinach, or roasted vegetables. I suggest pairing with some kind of side dish because this recipe makes a generous amount of tikka masala sauce — you’ll want something to help sop it up!

(8) Alternate Cooking Methods. This dish can also be made in a slow cooker or on the stovetop.


Makes 4 ServingsAmount Per Serving:
Calories 460(53% from fat)
Total Fat 27g41%
Saturated Fat 17g85%
Cholesterol 171mg57%
Sodium 880mg37%
Net Carb 10g
Total Carb 14.5g5%
Dietary Fiber 4.5g18%
Sugars 5.5g
Protein 33g
Vitamin A 24% · Vitamin C 10% · Calcium 7% · Iron 9%

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