My slow cooker chicken tikka masala has all the big, bold flavor of the traditional dish, but it’s far easier—and lighter, too (263 calories or 3 Weight Watchers points). The chicken is fall-apart tender in a deliciously creamy, fragrant, slightly sweet, and subtlety tangy tomato sauce.
Last summer Daniel and I became regulars at the lunch buffet that our favorite Indian restaurant puts out on weekdays. And when I say regulars, I don’t mean the friendly, first-name-basis familiarity that you might establish at your local coffee place; I’m referring to more of a mortifying reality where the owners kind of looked at us on the tenth visit like, “…seriously?” But mortifying or not, I kept going because I was in my third trimester of pregnancy and grappling with a constant craving for chicken tikka masala, and Daniel went for a simpler, yet still very solid reason: he was afraid of me.
It’s been months since we’ve been back, so in an attempt to recreate our favorite chicken tikka masala, I broke out my trusty slow cooker.
Lighter Chicken Tikka Masala in the Slow Cooker
Chicken tikka masala in the slow cooker has all the big, bold flavor of the traditional dish, but it’s far easier. It doesn’t hurt that it’s lighter and healthier, too. To make it, I combine boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I prefer the white meat to the dark meat of the thighs, which are used in many Indian dishes) and a quick mix of crushed tomatoes, onions, garlic, ginger, and spices like cumin, coriander, and garam masala in your crock pot and cook on high for 4 hours. The result is fall-apart tender chicken in a deliciously fragrant, slightly sweet, and only subtlety tangy sauce. I stir half and half into the finished sauce to balance the tomatoes and add that signature richness.
Slow cooker recipes should be easy, so I like to make things that don’t require too much prep or hands-on time (like marinating or searing the meat beforehand, for instance). However, it is important that you sauté the onions, garlic, ginger, and spices. Why? Because cooking the garlic and ginger in olive oil helps them release their flavors that much more. You also intensify the spices. That said, *IF* you really don’t want to take this step or don’t have the time, you can simply combine all of the sauce ingredients in the base of your slow cooker and stir them well to blend.