This healthy Instant Pot Chicken Masala Curry recipe is made with common ingredients and is ready in 40 minutes! This chicken curry recipe features tender and juicy chicken in a rich, spicy and creamy tomato based sauce. This soul-satisfying Indian inspired recipe will add lots of flavor to your dinner menu.
Indian Chicken Masala
If you love Indian food but feel intimidated by the type or amount of ingredients a recipe requires, I got you covered! This easy chicken masala recipe is a very simple home-style curry made with common ingredients, in very little time.
Unlike the popular and delicious butter chicken, this wonderful recipe is made with bone-in chicken instead of boneless skinless chicken breasts. The chicken cooks in a rich and thick tomato sauce that is seasoned with a simple spice mix aka masala.
For simplicity and convenience, instead of using whole spices, this recipe uses ground spices that you can easily find at any grocery store
The use of a sealed pressure cooker or Instant pot and the perfect blend of spices, guarantees juicy and tender chicken in an incredibly flavorful sauce. A total explosion of flavor!
Why you’ll love this recipe
- Common Ingredients: Masala chicken is made with common ground spices you most likely already have at home. This saves time and a trip to an specialty market.
- Flavor: The perfect combination of spices and cooking the saucy chicken at high pressure, in a sealed environment makes this recipe unbelievably tasty.
- Quick: Enjoy the flavors of Indian cuisine without having to leave your house! This is an Indian restaurant quality meal that you can make in very little time. Perfect for weeknight meals.
What you’ll need
For a full list of ingredients and quantities, check the printable recipe card below.
- Spices: Instead of using garam masala seasoning mix, we make our own which gives you the ability of adjusting the spice level. Our masala mixture is made with ground cumin, paprika, ground coriander, turmeric powder, cayenne pepper and ground black pepper.
- Chicken: You can use bone-in chicken thighs, chicken legs or bone-in chicken breast. I prefer skin off but there’s no rule saying you cannot use skin-on chicken.
- Aromatics: Fresh garlic cloves and fresh ginger. The next best option is using garlic paste and ginger paste. Both are sold in the refrigerated area of the produce department.
- Lemon: Nothing is better than fresh lemon juice.
- Heavy cream: This ingredient makes the creamiest, most luxurious chicken masala. Half and half can also be used. To make this a dairy-free option, you can use dairy free cream. Coconut milk or unsweetened coconut cream can be used however, the taste won’t be the same.
- Fresh Cilantro: If you don’t like cilantro, fresh parsley works as well.
How to make Chicken Masala?
For detailed instructions and cooking times, check the printable recipe card below.
- Sauté: Sauté the onions, ginger and garlic in vegetable oil or butter (or a combination of both). Add the spices and cook until aromatic.
- Add and mix: Add the crushed tomatoes, half the cilantro, half of the lemon juice, broth and chicken pieces. Mix well to combine.
- Cook: Close and seal the lid. Cook at high pressure for 20 minutes.
- Release Pressure: Let the pressure release naturally then, open and stir in the remaining cilantro and lemon juice.
- Serve: Stir in the heavy cream and serve.
What to serve with this home-style Indian chicken masala?
We like serving this boldly flavor chicken masala curry with basmati rice and / or naan bread ,garlic naan bread or chapati flat bread to soak up the delicious tomato sauce.
Chicken masala vs Chana masala
Chana masala and chicken masala are both curries believed to come from the northern region of India. Both curries are tomato based with a mixture of warm spices (masala). Unlike the chicken version, chana masala is a vegetarian curry made with chickpeas.
Is chicken masala the same as chicken curry?
A curry is a term used all around the world, especially in Asia for dishes that are made by simmering a protein and/or vegetable in a flavorful sauce seasoned with spices, fresh herbs, etc. Chicken masala is an Indian dish made with a particular blend of spices. Masala means spices.
What is Tikka masala?
Chicken tikka masala is a creamy, spicy and flavorful Indian dish made by marinating small pieces of chicken in plain yogurt and spices. The marinated chicken pieces are traditionally cooked in a tandoor oven (a grill or broiler) until tender with a bit of charred crispy edges. The chicken is then combined with a spicy sauce made with tomato puree, cream and a mixture of well balanced spices such as cumin seeds, red chili powder, garam masala and turmeric. Tikka is the chicken part of the dish and masala is the spiced sauce part.
Let the chicken masala cool completely. Then, transfer to an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Although curries are best eaten fresh, this easy recipe can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. Cool completely and store it in an airtight freezer-safe container. Thaw out in the refrigerator overnight.
Tips for Success
- You can make this chicken masala recipe with a whole chicken cut into pieces or a combination of bone-in white and dark meat for this recipe.
- To sauté the onions, garlic and ginger, you can use ghee instead of oil/butter.
- Use 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne if you don’t like very spicy foods.
Take a look at these easy recipes:
- Instant Pot Butter Chicken
- Instant Pot Pho Recipe
- Creamy White Chicken Chili
- Easy Flatbread Recipe
- Red Lentil Dhal
Recipe adapted from Serious Eats
Follow me on social media for more recipe ideas & inspiration!
Pressure Cooker Chicken Masala
- 2 tablespoons butter or oil (divided) (or a combination of both)
- 1 cup diced onion
- 5 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 (15-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped divided
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 8 bone-in chicken pieces (legs, thighs, breasts or a combination) skin on or off depending on your preference)
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
For serving (optional)
- Basmati or regular long grain white rice.
- Naan bread or chapatti
- Press the sauté button on the pressure cooker. Heat up the butter and/or oil and add the onions, garlic and ginger. Cook stirring frequently for about 4 – 5 minutes or until the onions are soft and translucent.
- Add the cumin, paprika, coriander, turmeric, cayenne and ground black pepper. Mix well to combine and cook for about a minute or until aromatic.
- Stir in the crushed tomatoes, half of the cilantro, half of the lemon juice, and the broth. Add the chicken and mix to coat the chicken with the rest of the ingredients.
- Close the pot and seal the lid. Cook at high pressure for 20 minutes.
- After the cooking cycle is done, allow the pressure to release naturally for 10 to 15 minutes. Release any remained pressure and open the lid. Stir in the remaining cilantro and lemon juice. Finally, stir in the heavy cream mixing well until combined. Adjust the seasoning with sea salt or Kosher salt to your taste.