This slow cooker chicken tikka masala is delicious and easy.
I love a good slow cooker dinner. But I don’t love having the same thing over and over and over again.
I want variety, man.
We are huge fans of trying foods from all over the world and work really hard to keep our kids’ palates open to new and different things.
One of the rules we have is that there are no other options for meals.
There is no plan B. There is no peanut and jelly waiting for them. This is it. We don’t bend on this rule, either. Like, ever. AND our kids have probably only ever missed one meal. It’s amazing how they actually eat what we give them when they know we’re serious about it (because it only took one missed meal to know there really isn’t another option…they’re so quick to catch on!).
Some people may think it is “mean,” but we are offering healthy and wholesome meals. If they’re really hungry, they can eat it and not feel hungry.
Now, we don’t make repeat meals that our kids really didn’t like in the past or meals that highlight a known disliked food.
Every single one of my littles currently hates mushrooms (although they each went through seasons where they would eat them). So, I never plan a meal with, say, only stuffed mushrooms as an option.
But I will still add mushrooms to some meals (not often) and allow those who don’t want them (all my kids right now) to pick around them. By incorporating foods they don’t like, I’m allowing my kids the option to try them again since our tastes really do change.
And when we tried salmon for the first time, I made sure there was a hearty side dish and lots of side veggies for them to eat if they didn’t like the salmon (but they loved it!). So I do recommend having foods you know they like as part of every meal so there’s always something for them to enjoy!
The most common phrase we use is, “you can find something in this meal you like to eat.”
This is especially true with casserole type dishes. If we’re having chicken broccoli casserole and one kid randomly declares that they don’t like broccoli anymore, well, they can find what they DO like in the casserole…like cheese, chicken, and rice. I won’t cry about that.
We try to keep our lingo positive. “Find what you like” “What is good in this?” “What’s your favorite part?” Our goal is to negate the “I hate everything” mindset and choose to find good in what they would declare as “gross.”
Life skills, even in food.
Thankfulness, especially in food.
We’re trying to encourage our kids to be open to trying foods from other cultures without freaking out.
We want to teach them to find something they can enjoy in a dish so that they can engage with people who eat differently. Food shouldn’t be divisive or cause fear. And it’s amazing how many people from other cultures my husband and I have bonded with over various food. Food is just created to work like that, I think. We eat and we bond!
When we first tried this chicken tikka masala that a friend brought over, I remember thinking that my kiddos might choose to just eat the side of rice for lunch that day (which, hey, they would survive for a meal).
But to my surprise they loved this slow cooker chicken tikka masala! All of it. And since then it has become a staple in our home, being on regular rotation in our monthly menu.
It. Is. So. Good.
All of the spices taste magical.
The tomato and curry, coconut cream, fresh cilantro…
Magic, I tell you.
Now, we keep the spicy factor out of this version of Tikka Masala, but add it in as you want! My husband and I add heat to our own bowls (and any little adventurer’s in small doses) so that it’s more kid palatable.
This recipe was adapted from David Bonom at Cooking Light.
I’m forever grateful for this base recipe. Thank you, David, from the bottom of my heart.
My favorite coconut cream to use for everything, this recipe included, is Aroy D Coconut Cream. It’s 100% coconut cream. That’s it! Which is amazing because many coconut creams have a lot of other additives. I dare you to check.
The catch is that this doesn’t last long after you open the carton. So I divide it out in one cup increments and freeze the rest that I won’t use within the next few days. We also make our coconut milk with this cream, though, so I don’t freeze much of it.
My favorite curry powder (that I’ve found so far) is from my local Asian market, but any brand you love will work! The brand I use is Ca Ni Ri An Do, and you can find it on amazon HERE
I will often make a double batch of the sauce and freeze half of it for another day. Then when it’s slow cooker chicken tikka masala day again I just thaw it in the fridge the night before for an extra quick slow cooker meal. I always feel so proud of my past self on those days. Like, yeah, go me! You were awesome! I bet you’ll feel the same way.
- 1 T oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 whole carrot minced
- 1 T fresh peeled, minced ginger or 1 tsp powdered ginger
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 T garam masala
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp curry powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 T tomato paste
- 1 14.5 oz can diced or crushed tomatoes
- 3 T brown rice flour
- 1 green or red bell pepper diced into 1 inch pieces
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts
- 1 cup coconut cream (this is my favorite brand, but canned works as well!)
- 1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- Add onion, ginger, garlic, carrot, and oil to skillet and cook over medium-high heat until onions are translucent
- Sprinkle in garam masala, paprika, curry, and flour, and stir constantly for 30 seconds until fragrant
- Add in tomato paste, diced tomatoes, and salt, and stir until thoroughly combined and sauce begins to thicken
- Remove sauce from heat
- In slow cooker, add raw chicken and bell pepper to the bottom
- Top with sauce
- Cover and let cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours
- Half hour before eating, shred chicken (I do this in my crockpot with two forks. You can also remove the chicken to a cutting board and shred or dice before adding it back in to the slow cooker) and add coconut cream, stirring well
- Serve on rice and top with fresh cilantro and more coconut cream if desired
- Add red chili flakes for more heat