Tandoori chicken in bowl with rice.

Instant Pot Coconut Tandoori-Inspired Chicken

166 reviews / 4.8 average

And so begins the wonderful season of easy back-to-school make-ahead dinners!

But seriously, EASY. Easy like should be embarrassed but can’t even be because it’s so good. No cutting boards, no measuring cups or spoons (I’m the queen of eyeballing), and no fuss.

I mean, I’m not headed back to school anytime soon, but I AM headed into a maternity leave this fall and I’m stocking up on those make-ahead meals like my life depends on it. Which it may? Time will tell.

While I’m not always up for a full-blown grilling moment like traditional tandoori, I DO have a pretty decent stash of spices, a package of chicken in the freezer, and a can of coconut milk sitting in the pantry at any given time. Enter: Coconut Tandoori Chicken. It’s creamy, fall-apart, juicy chicken thigh meat seasoned somewhat aggressively (especially if your roots are Scandinavian) with the warmth and depth of tandoori spices.

So let’s talk about the make-ahead part of this recipe. Ready?

Here’s what you do:

Coconut Tandoori-Inspired Chicken in a freezer bag.

That’s all. *evil laugh*

It’s so easy. You just put everything in a bag and kinda mash it around. I told you I should be embarrassed. This is not fancy, people. Not fancy at all. Pop it in your fridge to make in the next day or two, OR freeze that bad boy for a future dinner.

When you’re ready to cook it, you can either slow cook or pressure cook this magic, which becomes a shredded chicken situation that is brimming with flavor and coated in an almost gravy-like coconut curry-ish sauce.

Coconut Tandoori-Inspired Chicken in an Instant Pot.

What are the best ways to eat Coconut Tandoori-Inspired Chicken? Oh, FRIEND. Let me count the ways.

  • Tacos.
  • Wraps.
  • Salads.
  • Rice bowls.
  • Pizzas.
  • Cauli rice.
  • Roasted veggies.
  • Sandwiches.
  • Soups.

It is kind of my new favorite. In and on everything.

Expect to see this Coconut Tandoori-Inspired Chicken making an appearance again soon in my MEGA DEEP DIVE post all about real food freezer recipes. Yes, that is happening. And yes, easy button lovers should be excited.

Coconut Tandoori-Inspired Chicken in a bowl with rice.
Pst! Recipe inspiration for this recipe was from my friend Ali of the excellent Gimme Some Oven!

Being that this version is made in the Instant Pot or slow cooker, this Coconut Tandoori-Inspired Chicken is not real tandoori chicken. The “tandoori” in tandoori chicken refers to a special type of clay oven that the chicken gets roasted in. Normally tandoori chicken has a nice crusty golden brown exterior from all those spices + that high oven heat and it is DELICIOUS. Mine does not, because we are skipping the tandoori / oven / grill situation. Traditional Chicken Tandoori recipes can be found here and here.

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Tandoori chicken in bowl with rice.

Instant Pot Coconut Tandoori-Inspired Chicken


  • Author: Lindsay
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes (varies by method)
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 68 servings 1x

Description

Coconut Tandoori-Inspired Chicken made with rich spices and creamy coconut milk. EXTREMELY EASY and so, so yummy.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons garam masala
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 14 ounce can coconut milk

Instructions

  • Freezer Version: Mix everything together in a freezer-friendly bag or container. Place in the freezer and store up to three months. When you’re ready to cook, follow the directions below!
  • Instant Pot: Add everything to the Instant Pot. If it’s thawed, cook for 5 minutes manual high pressure + 10 minutes for natural release. If it’s frozen, cook for 15 minutes manual high pressure + 10 minutes natural release. Shred and serve over rice!
  • Slow Cooker: Add everything to the slow cooker. If it’s thawed, cook for 4 hours on high, or 6 hours on low. If it’s frozen, cook for 6 hours on high. Shred and serve over rice!

Notes

If you let the sauce stand for about 15 minutes before serving, it should thicken up slightly and take on the texture of a light gravy or curry sauce. I find chicken thighs are pretty small and usually cook quickly, but make sure you check to make sure they’re fully cooked if you are working with larger chicken thighs. I like to add a side of greens with this recipe to round out the meal – something like steamed broccoli, sautéed spinach, or a green salad.

Freezer Meal Version

  1. Freeze Together:
    2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken thighs
    2 tablespoons garam masala
    2 tablespoons honey
    1 tablespoons chili powder
    1 tablespoon garlic powder
    1 tablespoon ground cumin
    2 teaspoons salt
    2 teaspoons turmeric
    1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
    1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    1 14-ounce can coconut milk
  2. Instant Pot Instructions: High pressure 15 mins + 20 mins natural release
  3. Slow Cooker Instructions: High setting 4 hours (thaw first)
  4. Final Step: Serve in rice bowls, with roasted vegetables, with cauliflower rice, or in fusion-style tacos or burritos.
  5. Check out our full freezer meal posts with all recipes and instructions here!
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Pressure Cooker
  • Cuisine: Indian-inspired

Keywords: coconut tandoori chicken, instant pot coconut tandoori chicken, instant pot tandoori chicken

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Want the freezer meal version of this recipe? Check out our full freezer meals post!


One More Thing!

This recipe is part of our collection of best healthy gluten-free recipes. Check it out!

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Recipe rating

460 Comments

  1. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Oh yum! I look forward to trying this recipe soon! I find that the Instant Pot is fabulous for Indian flavors. Such a great way to get a hearty, healthy, flavorful dinner on the table… after school! Many thanks!

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Darlene Anger

      Can this be cooked in a conventional oven and for how long? I don’t own an instant pot or a slow cooker.

      1. Pinch of Yum Logo
        Sara

        I don’t know why not. Just think of it as braised chicken thighs. I’m sure you could find a recipe online to estimate cooking times if you think of the recipe as a braise.

      2. Pinch of Yum Logo
        Mollie

        I used my normal oven and cooked for 3 hours on 150 Celsius fan forced and it was perfect!

        1. Pinch of Yum Logo
          Ericka

          Has anyone done this with chicken breasts? That’s what I’ve got and I really want to make this tonight! Thanks!

          1. Pinch of Yum Logo
            Chrissy

            Hey! You probably already went ahead and used breasts instead of thighs but IF you haven’t yet, then yes! I’ve made this many times and always use breast instead. Still just as good.






  2. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Danielle

    OMG i just am in love with this recipe. don’t even care that it’s not technically tandoori! the flavors are amazing (garam masala is one of my fav seasonings) and so easy. so eays. just perfect!!






  3. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Kiani

    I’m not sure how you do it.. Most blogs, I’ll go days scrolling through their recipes with nothing really grabbing my attention or feeling worth the work, and yet everything you post is something I want to eat and need to make asap. I think it has to do with how delicious your food is combined with how simple the recipes usually are! I almost always have the majority of ingredients on hand. Thank you!!

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Hoori

      Yes, I agree! Pinch of Yum recipes are my crack! I could spend hours reading your content.

        1. Pinch of Yum Logo
          Danielle

          I had the same question. I wanted to add sweet potatoes. How would I adjust the directions for the instant pot if I added a large sweet potato cubes?






  4. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Erin

    These flavors look amazing! Do you think it would work using tofu in the instant pot instead of chicken?

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Meg

      Made this, substituting 2 packages of cubed tofu for the chicken, and it turned out delicious!






      1. Pinch of Yum Logo
        laura R zumpfe

        With the tofu, did you brown it first or just cube it and throw it in? My hubs wont eat tofu unless it’s still a little crispy…

        1. Pinch of Yum Logo
          Meg

          I just cubed it and tossed it in. It turned out well, but that’s a great suggestion. I think it would probably taste even better pan fried to add a little more texture.

  5. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Carrie

    If you want an Instant Pot shaped chunk o’ frozen dinner, folks have had good luck freezing in an old icecream bucket that slides into your pot (sizes vary). Takes up a bit more room in your freezer than flat packing, but then you can literally pop it in when you need it, since cooking from frozen is a thing with IP cooking.

    Looking forward to trying this out!

  6. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Eman

    This sounds like a perfect meal for when you want something that tastes like you were in the kitchen for hours but you really want to be in there for like 10 minutes tops. I’m excited to make this!

  7. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Kristy

    Oh My! All of these spices in one dish is heavenly. Also, I love how easy the recipe is. Thanks so much for posting!






  8. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Tamara

    Ah! Love this (and your *evil laugh* lol). I got an instant pot recently and I 100% blame you! But I am very happy about it. Cant wait to see more of these recipes. Going back to school to become a nurse- these will come in SUPER handy!! Thanks as always Linsday.

  9. Pinch of Yum Logo
    LemonMom

    Okay FINE I will finally buy an Instant Pot! I’m sure you’ve mentioned this in a previous post, but what size do you use? This recipe looks unreal by the way 😍🍽

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Amanda

      Hello! I just tried to cook this from frozen in my instant pot and did 15 minutes on high pressure followed by a natural release. The chicken was still very raw. Any idea what could have gone wrong? Is that the right timing for from frozen? I’m thinking it needs to be longer.

      1. Pinch of Yum Logo

        Sorry to hear the chicken was still raw, Amanda. 😕 We’re wondering if the chicken thighs you had just needed to be cut into slightly smaller pieces. We’d suggest that for next time or just adding a few extra minutes to the cook time. Enjoy!

  10. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Hannah Houg

    Currently making this (was so incredibly easy)!! Will let you know how it turns out!

  11. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Chris

    Maternity leave in the Fall? — Congratulations and Best Wishes are in order. Many will be thinking of you, I’m sure.

  12. Pinch of Yum Logo
    gbo

    Are those tablespoon measurements for the spices correct? Seems like a lot of chili power, in particular, to me?

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Sara

      I found this to be too salty. I love all things pinchofyum but this one had too much salt and a very coarse texture when eating it. Thanks for all the great recipes!






      1. Pinch of Yum Logo
        Lesley

        I would try this again, maybe you mis calculated. a measurement?
        I like to toast my spices in a little oil on IP sauté, then add the onion, chicken, coconut milk.

        I have had great luck with this recipe! I have made it weekly for a couple of months!

        1. Pinch of Yum Logo
          Reema

          I think the degree of saltiness depends on what type of salt you use: table salt , sea salt, or kosher salt.

          We used Morton’s kosher salt and it was just right. Table salt would make it way too salty for my taste but I don’t even buy the stuff anymore, frankly.

          1. Pinch of Yum Logo
            Jessica

            I was thinking the same thing and wondered if there is a POY go-to salt… I love so many of the recipes, especially for the IP, and it would be great to know when kosher vs. table salt is recommended.

        2. Pinch of Yum Logo
          Ashton ferguson

          Can this be done with chicken breast? It’s cheaper and easier to get where I’m from ❤️

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Greeshma

      This recipe is awesome and tastes so good! But the last two times I made it I got a burn notice on my instant pot. This time I tried to really mix the spices beforehand to prevent it from sticking to the bottom. Do you have any recommendations on how to prevent this?






  13. Pinch of Yum Logo
    MaryJo

    Hey LIndsay, this sounds so excellent, but do I set my electric pressure cooker on high or low pressure for this recipe? I have a different brand than the Instant Pot.

      1. Pinch of Yum Logo
        Jennie Ridley

        I LOVE this but my kids thought it was a bit on the spicy side :/ how would you recommend tweaking the spices to take it down to a mild level of spicy?

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Ami

      I started this on high pressure using chicken breasts, but the IP alarmed BURN, so I turned it to low pressure for 6 minutes. The chicken breasts were starting to get pretty dark when I opened the pot. I also added 1/2 cup of water.

      1. Pinch of Yum Logo
        HC

        I got a burn message as well, restarted on low and it happened again. I had to move it to the stovetop to finish. The spices all settled and burned at the bottom of the IP. It’s delicious and probably even more so with all the spices actually incorporated in. I’ll try it on low next time.






        1. Pinch of Yum Logo
          Alysse

          My instant pot also says “burn” every time I try this recipe! I have to finish it on the stove every time. Any suggestions???

          1. Pinch of Yum Logo

            Sorry to hear this. 😕 We’re wondering if it’d help to put the liquid-y ingredients on the bottom and pile the chicken on top. Let us know how this goes for you!

  14. Pinch of Yum Logo

    It’s on the menu for next week! I’ve planned it with some cauliflower rice and I’ll probably throw in some frozen peas while it rests along with a handful of spinach because, you know, green stuff.

  15. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Ashley

    This looks amazing, and I can’t wait to read more in your freezer recipes MEGA DEEP DIVE!

  16. Pinch of Yum Logo
    DNN

    Hi Lindsay,

    Happy Friday my friend. Stopping by to check out your amazing food blogs again. Last night, I had chicken and broccoli with rice and an egg roll for dinner. It’s ironic you mentioned chicken because the thought hasn’t crossed my mind lately to stock up on coconut oil so I can start using it on my food again. I never heard of chicken Tandoori before but it sounds like something good. 🙂

  17. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Mike

    Just came upon this today as I was looking for instant pot chicken recipe. We love Indian and it was perfect!! I may make it with less cayenne so the kids will tolerate the kick, but I loved it just as it is! It made enough for leftovers so I’m excited for lunch tomorrow. I look forward to searching your other recipes!






  18. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Ana

    Hi! This is going to be my first InstaPot recipe. Would you please explain more in a step by step process using the pot?

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Barbara

      I just made this and all I did was throw everything in my Instant Pot. Ran it on manual for 7 minutes, then let it cool for 10 minutes before releasing the pressure. It was delicious!






      1. Pinch of Yum Logo
        Ana

        Thank you! It sounds so easy. I will make it as soon as I get the garam masala spice in the next few days 🙂

      2. Pinch of Yum Logo
        bobbie

        plan on buying some chicken thighs, have everything else. The recipe says cook for 5 minutes, why did you do 7?

      3. Pinch of Yum Logo
        Stephanie

        this will be my first Instant Pot recipe. I have read that you usually always need to put at least 1 cup of water (or any real liquid like broth) in the Instant Pot for the pressure to work properly. Will the coconut milk be okay here? Can I just dump everything in it? 2 people commented that they got the BURN message and with my luck I wouldn’t be surprised if this happened to me! Is there any way I can avoid this? Thank you!

          1. Pinch of Yum Logo
            Stephanie

            Hello again, I just read the recipe before I stop by the grocery store tomorrow night and I see the author says she put everything in a Ziploc bag one or 2 days prior to the cooking part. I’m ashamed to say I had only jumped to the ingredients list before and didn’t read the text since I was looking for a first easy recipe.

            Will all the ingredients fit in this Ziploc bag, let’s say if I use a big freezer bag? I’ve never “marinated” anything, that’s the type of recipe my mom does, haha! As you can probably tell, I’m not only new at instant pot cooking but pretty much at cooking in general. I’m guessing if I skip the Ziploc bag step, the whole recipe will be less tasty?

          2. Pinch of Yum Logo

            Actually if you’re making this fresh and your chicken isn’t frozen, you can just put all of the ingredients in the Instant Pot without marinating anything. You’d only need to put all of the ingredients in a large plastic bag if you’re going to freeze the meal to prepare at a later time. 😉