If you’re looking for easy instant pot recipes, this instant pot chicken curry fits the bill. I grew up in a corner of the world that isn’t exactly known for its ethnic diversity (east coast Canada), but fortunately for my tastebuds, my mom served this recipe to our family on a regular basis, and I’ve been hooked ever since! (In fact – this recipe deserves much of the credit for my love affair with strong and diverse flavors in my food!)
My Chicken Curry Story
While living in one of the most multicultural cities in the world (Toronto) for fifteen years, I was often asked about my ethnic background. Nearly everyone I knew was first, second, or maybe third-generation Canadian. (I was literally the only white girl in my high school graduating class.)
I’d answer, “Canadian,” and they’d say, “pfft, nobody is just Canadian. Where are your grandparents from?”
I then explained that I was honestly probably the whitest white girl they knew (in so many ways, my white-girl dancing not the least of them). My ancestors settled in the east coast of Canada in the eighteenth century, and my heritage includes a smattering of European countries such as Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England, Germany, and so on. My best answer is I’m 1/8th Irish, and a hodgepodge of randomness after that.
All that to say: if you’re wondering why the whitest white girl you know is posting an instant pot chicken curry recipe, you can rest easy. I didn’t make it up myself.
I grew up adoring this authentic flavors chicken recipe that my mom made often. She originally got it from a friend who grew up in India. (<– Finally a higher level of authenticity. Phew!) I’ve tweaked it a bit over the years and finally settled on this version.
It was wonderfully different from our usual simple meat & potatoes fare, and yet totally mild enough that we could handle it. And yeah, we’re not breaking any stereotypes here, I know. Just roll with it. Not much heat in this one (you could add it, of course), but it’s bursting with amazing flavor.
This mild chicken curry remains one of my favorite dishes to this day. My whole family, kids included, love it too.
Instant Pot Chicken Curry
For years I’ve typically baked this dish in the oven, which is fairly straightforward. However, since I’m all about the Instant Pot recipes these days, I decided to adapt it.
And guys – it works like magic. It may be even better in the Instant Pot because the chicken really takes in the rich flavors of the sauce without drying out. Try it ASAP. It’s your new favorite. (Seriously.) I love this Instant Pot chicken curry recipe for many reasons, but here are a few:
- It’s adapted from an authentic chicken curry recipe so it tastes uhMazing
- This recipe is perfect for weeknight dinners when I need to get supper on the table fast
- It’s easy AND healthy
- You can adjust the spice level to meet your preference
- It’s dairy-free and if you skip the rice or bread on the side it’s grain-free too
Own It (This Recipe is Flexible)
The spices are what really make this meal. The blend of sweet, warming spices like cinnamon and ginger pair perfectly with the bitter turmeric, tangy chili powder, and fragrant pepper. Tomatoes give it body, while coconut milk makes for a creamy, mouthwatering sauce.
If you’re wondering how to make chicken curry in the Instant Pot, let me assure you it’s super easy!
Feel free to tweak the spices slightly according to what you have on hand, and it’ll probably still be delicious as long as you have most of them (especially the main ones). Madras curry powder is a good, basic curry blend that’s not too spicy. If your family likes more spice, then add a few pinches (or more!) of cayenne pepper to the dish.
This is a flexible recipe. For example: if you want it creamier, go ahead and dump in the whole can of coconut milk instead of just 3/4 cup. Another way to get to the next level of creaminess is to stir in a spoonful of cashew butter.
You could try strained tomatoes or tomato sauce instead of diced if you have a kid who’s picky about cooked tomato texture (like mine!). This Instant Pot recipe is a great way to get dinner on the table on busy weeknights. Simple ingredients come together for lots of flavor without much time and the end result is packed with a lot of flavor.
Leftover Mild Chicken Curry
Instant Pot chicken curry tastes even better the next day. Warm some up and serve with your favorite side. Leftovers will store for about five days in a sealed container in the fridge.
Since this recipe doesn’t use the entire can of coconut milk, here are a few ideas to use it up.
- Customizable coconut milk smoothie
- Bulletproof milk recipe
- Strawberry coconut chia popsicles
- Pumpkin spice coconut flour muffins
Instant Pot Chicken Curry FAQ
Can I Make This in the Oven?
No Instant Pot? If you want to use the oven, follow the recipe instructions but sauté on the stovetop instead of the Instant Pot. Then, add all of the other ingredients (except the chicken) stir to combine, and pour over the chicken in a casserole dish. Bake in a 400F oven for as long as appropriate for your cut of chicken.
Can I Make This on the Stovetop?
Yes, you can! Simply saute the ingredients in a large skillet or dutch oven. Next, add the other ingredients (except chicken) and stir to combine. Add the chicken and cook until it’s completely cooked through.
Is This Chicken Curry Mild or Spicy?
This Instant Pot chicken curry recipe is NOT spicy but it’s bursting with flavor. My family prefers a mild chicken curry that’s still flavorful. Feel free to add some cayenne or red pepper flakes though if that’s your thing.
Can I Freeze Chicken Curry?
The short answer is yes, you can freeze Instant Pot chicken curry. This will keep in the freezer for about four months if stored in an airtight container. Defrost it in the fridge (preferably overnight) before reheating and serving.
What to Serve with Easy Chicken Curry
There are a lot of options when it comes to Indian food. Our family likes this coconut chicken curry over rice with a few veggies on the side. You can also serve it over potatoes, sweet potatoes, or even broccoli or cauliflower rice for a lower-carb version. Naan bread is a classic, or you could do brown rice, white rice, or jasmine rice.
Why is My Instant Pot Chicken Tough?
If the chicken is rubbery, it needs a longer cook time. Bone-in pieces take longer to cook than chicken breast meat. Most people prefer the taste of a natural release after cooking meat because it holds in the flavor and moisture better. This chicken is cooked in a thick, luscious sauce, so it’s not going to be dry if you overdo it a little on the time.
Does Coconut Milk Curdle In a Pressure Cooker?
Making Instant Pot chicken curry with coconut milk doesn’t require adding the milk after cooking. It may look like the coconut milk has separated when you open up the lid. Give it a good stir though and all is well with the world again. The Instant Pot chicken curry world that is.
Can I Use Frozen Chicken Thighs in Instant Pot Curry?
If you’re using frozen chicken thighs for the Instant Pot curry, then cook for 18-19 minutes total. Fresh, bone-in chicken in this recipe needs a 14 minute cook time.
Can I Use Other Cuts of Chicken Instead?
I use bone-in chicken thighs here, but you could also use boneless skinless chicken breasts or legs. Whatever your family prefers or what you have on hand will work. In general, fresh chicken breasts need less time in the Instant Pot, more like 8 minutes.
Be sure to check the internal chicken temp with a meat thermometer when you’re done to be on the safe side.
More Like This Coconut Curry Chicken in the Instant Pot
Need some more dinner inspiration? Here are a few more healthy recipes for you.
- Chili cheese lentils (30 minute meal)
- Instant Pot shredded BBQ chicken
- Instant Pot Maple Pork Stew
- Best ever Instant Pot chili recipe
- Authentic Instant Pot Chana Masala (Spiced Chickpeas)
- Chicken and Cabbage “Noodle” Skillet (GF, DF)
Equipment to Make Instant Pot Chicken Curry
This is a fairly simple, straightforward recipe. To make it in the Instant Pot though, you’ll of course need an Instant Pot like this one. A slow cooker like this one is another option if you don’t have an Instant Pot.
Instant Pot Chicken Curry (Quick & Easy)
- 1 large onion diced
- 6 cloves of garlic crushed or finely diced
- 1/4 c. coconut oil
- 1/2 t. black pepper
- 1/2 t. turmeric
- 1/2 t. paprika
- 1/4 t. cinnamon
- 1/4 t. cloves
- 1/4 t. cumin
- 1/4 t. ginger
- 1/2 t. salt
- 2 t. curry powder
- 1/2 t. chili powder
- 1 large can of diced tomatoes 28oz
- 3/4 cup full fat coconut milk
- 12 boneless chicken thighs
- With the Instant Pot on the sauté mode, add oil and onions to the bottom of the pot. Let them soften for a couple of minutes, then add garlic. (Note: I find that the sauté setting on my IP gets a bit hotter than when I sauté on the stovetop, so if you find that your onions are browning too quickly and not softening nicely, you can add half a cup of water. Bone broth or chicken broth works too.)
- Combine the rest of the ingredients, except the chicken, and stir.
- Add chicken pieces and stir to coat with the sauce.
- Set to manual mode and cook on high pressure for 14 minutes.
- Let pressure release naturally. If you're crunched for time, you can do a quick release for the remaining pressure. (Natural pressure release is considered optimal for best texture of instant pot meat dishes.)
- Serve with your favorite sides, and enjoy!
This is so delicious! We love curry, having one to throw in the instant pot is perfect for those days I forgot to thaw the chicken!
Any suggestions for downsizing this for the IP mini (3qt)?
I didn’t have canned tomatoes on hand, so I substituted a can of Campbell’s tomato soup. It was very good – very creamy!
When the recipe says “large” can of tomatoes, what size is that? 28 oz? 14.5 oz? Thanks 🙂
+1 to this question. I’m looking at the pictures and thinking it’s 28 oz because the can of tomatoes looks like it’s roughly twice as large as the can of coconut milk – but unfortunately the picture has a soft focus on the can do I couldn’t read the size directly
SO sorry about the confusion! Yes, it’s the 28oz cans!
did anyone else’s coconut milk separate? mine did.. i usually add coconut milk at the end after cooking soups and such..
I’ve made this many times for company, all the condiments made my guests happy to create their own little masterpieces. I think it was originally featured in a beach new years dinner. It was my foray into Indian Cooking and does take a lot of ingredients but it was easy enough once the shopping was done.
Hello–just discovered your blog and made this chicken tonight. It was a BIG hit. 2 adults and 2 kids lapped it up!! We served it over cauliflower rice, yummers!! Thank you!
I made this for dinner tonight and have to say, it’s one of the best things I’ve EVER eaten! I couldn’t stop!! It tastes like a mix between something Indian and Moroccan. I served it over roasted butternut squash cubes (which I roasted in the oven while the chicken was cooking), and the combination was fantastic– the squash added a sweetness and texture that complimented the other flavors and spices. I also about doubled the sauce, (which just fit in my 9×13 pan with 4 large boneless chicken breasts) since I had a large can of diced tomatoes and a pint of coconut milk. Needed to about double the salt because of that. There’s lots of sauce left over, which I’m saving to put over more squash tomorrow… yum! Thanks for sharing this great recipe! It’s one we’ll keep coming back to.
Wow, thanks for your kind words. Glad you enjoyed it! We love it too, and your comment here has inspired to me make it sometime this week! 🙂
Came back to cook this again… and your original recipe is gone! Please add back the oven version for those of us who haven’t yet joined the Instapot craze!
So sorry about that! I now know better than to get rid of original instructions. Next time I’ll have both. I’ve now added the oven instructions back into the post under the “Notes” section in the recipe. It’s basically the same thing, only using a frying pan and a casserole dish instead of the Instant Pot. 🙂
Hope that’s helpful!
Mine turned out watery. I had to add cornstarch. Need to figure out how to tweak this as it came out a bit on the bland side. Likely too much water for to the tomato diced in tomato juice. Needs something to make it thicken.
I like mine thin, but if you’d like a thicker sauce there are lots of ways to easily thicken it. I would personally use a little arrowroot powder or tapioca starch, or rice flour would also work. As for the flavor, we like it mild, but you can feel free to increase the spices in the recipe to make it stronger. Hope it turns out more to your liking next time!
I agree….that squash sounds good too! I’ll have to make this chicken sometime though, I love the taste of curry!
Oh, and the spinach! I’m weird, but I love spinach!
That does look yummy! And the squash/beans look good with it too! May have to try that sometime!
oh that looks so good! Now I wish I hadn’t bought whole chickens because quartering a chicken is not fun!
Forget the chicken, what is the recipe for the squash? 🙂