Instant pot chicken curry has quickly become a family favorite around here. It is creamy, simple, flavorful and can be made in 30 minutes flat. This recipe is also gluten, dairy free and low-carb so it checks a lot of boxes. I use a mild curry powder (which you can add heat to if you prefer your curry spicier).
What is curry?
Curry means sauce with spice. It also refers to any variety of dishes in a number of countries that uses a combination of spices. The word “curry” was created by the British in the 19th century when India was still a British colony. Curry is actually anglicized for kari, a word that means sauce.
Curries can be found in India, Southeast Asia and the Caribbean. Indian style curry powder dates to the 18th century when it is thought that Indian merchants prepared spice blends for the British Colonial government and army who would return to Britain. The primary spices found in Indian style curry powder are coriander, cumin and turmeric (which gives the blend the signature yellow color). By the way, traditional Indian chefs and cooks do not use curry powder. This recipe is admittedly an Americanized Indian curry (but I am OK with that as it is delicious).
Is curry healthy?
This dish has numerous healthy ingredients. Indian style curry powder typically has turmeric in it. Turmeric has been shown to reduce inflammation. There are over 12,000 peer reviewed studies that show the benefits of turmeric!
Other healthful ingredients include onions which are high in antioxidants. Chicken provides vitamins, minerals and protein. This dish is also versatile so you could add in some peas or other vegetables. Carrots, celery and peppers would all make nice additions.
What do you need to make this Instant Pot Chicken Curry?
Spices are at the heart of any curry, and this Instant Pot Chicken Curry is no different. Toasting the spices in coconut oil extracts the spices’ flavors (please do not skip that step!).
This dish calls for a few spices that you should be able to find at any major grocery store chain. If you can not, I highly recommend Penzey’s spices which are always fresh and delicious.
Here are the spices you will need:
Indian Curry Powder: Make sure you check the spice level. Typically you can find hot or sweet curry powder (or if it is not marked, it is likely on the milder side). The last time I made Indian Chicken Curry I used McCormick’s brand which was not too hot and should be widely available.
Garam Masala: Garam Masala is a warming spice blend which can vary dramatically depending on the location in India. You should add the Garam Masala at the end of a dish.
Ground Cumin: Cumin is from a plant found from India to the Middle East and has a nutty, distinctive taste (it is also often used in Mexican cuisine). I used my local supermarket’s brand which worked well.
A note on other ingredients:
I used Costco’s Kirkland organic chicken tenderloins which cook quickly and are easy to chop and are well priced.
I also use full fat coconut milk (canned). Fresh lime and chopped cilantro add some freshness, and cut the richness of the curry.
How do you make Instant Pot Chicken Curry
I started off by saying how easy this recipe is – and it is! The full recipe is below but here are a few notes.
First you toast the spices (all except Garam Masala) in coconut oil for a couple of minutes which really adds a great flavor dimension. As it is made in the Instant Pot you can simply do this with the saute function (love my Instant Pot…one pan to clean!). Another important step is to deglaze the pan of the brown bits. This is a classic step in many dishes and once again with an Instant Pot it is super easy.
Instant Pot Chicken Curry
- Instant Pot
- Small Bowl
- cutting board
- Sharp chopping knife
- 3 Tbsp coconut oil
- 3 Tbsp curry powder
- ½ tsp garam masala
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 3 tsp fresh ginger
- 2 cloves garlic finely minced
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- ½ cup chicken broth
- 1 yellow onion
- 2 lb boneless skinless chicken breast or tenderloins I like Kirkland, organic chicken tenderloins
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 Tbsp cornstarch
- 1 can coconut milk full fat
- Cilantro and/or parsley chopped to taste
- Fresh lime juice to taste
- Press the “Saute” function on your Instant Pot. Add coconut oil and heat for a minute or two. Add in the curry powder, cumin and turmeric. Stir continuously to toast the spices, 1-2 minutes.
- Add the onion, garlic, and ginger. Stir to coat in the spices and saute for 2 minutes. Watch carefully to ensure the mixture does not scald (add a spoonful of water if it seems to be over cooking).
- Add the tomato paste and stir with the onions. Cook 1-2 minutes.
- Add ½ cup chicken broth to the pot. Stir and scrape up any browned bits.
- Add the diced chicken and salt and stir all ingredients.
- Press the “Cancel” button to turn off the “Saute” setting. Secure the lid, ensure the pressure valve is set to “Sealing” then program to High Pressure for 5 minutes. It will take 8-10 minutes for the pot to come to pressure. Perform a quick release once the timer goes off.
- Mix the cornstarch with one tablespoon of water in a small bowl. Whisk briskly until smooth. Pour the cornstarch mixture and coconut milk into the pot, then stir; simmer 2-3 minutes or until the sauce has thickened. Add the Garam Masala with one minute left.
- Add the fresh lime juice and cilantro. Taste for seasoning and add salt if needed. Serve immediately over steamed rice or serve with Naan or pita bread.