Instant Pot Chicken Curry is made with tender pieces of chicken cooked in a delicious rich sauce made with curry powder, turmeric, coconut milk, and ginger among other tasty ingredients, for an exceptional comfort dish full of flavour!
Table of contents
- Why Make Instant Pot Curry with Chicken?
- Ingredients for Instant Pot Chicken Curry
- Is Curry Powder an Indian Spice?
- How to Make Curry Chicken Instant Pot
- Optional Add-In’s and Variations
- Tips for Best Results
- What to Serve With Pressure Cooker Chicken Curry?
- How to Store Chicken Curry with Coconut Milk?
- More Healthy Instant Pot Recipes to Try
Ok friends, whether you’ve stumbled across this recipe or actively searched it out, you have just landed on the easiest chicken curry recipe that’s as close to authentic as you’d imagine. It’s similar to my quick and easy stove top chicken curry, but if you love what the Instant Pot does to the texture of chicken, you’re going to want to check this one out too!
This delicious and flavorful curry recipe results in tender juicy pieces of chicken smothered in an aromatic curry made with earthy spices, coconut milk, and ginger. If the idea of making a homemade curry has seemed a little intimidating so far, this super simple, one-pot recipe will blow your mind!
Why Make Instant Pot Curry with Chicken?
- Restaurant-style: This authentic dish tastes just like something you’d order at your favourite Indian restaurant.
- Healthy: So many anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants in ingredients like ginger, turmeric, onions, and garlic.
- Instant Pot: Using a pressure cooker makes this one-pot dish so easy and tenderizes the chicken to melt-in-your-mouth textures.
- Comfort food: There is nothing better than a bowl of soul-warming chicken curry to fill your belly any night of the week.
- Gluten-free and dairy-free: If you’re on the hunt for a new hearty wholesome dinner idea that caters to a gluten-free or dairy-free diet, this one checks those boxes!
Ingredients for Instant Pot Chicken Curry
- Chicken: Use boneless, skinless chicken breast (or thighs). Cut them into 1.5” cubes.
- Aromatics: Minced garlic cloves, fresh minced ginger, chopped onions will be sautéed first to create the base of the curry that gets layered with flavors.
- Spices: Yellow curry powder, turmeric, salt, and pepper. Curry powder and turmeric are traditional spices used in curry, however, you can add others like cumin, garam masala, and coriander, depending on your preferences.
- Oil: Any oil you prefer to fry in. Olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, or ghee are great.
- Coconut milk: A popular choice in many curried dishes that helps create a rich creamy consistency.
- Maple syrup: This is to add a dash of sweetness to balance out the earthy spices. You can also use honey to brighten it up a bit.
- Cornstarch & cold water: When combined, it makes a cornstarch slurry that will help thicken up the sauce.
- Cilantro: An optional garnish that adds a vibrant herbed finish to a delicious dish!
Curry powder vs. paste. Look for yellow curry powder! It’s mild, adds a beautiful yellow colour, and is readily available in the spice section. Curry paste, while it has similar ingredients, is much stronger in flavour and is used more often in Thai dishes (like this Thai chicken curry) than it is in Indian cooking.
Is Curry Powder an Indian Spice?
The answer to this is yes and no. You see, curry powder isn’t just one thing. It’s a combination of different Indian spices. The British invented “curry powder” to make things easier for when they wanted to replicate Indian-style dishes. So, the curry powder we know today is really a combination of individual spices. In India, there is actually no such thing as curry powder.
Depending on where you are in the world, or which type of curry powder you’re using, the flavor of the dish can vary.
For example, in the West Indies, (namely Jamaica), the flavor of their curried chicken is different than Indian chicken curry just based on the types of spices and the ratio of the spices used in their curry mix. Notice, the use of “curried chicken” as opposed to “chicken curry” – it matters!
Japanese curry is mild and sweet and sort of gravy-like, but it too uses a mix of spices (oh, and is amazing).
Although packages of curry powders are generally easy to find, you can absolutely make a homemade blend instead. Use spices like turmeric, cumin, coriander, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom, and cinnamon. Play around with it and you decide which “curry powder” you like best! If garam masala is a flavour you like, you’ll LOVE this easy Instant Pot butter chicken!
How to Make Curry Chicken Instant Pot
- Cook aromatics: Using your 6 or 8 quart Instant Pot, press the Sauté button and wait until the display says “HOT.” Then, add the onion, garlic, and ginger, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. The fragrance is amazing, isn’t it? Press cancel.
- Add spices: Add curry powder and turmeric and continue to cook over the residual heat for another 30 seconds.
- Add remaining ingredients: To the pot, you’ll add the chicken, coconut milk, maple syrup, salt, and pepper. Give it a gentle stir before closing the lid.
- Pressure cook: Set the valve to sealing and pressure cook on high (or medium) for 12 minutes.
- Release the pressure: Once the cooking time is up, allow it to naturally release for 3 minutes, and then using the quick-release method, turn the valve to venting and allow the rest of the pressure to be released.
- Thicken the curry: Open the lid and put it back on sauté mode. Whisk together the cornstarch and water in a small bowl and then pour it into the pot. Stir gently and allow it to cook for a few extra minutes until the curry has thickened.
Serve: Best served hot, garnished with cilantro on a bed of Instant Pot brown rice.
Optional Add-In’s and Variations
- Add some veggies: Some people like to add potatoes and carrots to their curry dishes. Add them in at the same time as everything else and they’ll be nice and tender and have absorbed tons of juices. So good!
- More acidic less creamy: Tomatoes are another ingredient that can be found in curries. Some are more cream-based and some are more tomato-based. Add tomatoes to this dish and you’ve got a bit of both.
- No coconut milk? Coconut cream, heavy cream (added after), or plain yogurt (added after) can be used in place of coconut milk. Each will provide the dish with that rich creaminess found in restaurant-style curries.
- Low fat coconut milk: You can use it if you prefer, however, the sauce won’t be as rich.
- Dried ginger: Swap the fresh ginger for ginger powder. Start with 1 tsp as it’s more concentrated than using fresh ginger. Adjust from there.
Did you know? Traditional chicken curry isn’t quite as thick as we find in restaurants. It’s much thinner. You make yours how you like it!
Tips for Best Results
- Frozen chicken: If frozen chicken is what you have, use it. Just make sure they’re not frozen clumped together. Keep them separate and increase the cooking time to 15 minutes. Check Instant Pot frozen chicken breast for more tips.
- Bone-in chicken: When using chicken pieces with the bones, increase the cooking time to 20 minutes.
- More chicken: If you’re cooking for a larger crowd or just want leftovers, increase the amount of chicken to 3 lbs. You may find you need to add more salt to taste at the end.
- Smaller Instant Pot: If you’re using a 3-quart pot, it won’t be a problem. Follow the directions as listed and it will fit.
- Double the recipe: This can be done in both the 6 or 8-quart pots. Cooking time remains the same.
- Burn notice: It’s rare, but it happens. If it does, release the pressure, open the lid, and add 1/2 cup of water. Do not stir. Start again from the beginning.
The dreaded burn notice! This doesn’t mean that you’ve burnt anything, necessarily. Newer Instant Pot models are very sensitive to the internal temperature and once it goes past a certain level, the sensors tend to go off. Not always, but it can happen. So, don’t worry, your food is fine!
You can use regular milk. It won’t give it the same rich consistency and creaminess as any milk or cream with higher fat content, but you can definitely use it. In fact, try whole milk if possible. Just note, it is is not recommended to add dairy milk while cooking in Instant Pot as it could go sour or curdled. You will need to add after cooking and add some water to cook the chicken. I have not tested it this way, but let me know in the comments if you try!
You don’t have to use any thickening agent if you don’t want to. The coconut milk will add to the richness and it will thicken a bit (a bit) as it cools. Chicken curry can be as thick or as thin as you’d like.
You bet you’ll just need to account for the increase in cooking time. Sometimes cutting the frozen chicken into pieces is even easier and the flavours in this dish are so deep that you don’t need to worry about not having enough flavour on your chicken. It will happen!
I’m so glad you asked. Chicken curry on the stovetop is a favorite around here!
What to Serve With Pressure Cooker Chicken Curry?
Chicken curry is most often served with basmati rice, Jasmine rice, naan bread, or roti. Here at iFOODreal we aim to find as many ways as possible to level up the nutrition with alternatives to white flour or high starch foods.
- Alternatives to white rice: Cauliflower rice, brown rice, or quinoa.
- Side veggies: Garlic green beans, grilled zucchini, or Instant Pot steamed veggies.
- Salad: Asian chopped salad or peanut slaw would be nice light sides.
How to Store Chicken Curry with Coconut Milk?
To store: Refrigerate any leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
To freeze: Once you’ve cooked the chicken curry and allowed it to cool completely, transfer it to a freezer-friendly airtight container and keep frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw on the counter or in the fridge overnight.
More Healthy Instant Pot Recipes to Try
Instant Pot Chicken Curry
- 2 large onions chopped
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 1 inch fresh ginger peeled and minced
- 1 tbsp oil for frying
- 2 tbsp yellow curry powder
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 2 lbs boneless & skinless chicken breast or thighs cut into 1.5″ cubes
- 14 oz can coconut milk full fat
- 1 tbsp maple syrup or honey
- 1 tsp salt
- Ground black pepper to taste
- 2 tbsp cold water
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 2 tbsp finely chopped cilantro for garnish
- Instant Pot brown rice for serving
- On 6 or 8 quart Instant Pot, press Saute and wait until displays says Hot. Swirl oil to coat. Add onion, garlic, ginger and cook for 5 minutes, stirring a few times. Press Cancel, add curry powder and turmeric, and cook with residual heat for another 30 seconds.
- Add chicken, coconut milk, maple syrup, salt, pepper and stir gently. Close the lid, set pressure vent to Sealing and press Pressure Cook on High or Manual for 12 minutes.
- After 12 minutes is up, wait 3 minutes or so, and release pressure using Quick Release by turning valve to Venting.
- Open the lid and press Sauté. In a small bowl, whisk cold water and cornstarch with a fork, pour into the pot and stir gently. Cook for a few minutes until curry has thickened a bit.
- Store: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
- Freeze: Fully cook, cool completely and freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw in a fridge or on a counter.
- Frozen chicken: You can use frozen boneless chicken breasts or thighs, just make sure they are separated. Cook time should be 15 minutes, just in case.
- Bone in chicken: Feel free to use them or chicken thighs as well. Cook time will be 20 minutes.
- More chicken: You can use up to 3 lbs of meat, there is enough sauce for it. Might adjust salt to taste after.
- Coconut milk: Low fat can be used sauce will be more flat though. Coconut cream, heavy cream (added after), or plain yogurt (added after) can be used in place of coconut milk.
- 3 quart Instant Pot: Follow the recipe, it will fit. Need to double? In 6 or 8 quart, this will work.
- If you get a Burn: Release pressure, add 1/2 cup water, don’t stir and start again. Newer models are more sensitive. Could happen. Again it doesn’t mean food is burning. It’s computer that sensors certain temperature above certain level. I have 3 instant pots and it doesn’t happen on any of them.