Instant Pot Coconut Tandoori-Inspired Chicken

Coconut Tandoori Chicken made with rich spices and creamy coconut milk. Ridiculously easy (like, 5 minutes hands-on time) and so, so yummy! My new favorite make-ahead freezer meal.

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!

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

  • 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!
  • Stovetop: Combine the garam masala, chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, salt, turmeric, ginger, and cayenne pepper in a small dish. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add in the chicken thighs. Season the chicken with the spice mixture. Cook for a minute or two on each side. Add in the honey and coconut milk. Cover the skillet and simmer on low for 45 minutes until the chicken is fork tender and can be easily shredded.


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!
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes (varies by method)
  • 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!

Frozen meals stored in bags.

One More Thing!

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

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