January 24, 2019
Easy Slow Cooker Vegan Tikka Masala
If you love Indian food, then you've gotta try this slow cooker tikka masala recipe.
Serves 4-6

Slow Cooker Vegan Tikka Masala! This slow cooker meal is SO good and perfect for healthy weeknight dinners. If you love Indian food, then you’ll love this simple chickpea tikka masala.

Slow Cooker Vegan Chickpea Tikka Masala

Raise your hand if you love tikka masala as much as I do. We get take-out about once a week, and 95% of the time, I want Indian food. It’s comforting, fairly healthy and always hits the spot. While I love the flavorful tikka masala sauce, it’s also hard to find a vegan version when we order take-out so I’ve taken to make my own.

If you can throw things in a slow cooker, then you can make this vegan tikka masala. If dinner had an easy button, this recipe would be it. Combine all ingredients and add them to the base of your slow cooker, stir and set. Can you believe how easy this is? Make a pot of steamed rice and warm some naan right before serving and ta-da; you’ve got a healthy, delicious dinner that rivals any take-out. 

vegan chickpea slow cooker tikka masala close up

Can I make this slow cooker tikka masala on the stove? 

If you want this tikka masala now and don’t want to wait on the slow-cooker, then it’s easy to adapt to the stove. To do this, simply saute the onion, garlic, and ginger until softened and onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add in all of the spices and cook another minute or two to allow the spices to warm and bloom; doing this adds lots of flavor using dried spices. 

Add in the rest of the ingredients from there, tomato sauce, chickpeas, cubed tofu and cook until warmed through, about 20 minutes. Before serving, whisk together the coconut milk mixture and add into the pot. Cook until thickened, another 5-10 minutes. Enjoy just like you would the slow cooker version, with steamed rice and naan. 

vegan chickpea slow cooker tikka masala served on rice

Time for vegan tikka masala!

I don’t have too much to tell you about this recipe other than it’s a.) deliciously bomb and b.) made in a slow-cooker and c.) indian food! We all love Indian food and that makes me so incredibly happy.

You all love my slow cooker butter chickpeas, coconut curry, saag paneer, biryani, vegan korma and chana masala. So I did it again for you! Chickpeas and tofu into a warm and comforting tikka masala sauce. It’s like a giant hug in food form, something it seems we could all use a little more of.

Serve it with naan and rice and dinner is served. Enjoy! xo

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slow cooker vegan chickpea tikka masala

Slow Cooker Vegan Tikka Masala

  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 4 hours
  • Total Time: 4 hours 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4-6 servings 1x
  • Category: slow cooker, indian, healthy
  • Method: slow cooker
  • Cuisine: Indian Inspired, Vegan, American, Gluten-Free

Description

Slow Cooker Vegan Tikka Masala! This slow cooker meal is SO good and perfect for healthy weeknight dinners. If you love Indian food, then you’ll love this simple chickpea tikka masala. Chickpeas and tofu in a fragrant tomato-coconut sauce.


  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 4 hours
  • Total Time: 4 hours 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4-6 servings 1x
  • Category: slow cooker, indian, healthy
  • Method: slow cooker
  • Cuisine: Indian Inspired, Vegan, American, Gluten-Free
  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 4 hours
  • Total Time: 4 hours 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4-6 servings 1x
  • Category: slow cooker, indian, healthy
  • Method: slow cooker
  • Cuisine: Indian Inspired, Vegan, American, Gluten-Free
Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
  • 1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (14 oz) package firm tofu, drained and pressed and cubed
  • 1 (15 oz) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup full-fat canned coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1/2 large lemon, juiced
  • Cooked rice, for serving

Instructions

  1. Lightly grease the inside of your slow cooker with a bit of olive oil or spray and set aside.
  2. Combine all ingredients from onion to salt together until well-combined.
  3. Place the tofu and chickpeas in the base of the slow cooker and pour the sauce ontop. Gently mix together until everything is combined, making sure the tofu and chickpeas are well coated.
  4. Place the bay leaf on top and cover, cooking for 4 hours on high (or 8 hours on low)
  5. When done, in a small bowl combine the coconut milk, cornstarch and gently stir into the mixture. Cook for an additional 20-30 minutes until thickened. (I use this time to cook the rice/naan!)
  6. Add in the lemon juice and stir once more before serving. I love this on steamed rice, some naan and maybe a little extra chopped cilantro!

Notes

This makes 4 large servings or 6 normal servings, especially if you are serving with rice and naan. But! Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days, and the leftovers are so good for lunch.

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If you love this vegan tikka masala, then you’ll love these other vegan Indian recipes: Slow Cooker Butter Chickpeas, Slow Cooker Vegan Saag Paneer, Weeknight Vegetable Korma, Vegan Indian Biryani, and Indian Dal Chili

 

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Meet Alex Caspero

Alex Caspero is a Registered Dietitian, Plant-Based Chef and Yoga Instructor. She aims to cut through the nutrition noise by providing real-life, nourishing tips for body and mind. Learn more about Alex.

53 comments
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  1. This recipe is amazing! I make it almost every week and the leftovers are a great easy lunch. I make it exactly as written and it comes out perfect every time. Even non-vegetarian folks love it! 🙂

  2. I found your article about freezer meals. Your recipes look great but I don’t see instructions of how to make them a freezer meal. I’m new to meal prepping for the freezer. Any advice?

    • Hi Lynea,

      Thanks for the note! For most recipes, I prepare them as directed and then freeze. Before serving, I thaw overnight and then reheat on the stove. The only exception to this is casseroles, I tend to prep but then freeze before cooking and then cook from frozen.

  3. I made this for lunch today. Delicious! The only minor changes I made were to pulse extra firm tofu in the food processor instead of cubing firm tofu. This adds a nice texture and the kids don’t notice that it’s tofu. I also used tomato puree as I didn’t have tomato sauce. I will be making this again! It is wonderful. Thank you so much for the recipe.

  4. Love reading your recipe
    I wanted to know what substitute can be for the coconut , I cook for someone who has some health issues and that has to much saturated fat to use
    Thank You for any suggestions
    Eileen

    • You can substitute light coconut milk or a oat milk/soy milk– it won’t be as creamy, but should still work. I’ve also seen recipes where they thin almond butter with water in curry– I haven’t tried it, but that may work as a low saturated fat option.

  5. I haven’t made this yet but it is on the menu for this week!! Do I need to make any adjustments if I add brussel sprouts and cauliflower?

    • Hi Karen– shouldn’t need any adjustments, but will depend on how much you add. You may need to increase the sauce to be able to cover the sprouts and cauliflower.

  6. We love this recipe! With vegetarian and dairy free requirements, I’m always looking out for things to make! Glad I found this! I actually double the tofu (and the tomato sauce) to increase the protein. I also use low fat coconut milk. Still great!

  7. Ok, this recipe is amazing. I don’t think I’ve ever bothered to comment on a recipe before, maybe I’ve rated a couple, but I need to speak out about this one. Totally legit, coming from a Pakistani girl with decades of south asian eating experience. I substituted cheese for the tofu (no paneer to be found by me but manchego works). Love the flavors, was doubting the amount of spices but everything was on point. This is going on permanent rotation.

  8. HI Alex!

    Maybe I’m missing it but how do you recommend to prepare the tofu before putting it into the slow cooker? Should we dice it ahead of time or put the whole block as is into the slow cooker?

  9. Just made this for the 2nd time, however this time I used my Instant Pot. Followed the recipe exactly as above, however I added a 1/2c of water since I kept getting the ‘burn’ message as a result of the mixture being took thick to cook initially in the Instant Pot. I cooked under high pressure for 15min, and let the IP cool down to release steam. Then cooked an additional 20mins on the slow cook setting after I added the cornstarch mixture. Fantastic!

  10. Awesome recipe, I have been making weekly. I substitute the tofu with gourmet mushrooms, as we are just not a fan of tofu, and it works amazingly. Thank you for this recipe!

  11. Was so easy! I added mushrooms instead of tofu and had no corn starch but still worked out great!
    I actually let it sit in crock pot for 12+ hours and it was wonderful!!!

  12. This is truly the BEST tikka masala recipe. I’m a new vegan, and this recipe is honestly better than any chicken tikka masala I’ve had! The sauce is to die for. I love your website and your recipes are amazing. I’m yet to be disappointed…
    And I’m pretty sure I never will be.
    Thank you!

    • Yes, you can do on the stove top. You’ll follow similar directions- though I’d recommend sauteeing the onion, garlic and ginger in a little olive oil first before adding all of the ingredients. Then simmer until thickened and warmed through, about 40 minutes.

  13. Hi, I am trying this soon to minimize cooking during Sukkot. What size slow cooker is this for? It looks delicious!

  14. Hi there, trying this recipe this week. What’s the best way to press/drain tofu if you don’t own a tofu press?

    • Also, I should note that you don’t HAVE to press the tofu. I sometimes don’t when I’m rushed for time, but it will be firmer in the recipe and absorb more flavor if you press it first.

    • I didn’t own one for years! You don’t need one, it just makes things a little easier. Drain the tofu, then wrap in paper towels/kitchen towels. Place on a cutting board and place something heavy on top to “press” it. I used to use a skillet with a few cans on top. Let sit for 15-20 minutes and ta-da- pressed tofu!

  15. Hi there, I’m planning to make this recipe, but I don’t have a tofu presser. Will paper towels work to drain the tofu?

    • I didn’t own one for years! You don’t need one, it just makes things a little easier. Drain the tofu, then wrap in paper towels/kitchen towels. Place on a cutting board and place something heavy on top to “press” it. I used to use a skillet with a few cans on top. Let sit for 15-20 minutes and ta-da- pressed tofu!

  16. This looks delicious! I’m interested in freezing it, as I’m prepping meals for postpartum. Do you think I could prep all the ingredients together and freeze for cooking later or would it be best to cook first, then freeze? Or would the tofu not freeze well at all? Thank you!!

    • I haven’t done it, but I think it would be fine to freeze as-is. I freeze a lot of slow cooker recipes like this that use tofu and they work great!

  17. Looooove this dish. My husband is Indian and so far this is the best recipe I’ve found online that he likes. I get bored with the same family recipes and I’m so happy I found your site. Being vegetarian isn’t easy!

  18. Can’t wait to try this dish out. I recently transitioned to veganism & I’m trying to get myself to like tofu. I love curry, so I’m sure smothering tofu in a rich & spicy tomato sauce will help!

  19. HI Alex! I’m not kidding when I say that my mouth started watering the moment I saw this recipe. It’s printing out now and I will make it this Sunday, as it’s my day to cook!
    Please keep letting us see the person behind the magic curtain of wonderful, nutritious, conscious recipes. You write in a charming and warm manner, much like your site, and it’s a nice break from all the hard news we get in our feeds and emails.
    I think part of the way we can all “pay” for your immense generosity in sharing your knowledge with us is by being a receptive and supportive audience for your real life as a business woman, wife, and mother. I enjoy your posts, please keep them coming!

  20. I hope you all will continue writing your posts with stories and comments. In general I have learned a lot from your blog because like you, I am primarily vegetarian and am trying to incorporate more vegan meals into my day. I appreciate that you have begun to include more vegan recipes in your posts. I have had some bad experience with tofu but maybe I should revisit and this recipe looks like a winner. And thanks again for teaching me about tempeh!!

  21. I personally love your writing at the beginning of your posts…but can we talk about podcasts for a second? Most of them are the ones who really need that advice! Too much advertising and chatter at the beginning then 10-15 minutes later the show finally starts!

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