Slow Cooker Tofu Tikka Masala

Hearty, creamy, delicious tofu tikka masala that cooks in your slow cooker or Instant Pot for easy meal prep. Vegan and gluten-free.Course curry, dinnerCuisine dairy-free, gluten-free, grain-free, nut-free, refined sugar-free, vegan, vegetarianKeyword slow cooker tofu curry, tofu tikka masala, vegan tikka masalaPrep Time 15 minutesCook Time 3 hoursTotal Time 3 hours 15 minutesTotal Yield 4 servingsCalories Per Serving 383 kcalAuthor Yup, it’s Vegan


For the spice blend:

  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 2 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (reduce to 1/4 if sensitive to spice)
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric

For the tofu tikka masala:

  • 12 oz extra-firm tofu (1 normal package)
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 large yellow onion diced
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 inch ginger peeled and minced
  • 2 green chili peppers finely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper diced
  • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 6 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes quartered (or use 1 14-oz. can diced tomatoes, drained)
  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk (1 and 3/4 cups)
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp coconut sugar (optional but recommended)
  • salt to taste
  • freshly-squeezed lemon juice to taste, for serving
  • chopped fresh cilantro (coriander) to taste, for serving


  1. Drain excess liquid from the tofu package. Wrap the tofu in several clean towels and place a heavy object on top of it. (Alternately, use a tofu press). Press the tofu for 10-15 minutes – to save time, I start this before I chop and prep other ingredients.
  2. Mix together all of the spices and set aside. Heat the coconut oil in a skillet over medium heat, and add the diced onion with a pinch of salt. Cook the onion, stirring occasionally, until translucent and starting to lightly brown, 4 to 6 minutes.
  3. Add the cumin seeds and cook for 60 seconds more. Add the garlic, ginger, and chili pepper, and cook for another 60 seconds. Stir in all of the spice mixture and cook, stirring constantly, just until fragrant, about 45 seconds.
  4. Add the bell pepper, nutritional yeast, and tomato paste, and cook for 2 more minutes, stirring frequently. Finally, add the tomatoes and stir well, scraping around the bottom of the pan. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until the tomatoes are starting to soften. Turn off the heat.
  5. Lightly spray or grease the bottom of your slow cooker. Cut the pressed tofu into small cubes and add it to the slow cooker. Use a spatula to add all of the mixture from the skillet. Add the coconut milk, white wine vinegar, and coconut sugar, and stir to combine.
  6. Cook on low for 4 to 6 hours, or on high for 2 to 3 hours. Alternately, cook under pressure in your Instant Pot for 15 to 20 minutes.
  7. After cooking, season to taste with additional salt, and fresh lemon juice. Serve with rice or accompaniments of choice, garnished with fresh cilantro.

Recipe Notes

CASHEW CREAM: I’m usually too lazy to do this extra step, but for a more authentic tikka masala flavor, this recipe is even better with cashew cream substituted for the coconut milk. For the cashew cream, use 3/4 cup raw cashews plus 1 and 3/4 cups water and 2 tsp lemon juice.

NO SLOW COOKER: Bring the mixture to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce to a gentle simmer, then cook covered for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until tomatoes are broken down and tofu has absorbed the sauce flavor.

NUTRITIONAL YEAST: The nutritional yeast gives a slightly cheesy, funky undertone that makes this tikka masala taste more similar to one made with dairy. To omit it, add 1/2 tbsp of olive oil or vegetable oil, and brown the onions more deeply before continuing with the recipe. If you have soy sauce on hand, also add 1/2 tbsp to replace the umami.