This easy curry pasta is the perfect meal for a busy weeknight. It’s a quick and delicious one-pot pasta recipe that captures the essence of Indian cuisine in way less time. Cooked all in one pot, this chicken curry pasta recipe has the rich aroma and taste of classic chicken tikka masala.
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Table of Contents
Curry pasta features a tomato-based creamy curry sauce infused with authentic Indian spices like coriander, cumin, turmeric, and garam masala.
This spicy curry pasta dish was inspired by chicken tikka masala. The pasta quickly soaks up the tomato-based sauce flavored with aromatic Indian spices and herbs.
While traditional Indian curries can require lengthy prep and cooking times, this pasta tikka masala comes together quickly, giving you the aromatic flavors of Indian curry in less than 30 minutes.
The pasta is cooked right in the flavorful sauce, so there’s less work and less mess. The pasta cooking water, the richness of the spices, and the tangy tomatoes contribute to the creaminess and flavor.
While this recipe uses chicken, you can use any protein, including chickpeas.
This chicken curry pasta is can be customized based on your preferences and spice tolerance. Create your own signature masala pasta recipe while staying true to the classic Indian curry flavors.
❤️ WHY YOU NEED TO TRY THIS CREAMY PASTA RECIPE
- It’s a quick and easy weeknight meal – this pasta curry comes together in 30 minutes or less, making it perfect for busy weeknights.
- This easy recipe can be adapted in endless ways with different protein, veggie, and spice additions to suit any taste.
- Curry pasta is packed with flavor – the Indian-inspired spices infuse the pasta with aromatic, bold flavors.
- The creamy, tomato-based curry pasta sauce is satisfying comfort food.
- Both kids and adults enjoy the rich flavors of this pasta dish, making it a crowd-pleaser.
💡 Tips for making the best curry pasta
Use different proteins
- I like using chicken thighs, but feel free to use chicken breast.
- You can use chicken, shrimp, or a combination of the two.
- Make it vegetarian by omitting the chicken or substitute cooked chickpeas instead of chicken. Use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.
Use any type of pasta
- This recipe can be made with any other pasta shape. You can use spaghetti, linguine, angel hair pasta, farfalle, rigatoni, or any other type of pasta you choose.
- You can also use whole wheat pasta, or gluten free pasta for a healthier meal.
- Add some vegetables, including broccoli, peas, or baby spinach.
- Add a chopped jalapeno or serrano green chili pepper for extra spice.
- Add lemon juice for a more complex flavor.
- Instead of using Indian spices, make a Thai red curry pasta using Thai red curry paste.
- Make this pasta dish spicier by adding crushed red pepper flakes or more red chili powder.
- Instead of using individual Indian spices, you could substitute curry powder for a different flavor profile.
- Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Honey helps balance out the tanginess of the tomato sauce. You can use grated carrots instead to add some sweetness.
🧂 Chicken Curry Pasta – Ingredients
- Tomato sauce
- Tomato paste
- Olive oil
- Chili powder
- Garam masala
More details in the recipe card at the bottom of this post
📝 How to make tikka masala pasta (step by step instructions)
- Saute onions, tomato sauce, spices, and chicken.
- Add broth, pasta, cream, and remaining spices
- Cook pasta till thickened and garnish.
Saute onions and spices and add the remaining ingredients
- Add butter and olive oil in a large pan, saute onions, minced garlic, and ginger. Saute over medium heat until the onions are translucent.
- Add tomato paste and saute until the oil separates. Add water or broth to deglaze as needed.
- Add coriander, cumin, turmeric, pepper, chili powder, salt, and garam masala and saute briefly without burning. (You can add a couple of teaspoons of paprika for color.) Turn off the heat source if necessary.
- Add chicken and stir to coat with the spices, sauteing briefly until it’s no longer fully pink.
Add broth, pasta, cream, and remaining spices
- Deglaze with a bit of broth and add the remaining broth.
- Add tomato sauce, fenugreek, honey, and cream.
- Add the pasta and stir to combine.
- Bring to a simmer.
Cook pasta till thickened and garnish
- Close the lid and reduce the heat to medium-low, stirring occasionally at 5-minute intervals.
- Pasta should be done in 15 to 20 minutes. For al dente pasta, I cook it for about 17 minutes.
- Cook longer if you like softer pasta, adding more broth or water if needed.
- Transfer masala pasta to a bowl and garnish with cilantro.
♨️ Curry Pasta Instructions for Instant Pot
If you want to make this curry pasta in an Instant Pot:
- Heat oil and butter in the Instant Pot.
- Saute onions, garlic, and ginger. Deglaze as needed.
- Stir in spices and saute briefly.
- Sear the chicken briefly and deglaze.
- Add broth, fenugreek, and honey.
- Add the pasta, but don’t stir.
- Add the tomato sauce and tomato paste, but don’t stir.
- Close the lid, pressure cook, and do a quick release of pressure.
- Open the lid, stir in the cream, and heat through to thicken the pasta.
Detailed instructions are in the recipe card below.
Curry Pasta with Chicken (Pasta Tikka Masala)
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil or vegetable oil
- ½ cup onion chopped
- 1 tablespoon garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon ginger minced
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste optional
- 1 tablespoon coriander powder
- 1½ teaspoon cumin powder
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- ½ teaspoon black pepper powder
- 1 teaspoon Kashmiri chili powder
- ½ teaspoon salt or to taste
- ½ teaspoon garam masala
- 2 teaspoon paprika optional (for color)
- 1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs (500 grams) cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 cups chicken broth (1½ cups for Instant Pot) plus more to deglaze
- 1 cup tomato sauce * (225 grams)
- 2 teaspoon dried fenugreek leaves
- 2 teaspoon honey
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 8 oz. dry penne pasta (225 grams)
- 2 tablespoon cilantro chopped, to garnish (optional)
- Heat a large dutch oven or deep pan over medium heat. Add the butter and olive oil and heat until the oil is hot and shimmering.
- Saute onions, minced garlic, and ginger over medium heat until the onions are translucent, about 3 minutes.
- Add tomato paste and saute until the oil separates. Add a few tablespoons of broth or water to deglaze if it sticks or starts to burn.
- Add coriander, cumin, turmeric, pepper, chili powder, salt, garam masala, and paprika (if using), and stir to coat, for about 30 seconds, being careful not to let the spices burn. Turn off the heat source if necessary.
- Add chicken and stir to coat with the spices, sauteing briefly until it’s no longer fully pink. The chicken doesn't need to cook through.
- Deglaze with a bit of broth to make sure nothing is stuck on the bottom of the pan. Add the remaining broth.
- Add tomato sauce, fenugreek, honey, and cream. Add the pasta. Stir to combine, pushing down on the pasta so it's submerged below the level of liquid, and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to medium-low, and let the pasta simmer until cooked (15 to 17 minutes for al dente pasta), stirring every 5 to 7 minutes. If you like the pasta to be well done, add a few more minutes of cooking time. (Add more broth or water if you find that there's not enough.)
- The mixture will thicken as it rests. You can also choose to add more cream as needed.
- Garnish with chopped cilantro (if using).
Instant Pot Instructions
- Press 'Saute' and add butter and oil to the inner pot of the Instant Pot.
- Once the oil is hot, add onions, garlic, and ginger. Stir until onion is translucent. Add a tablespoon or more of broth to deglaze if needed.
- Press 'Cancel' and cook spices on residual heat. Add coriander, cumin, turmeric, pepper, chili powder, salt, garam masala, and paprika (if using), and stir to coat, for about 30 seconds, being careful not to let the spices burn. If the spices stick to the bottom, deglaze with a bit of broth.
- Turn on 'Saute' mode again, add chicken to the inner pot and cook until lightly brown – it doesn't need to be cooked through. If the chicken browns too quickly, press ‘Cancel’ until the Instant Pot cools down a bit, and press the ‘Saute’ button again. Deglaze as needed with a tablespoon or two of broth or water.
- Stir in 1½ cups chicken broth, fenugreek, and honey. Ensure there's nothing stuck to the bottom of the inner pot – deglaze as needed.
- Add in the pasta, tomato sauce, and tomato paste, in that order. Don't stir but just gently push down to submerge in the liquid. This helps prevent the Burn Message.
- Close the lid and pressure cook on High Pressure for 5 minutes.
- Do a quick release of pressure (QR) and open the lid. [Read More: The Different Pressure Release Methods].
- Stir in the cream and heat through in 'Saute' mode to thicken the sauce. The mixture may seem liquidy, but it will thicken after about 5 minutes.
- Garnish with chopped cilantro (if using).
- Prep time does not include steps that are already accounted for in the ingredient list, e.g. cut up chicken, chopped onion, etc.
- * Tomato sauce is also known as tomato passata.
- See the blog post for more detailed recipe tips. You don’t want to miss any!
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I am not a certified nutritionist. I provide my best estimate of nutritional information merely as a courtesy to my readers. If you depend on nutritional information for dietary or health reasons, I suggest using your favorite online nutrition calculator to confirm the nutritional value of this recipe based on the actual ingredients that you use.
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