Chicken Saag | Palak Chicken (Chicken & Spinach Curry)- Instant Pot

May 31, 2019 (Updated: September 7, 2019) By Aneesha |

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Here’s a one-pot pressure cooker recipe for an Indian favorite, Chicken Saag, also known as Palak Chicken. This creamy and flavorful chicken and spinach curry is tasty, healthy and a breeze to make with this 30-minute recipe.

A bowl of chicken Saag curry served with basmati rice

This 30-Minute Recipe has become a Family Favorite!

One of my daughters doesn’t care for spinach. Ok, let’s be honest, she hates spinach unless it’s spiced up, like my Saag Paneer recipe.

On our recent visit to an Indian restaurant I ordered Chicken Saag, and she loved it so much that I just had to try making it at home. I modified my Palak Paneer recipe and came up with this easy, 30-minute one-pot recipe.

The best part about this dish is that you take care of greens and protein, all in the same pot. So all that’s left to do is pair it with some rice or naan and dinner is done, just like that!. This dish has now become a staple in our home.

Scooping Chicken Saag with a piece of naan

Whats the difference between Saag and Palak

These two terms, Saag and Palak, are often used interchangeably in Indian restaurants, but there is a small difference between the two.

Saag is a generic term used for curried greens. This includes a variety of green leafy vegetables like Mustard Greens (Sarson), Fenugreek (Methi)Collard Greens, Spinach (called Palak in Hindi), and other similar varieties.

Typically in northern India, Saag refers to a curried combination of spinach and mustard greens, whereas Palak refers to a spinach curry.

How to Make Chicken Saag with other Greens

As long you match the quantity of the greens to around 10-12 ounces, you can make this recipe with any greens of your choice.

Some alternatives that have worked well for me are combinations of any two varieties of these greens: baby kale (or regular kale), mustard greens, collard greens and spinach.

Here is a Recipe for Saag made with a combination of Mustard Greens and Spinach (Sarson Ka Saag).

How to Make Chicken Saag in an Instant Pot

In this recipe, I adapted my stove-top recipe for the Instant Pot and made it a one-pot dish. This recipe works with any electric pressure cooker. Here’s how I make it:

Step 1: Turn on Saute mode in Instant Pot or any electric pressure cooker. When the display reads ‘hot’, add 1 tbsp oil.

Step 2: Sprinkle a little garam masala and salt on chicken breast (or thighs) and place it seasoned side down in the cooking pot. Let it brown for 1 minute.

Step 3: After that, flip the chicken.

Step 4: Season the other side with a pinch of garam masala and salt and cook for 1 minute. Remove chicken and keep aside.

Step by step instructions on how to make Chicken Saag in an Instant Pot

Step 5: Add the remaining 1 tbsp oil and cumin seeds and let them sizzle (about 30 seconds).

Step 6: Add sliced onions, halved green chili/pepper and crushed ginger and garlic. Saute for 1 minute.

Step 7: Add salt, turmeric, garam masala, ground coriander, ground cumin and Kashmiri Chili Powder in the pot.

Step 8: Add 1/2 cup water. Turn off Saute mode. Use the water to deglaze the pot, which means scrap any brown bits in the cooking pot.

Step by step instructions on how to make Chicken Saag in an Instant Pot

Step 9: Add baby spinach leaves and toss them well with the aromatics.

Step 10: Place the chicken on top of the spinach.

Step 11: Close the lid. Set 8 minutes on Pressure cook or manual mode. If using chicken thighs, adjust time to 6 mins.

When cooking time is up, manually release the pressure. You can do that by turning the pressure valve to ‘Venting’ mode in DUO models, or pushing down the valve in ULTRA models. When the pin drops, open the lid.

Step 12: Remove the chicken and keep aside to rest while you blend the curry.

Step by step instructions on how to make Chicken Saag in an Instant Pot

Step 13: Using an immersion blender, blend the spinach into a curry-like consistency. If you like your curry a bit chunky, you can customize that while pureeing.

Step 14 & 15: Cut the chicken into bite size pieces and add it back to the spinach curry.

Step 16: Optional step: Stir in 1 tsp of butter. This gives the curry a gorgeous shine.

Step by step instructions on how to make Chicken Saag in an Instant Pot

Make a Meal: What to Serve with Chicken Saag

Like most Indian curries, Chicken Saag goes great with rice, roti or naan. Since this dish is a combination of protein and vegetables (chicken and spinach), I like to keep it simple and serve it with:

Chicken and spinach curry served along with naan and salad

How to Make Pot-in-Pot Rice with Chicken Saag

  • Assemble rice, water and seasoning in an oven-safe bowl as per recipe instructions. You can follow this recipe for Cumin Rice.
  • Place a trivet over the chicken and spinach. Push down the trivet gently so it is stable.
  • Place the rice bowl on top of the trivet, close the lid and follow remaining pressure cooking instructions.

Vegetarian Alternative: Saag Paneer (Palak Paneer)

The vegetarian alternative for this dish is called Saag Paneer or Palak Paneer. This extremely popular dish is made with Paneer, which is a firm Indian cottage cheese, simmered in a spinach curry. GET THE RECIPE.

How to Make Restaurant-Style ‘Extra Creamy’ Saag Chicken

The Chicken Saag that I’ve had in restaurants is rich and creamier than my homestyle version. Here’s what you can do to get that taste:

  • Add 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream towards the end along with chicken pieces. Simmer the curry for a 2-3 minutes. Check for seasoning and turn off the heat.
  • Or, for a dairy-free alternative, add 1/4 cup cashews along with the onions and saute. When you puree the sauce towards the end, the cashews will blend and provide a nice creamy texture.
Chicken and spinach curry, Chicken Saag, served in a grey bowl

Pro-Tips for a Delicious Chicken Saag

  • Seasoning the chicken adds another level of flavor to this curry, so avoid skipping that step.
  • If you don’t have the time to briefly brown the chicken, simply season it with garam masala and salt before placing it on top of the spinach.
  • When making this curry ahead of time for entertaining, break it up in two steps- make the chicken curry (without spinach) a day earlier. 
    • On the day of the party, microwave the greens, puree them and simmer with the chicken curry before serving. 
    • Check out the image below for clarity.
Steps showing how to make Saag Chicken with pureed spinach

More Indian Favorites from My Kitchen (Gluten-Free)

A bowl of chicken Saag curry served with basmati rice

Chicken Saag in Instant Pot (Chicken & Spinach Curry) | Palak Chicken

Here's a one-pot pressure cooker recipe for an Indian favorite, Chicken Saag, also known as Palak Chicken. This creamy and flavorful chicken and spinach curry is tasty, healthy and a breeze to make with this 30-minute recipe.
5 from 3 votes
Print Pin Rate Recipe
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Pressure Cook: 8 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 211kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil (Refined olive oil or vegetable oil)
  • lbs chicken breast (boneless, skinless), can use thighs instead
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 cup onion, chopped (1 medium onion)
  • 1 Green Chili, cut in half (Serrano or Jalapeno)
  • 1 tbsp ginger, crushed or pureed (1 inch ginger)
  • 1 tbsp garlic, crushed or pureed (3-4 cloves)
  • 12 oz baby spinach
  • ½ cup water (adjust for 8 qt)

Spices

Optional Ingredient (add after pressure cooking)

Instructions

  • Turn on Saute mode in Instant Pot or any electric pressure cooker. When the display reads 'hot', add 1 tbsp oil.
  • Sprinkle a little garam masala and salt on chicken breast (or thighs) and place it seasoned side down in the cooking pot. Let it brown for 1 minute. After that, flip the chicken and season the other side with a pinch of garam masala and salt and cook for 1 minute. Remove chicken and keep aside.
  • Add the remaining 1 tbsp oil and cumin seeds. As soon as the sizzle (takes about 30 seconds), add sliced onions, halved green chili/pepper and crushed ginger and garlic. Saute for 1 minute.
  • Add all the spices along with 1/2 cup water. Turn off Saute mode. Use the water to deglaze the pot, which means scrap any brown bits in the cooking pot.
  • Add baby spinach leaves and toss them well. Place the chicken on top of the spinach. Close the lid. Set 8 minutes on Pressure cook or manual mode. If using chicken thighs, adjust time to 6 mins.
  • When cooking time is up, manually release the pressure. You can do that by turning the pressure valve to 'Venting' mode in DUO models, or pushing down the valve in ULTRA models. When the pin drops, open the lid.
  • Remove the chicken and keep aside. Using an immersion blender, blend the spinach into a curry-like consistency. Cut the chicken into bite size pieces and add it back to the spinach curry.
  • Optional step: Stir in 1 tsp of butter. This gives the curry a gorgeous shine.

Video

Notes

  • Seasoning the chicken adds another level of flavor to this curry, so avoid skipping that step.
  • If you don’t have the time to briefly brown the chicken, simply season it with garam masala and salt before placing it on top of the spinach.
  • When making this curry ahead of time for entertaining, break it up in two steps- make the chicken curry (without spinach) a day earlier.  On the day of, microwave the greens, puree them and simmer with the chicken curry before serving. 
  • To make Restaurant-style ‘extra creamy’ Chicken Saag, you can do the following:
    • Add 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream towards the end along with chicken pieces. Simmer the curry for a 2-3 minutes. Check for seasoning and turn off the heat.
    • Or, for a dairy-free alternative, add 1/4 cup cashews along with the onions and saute. When you puree the sauce towards the end, the cashews will blend and provide a nice creamy texture.
  • If you are new to the Instant Pot, please read my FAQ on Instant Pot Terminology and Accessories to learn more.
Note: The nutrition facts below are my estimates.  If you are following any diet plan, I recommend cross-checking with your preferred nutrition calculator.

Nutrition

Calories: 211kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 74mg | Sodium: 769mg | Potassium: 814mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 5540IU | Vitamin C: 22.3mg | Calcium: 82mg | Iron: 2.8mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: Chicken Saag, Instant Pot Chicken Saag, Palak Chicken, Saag Chicken
Did you try this recipe?Mention @SpiceCravings or tag #spicecravings!

HEY! NICE TO MEET YOU!

Aneesha holding a glass of white wine Hi, I'm Aneesha, a foodie by birth and the mind, body and soul behind Spice Cravings. Here I share quick, easy & healthy Indian & global recipes that are low in effort and big on taste! A recipe doesn't make it on the blog unless it is tested multiple times and gets a thumbs-up from my taster-in-chief, my husband, and my teen-chefs, my twin girls!

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8 Comments

  • Reply
    Marissa
    September 7, 2019 at 10:39 am

    This recipe sounds easy and delicious! However, what do you do with the halved pepper? I see it in the list of ingredients and, after reading the recipe three times, I don’t see where to add it into the pot. Is that included in the “add all the spices”? I can’t wait to try this!

    • Reply
      Aneesha
      September 7, 2019 at 11:16 am

      Hi Marissa, thanks for pointing that out, I just fixed that. I add that with the sliced onions. If you see the video or image ‘6’, you’ll see that step. I’d love to hear how you like it! Enjoy!

      • Reply
        Marissa
        September 15, 2019 at 3:09 pm

        Thank you so much! I am making this tonight!

        • Reply
          Aneesha
          September 15, 2019 at 3:48 pm

          Hi Marissa, you’re most welcome! I’d love to hear how you liked it, hope you love it!

        • Reply
          Marissa
          September 15, 2019 at 6:05 pm

          Oh my goodness, this was delicious! Thank you for the delightful recipe and all of the wonderful information you give along with it! Looking forward to trying more of your recipes!

          • Aneesha
            September 15, 2019 at 7:39 pm

            Hi Marissa, I am so glad you enjoyed it!! It’s one of our favorites. Try the chicken tikka masala next! Thanks for sharing your experience. If you get a chance, I’d appreciate if you could rate the recipe 🙂 Thanks!

  • Reply
    Trey
    June 11, 2019 at 1:48 am

    5 stars
    Hi Aneesha. Thank you for the Instant Pot Chicken Saag recipe. Wow! It was delicious with layers of flavor. My only variation was that I couldn’t find whole cumin seeds in my local supermarket and I therefore substituted ground cumin seeds. As I suspect the whole cumin seeds will provide a more intense flavor to the recipe, I will have them on hand when I make this dish again.

    • Reply
      Aneesha
      June 13, 2019 at 1:43 pm

      Hi Trey,
      Thank you! I am so glad that you enjoyed this recipe. Cumin seeds add another level of flavor to this dish, so if you cannot find them, you can substitute that with an additional 1/4 tsp ground cumin. Thanks again!

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