Lightly charred yet the most tender chicken you’ll ever eat; this tandoori chicken is spiced to absolute perfection and is incredibly easy to make in the oven or grill. The tandoori chicken marinade comes together in a matter of minutes–seriously, you’ll be shocked at how much flavor you can achieve with so little effort!
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What is Tandoori Chicken?
Tandoori chicken is an iconic Indian dish, known for it’s vibrant color, and incredible texture. It’s often marinated in yogurt and a combination of toasted spices, the yogurt tenderizes while imparting a tangy flavor. The spices add a bit of color to the flesh. The chicken then gets lightly charred on the outside while remaining incredibly tender on the inside.
What does tandoori chicken taste like?
This tandoori chicken recipe’s flavor is best described as complex. We’ve got loads of toasted Indian spices, combined with yogurt, which adds a bit of tang. Then some garlic and ginger, always a good idea. The meat is lightly charred for a bit of smokey infusion. It’s less saucy, and more of a marinade when compared to other Indian classics.
- Is tandoori chicken very spicy? Not as the recipe is written below, however, you can adjust the spice level to your liking by adding more/less chili powder to the yogurt chicken marinade.
- What is chicken tikka vs tandoori? Although both dishes call for Indian spices and are often marinated in yogurt, they are incredibly different. Chicken tikka masala is made of small pieces of boneless chicken simmered in a tomato and cream based sauce. Tandoori chicken is marinated in spices and yogurt, but isn’t served with a sauce–plus it’s bone-in so the chicken stays nice and tender while grilling.
- How is tandoori chicken red? The red color of chicken tandoori comes from the spices added to the marinade. That said, unlike most recipes, I like to toast the spices first, which makes them darker and less vibrantly red. I’ve also seen recipes add a bit of red food coloring, so if you’re looking for a restaurant-colored dish, you may want to try mixing a 1/2 teaspoon into the tandoori chicken marinade.
Although our ingredient list looks long, it’s primarily a combination of spices, easy! Here’s what you’ll need to make chicken tandoori:
- The spices: A combination of garam masala, cumin, paprika, coriander, and chili powder. Adjust the amount of chili powder you add to how spicy you’d like the tandoori chicken marinade to be.
- The marinade: We’ll toast those spices, and mix them into yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, and ginger. This yogurt marinated chicken keeps the meat incredibly tender while infusing a bit of tang into the dish.
- The chicken: We want the entire chicken leg, i.e. chicken quarters–this includes the thigh and drumstick. Opt for bone in and skinless. If you’re struggling to find this, you can always use separate drumsticks and thighs.
How to Make Tandoori Chicken
What I absolutely love about this tandoori chicken recipe is it’s super hands off; make the marinade, toss in the chicken, and go about your day. When you’re ready to light the grill, the only hands on time required is a quick sear! Here’s how:
- Make the tandoori chicken marinade: by toasting the spices, then combine those with yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, and ginger.
- Slice the chicken to the bone, if using whole chicken quarters, do this 3-4 times per piece if using separated drumsticks and thighs, about 2 times per piece.
- Toss the chicken in the marinade and coat, then allow it to marinade in the fridge.
- Shake off excess marinade, this will burn and stick to the grill.
- Prep a 2-zone grill, one piping hot, the other indirect. Clean and grease the grates.
- Sear the chicken on each side until lightly charred. Then move to indirect and place the lid on top. Continue to cook until the chicken is cooked through.
Can tandoori chicken be made in oven?
You can absolutely make tandoori chicken in oven, and here’s how:
- Shake off excess marinade.
- Place chicken on a rimmed baking sheet, and prep the oven so the top rack is 10″ from the bottom of the broiler, and a second rack is in the center of the oven.
- Bake chicken on the lower rack (center of the oven), for about 35-40 minutes, once the temp reaches 165 F at the thickest part, we’re good to go.
- Turn the broiler to high, then place your chicken on the top rack. Broil until chicken is lightly charred.
How to reheat tandoori chicken?
Reheat leftover tandoori chicken in the microwave with a damp paper towel on top–the great news about brown meat is that it’s hard to over cook, so your chicken will stay nice and tender. Sprinkle with fresh herbs before serving.
What to Serve With Tandoori Chicken
Chicken tandoori is typically served over a bed of rice, with raita on the side. Here are some other ways you can serve this delicious dish:
See how to make this Tandoori Chicken on TikTok.
More Indian Inspired Dishes
Tandoori ChickenPrint Recipe Pin Recipe
- 1 tablespoon vegetable or avocado oil
- 2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons chili powder with a mild spice level
- 1 tablespoon garam masala
- 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh ginger minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 pounds whole chicken legs (i.e. chicken quarters // drumsticks and thighs) skinless + bone-in
- fresh cilantro chopped
- red onion sliced
- Add oil to a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the coriander, chili powder, garam masala, paprika, and cumin. Toast until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Cool completely.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, ginger, salt, pepper, and toasted spices. Taste the yogurt and adjust the salt and spice level to your liking.
- Place chicken in a 9×13 baking dish. Use a sharp knife to cut 3-4 to the bone slashes in each piece of chicken for whole chicken quarters or 2 per piece if using separate drumsticks and thighs. Cover the chicken in yogurt and toss to coat on each side. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 6 hours.
- Heat a grill, preferably charcoal, to high heat on one side, and indirect on the other. Clean and grease the grates. Remove chicken from marinade and shake off the excess marinade, it should still be coated but not dripping.
- Put chicken pieces over the hot side of the grill and sear until lightly charred on each side, about 4-5 minutes. Check the temp using a meat thermometer, the goal is 165 F. If your chicken still needs more time, move it to indirect heat and continue to grill with the lid on—about 20-30 minutes depending on the heat of your grill and how thick your chicken is.
- Allow chicken to rest for 10 minutes before serving. Plate with cilantro and red onion slices. Enjoy!
Fans Also Made These Low Carb Recipes:
- The chicken: If you can’t find chicken quarters, use separated drumsticks and thighs, just be sure they’re bone-in and skinless.
- To bake in the oven instead: Prep your oven so the top rack is 10″ from the broiler, and the second rack is in the middle of the oven. Bake at 400 F for 35-40 minutes, until the internal temp at the thickest part reaches 165 F. Then move to the top rack and turn on your broiler. Broil until the chicken has charred in some spots.