Spice up the dinnertime with this smoky and perfectly juicy tandoori chicken. Marinated in yogurt and cooked in the oven, this recipe comes together in minutes!
We love our Indian recipes, especially those with chicken.
If you’ve tried our butter chicken, chicken curry, or chicken tikka masala, you are in for a treat: this tandoori chicken recipe will be a new dinnertime favorite.
What is tandoori chicken?
Tandoori chicken is a dish attributed to Indian cuisine. It features chicken marinated in yogurt and spices. Traditionally, the chicken is then cooked in a tandoor.
A tandoor is a clay oven. The heat comes from the bottom of the oven and roasts the chicken. In our version, we oven-bake it and it honestly tastes like something from a restaurant!
Why you’ll love this recipe
- Healthy. Marinated in yogurt and roasted in the oven, tandoori chicken is a healthy way to cook chicken.
- Juicy and flavorful. Yogurt works well for tenderizing chicken and making it moist and juicy. The warm spices used in the marinade make the chicken super flavorful.
- Any chicken cut works. You can use any chicken cut for this recipe. Chicken thighs are perfect if you don’t mind fatty chicken. But if you are on a low-fat diet, chicken breasts will work just as well.
What I love about this recipe is just how authentic it tastes. Sure, cooking it in a tandoor oven would make things complete but this oven-baked version tastes just as good!
This recipe calls for very simple ingredients and pantry spices. Besides the chicken itself, you’ll likely have everything on hand. Here is what you’ll need:
- Chicken. I prefer using chicken leg quarters for this recipe as they are fatty and super flavorful. You can also use a mix of chicken legs and drumsticks.
- Yogurt. Plain Greek yogurt to marinade the chicken and tenderize it.
- Ginger and garlic. Freshly minced. Fresh ginger and garlic give the chicken Asian notes and add great flavor to it. Use fewer or more garlic cloves depending on your preferences.
- Spices. The spice blend I prefer using for my tandoori chicken recipe consists of garam masala, cumin, cinnamon, ground coriander, and smoked paprika. While you can customize the spice blend for tandoori chicken, I recommend you never skip the garam masala as it gives the dish an authentic Indian feel.
- Olive oil. For the marinade.
- Salt. To taste.
How to make tandoori chicken
Besides marinating the chicken, this recipe calls for barely any hands-on time. The oven takes care of all the hard work! Ready to bake some chicken?
Step 1- Prepare the marinade
Add the yogurt to a mixing bowl. Add the spices, freshly minced ginger and garlic, and olive oil. Give the mixture a good mix.
Step 2- Marinate the chicken
Pat dry the chicken pieces and put them in the marinade. Mix well to get the chicken completely coated. Cover and marinade for up to 24 hours in the fridge. If you are in a hurry, let the chicken sit in the marinade for around 10 minutes.
Step 3- Bake the chicken
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F degrees. Line the wire racks with tin foil. Remove the chicken cuts from the yogurt mixture and shake off the excess marinade. Place the chicken on the wire rack.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the chicken is nicely charred and cooked through. Allow the chicken to rest for 5 minutes and serve.
What does tandoori chicken taste like?
Tandoori chicken is juicy thanks to the yogurt marinade and earthy due to the Indian spices, ginger, and garlic.
Cooked over high heat, authentic tandoori chicken is also smoky. This is why I like to add smoked paprika to the marinade to make up for the smokiness that the traditional cooking method provides.
Tips to make the best recipe
- Use even-sized chicken pieces to ensure even cooking.
- For a fun twist on this chicken, shred it with two forks for pulled tandoori chicken.
- Don’t overcrowd the baking rack so that the chicken pieces brown well on all sides.
- Have a thermometer at hand. Remove the chicken from the oven as soon as it reads 165F in the thickest part of the chicken.
- To store: Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator, covered, for up to five days.
- To freeze: Place the cooked and cooled chicken in a shallow container and store it in the freezer for up to two months.
- Reheating: Microwave portions of the chicken for 40-50 seconds or reheat in a preheated oven until hot.
What to serve with tandoori chicken
- Jasmine rice
- Brown rice
- Coconut rice
- Curry rice
Frequently asked questions
Tandoori chicken is one of the healthiest chicken recipes to make. As the chicken is marinated in yogurt and then baked and not fried, it doesn’t contain a high amount of saturated fats. You can use chicken breasts to make tandoori chicken lower in fat and calories and higher in protein.
Tandoori chicken is traditionally made in a tandoor while the grilled chicken is cooked on a grill. You can make grilled chicken on a charcoal, electric, or gas grill.
Chicken tikka is another popular Indian dish that features yogurt-marinated chicken pieces. The pieces are threaded on skewers and then grilled or roasted. Unlike the tandoori chicken, chicken tikka is always made with boneless chicken.
Chicken tikka and tandoori chicken are both healthy. It all depends on the type of chicken cuts used to make them. The healthiest version of both dishes is made with skinless chicken breast.
Easiest Tandoori Chicken
- In a mixing bowl, mix together all the ingredients, except for the chicken.
- Pat dry the chicken then add it to a large mixing bowl. Add in the marinade and mix very well, until all the chicken is completely coated.
- Either cover and marinate for up to one day, or if you are in a hurry, let it sit for 10 minutes at room temperate.
- Preheat the oven to 200C/400F. Place tin foil on two wire racks. Remove each piece of chicken from the bowl and shake off the excess marinade. Place them on the wire rack.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until they begin to char around the edges.
- Allow the chicken to set for 5 minutes before serving.
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Again, making my day! Tandoori chicken is so so good. I too have a slow cooker that saw the light of day when I unwrapped it but hasn’t been used since. I mean, how often are you gone for just 8 hours during the work day? and is it just supposed to hang out there after? That’s a bitch move.
Such a bitch move. The slow cooker looks like a drag queen too.
Haha love it
Looks so flavorful and delicious! Pinned to try it!
Thanks so much, Mira!
Is that chopped Basil leaves peeking out of your tandoori pulled chicken?
Hi Diana! It’s actually chopped cilantro 🙂
Please clarify “one piece of ginger.” This could be anything from a teaspoonful to a cupful.
1 inch piece.
I LOVE pulled meat as well 🙂 and love that you can do this over the stove! Slow cookers are supposed to be easy and convenient but I always forget to prep the ingredients, so I never have it ready when I want. Oops.
Haha I know, right? It’s a double edged sword.
OMG! Delicious, and I’ve been craving Indian food for forever!
Hope you can have some- I loved the ones in LA!
pulled chicken cooked on the stovetop? in 20 minutes? yes please! Loving all the flavors going on in here. Forget 2-for-1 I can make like 5 different meals using this! Well done, my friend
Thanks Min! these were leftovers very much welcomed!
This looks incredible, Arman! I love pulled everything, too…I usually do it outside on the smoker, so as you can probably imagine, I’m pretty darned ready to break the smoker out from it’s winter hibernation cave. I’m digging the tandoori spices in here…I kinda wish I was having this for dinner tonight! (P.S. Your lighting in these shots looks awesome!)
Thanks heaps mate- I suck with photography and its pure luck when I get decent lighting!
I’m trying a sweet and sour pulled chicken recipe. It didn’t go very well…I accidentally tipped too much maple syrup.
As soon as I read this post and realized I had everything on hand, it was decided: this would be tonight’s dinner. Loved it – quick and easy to whip together and such great flavor with only a few ingredients. Another fantastic one, buddy!
I’m stoked you tried it out!!!!! I’m trialling a sweet and sour paleo one. I OD’d on the maple syrup so need to try again.
I do not believe I’ve ever tried Tandoori sauce, but it sounds scrumptious. Hey, if you need any advice if you’re moving anywhere to Arkansas (not likely, but…) I can help! And I agree, I’d eat pulled meat of any kind, especially if pulled shrimp or crab were an option. This needs to be invented.
Thanks so much- To be honest, I don’t even know where that is on the map (I literally don’t know where anywhere is lol!)
Let’s invent pulled shrimp!
Ooh I love pulled meat too. Especially with a side of baked beans and a hunk of cornbread. Something tells me those flavours wouldn’t really go with this recipe though haha. But it sounds awesome! I don’t think I’ve ever used tandoori flavours in cooking before but if it involves coconut milk, I know I’d like it.
I’d be game to try this with baked beans! You NEED to try tandoori flavours- I promise you’ll love it.
This looks insanely good, so flavorful and such awesome pics! I can think of a million different ways that I would love to enjoy it- can’t wait to see what you come up with!
Thanks Sonali! These were leftovers I actually didn’t mind!
Love this Arman! Big fan of tandoori chicken but I stopped eating it after I decided to avoid dairy- feeling kinda dumb now that I never thought to use coconut milk…good thing I have smarty pants like you in my life :)! Have you tried mixing pulled chicken with guac- SO delish!
Haha, no worries at all- I was testing out some dairy free recipes and found it to be a decent substitute! Love mixing pulled chicken with guac!
You have cooked this tandoori chicken to perfection Arman! I can only imagine how good it must have tasted.
I am so down to clown with that chicken, if you know what I mean, mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm
Go for it!
Man, I’d eat that any time of year, winter, spring, summer or fall! LOVE IT.
Thanks Michelle- I like your thinking!
And now I get to say the same to you! Why have I not found your blog before now?? And now you’re moving to America (so jealous).
I think I even love pulled meat almost as much as you. This looks amazing!
Thanks Nicole! I hope Australia gets more southern style restaurants opening up!