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.
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
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.