Tandoori Chicken


5 from 93 votes
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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!

tandoori chicken.

We love our Indian recipes, especially those with chicken.

If you’ve tried my butter chicken, chicken saag, or chicken tikka masala, you are in for a treat: this tandoori chicken recipe will be a new dinnertime favorite. 

Table of Contents
  1. What is tandoori chicken?
  2. Ingredients needed
  3. How to make tandoori chicken
  4. Alternative cooking methods
  5. Recipe tips and variations
  6. How to store leftovers
  7. Frequently asked questions
  8. More delicious Indian dinners to try
  9. Perfect Tandoori Chicken (Recipe Card)

What is tandoori chicken?

Tandoori chicken is, in my opinion, the most popular and tasty Indian dish ever. It features chicken marinated in yogurt and spices. Traditionally, the chicken is then cooked in a tandoor, which is a clay oven.

In my version, I oven-bake it, and it honestly tastes like something from a restaurant! Here are some reasons why I love this recipe:

  • Healthy. Marinated in yogurt and roasted in the oven, tandoori seasoned 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. I typically use chicken quarters or chicken legs, but leaner cuts like chicken thighs also work very 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! 

Ingredients needed

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 because they are fatty, flavorful, and has the bone intact. You can also use a mix of chicken legs and drumsticks. If you want boneless chicken, opt for chicken thighs.
  • Yogurt. Plain Greek yogurt or natural yogurt. It goes without saying but please do not use flavored yogurt.
  • Lemon juice. Optional, but if your yogurt is NOT on the tard side, add 1 teaspoon of lemon or lime juice.
  • Ginger and garlic. Freshly minced. Fresh ginger and garlic give the chicken Asian notes and add great flavor. 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, turmeric, 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. You can use butter or ghee but I find it firms up a little too much for my liking.
  • Salt. To taste. 

Find the printable recipe with measurements below.

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. 

tandoori chicken marinade.

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. 

chicken in marinade.

Step 3-  Assemble. 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. 

seasoned chicken on a wire rack.

Step 4- Bake. 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 with naan and coconut rice.

baked tandoori chicken.

Alternative cooking methods

During the warmer months, I like to grill the chicken instead of baking it, and it only needs a few minor tweaks. I’ve also tested this out in the air fryer AND the instant pot, which are both great for speedy cooking.

Grill method: Once the chicken is marinated, place it on a preheated charcoal grill or grill pan. Grill on high heat for 8 minutes per side.

Air fryer method: Once marinated, place the chicken pieces in a single layer in the air fryer basket. Air fry at 200C/400F for 20 minutes, flipping once halfway through.

Instant pot method: Marinate the chicken then place it in the Instant Pot and switch on ‘saute’ mode. Sear the chicken on both sides. Add remaining marinade and set the pot to ‘pressure cook’. Cook the chicken for 8-10 minutes, before turning it off and allow it to naturally release for 10 minutes.

Recipe tips and variations

  • Use even-sized chicken pieces to ensure even cooking. If you are using different cuts of chicken, I recommend cooking them in batches.
  • 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. 
  • Resting the chicken is important because it allows the juices to redistribute amnd yield the most juiciest meat ever.
  • For a fun twist on this chicken, shred it with two forks for pulled tandoori chicken.
  • You may notice my recipe isn’t as red or pink as restaurant-style Tandoori chicken. The reason is I don’t use any red food coloring. If you want to make this with aesthetic purposes in mide, add 1-2 drops to the marinade.
  • For some added spice, add some cayenne pepper or red chili powder.

How to store leftovers

To store: Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator in airtight containers 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. 

tandoori chicken pieces.

Frequently asked questions

Is tandoori chicken healthy?

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. 

What is healthier tikka or tandoori chicken?

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. 

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. 

More delicious Indian dinners to try

  • Chicken vindaloo– Spicy, tangy, and perfect if you love your curries spicy!
  • Lamb Rogan Josh– Rich and creamy, the curry base is made up of tomatoes and yogurt.
  • Lamb vindaloo– Similar to the chicken version, but swap out the meat for lamb.
  • Paneer Tikka Masala– My family’s favorite veggie curry, the leftovers taste even better.
tandoori chicken recipe.

Perfect Tandoori Chicken

5 from 93 votes
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!
Servings: 8 servings
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 25 minutes



  • 1 piece ginger minced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon garam marsala
  • 1 teaspoon ground corriander
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 lbs chicken quarters


  • 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.


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.
TO REHEAT: Microwave portions of the chicken for 40-50 seconds or reheat in a preheated oven until hot.


Serving: 1servingCalories: 250kcalCarbohydrates: 3gProtein: 17gFat: 19gSodium: 89mgPotassium: 263mgFiber: 0.3gVitamin A: 233IUVitamin C: 0.5mgCalcium: 52mgIron: 1mgNET CARBS: 3g
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Author: Arman Liew
Tried this recipe?Give us a shout at @thebigmansworld or tag #thebigmansworld!

Recipe originally published March 2015 but updated to include new photos, information, and video for your benefit.

Arman Liew

I’m a two time cookbook author, photographer, and writer, and passionate about creating easy and healthier recipes. I believe you don’t need to be experienced in the kitchen to make good food using simple ingredients that most importantly, taste delicious.

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5 from 93 votes (87 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    I used to make the stove top, low carb version of this all the time. It used coconut milk instead of yogurt and I think it called for poached chicken. Is the old recipe somewhere that I can access?

  2. 5 stars
    Excellent first time of cooking this. Nice easy instructions perhaps it might have been better with a curry sauce as we are used to “wet curries” however we still enjoyed it .
    Thank you

  3. 5 stars
    Made this for dinner last night – really tasty & easy to make. Will definitely be using this receipe again!

  4. 5 stars
    I’m so sad, I make the shredded tandoori for my family a lot but it looks like you’ve changed this recipe where it’s not even shredded anymore and switched to marinating the chicken and using yogurt instead of coconut milk. Im not sure if that was a mistake or not but if you could, would you mind posting the older recipe again?

  5. 5 stars
    Hi Arman,
    Your original Pulled Chicken Tandoori recipe is a family favorite at our house (in fact, it’s the recipe that introduced me to BMW!). I haven’t made it in a few month and needed a recipe refresher but I can’t find it on your website (oh the horror!) Has this one replaced that original recipe? I’m hoping you can help because I’ve started making it for dinner tonight.

  6. THIS RECIPE ROCKS! It was so good. I was a bit intimidated by all of the spices, but it turned out great. Thanks again!

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