Tandoori Chicken

Tandoori Chicken Recipe

By Swasthi on September 14, 2023, Comments, Jump to Recipe

Tandoori Chicken at its best! This easy recipe helps you make incredibly tender, juicy, moist and outrageously delicious Tandoori Chicken. This mind-blowing way of grilling chicken is immensely popular in the Indian restaurants & is known as Tandoori Murgh. It is eaten with Cilantro Chutney or Mint Chutney. Indian food lovers keep going back to the restaurants time and again, not knowing it is the simplest that can be made at home.

Tandoori Chicken

In this post I share how to make the best Tandoori Chicken in numerous ways – using an oven, on stovetop Griddle, air fryer and on direct fire. If you are new to the dish you may be wondering

What is Tandoori Chicken?

Tandoori Chicken is a popular Indian dish where marinated chicken is grilled to perfection in a Tandoor, a cylindrical clay oven. As a first step chicken is marinated overnight with various spices, herbs and yogurt.

This marinade helps to tenderize, spice and flavor up the chicken. It is later grilled in a Tandoor. Traditionally the heat for a tandoor is generated by wood fire or charcoal. As the food cooks in this clay oven, the juices drip on to the hot charcoal and release a smoky flavor.

The resulting char grilled chicken is the best – tender and juicy with bursting flavors.

Sources say Tandoori chicken dates back to the Mughal period. While others say it was invented at Moti Mahal, Peshawar by Kundan Lal Gujral, before the partition of India. However it is beyond the scope of this post so let us enjoy making this amazing dish at home.

Wondering how to make Tandoori chicken without having a tandoor?
Any kind of heat source is good enough to grill/roast the chicken – an oven, stovetop, air fryer or direct fire. We are going to roast the chicken to perfection in one of these ways.

How do we infuse the smoky aroma into the chicken?
It is simpler than you think, you can infuse the smoky flavor either by smoking the grilled chicken with a red hot wood coal or cook it over direct fire for a few minutes towards the end.

More Chicken Recipes
Chicken Tikka Masala
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Easy Chicken Kebab
Chicken Tikka Kebab
Chicken Shawarma

How to Make Tandoori Chicken (Stepwise Photos)

Prepare Marinade

1. Greek yogurt also known as hung curd is the key ingredient used in the marinade. It is nothing but curd that has been strained of all the whey/liquid. If you do not have Greek yogurt, please check this link to make hung curd. To a mixing bowl, add the following ingredients:

  • ½ cup Greek yogurt (hung curd)
  • 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste (or grated in equal quantities)
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon red chilli powder (kashmiri or any low heat chilli)
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper crushed (powder)
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder (daniya powder)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt (taste marinade & add more)
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric (haldi)
  • 1 teaspoon kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
adding spice powders

2. Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Be careful not to add a lot. Use as required depending on how sour your yogurt is.

adding lemon juice

3. Pour 1½ tablespoon oil as well. In India, mustard oil is used for a unique flavor. If you want you may use it or any other cooking oil as per your preference.

pouring oil

4. Mix well and taste the marinade. Add any ingredient needed to suit your taste like salt and chili powder. The marinade has to be thick as shown in the picture and should not be runny. A runny marinade will let out moisture to the pan and the chicken won’t hold the spices well.

marinade for chicken biryani

5. Pat dry the chicken with kitchen tissues. You can use ½ to ¾ kg (1.1 to 1.5 lbs) chicken thighs or legs. Next make deep slits into the chicken.

making gashes

6. Marinate the chicken well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours to over night. Do not reduce the time as the chicken will not get cooked and turn tender. You can keep this as long as 48 hours in the refrigerator.

marinating chicken

7. To make the chili oil for a spicy version, mix together 1 tsp red chilli powder with 1 to 2 tbsps oil.

Roast Tandoori Chicken in Oven

8. Roast in Oven – Preheat the oven to 470 F – 240 C for at least 15 to 20 mins. Prepare a baking tray with a foil for easy cleanup. Place a wired rack over it, spray/grease oil on the rack. Place the prepared chicken (with a thick marinade) over the wired rack. Bake for 12 to 15 mins, baste with chili oil/ melted butter and turn the chicken to the other side. Check at 12 mins mark.

Bake for another 12 to 15 mins, followed by 2 to 3 mins of broiling if required. Adjust the timing as needed depending on the size of your chicken and oven. If your oven does not have a broil mode, move the rack to the top most level and roast until slightly charred for 3 mins.

To check if the chicken is cooked through – an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part should read 165 to 170 F (75 C).

Stovetop method – Grilling in pan

9. Heat a pan/ skillet. Spread 1 to 2 tbsps oil.

spreading oil on the tawa

10. When the oil turns hot, place the chicken on the skillet/pan. Regulate the heat to medium.

grilling tandoori chicken on tawa

11. After 3 to 4 minutes turn the pieces. Apply the marinade and turn them after 3 to 4 mins.

Basting marinade on tandoori chicken

12. Meanwhile add red chili powder to a small bowl. Mix it with the oil. This is optional. Smear that to the tandoori chicken.

making spicy oil for tandoori chicken

13. Cook them, regulating the flame as required until they are cooked through. When the chicken is cooked through, prick it with a fork to see the meat fall off the bone easily (a sign of chicken being cooked). An instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part should read 165 to 170 F (75 C). 

flipping chicken

Smoke Tandoori Chicken

14. This step is also optional. Hold a wood coal with a tong over a candle until red hot. When it turns hot, drop it in a steel cup. Immediately pour half teaspoon ghee. It will begin to smoke immediately. Cover the skillet with a lid and let smoke for 5 to 7 mins.

smoking tandoori chicken

Brush the Tandoori chicken with the drippings or with melted butter. Serve with Cilantro Chutney or Mint Chutney alongside sliced onions, carrots and lemon wedges. If you want to extend your menu, have Turmeric Rice , Onion salad and Cucumber Raita.

Chicken Tandoor Recipe

Air Fryer Tandoori Chicken

  • Preheat the air fryer to 390 F or 200 C. Place the chicken on the basket and air fry for 10 mins on each side or until cooked through and the internal chicken temperature reaches to 165 F.
  • Once done, brush the tandoori chicken with the left over marinade or the red chilli paste mixed with oil. Air fry for another 2 mins. For the authentic flavors, brush with mustard oil or butter.
tandoori chicken

Grill in Outdoor Grill

  • Preheat the outdoor grill for medium high heat.
  • Grease the grate generously with oil. Wipe off the excess marinade from the chicken and place them over the preheated grill.
  • Cook for 5 to 6 mins and turn them the other side. Baste the marinade on the top side and turn it again after 5 to 6 mins. The cook time depends on the size of your chicken pieces.
  • It takes about 27 to 30 mins to cook the Tandoori chicken fully. Insert a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the chicken and cook until it shows 165 F or 75 C. Brush with some butter or mustard oil.

Related Recipes

Recipe Card

tandoori chicken recipe

Tandoori Chicken Recipe | Tandoori Murgh

Tandoori chicken is a popular appetizer from the Indian restaurants. This recipe shows you to replicate the restaurant version at home easily. Serve it with Cilantro Chutney or Mint Chutney. For a complete meal, have some Turmeric rice and cucumber raita.
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For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card

Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time40 minutes
Marinating time6 hours
Total Time55 minutes
Servings4
AuthorSwasthi

Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )

  • ¾ kg (1.5 lbs.) chicken skinless thighs or legs
  • ½ cup Greek yogurt (hung curd)
  • 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste (or grated in equal quantities)
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon red chilli powder (kashmiri or any low heat chilli)
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper crushed (powder)
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder (daniya powder)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt (taste marinade & add more)
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric (haldi)
  • 1 teaspoon kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • tablespoon oil (preferably mustard oil)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped coriander leaves to garnish

Mix to make red chili oil (or melted butter)

  • 1 teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder
  • 1 to 2 tablespoon oil (preferably mustard oil)


Instructions

Prepare Tandoori Marinade

  • In a large mixing bowl, stir together yogurt, ginger garlic paste, garam masala, red chili powder, salt, turmeric, kasuri methi, pepper, coriander powder, oil and lemon juice. Taste, adjust salt and heat levels to your taste.
  • Pat dry chicken with paper towels and make deep slits (3 to 4 on larger thighs or 2 to 3 on smaller). Add them to the marinade & coat them well.
  • Cover and rest in the refrigerator for least 6 hours to overnight.

How to make Tandoori Chicken

  • Preheat the oven to 470 F – 240 C. Place a wire rack over a baking tray, lined with foil for easy cleanup. Spray oil over the wire rack.
  • Arrange the marinated chicken on the rack. Roast/bake the chicken for a total of 25 to 30 mins (depending on the size of chicken), basting with chili oil/ melted butter after the first 12 to 15 mins. (Check at 12 mins mark)
  • Turn the chicken to the other side after basting and roast for another 12 to 15 minutes, followed by 2 to 3 minutes of broiling to get some charred spots. The timings can vary depending on your oven and the size of chicken. So adjust accordingly.
  • When the chicken is cooked through, an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part should read 165 to 170 F (75 C). Optionally you may smoke the chicken following the steps in my post.
  • Brush the drippings or melted butter all over the chicken to keep it moist. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves.
  • Serve with this Cilantro Chutney or Pudina Mint Chutney alongside onion and lemon wedges. For a complete meal, serve it with Turmeric rice, kachumber and Cucumber raita.


Notes

  • You can also grill or air fry the tandoori chicken. Refer my post for details.
  • Either use thighs or drumsticks of the same size for even cooking.
  • The marinade has to be thick and not of dripping consistency.
  • This recipe requires full fat strained yogurt, i.e Greek yogurt.  Avoid using yogurt with a lot of whey. You can easily make your own strained yogurt from this recipe – hung curd.
  •  It is essential to coat the chicken with thick marinade before cooking. This prevents it from drying out.
  • Every oven is different, adjust the baking time as required. Alternately you can move the entire tray with wire rack to the top most rack for the last 5 mins.

Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.

For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.

Video

Watch Tandoori Chicken Video

NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)

Nutrition Facts
Tandoori Chicken Recipe | Tandoori Murgh
Amount Per Serving
Calories 376 Calories from Fat 252
% Daily Value*
Fat 28g43%
Saturated Fat 6g38%
Trans Fat 0.2g
Polyunsaturated Fat 7g
Monounsaturated Fat 14g
Cholesterol 97mg32%
Sodium 264mg11%
Potassium 305mg9%
Carbohydrates 2g1%
Fiber 0.5g2%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 27g54%
Vitamin A 490IU10%
Vitamin C 4mg5%
Calcium 47mg5%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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Tandoori Chicken Recipe

About Swasthi

I’m Swasthi Shreekanth, the recipe developer, food photographer & food writer behind Swasthi’s Recipes. My aim is to help you cook great Indian food with my time-tested recipes. After 2 decades of experience in practical Indian cooking I started this blog to help people cook better & more often at home. Whether you are a novice or an experienced cook I am sure Swasthi’s Recipes will assist you to enhance your cooking skills. More about me

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Hi Swasthi
I’m about to buy a proper clay tandoor, and I would really like to know how I should adjust the time and temperature of this dish for use in the tandoor. The plan is to skewer the marinated thighs and place them standing over coals in the pot. Any advice appreciated.

5 stars
My first time making tandoori chicken at home. I used the oven method and followed the receipe as written.

However, my thicker pieces of thighs had blood when taking the temperature.

Did I do something wrong?

Oven was 470 degrees F … smoke alarm went off. Nothing burned though.

5 stars
Just marinading this recipe now for my husband and i .
I was annoyed that when i opened pack there was only 3 chicken legs and we need two each so hubby is gonna get some more on the way home from work and will just pop another one in .
Have liked all your recipes ive tried so im hoping this will be as good .
Giving you 5 stars for previous recipes

Can you use tandoori masala instead of all of those ingredients?

5 stars
The taste is wonderful but in my opinion the temperature for oven cooking should be 220°C, with 240°C was bit burned 😅

5 stars
Excellent recipe. Very tasty and straightforward. Thanks

5 stars
I used your recipe as a reference to make a “Tandoori Oven” hotsauce with ghost peppers!

5 stars
Great job.

5 stars
Thanks for the recipe

Just wanted to add that I think the addition of Amchur powder would be and appropriate. And authentic

5 stars
Hi, just to inform and maybe educate
There is no such thing as Greek yogurt! All yoghurt originated in Turkey and in fact yoghurt is a Turkish word for thicken or stirred.
The so called Greek yogurt was in fact introduced by a Turkish/Armenian that emigrated to the USA in 1929 I believe. He only named it Greek yoghurt because it wasn’t selling so well when it was introduced as Turkish yoghurt.
Your recipe is otherwise very authentic and tasty. I just I had a Tandoor oven ! Ideally this recipe needs an extremely high temperature and for the minimum time possible, to ensure that the chicken is extremely tender ?

thank you. it is really helpful

5 stars
made this yesterday and it was incredible. I had to make a few modifications: I didn’t have any turmeric or kasuri methi and had to use normal yoghurt, and lime instead of lemon but it still came out delicious. Definitely will be making this again!

5 stars
fantastic recipe. Easy to follow.

5 stars
This was fabulous. I had made my own chili oil which was nice. I used whole chicken legs and thighs. Roasted in a hot oven for 40 minutes. Served with garlic naan and brinjal pickle. My only suggestion would be to rub the lemon juice over the chicken before you put it in the marinade. It just brightens up the chicken a little more.

I made this and it was perfection! I didn’t have mustard oil (never heard of it) but it worked with the oil I had olive or avocado I don’t remember now. I marinated it overnight.

5 stars
This recipe made the most tender chicken I have had in a very long time. I let it marinate over night. Perfectly cooked. And super-delicious! Thank you.

5 stars
One thing that some people need to be aware of (maybe note more loudly) is that chili powder is not american chili powder as in texas chili. Much different flavor and use. American chili powder is actually a mix of paprika, cumin, oregano…) and that is not what the recipe is after.

Hi swathi, I made this recipe today in the oven but the chicken was dry. May I know how make it juicy?

Built in oven, temperature was set at 240C.

The recipe is great by the way, just that the dryness was the issue if that’s rectified the fish will be superb.

Chicken not fish *

After baking for first 30mins, just bashed it with butter or oil and then wrapped the chicken with a foil, then baked for 30min more.

5 stars
This was the best recipe. I followed the instructions for Air Fryer. The chicken was moist and the spices were just right. My family loved it. I will definitely make it again.

5 stars
It came out very good. The hung curd is the concept which I was missing so long. Because of this the chicken remained moist after grilling.