Classic Tandoori Chicken is an Indian recipe marinated in yogurt, garam masala and cayenne before baking, a perfect easy weeknight meal.
Readers are enjoying all of the Indian Recipes on the site including Butter Chicken, Vegetable Biryani, Chicken Tikka Masala and Raita.
Tandoori Chicken is a classic Indian grilled meat dish known for its bright red-orange color. This recipe was actually a mix between trying to stay true to the classic restaurant favorite recipe while making an easy weeknight meal. It’s also super affordable using using chicken legs. The cost savings isn’t the only reason to use drumsticks, the drumstick is the most popular and favorite part of the chicken, and with this recipe everyone gets a piece!
The other great thing about using chicken legs for this recipe is that they stay tender while cooking quickly. They have just enough meat to stay tender while getting a slightly crispy exterior from the marinade. This means more of the meat is super flavorful.
With thighs you might see people eat all the parts of the chicken covered in the marinade while leaving the extra meat on the inside. Chicken breasts can be an issue only because with the high heat of cooking to get the right char, you’ll the white meat was could dry out a bit. Chicken legs are the perfect easy option here.
If you want to make this recipe with a different cut of chicken, I highly suggest cutting through the meat to allow the marinade to flavor more deeply into the chicken. This can be done once you remove the skin, you would cut deep x marks into the thighs or breasts almost to the bone.
Serve Tandoori Chicken with veggie packed sides like Chana Masala, Aloo Gobi, and Saag Paneer for a complete Indian feast at home!
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Frequently Asked Questions
Tandoori Chicken is classically served in restaurants in a bright red hue because of the addition of a few drops of red food coloring. You can create a similar color with the addition of harissa paste and turmeric if you are averse to using the red food coloring.
Combine 1 teaspoon Kosher salt, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, 1 teaspoon paprika, 1 teaspoon turmeric, 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 tablespoon garam masala, and 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper.
The spice mix can be combined and stored for future use, this spice mix makes enough for two pounds of tandoori chicken when combined with 2 cups greek yogurt.
The classic charred look of grilled tandoori chicken can be replicated in the oven. Cook the chicken at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes, turning once halfway through cooking.
Garam Masala Spice Mix
Don’t have garam masala? You can make your own garam masala spice mix at home!
- 2 tablespoons cumin
- 1 tablespoon coriander
- 1 tablespoon cardamom
- 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
How to Store Tandoori Chicken
- Serve: Do not leave cooked chicken at room temperature longer than 2 hours before refrigerating.
- Store: Store Tandoori Chicken in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
- Freeze: Seal Tandoori Chicken in a plastic freezer bag and freeze for 1-2 months. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight and heat in the oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
- 2 pounds chicken legs , no skin (8 legs)
- 2 cups greek yogurt
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 tablespoon garam masala
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon yellow food coloring
- 1 teaspoon red food coloring
- 1 lemon , juiced
- Add all ingredients to a large bowl and mix well.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, then let marinade in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours, preferably 24 hours.
- Remove the majority of the marinade before cooking the chicken.
- Grill Instructions: Heat the oiled grill to medium-high heat and cook the chicken until cooked through, 10-12 minutes.
- Oven Instructions: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and cook on a sheet pan for 25-30 minutes.
Photos used in a previous version of this post.
I found this recipe and was excited. The one thing I would update is the prep time. I made the marinade and was excited to have tandoori chicken tonight instead of a usual seasoned chicken dish. The prep time is misleading since it does NOT include the “marinate in the refrigerator time of 8-24 hours”. Adding the marinade time to the prep time let’s people know in the very beginning when they will be able to eat their delicious chicken. Tomorrow, not tonight.
My husband and I moved to a new state a year ago and with covid rampant, we are not exploring restaurants like we normally would have. We are missing our Indian food fix so I found some recipes. I like chicken curry, he likes tandori. I found a recipe for curry chicken which was a horrible disaster and was thrown out before the chicken jumped in the pan and was happily repurposed. On to this recipe…I was feeling snake bit but put on my big girl panties and jumped in. I didn’t add the cayenne but will next time. Followed the recipe but only had fluorescent pink food color, funny I know.
Regardless, the bone in thighs came out great! Very surprised and pleased. Made some curry rice and roasted broccoli and homemade Naan. Our craving have been satisfied! Thank you for this recipe ?
Would it be okay to use a rack over the baking sheet when cooking in the oven, or just on the baking sheet itself?
Absolutely fantastic! I didn’t add enough red food colour so mine looks a little yellow, but the flavour was incredible. Entire family loved it – even the pickiest eater!
I must have done something wrong because my oven roasted chicken looks nothing like the picture. It’s seriously a hot mess lol. The marinate slid off the chicken and it took 10 minutes longer to cook than the recipe said. Also the chicken never browned in the slightest. Help! What did I do wrong??
Oh no! sounds like your chicken was releasing too much liquid. Did you ensure it was completely thawed before starting? If so, try patting it down with a paper towel to remove any excess liquid before starting. Hope this helps for next time.
Excellent! I followed the recipe to the tee. It came out perfect. Tremendous results!
Thanks for the 5 stars, Jay. I’m glad you enjoyed it.
Garlic Powder and other power’s, this is ridiculous, it’s not authentic, even garam masalla you make, is not good enough
Good recipe. It’s very mild so if you want more spice/flavor, definitely double the ingredients.
First time making it. It was amazingly delicious and fabulous. My husband enjoyed it a lot. Many thanks for the golden recipe. ?
I’m so glad you decided to give it a try!
Thanks for this kind information and delicious recipe on tandoori chicken. It was really helpful and worth reading your article.
Found the recipe to be bland and not very spicy at all, so I adjusted accordingly on my 2nd time and was much better and was spicy, I recommend 3 teaspoons if you like it spicy and I pretty much doubled everything except the masala I left it at one tablespoon and 3 teaspoons of cayenne.
Can you replace Greek yogurt with anything else for lactose intolerant people?
There are some great brands that produce 100% lactose free greek yogurt.
So yummy!!!! I didn’t have any yogurt so I used whole milk with one teaspoon of lemon. It is very spicy so if you have young kids lighten up on the cayenne.
To get a red colour you can use achiote (ground: not whole seeds) this is the colouring used in food from the Yucatan Peninsula (Mexico) and is used to colour Red Leicester cheese. You need the pure spice not the one that comes as a paste which contains vinegar, maize flour etc.
My family loved this recipe!! We grilled it in a gas bbq. As good as an Indian restaurants! Will be making this again!
Thanks for the 5 stars, Sandra. So glad you all enjoyed it.
Hi! I’m planning on making this recipe one day this week. But I have a question about the seasonings. If I have tandoori and garam masala, do I still need to use all the spices you listed or do I just use the Tandoori and GM? Also I don’t have a bbq pit but I have a cast iron flat/grilling thing, that should work in the oven right?
Oh and is this a spicy chicken? I tasted the tandoori and it was spicy and the Garam Masala tasted like dirt lol. I’m sure when they are cooked they won’t taste the same! Anyway, thanks for posting the recipe and I can’t wait to try it!! ?
If you have tandoori you can substitute the ingredients needed to make it yourself that are listed in the recipe card. You should be able to use the cast iron grill for this. This dish is spicy but you can adjust the spice level to match more to your liking! I hope you enjoy it!
Made this last night. Amazing flavor! Cooked on stovetop first then in the oven. Even my picky son loved it. Used 1/2 tsp. Of both the red & yellow food coloring. Everyone questioned the deep orange color while marinating but came out a deeper red when cooked. Thanks for my new go to Tandoori chicken recipe!
So glad this is your new go-to!!
I’m making tandoori Chicken. With my mom . We would like to know if you put the Chicken for 400 d. How long you have put the temperature down .
This is not authentic when you use garlic powder, or chicken legs, get thighs not drumsticks with the sinews still in.
J’ai fais cette recette pour un souper entre amis pour un petit festin indien , un vrai succès ?
Do you have a good recipe for chicken 65? With ingredients that are easy to find?
I don’t but I’ll add it to my research list. Thanks for the suggestion.
Has anyone tried using a flavored yogurt for marination?
I made this recipe for my family and it turned out fantastic. Really great flavors I will definitely make again. I cooked longer than recipe stated and it wasn’t dry – absolutely delish !
So glad you all enjoyed it, Lisa. I appreciate the 5 star rating.
Just cooked this for about the 6th time…still love it and a firm fave with the kids eventhough mine never seems to go red. BUT I keep the discarded sauce and use it to make a Kashmiri type curry usually 2 days later (lots of flavour). I chop up a pepper and an onion and cook, add meat or prawns then loads of ground almonds to thicken it, and lots of cream and get it boiling to reduce, then serve it topped with flaked almonds and more cream. Soooooo good.
That sounds so delicious!! Thanks for sharing!
I was wondering if it is safe to use the marinade 2 days later since it had raw chicken in it. You didn’t have any problems?
You can use the marinade to make a sauce as long as you boil it for at least 5 minutes on the stovetop.
Why do you cook the chicken in the oven after it is cooked through on the grill? Won’t that dry out the chicken?
I prefer getting a char on it and then finishing it in the oven. If you prefer you can just do either grilled or oven. I hope you enjoy it!
Is there any way to make this without yogurt for someone who can’t eat dairy?
I’ve never tested it using a non dairy yogurt but if you decide to try, I’d love to know how it turns out. Thanks!
My son is allergic to dairy and eggs and I substituted egg free mayonnaise in place of the yogurt. Turned out that the chicken was nice and tender and similar in taste.
Thanks for the suggestion!
HIYA SABRINA, I AM JOHN FROM THE NORTH OF IRELAND, CO. ANTRIM.
LOVE ANY INDIAN/EASTERN FOOD. I AM NEW TO YOUR SITE, IF POSSIBLE CAN YOU PLEASE ADD “GAS MARK” IN YOUR INSTRUCTIONS?
AT A QUICK GLANCE AT YOUR FOOD LAYOUT LOOKS FANTASTIC, CANT WAIT TO GET
THANK YOU, JOHN HAMILL.
So I don’t want to sound dumb but uncovered or covered in the oven
Hi is there an alternative to kosher salt as that’s only thing couldn’t get.
You can use a coarse sea salt or even table salt in a pinch. Enjoy!
Will be attempting to recreate this fabulous looking dish this week , an all time favourite of mine , I will post pictures IF I succeed .
I hope you enjoy it!
Thank you for the recipe. Is there a stove top alternate to grilling? Kindly let me know.
If you don’t have a grill pan, you can also use a cast iron skillet. I hope you enjoy it!
I made this the other day and I was unimpressed, the spices needed to be a bigger amount and the yogurt was to thick. I know that if I can modify it, the recipe will be much better.
I agree I pretty much doubled up on the spices except for the masala which I kept at 1 tablespoon and the cayenne I used 3 teaspoons and it was spicy. As for the marinade being thick it supposed to be you’re using yogurt as the base for the marinade I suppose you could add some more lemon juice and some water to thin it out a bit, but I wouldn’t recommend it.
Didn’t see why skin-on chicken wings wouldn’t work, and they did! Easy prep and very tasty. Marinated for 2 hours and baked at 400°F for about 22 minutes per side. No added color necessary. Bet you can’t eat just one.
Thanks for the feedback! So glad you decided to try and loved it!
Sorry, I didn’t understand:
do I use
the grill AND the oven,
or is it
the grill OR the oven?
Sorry for the confusion…you can use either method….grilling or oven. I was just trying to give options. 🙂
Was just curious, if using Harrisa and Tuneric instead of food coloring. How much of each do you suggest? Actually preparing marinade today! Sounds so good!
I’m not really sure how much to use….you might just need to start with a little and eyeball it. Hope you enjoy!
This looks amazing!!! Do you have any suggestions on sides? I cannot wait to make this!
Thank you! I would suggest roasted vegetables or even my Vegetable Biryan.
I cut up potatoes, cauliflower and bell peppers and coated them with more of the spice mix and roasted them in the oven at 375 (convection) for about 30 minutes on a sheet pan. They were a great side. I mixed some of the roasted veggies with spinach and left some without just to satisfy different family members.
The ingredient list has “1-tsp Cayenne pepper” listed twice. Is that correct?
Melaney Mattson, San Clemente, CA
Thanks for catching that! It should’ve only been in there once. It’s been fixed. 🙂
no, it’s not
This sounds amazing! I love tandoori!
Sabrina, we are currently camping at Zion National park in Utah but I have to take a peek at your blog. I can’t wait to get home to try the tandoori chicken recipe! I don’t know how you manage to find the time to blog due to your busy schedule but we appreciate your effort very much
Thank you so much Ann! It’s a crazy life but I love it!
I love how crispy is this chicken! Yummy!
Thank you Catalina!
I love tandoori and that looks absolutely perfect!
These chicken legs look amazing!
I’m always looking for more chicken recipes, and this one sounds perfect for my family!
Such a great way to switch up your chicken routine!
Having read most messages most are unfair. flavour regarding heat flavour are your own personal likes.
I will try this recipe tomorrow and I’m sure it will be A1.
If it’s not up to my own flavours and taste I can adjust.