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Indian Style Tandoori Chicken
Tandoori Chicken is high on our list of favorite Asian Indian dishes. In fact, it is next in line after our all-time fave, Chicken Tikka Masala. Traditionally, this dish requires a special clay oven and baking temperatures up to 900F. Homemade Tandoori Chicken isn’t an exact replica of the original, as most of us don’t own a commercial clay oven, but this recipe comes deliciously close!
Plus, this recipe is a great make-ahead option. Simply mix the chicken into the marinade and carry on with your day knowing a delicious, tender, flavorful chicken dinner awaits! Get ready for a mouth-watering, absolutely guilt-free indulgence that is healthy and succulent.
Watch us Make Tandoori Chicken
Why You’ll Love It
- This recipe is packed with sensational spice flavors that are sure to put this dish in regular dinner rotation.
- After the chicken marinades, this recipe pulls together in just a few simple steps which makes it one of our favorites for meal prep in the oven.
- There are so many different options to pair with tandoori chicken in oven to round out a full meal. Serve it with rice or quinoa, potatoes, or veggies. Tandoori chicken is flavorful and goes well with many other side dishes.
- Tandoori Chicken in oven is a healthy option for the entire family. The marinade is yogurt-based and packed with protein and seasonings that make for a nutrient-rich recipe.
You’ll only need a handful of pantry staples here:
- Chicken legs – We prefer to use legs or drumsticks, but any bone-in chicken piece will work just fine.
- Olive oil – Olive oil provides the barrier in your pan to help cook the marinade.
- Garlic cloves – A flavor and aromatic beauty in this recipe. Feel free to mince your own fresh garlic or use pre-minced garlic in water.
- Spices – Here is where the recipe shines: garam masala, paprika, cumin, chili powder, & salt. Five ingredients with big flavor.
- Plain yogurt – We recommend whole-milk plain yogurt. The key here is unflavored plain yogurt!
- Lime juice & wedges – This adds a bit of acidity to the marinade that really is the perfect zing. Wedges are for garnish!
Since most folks at home don’t have a clay oven where traditional Tandoori Chicken is cooked, this equally delicious Tandoori Chicken in Oven recipe can be made right in your regular oven. Here’s how:
- Dry the Chicken. Dry chicken pieces and pierce each with a fork before setting aside.
- Prep the seasonings. Cook garlic for 30 seconds in a large skillet over medium heat before stirring in the spices and cooking another 30 seconds.
- Half the mixture. Transfer half the garlic mixture into a bowl, add yogurt, and lime juice. Stir until creamy and set aside in the fridge.
- Coat the Chicken. Combine the remaining garlic mixture, lime juice, and salt. Add a few dashes of olive oil and put the chicken into a large bowl before thoroughly coating each piece with the mixture. Cover & place in the fridge for 2-4 hours. Remove from fridge 1 hour before cooking.
- Preheat the oven. Move the oven rack to an upper middle position and heat to 325F. Line a large baking sheet with foil.
- Transfer the chicken to the baking sheet. Work the yogurt mixture into each chicken piece and place it onto the baking sheet.
- Roast. Roast the chicken 20-25 minutes.
- Adjust the oven rack. Remove the chicken from the oven and move the rack 6 inches from the top heat broiler. Place the chicken back in the oven and continue roasting for 8-12 minutes until chicken is highly charred.
- Serve & enjoy. Remove from the oven and place on a serving plate. Loosely cover with foil and let rest 5 minutes before serving. Serve with Basmati rice and lime wedges.
Commonly Asked Questions
Traditionally made Tandoori chicken is roasted in a tandoor, which is a cylindrical clay oven. Marinated chicken is placed onto skewers and cooked to temperatures as high as 900F. Tandoori chicken cooked this way often has a nice smokey flavor from the charcoal and wood burning beneath.
This recipe has just a bit of heat to it. The chili powder and smoked paprika both carry a nice note of spice which in our opinion is absolutely delicious when coated on a tender piece of chicken. Feel free to lessen or increase the spice level to suit your taste.
The most common cut of chicken used in Tandoori Chicken is chicken legs or drumsticks. However, this recipe is equally as good on just about any other bone-in chicken like chicken thighs or wings. Each cut of meat might cook slightly differently, so keep your meat thermometer on hand to ensure each cut cooks to perfection. We do recommend sticking with dark meat vs. white meat, as dark meat is much more forgiving when it comes to tenderness.
Tandoori chicken is an aromatic and tender chicken dish that pairs perfectly with basmati rice, brown rice, or a simple naan flatbread. A classic Indian style creamy spinach is delicious with tandoori chicken.
You may have noticed that some tandoori chicken recipes have a deep red hue. This is usually due to added food coloring. You can omit red food coloring without affecting the flavor of tandoori chicken. We use smoked paprika for flavor and a natural red tint instead.
More to Bake and Eat
- Indian Style Rogan Josh – Savory, mildly spicy curry with robust, comforting flavors. This is a must-try recipe.
- Naan (Grilled Flatbread) – Beautifully grilled flatbread naan recipe that cooks with airy bubbles and a delicious chew.
- Easy Indian Creamed Spinach – Just like the popular Indian spinach dish Saag/Palak, this creamy spinach is fresh and easy to pill together.
- Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe – Easily one of our favorite Indian dishes that is irresistible with the perfect fail-proof spice mix.
- Slow-Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala – Want Tikka Masala but don’t have the time? This slow-cooker recipe is equally as yummy and perfect for busy weeknight meals.
Did you make this?
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Tandoori Chicken in Oven
- 16 chicken legs, or 3 lbs other bone-in chicken pieces such as chicken thighs
- 3 TB olive oil, light
- 6 garlic cloves, freshly minced
- 1 TB ground ginger, or 2 TB freshly grated
- 1 TB garam masala
- 1 ½ TB smoked paprika
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp chili powder
- 1 cup plain yogurt, unsweetened, whole
- ¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice, about 2 limes + extra wedges for garnish
- 2 ½ tsp table salt
- Thoroughly dry chicken pieces. Using a fork, deeply pierce each piece well, on all sides. Set aside while you make the marinade.
- Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds. Stir in ginger, garam masala, paprika, cumin, and chili powder. Cook 30 seconds longer.
- Transfer half of garlic mixture to a medium bowl, stir in the yogurt, and add 2 TB fresh lime juice. Stir until creamy. Set sauce in a medium bowl in fridge until ready to use.
- In a large bowl, combine remaining garlic mixture, remaining lime juice, and salt. “Loosen” mixture a bit with a couple dashes of olive oil. Transfer pierced chicken to this large bowl and rub mixture onto chicken until all pieces are evenly coated. Cover tightly and put in fridge for 2-4 hours. Remove from fridge 1 hour before you’re ready to cook, so it has time to get close to room temp.
- Adjust oven rack to upper middle position and heat to 325F. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with foil.
- One at a time, work yogurt mixture into each chicken piece so that each piece is thickly coated, including underneath the skin. Place chicken onto baking sheet and pour any remaining yogurt mixture over the chicken. Roast chicken 20-25 minutes, depending on size of pieces (125-130 degrees if using meat thermometer.)
- Remove chicken from oven, and adjust oven rack 6 inches from top heat broiler. Return chicken to oven rack, and broil until chicken is lightly charred in spots, about 8-12 minutes. Each oven is different and chicken pieces vary in size, so watch carefully to ensure chicken does not burn.
- Transfer chicken to serving plate, tent loosely with foil and let rest for 5 minutes before serving. Serve with Basmati rice and lime wedges.
- This Tandoori Chicken recipe does not use red food coloring, which is often added for that reddish hue you may recognize with other Tandoori Chicken recipes. Add food coloring if you must, but we prefer ours without it. The flavor is not at all affected by omitting food coloring.
- We highly recommend sticking with dark meat such as chicken legs or thighs, as these cuts are much more forgiving when it comes to tenderness.
- If desired, you can place chicken on a wire rack set on top of baking sheet, rather than directly on baking sheet.
- This dish is wonderful for meal prep, as you can make a large batch at the start of the week and enjoy it for several days. It reheats well.
- Serve this dish with classic basmati rice, healthy brown rice, or easy homemade naan.
- If you enjoyed this recipe, please come back and give it a rating ❤️