Spicy chicken marinated in yogurt, Kashmiri red chili powder, fresh ginger-garlic, garam masala, and then grilled to perfection! Tandoori Chicken is a classic Indian dish that is healthy, easy to cook, and a definite crowd-pleaser. Whenever I have to take a dish to a summer party, this tender, juicy, moist dish comes to mind.
Why We Love This Recipe
My boys LOVE tandoori chicken. For years, we ate it in restaurants, our fingers got red from the food coloring they used. Every time we went to India we would enjoy my mom's Tandoori chicken on her terrace mini-tandoor and it was so much more flavorful and bright red without any artificial coloring. The secret when I asked her was the mild Kashmiri chili powder that gave her tandoori chicken the bright hue. In addition to yogurt, fresh ginger, and garlic the other key ingredient in this recipe is the homemade garam masala.
I finally got her recipe and realized how easy it was to make tandoori chicken at home. Before we knew it was on our repeat list. It is also my go-to dish along with the Paneer Tikka Recipe and Chicken Shawarma for easy weeknight dinners as well as hosting.
What is Tandoori Chicken?
Tandoori is a style of cooking from the Indian subcontinent that refers to cooking food in a clay oven, which is also called a Tandoor. Most traditional Tandoori chicken is marinated in yogurt and vibrant spices before it is roasted in the clay oven.
Since most of us don't have clay ovens, there are other ways we can replicate the cooking methods with our own kitchen appliances such as an oven or outdoor grill, or Air Fryer.
Ingredients to Make Tandoori Chicken
- Chicken - Bone-in chicken drumsticks work best for this recipe for a tender, juicy and moist dish
- Yogurt - Plain full-fat yogurt, you may also use plain greek yogurt
- Spices - Mild Kashmiri red chili powder, turmeric, and garam masala
- Ginger & Garlic - Fresh homemade ginger and garlic paste add authentic flavors
- Lemon Juice - Freshly squeezed lemon juice to tenderize the meat
How to make Tandoori Chicken
- Bone-in Chicken drumsticks are a must for this recipe. De-skin the drumsticks and make 3-4 slits across each drumstick. Whisk together yogurt, ginger garlic paste, lemon juice, and spices to make the marinade.
- Apply the yogurt mixture evenly to the chicken legs, cover the bowl and let it marinate in the refrigerator for at least 5-6 hours or up to 24 hours. The longer you marinate the more flavorful the chicken will be.
- Take the marinated chicken out of the refrigerator 30 minutes prior to grilling. Baste the chicken with mustard oil (or any cooking oil) and arrange it on a grilling pan or on the outdoor grill.
- Grill it on an outdoor grill for 20 mins.
Can You Make Tandoori Chicken in the Oven?
Yes! bake it at 450 F in a preheated oven for 15 mins, followed by 5 minutes of broiling to get some perfectly grilled charred marks.
What to Serve with this Recipe
Serve Tandoori Chicken with Mango Salad or Fiesta Quinoa Salad. I often serve Vegetable Biryani with Tandoori chicken as it makes a hearty meal. Don't forget some easy drinks! Try the soothing mango lassi, watermelon juice, or refreshing ginger lemonade!
- 2 lbs chicken drumsticks skim removed
- ½ cup plain regular or low fat yogurt
- 1 tablespoon garlic paste
- 1 tablespoon ginger paste
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 to 2 tablespoons kashmiri or any other mild red chili powder
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 to 2 teaspoons garam masala
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 lime cut in wedges
- 1 small red onion sliced
- Make 3-4 slits across each drumstick. Whisk together yogurt, ginger, garlic, lemon juice, red chili powder, turmeric, garam masala, and salt to make the marinade. Apply evenly to the chicken pieces and let it marinate in the refrigerator for at least 5-6 hours or up to 24 hours.
- Preheat the grill or oven at 450 F. Take the chicken out of the refrigerator 30 minutes prior to grilling. Baste the chicken with some cooking oil and arrange it on a grilling pan or on the outdoor grill.
- You can grill it on an outdoor grill for 20 mins or until the juices run clear. Alternatively, bake it in an oven for 15 mins, followed by 5 minutes of broiling to get some perfectly grilled charred marks.
- Serve with fresh lime wedges and sliced red onion.