There’s a reason why Indian-inspired tandoori chicken is so popular — full of deep and earthy flavor and a hint of sweetness, it’s simply delicious! Make this restaurant-quality dish yourself at home in the oven or on the grill.
It’s no secret how much I love whipping up Indian-inspired cuisine. Dishes like aloo masala (spicy potatoes), this turkey lentil soup, and these stuffed crepes called masala dosa are just a few of my favorites. If I had it my way, I would serve Indian food at least once a week! It’s hearty, filling, and perfectly comforting. And best of all, you don’t need to go to a restaurant to get it. Indian cuisine is so much fun to make at home.
Today’s dish is one that I’ve been meaning to share for a while: tandoori chicken. It’s made with tender boneless skinless chicken thighs and a flavorful marinade of yogurt and spices and seasonings. Traditionally, this tandoori chicken recipe is prepared in a tandoor or a type of clay oven. If you don’t have one, no need to worry. You can make yours in the oven or on the grill.
INGREDIENT NOTES AND SUBSTITUTIONS
- Chicken - I like using boneless skinless chicken thighs for my tandoori chicken recipe. The dark meat makes this dish extra savory.
- Ghee - To cook your chicken as well as for serving. You could also use melted butter instead.
- Greek Yogurt - Plain Greek yogurt is the base for your tandoori marinade.
- Chili Paste - I swear by spicy Sambal Oelek chili paste! It’s another key ingredient for your marinade.
- Lemon Juice - To add a touch of citrus to your tandoori marinade. You also need sliced lemons as a garnish.
- Ginger Paste - More savory flavor for your marinade!
- Garlic - I use garlic in almost all of my savory dishes, and this tandoori chicken recipe is no exception.
- Vegetable Oil - To achieve the proper consistency in your marinade.
- Red Food Coloring - Tandoori chicken is famously bright red. Use food coloring to get the color right! Red food coloring/gel (chemical free preferred) typically can be found in the baking aisle of your market.
- Kosher Salt - To balance out the other flavors.
- Cayenne Pepper - For more added heat!
- Garam Masala - Most of the complex flavor of this dish comes from a garam masala spice mix. Buy it at the supermarket or make your own.
- Fresh Cilantro - For serving.
HOW TO MAKE TANDOORI CHICKEN IN THE OVEN
- Prep the Chicken. Make cuts on the flesh of your chicken so that it soaks up the marinade more effectively.
- Marinate. Whisk together the marinade ingredients in a bowl, then add the chicken. Toss to coat, making sure to get the marinade in the cuts for maximum flavor. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours — overnight is better.
- Prep Your Oven. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F and place a grill rack over a baking sheet lined with foil. Coat the rack with cooking spray.
- Prep the Chicken (Again). Using gloves or tongs, shake and discard any excess marinade from the chicken and then place it on the grill rack. Make sure to leave some space between each piece.
- Bake. Bake the chicken for 30 minutes. After 15 minutes, brush the ghee or melted butter over each piece of chicken. Once the 30 minutes is up, turn the chicken over and brush with more ghee or butter. Bake for another 15 minutes, or until an inserted thermometer reads 165 degrees F.
- Garnish & Serve. Serve your tandoori chicken with more melted butter or ghee on top, chopped cilantro, and a few lemon slices. Enjoy!
HOW TO MAKE TANDOORI CHICKEN ON THE GRILL
- Prep the Chicken & Marinate. Follow Steps 1-2 as indicated above.
- Prep Your Grill. Set your grill temperature to 400 degrees F, then clean and oil the grill grates.
- Grill. Use gloves or tongs to shake and discard any excess marinade from the chicken. Grill for 3 minutes on one side, flip, and brush the ghee or melted butter over each piece of chicken. Grill for an additional 6 minutes. Flip the chicken over once more and brush a bit more ghee of butter on top. Grill for 1-2 more minutes — again, an inserted thermometer must read 165 degrees F. Garnish and serve as instructed above!
What is Tandoori Marinade Made Of?
All tandoori marinades will differ slightly, but most include yogurt, citrus, ginger, garlic, chili paste, salt, and a spice mix like garam masala. The results are bold, flavorful, and delicious!
What Gives Tandoori Chicken Red Color?
I like to include a bit of red food coloring to get that distinct red hue, but other recipes achieve it with a hearty helping of paprika and cayenne pepper. You may also consider adding a bit of turmeric.
How is Tandoori Cooked?
As I mentioned, traditionally tandoori chicken is cooked in a tandoor, which is an oven made from clay. That said, most people don’t have this type of oven at home, so you can make yours in a conventional oven or on the grill.
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Tandoori Chicken (Boneless)
- 2 lbs chicken thighs boneless and skinless
- ¼ cup ghee or butter melted
- 1 cup Greek yogurt plain
- 2 tablespoon chili paste sambal oelek
- 1 lemon juice divided
- 2 tablespoons fresh ginger paste
- 2 tablespoons garlic minced
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoon red food coloring/gel chemical free preferred
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoon cayenne powder
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 2 tablespoon ghee or butter melted
- 2 lemons sliced
- 1 small bunch cilantro leaves
- Make cuts on the flesh of the chicken. In a bowl whisk together the marinade ingredients.
- Add the chicken to the marinade and toss to coat. Make sure to get marinade in all cuts to penetrate flavor. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate minimum 3 hours or overnight.
- Preheat your oven to 400°F. Place a grill rack over a baking sheet lined with foil.
- Coat the rack with cooking spray. Using gloves or tongs - Shake and discard excess marinade from chicken. Place the chicken on the grill rack leaving space in between each piece.
- Bake the chicken for 30 minutes. After 15 minutes, brush some butter/ghee over each chicken piece. After 30 minutes, turn the chicken pieces over. Brush with more butter/ghee and continue baking for another 15 minutes. Be sure inserted thermometer reads 165°F.
- Set grill temperature to 400°F. Clean and oil the grill grates.
- Using gloves or tongs - Shake and discard excess marinade from chicken. Grill 3 minutes first side, flip and brush some butter over each chicken piece, grilling for 6 minutes. Turn once more, brush some butter over each chicken piece and grill for another 1-2 minutes. Be sure inserted thermometer reads 165°F.
- Serve topped with more melted butter/ghee, chopped cilantro and lemon slices.
*The information shown below is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.
I’m siting here hungry as I have looked through some recipes. I am going to make a version of your tandoori chicken pizza which led me here. I am really looking forward to trying this chicken. It sounds so delicious and would be great if I had some leftovers handy. I only have a small amount of a tasty chicken breast to add to my pizza, the others will be veggie, so I will see what we have to sub. I do love Indian food!