This versatile recipe for Indian Tandoori Chicken is a flavor explosion! Made in the oven or air fryer, this quick and easy recipe is loaded with spices, garlic, ginger, and lime.
Easy Tandoori Chicken in the Oven or Air Fryer!
When you think of Indian food, you may picture your favorite curry dish, served over rice – and with good reason! Curries are by far one of the most beloved Indian dishes in the U.S. But tandoori chicken is definitely up there, too, and once you try it, you’ll definitely see why.
This deeply-colored, boldly-flavored cooking method takes bone-in, skinless chicken pieces, and transforms them into crispy, tender, mouthwatering pieces of goodness! It’s a perfect way to use chicken drumsticks (which are often one of the most cost-effective chicken cuts available). Plus, it’s incredibly easy to make! As long as you remember to put the chicken in the marinade ahead of time, the rest of the prep is fast and minimal.
Is Tandoori Chicken Spicy?
Although tandoori chicken is loaded with spices, it is not “spicy” in terms of being hot, like jalapeno peppers or hot sauce. In fact, none of the spices in this dish are hot – even the Kashmiri chili powder is very mild. If you’d like to add a spicy kick to your chicken, try adding cayenne pepper, to taste.
The Ingredients You’ll Need
The secret to great tandoori chicken at home is the amazing lineup of spices and aromatics. They give an incredible taste to the finished dish, one that your family will ask for again and again! And since most of the work is simply measuring and pouring spices, prep is actually really simple.
- Chicken: For this recipe, you’ll want bone-in chicken. I use legs, but any chicken pieces will work.
- Yogurt: Thick, creamy Greek yogurt is the base of the marinade.
- Lime Juice: A freshly-juiced lime will give the brightest flavor, but bottled juice will also work just fine.
- Garlic: Mince or press a few fresh garlic cloves.
- Ginger: Freshly-grated ginger is huge in this recipe! In a pinch, use ground ginger.
- Spices: Garam masala, Kashmiri chili powder, cumin, and ground coriander are all you need to give this recipe its signature taste.
- Olive Oil: Avocado oil would also be good.
- Butter: The butter should be melted before brushing on the chicken and cooking.
Let’s Make Tandoori Chicken!
So just how do you make tandoori chicken at home? This recipe includes instructions for marinating the chicken, as well as instructions for baking in the oven OR cooking in the air fryer. Either method results in tender, juicy meat that’s mouthwateringly flavorful.
- Prep the Chicken. To allow the marinade to really flavor the meat, you’ll want to remove the skin from each piece of chicken. From there, cut a few gashes into the thickest part of each piece, to allow the marinade to catch hold even more.
- Marinate the Chicken. Next, mix together the marinade ingredients, EXCEPT the butter, in a big zip-top bag or a large mixing bowl. Add the chicken pieces, and toss to coat. Seal the zip-top bag (or cover the bowl), and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight.
- Prep the Oven and Baking Sheet. To bake the chicken in a regular oven, first preheat the oven to 400°F. While the oven heats, line a rimmed cookie sheet with foil.
- Line Up the Chicken Pieces on the Baking Sheet. One by one, take each piece of chicken out of the marinade, letting the excess drip off. You can shake the pieces gently to help get the excess marinade off, if necessary. Line up the pieces on your prepared cookie sheet, with the edges not touching, for maximum crispiness.
- Bake. Brush the chicken with melted butter, and then place in the oven to bake for 20 minutes. Flip the drumsticks, and bake 20 minutes more, or until cooked through (the chicken is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 175°F).
- Rest and Serve. Once the chicken is done, take it out of the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!
Air Fryer Instructions
- Prep the Air Fryer and Drumsticks. To air-fry, first preheat the air fryer to 360°F for 5 minutes. While it preheats, take the drumsticks out of the marinade one by one, letting the excess marinade drip off (or gently shaking it off, if necessary). Line up the chicken pieces in the air fryer basket, not touching, for maximum crispiness.
- Air-Fry the Chicken. Place the basket in the air fryer and let the chicken cook for 10 minutes. Flip the drumsticks, and air-fry again for another 5 minutes or so, until the chicken is cooked through to an internal temperature of 175°F.
- Serve. Brush the drumsticks with melted butter, and serve.
Tips for Success
Before you start cooking, be sure to check out these easy tips and tricks. Each one will help your tandoori turn out “chef’s kiss” perfect!
- Yogurt Solution: If you would like to use regular yogurt instead of Greek yogurt, just place it in a paper-towel-lined colander and let it drain for 30 minutes or so. The whey will drain out of the yogurt, leaving it thicker.
- Toasted Spices: To enhance the flavors of the marinade, gently toast the spices in a dry saucepan for a few minutes, until fragrant. Be careful not to burn the spices or you will need to start again with a fresh batch.
- Chicken Options: This recipe can be used with other cuts of chicken as well, such as boneless chicken breast, chicken thighs, etc. However, you will need to adjust the cooking times accordingly. Use a meat thermometer to ensure doneness.
- Easy Skin Removal: To remove the skin from the chicken, grab the skin with a paper towel and pull from the top of the drumstick (the fat end) toward the base (the thin end).
What Goes with a Tandoori Chicken Dinner?
When it comes to serving tandoori chicken, you really can’t go wrong with a hearty grain or veggie side – think rice, potatoes, or a simple salad of cucumber slices tossed with sea salt and dill. So easy! Here are a few favorite recipes to try:
- Roasted Potatoes: This classic recipe for Oven Roasted Potatoes goes with everything, and adds a satisfying boost of healthy carbs to your meal.
- Flavorful Slaw: A cold, crunchy serving of Spicy Mango Slaw couldn’t be more delicious – until you serve it with tandoori chicken, that is! It’s a flavor-blasted feast.
- Cauliflower: Cauliflower is amazing steamed, roasted, and especially in this hearty recipe for The Best Mashed Cauliflower. It’s a perfect low-carb side!
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
- To refrigerate, place your leftover tandoori chicken in an airtight container or zip-top bag. Keep in the fridge for 3 – 4 days.
- To reheat, place the desired amount in a covered skillet over low heat. Let it heat until it’s warm through, but keep an eye on it – reheating chicken can easily dry it out.
Can I Freeze This?
Yes, you can! Just cool it down, pop it into a freezer bag or airtight container, and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge before reheating.
Indian Tandoori Chicken
- 2 pounds chicken legs or chicken pieces, approximately 12 bone-in pieces
- 1 cup Greek yogurt
- 1 lime, juiced (about 2 tablespoons)
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons freshly-grated ginger
- 1 tablespoon turmeric
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon garam masala
- 1 teaspoon Kashmiri chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon coriander powder
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 3 tablespoons butter, melted
- Marinating Instructions
- Remove the skin from the chicken, and with a sharp knife cut 2 – 3 deep slices into the thick part of each raw drumstick. (These gashes will catch the marinade for maximum flavor).
- Combine the ingredients for the marinade (all but the butter) and pour into a zip-top bag or large bowl.
- Add the chicken to the marinade. Toss to coat, seal the zip-top bag (or cover the bowl), and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight.
- Oven Instructions
- Preheat the oven to 400°F, and line a cookie sheet with foil.
- Remove each drumstick from the marinade, letting the excess marinade drip off. You can lightly shake each drumstick to help remove the excess, if needed.
- Place the drumsticks on the cookie sheet, making sure they do not touch. Brush with melted butter.
- Bake for 20 minutes, and then flip each drumstick and bake for another 20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and has reached an internal temperature of 175°F.
- Remove chicken from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes before serving.
- Air Fryer Instructions
- Preheat the air fryer to 360°F for 5 minutes.
- Place the drumsticks into the air fryer, being sure not to crowd them. The drumsticks should not touch.
- Cook the chicken in the air fryer for 10 minutes. Flip each drumstick, and air fry for 5 – 6 minutes longer, or until the chicken is cooked through and reaches an internal temperature of 175°F.
- Brush the drumsticks with melted butter, and serve.
- If you would like to use regular yogurt instead of Greek yogurt, just place it in a paper-towel-lined colander and let it drain for 30 minutes or so. The whey will drain out of the yogurt, leaving it thicker.
- To enhance the flavors of the marinade, gently toast the spices in a dry saucepan for a few minutes, until fragrant. Be careful not to burn the spices or you will need to start again with a fresh batch.
- This recipe can be used with other cuts of chicken as well, but you will need to adjust the cooking times accordingly. Use a meat thermometer to ensure doneness.
- To remove the skin from the chicken, grab the skin with a paper towel and pull from the top of the drumstick (the fat end) toward the base (the thin end).
More Savory Dinner Ideas
- Crockpot Mississippi Chicken
- Puerto Rican Beef Sancocho
- Chunky Beef Chili
- Chicken Enchilada Pasta Bake
- Easy BBQ Oven Pulled Chicken
- Lechon Asado (Cuban Pork)
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