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You won’t believe how easy this tandoori chicken recipe is! No need to be intimidated by this classic Indian dish — it’s super basic to make at home. I’ll walk you through how to make tandoori chicken in the oven step-by-step, from the simple tandoori chicken marinade to the even simpler cooking method. It has warm spices like coconut curry chicken, with a show-stopping presentation.
This recipe uses my favorite stovetop-to-oven cooking method for meats. I use this technique most often for steaks (including sirloin steak and filet mignon), but it works perfectly for chicken recipes like this one or even stuffed pork chops.
What Is Tandoori Chicken?
Tandoori chicken is an Indian chicken dish that gets marinated in yogurt and traditional Indian spices, then pan fried and finished in the oven.
This Indian chicken recipe traditionally cooks in a tandoor (a kind of clay oven), but you can get similar results with a regular oven or grill.
Why You’ll Love This Tandoori Chicken Recipe
- Warm spicy flavor
- Juicy inside, crispy skin
- Made with simple, natural ingredients (and not too many of them!)
- Just 10 minutes to prep
- Naturally low carb and gluten-free
- No artificial colors
Ingredients & Substitutions
This section explains how to choose the best ingredients for easy tandoori chicken marinade, what each one does in the recipe, and substitution options. For measurements, see the recipe card below.
- Chicken – I used bone-in chicken leg quarters (drumsticks and thighs connected together) for this tandoori chicken recipe, which are sometimes called whole chicken legs. This is the traditional option, but you can really use any cut of chicken, such as chicken thighs, chicken breast, or chicken drumsticks. The cooking time will vary, depending on the cut, size, and whether or not there are bones.
- Oil – For frying. I used olive oil, but you could use coconut oil, avocado oil, or any heat-safe oil you prefer.
Tandoori Chicken Marinade:
- Greek Yogurt – The main component of the marinade is yogurt! I prefer to use Greek, but regular will work as well. Make sure it’s unsweetened. Use full-fat yogurt if you can for the most flavorful results, but skim or 2% will work if needed.
- Lime Juice – The acid helps to tenderize the meat. Fresh squeezed lime juice tastes best, but bottled can be used for convenience. You could also use lemon juice.
- Garlic – Fresh minced garlic cloves (or pressed garlic) has the best flavor, but you can use jarred as well.
- Spice Mix – This simple recipe includes garam masala, turmeric, ground ginger, and cayenne pepper. Garam masala is an Indian spice blend that usually includes cinnamon, mace, peppercorns, coriander, cumin, and cardamom. For an even more traditional red look and mild heat, you can include kashmiri red chili powder (or just add paprika to make the dish look more red without extra heat).
- Sea Salt & Black Pepper
How To Make Tandoori Chicken
This section shows how to make chicken tandoori, with step-by-step photos and details about the technique, to help you visualize it. For full instructions, including amounts and temperatures, see the recipe card below.
- Mix tandoori chicken marinade. In a large bowl, add yogurt, lime juice, garlic, garam masala, turmeric, ground ginger, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Stir until combined.
- Marinate the chicken. Add the chicken pieces to the marinade bowl and coat on all sides. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to marinate in the refrigerator.
- Sear. Preheat the oven. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a cast iron pan until shimmering. Add the chicken in a single layer (you can discard any excess marinade). Cook on each side until browned.
- Bake. Transfer the pan to the oven. Bake tandoori chicken in the oven until the chicken is cooked through. Garnish with limes and fresh cilantro if desired.
Tips For The Best Tandoori Chicken
- Marinate overnight if you can. For best results, I recommend letting the chicken marinate overnight (at least 8 hours) if you have time. This allows the spices to really penetrate the chicken for a flavorful, delicious meal.
- Don’t marinate for longer than 24 hours. Marinating for any longer can cause the chicken to become mushy.
- Use a cast iron skillet. You can make this tandoori chicken recipe in any oven-safe pan, but I highly recommend cast iron. It has the best heat distribution, for the perfect sear and juicy inside. This is the pan I have and love.
- Avoid crowding the pan. It’s okay for the pieces to touch each other, but don’t place them on top of each other. This ensures that they cook evenly.
- Use a meat thermometer. The best way to know the chicken is cooked correctly is to use a meat thermometer. Insert it into the thickest part of the thigh, away from the bone, to check the internal temp. Here is the meat thermometer I use and recommend.
- Cook to 170 degrees F (for dark meat). The safe internal temperature for chicken is 165 degrees F, but for dark meat like chicken drumsticks or chicken leg quarters (including this tandoori chicken recipe), 170 degrees F will yield the juiciest results. This is because the collagen starts to break down at this higher temperature and makes the meat extra tender. However, stick to 165 degrees F if you make this recipe using chicken breast or other white meat.
- Is tandoori chicken spicy? Tandoori chicken is more smoky and savory rather than spicy. The marinade has a little kick from the cayenne, but if you don’t like spice at all, you can reduce the amount of cayenne pepper.
- Why is tandoori chicken red? Most commonly, Indian tandoori chicken in restaurants is a bright red color because they add red food coloring. Some recipes use red chili powder to contribute to the red hue as well. This quick and easy version uses natural ingredients, so it’s not super red.
- Store: Keep leftovers of this chicken tandoori recipe in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
- Meal prep: You can prep the marinade ahead. Simply mix together ingredients and store in the refrigerator. The marinade on its own will last up to 5 days in the fridge. You can also marinate the chicken in the marinade for up to 24 hours, which I recommend if you have the time.
- Reheat: It’s best to reheat in the oven at 350 degrees F, covered in aluminum foil to prevent drying out. However, the microwave will do if you must.
- Freeze: Store the chicken in the freezer for 2-3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight, or in a bag submerged in cold water on the counter, before reheating the tandoori chicken in the oven.
What To Serve With Tandoori Chicken Recipes
Serve this Indian cuisine with a simple side:
- Garnishes – I recommend fresh cilantro and lime wedges or slices. Sliced red onions also go well.
- Rice – Regular rice is the classic option. I usually choose cauliflower rice (or even cilantro lime cauliflower rice) myself for a healthier version.
- Naan – The iconic side to almost every Indian dish! You can make regular naan, or almond flour naan for a gluten-free option.
- Vegetables – Maybe not part of the traditional meal, but I can’t resist veggies with everything. Try roasted vegetables or stir fry vegetables.
More Indian Chicken Recipes
With so many rich flavors, these Indian-style chicken recipes are an easy way to add flair to your dinner routine:
- Glass Bowls – Mix up the marinade in a large bowl and then marinate the chicken right in the bowl. I love this nesting set that has a variety of sizes.
- Cast Iron Skillet – This pan gets incredibly hot (crucial for that perfect sear!) and then can go right into the oven.
Easy Tandoori Chicken Recipe In The Oven
Tandoori Chicken (Super Easy Oven Recipe!)
You'll love this crispy, easy tandoori chicken recipe, made with a simple marinade using Greek yogurt, lime, garlic, and garam masala.
Recipe VideoTap on the image below to watch the video.
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Tap on the times in the instructions below to start a kitchen timer while you cook.
In a large bowl, add the marinade ingredients and stir until combined.
Add chicken to the marinade bowl and coat the chicken on all sides. Cover with plastic wrap. Allow to marinate in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours, or overnight if you have time.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (204 degrees C).
In a large cast iron skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the chicken legs. Cook for about 5 minutes, flip and cook for about 5 minutes more, until chicken is browned.
Transfer the pan to the oven and cook for an additional 25-35 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through (time will vary depending on the size of your chicken legs). For the juiciest results, cook until it reaches an internal temperature of 170 degrees F (recommended for juicy dark meat).
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Serving size: 1 chicken leg quarter
Nutrition facts are calculated with 1/4 of the marinade discarded.
Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy. Have questions about calculations or why you got a different result? Please see our nutrition policy.
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Making this delightfully smelling dish as we speak. Quick question…the chicken seems to be sticking to the skillet something awful. Any suggestions as to why or how I can keep it from happening with the next batch?
Wholesome Yum D0
Hi, Make sure you are using enough oil, plus maybe turn the heat down on the pan slightly, so the chicken doesn’t stick.
If made ahead by hours, how would I reheat chicken tandoori in oven for dinner party.?
Wholesome Yum D0
Hi Christine, The dish is best served fresh but you can reheat in the oven at 350 degrees F.
The flavor of this chicken was outstanding! Thanks
Such a delicious dinner option.
That is the most flavorful marinade!! I will be using it more often!!
Love those flavors, so I am excited to make this! I know this is going to be a hit!
So flavorful and a fun recipe to switch things up during the week. We love it!
Amy L Huntley0
The spice was just enough heat for our family. I have never made this recipe before and the kids are already asking when I will be making it again! I love the crispy outside and the tenderness inside the chicken.
My family and I love love loved this recipe! Such a yummy and flavorful dinner! This was definitely a big hit here and I’ll be making this again soon!
Such a tasty and delicious meal! It was a huge hit at my house.
Such an easy and delicious chicken recipe! So full of flavor!
Red coloring on chicken?! I wonder if authentic Indian cuisine is more natural. I love Indian spices esp. garam masala. It just makes everything taste good so quickly. Thanks for your recipe!
This baked tandoori chicken is really yum. Love it.
This was my first time making tandoori chicken so thanks for the clear instructions. I loved the spices. So delish!
Tandoori chicken is so delicious and flavourful and I am LOVING this recipe. So good.