Tandoori Chicken is a must have recipe! It’s just as good as what you’d get at an Indian restaurant and it’s so easy to make! Chicken thighs are soaked in a creamy, well spiced, yogurt based marinade and then cooked on the grill to get that traditional char.
What is Tandoori Chicken?
Tandoori Chicken is an Indian dish that’s traditionally marinated in yogurt and spices then roasted in a hot tandoor oven (a cylindrical shaped clay oven). It usually has a vibrant color because most often you’ll find it colored with turmeric, chili powders or even food coloring.
Since most of us don’t own a clay oven, with this recipe I cook it on the grill to mimic that same flavor. An electric or gas oven can be used as well (see notes below for oven method).
Then for the color I stick with the spices for a natural vibrant color. No food coloring on this chicken.
Ingredients for Tandoori Chicken
- 3 lbs bone-in skinless chicken thighs (boneless works well too)
- 1 small container plain Greek yogurt
- 2 Tbsp minced garlic
- 2 Tbsp minced ginger
- 2 Tbsp vegetable or olive oil
- 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- Cilantro, for serving
- Lots of spices: 1 Tbsp paprika, 2 tsp ground cumin, 2 tsp ground coriander, 1/2 turmeric, 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, 1/4 tsp ground cardamom, salt and pepper.
Scroll below for full, printable recipe.
How to Make Tandoori Chicken
First you’ll start out by gently toasting the ground spices in a skillet over medium heat, just for a minute or two until fragrant. They burn easy so stir frequently and toast gently.
In a rush this step can be skipped. I just like that hint of added depth.
In a large mixing bowl stir together the Greek yogurt, oil, lemon juice, spices, and season with salt and pepper (I use 1 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper).
Add chicken and toss to coat, cover bowl with plastic wrap. Alternately you can place the chicken in a gallon size resealable bag, pour in marinade and rub thoroughly over.
Transfer to refrigerator and let marinate at least 3 hours and up to 10 hours.
Preheat a grill to 425 degrees. Clean grill grates and brush with oil.
Grill chicken until center of thickest part registers 165, about 10 – 12 minutes per side for bone-in, about 5 – 7 minutes per side for boneless. Brush lightly with oil as needed to keep exterior moist and reduce sticking, once during cooking.
Let rest a few minutes before serving, garnish with cilantro.
Can I Baked This Tandoori Chicken in the Oven?
You can roast this chicken in the oven as well (instead of grilling). Preheat oven to 425 degrees, line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and set a large wire rack on baking sheet. Grease rack with non-stick cooking spray.
Cook chicken until center registers 165 in center of thickest part, turning once halfway through (approx. 35 – 40 mins for bone-in, 25 – 30 for boneless). Broil during last 3 minutes for more color.
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- 3 lbs bone-in or boneless skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat
- 1 (5.3 oz) container fat-free Greek yogurt (heaping 1/2 cup)
- 2 Tbsp vegetable oil or olive oil, plus more for grilling
- 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 2 Tbsp minced fresh garlic
- 2 Tbsp peeled and minced fresh ginger
- 1 Tbsp paprika (not smoked!)
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, add more or less to taste
- 1/4 tsp cardamon (optional)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Fresh cilantro, for garish
- To a medium skillet add paprika, cumin, coriander, turmeric, cinnamon, cayenne pepper and cardamom.
- Cook over medium heat until slightly toasted and fragrant, stirring frequently, about 1 - 2 minutes. (In a rush this step can be skipped, it just adds a little more flavor).
- In a large mixing bowl whisk together Greek yogurt, oil, lemon juice, garlic, ginger, spices from skillet, and season with salt and pepper (I use 1 1/2 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper).
- Add chicken thighs and toss well in mixture to coat evenly.
- Cover bowl and transfer to refrigerator and let marinate at least 3 hours and up to 10 hours.
- Preheat a grill over medium-high heat to about 425 degrees.
- Clean grill grates and brush with oil.
- Grill chicken about 10 - 12 minutes per side for bone-in thighs (5 - 7 minutes per side for boneless thighs), while basting once lightly with oil if desired to reduce exterior drying, until chicken registers 165 on an instant read thermometer in center near bone.
- Let rest a few minutes off heat, serve warm with cilantro.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees, line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and set a large wire rack on baking sheet.
- Grease rack with non-stick cooking spray.
- Cook chicken until center registers 165 in center of thickest part, turning once halfway through (approx. 35 - 40 mins for bone-in, 25 - 30 for boneless).
- Broil during last 3 minutes for more color.