Oven baked chicken tandoori tikka that taste as delicious as the ones made in tandoor! Learn the tips and tricks to make them easily with simple ingredients in your kitchen. You can also make this chicken tikka recipe without oven, simply on a frying pan (instructions included in the post).
Why This Recipe Works
It doesn’t matter what cut of chicken you use: boneless, skinless thighs or breasts. This recipe results in tender, juicy and perfectly charred pieces of tikka tandoori chicken. Every single time you make it!
More importantly, this recipe proves that chicken tikka need not be drenched in oil or ghee for it to taste great.
Tandoori chicken tikka recipe is as easy as marinating cubes of chicken in a yogurt based marinade and roasting them. Like how we did for roasted tandoori chicken legs. Right?
Right and wrong.
Yes, the marinating and roasting part is somewhat similar. But you have to remember that here we’re using boneless, skinless chicken.
That means roasting requires some caution. Else you would be left with RUBBERY OVERCOOKED CHICKEN. That’s hard to chew and requires a lot of sauce (and jaw strength!) to soften it up.
The yogurt marinade is just not enough to tenderize the chicken breasts. These are not thin-sliced chicken breasts that we baked in a covered tray. Baked chicken tikka in the oven is a completely different story.
Roasting time is just 20 minutes, but the PREP WORK is the most important one here. Make sure you follow all the tips and tricks to make awesome tandoori chicken tikka that will wow your guests.
(You can find the exact measurements and instructions in the printable recipe card at the end of this page.)
- Chicken: boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs.
- Ghee or melted butter: to baste the tikka. Olive oil can be used instead, but ghee/butter gives a rich flavor. Anyway, just 1 tablespoon won’t kill you. (that’s what I tell myself!)
- Chili powder: I’ve used 2 types of chili powder. The regular one is for the heat which you can omit if you don’t want the tikka to be spicy. Kashmiri chili powder is for the color and flavor. This is an essential ingredient in tandoori and tikka recipes.
- Ginger garlic paste: blend equal quantities of ginger and garlic. You can also use grated ginger and garlic.
- Mustard oil: adds to the characteristic tandoori flavor. If not available, you can use olive oil.
- Besan: this is split chickpeas ground into a fine powder. Chickpea flour can also be used.
How To Make Tandoori Chicken Tikka In The Oven- Step by Step
1. Tenderize the chicken
You need to tenderize only if you’re using chicken breasts. Skip to the marinating step if using boneless thighs or legs.
Use the hack I used in the recipe for “better than takeout” sesame chicken. I’ll repeat here to save you an extra click:
Clean and dice the chicken into 1½ inch cubes. Mix in 2 teaspoons of baking soda (the ratio is 1 teaspoon for every 250 grams) and keep aside. Rinse after 20 minutes. Your chicken is now tenderized!
2. First Marinade
- Add salt, pepper, ginger-garlic paste and lemon juice.
- Mix and let it marinate for 10 minutes while you prepare the second marinade.
3. Second Marinade
- Take Kashmiri chili powder in a small bowl. Heat mustard oil and add. Mix and let it cool. (for pictures/video, visit: recipe for tandoori salmon) This gives the characteristic bright red tint to the tikka.
- Add rest of the marinade ingredients (except besan) and whisk.
- Mix the prepared tandoori masala to the chicken and mix.
- Roast besan on a low flame for 3-5 minutes until you get a nice aroma. Cool and mix into the chicken. Let it marinate in the refrigerator for a minimum of 30 minutes.
4. Smoked Chicken Tikka
This step is completely optional. But I would recommend you do it to get maximum flavor with a little effort.
Break up a large stick of cinnamon and heat the pieces on direct fire until they are red hot. Place in a small bowl inside the bowl of marinated chicken.
Quickly drizzle a spoon of oil or ghee to produce smoke and cover the bowl with a lid. It wouldn’t produce as much smoke as charcoal, but a little goes a long way here.
Let it smoke for about 10 minutes. (You can do this before refrigerating and leave it in while marinating. Or do it 10 minutes before roasting. It doesn’t make much of a difference.)
This hack gives an amazing SMOKY CINNAMON FLAVOR that beats the restaurant ones. I promise!
- Preheat the oven to 230°C/446°F.
- Thread the chicken cubes onto skewers.
- Place the skewers on a baking tray (lined with parchment paper).
- Bake in the oven for 10 minutes on “roast” setting.
- Take out the tray and baste the chicken tikka with ghee/melted butter.
- Return the tray to the oven and cook on “broil” mode for 10 more minutes.
Tandoori Chicken Tikka Recipe Without Oven
You can cook this chicken tandoori tikka on a grill pan or frying pan, too.
Marinate in the same way as above. Thread the marinated cubes of chicken leaving a little gap between the pieces (not so close together as in the oven recipe). This will ensure that they are cooked on all sides.
Add a tablespoon of oil in the pan. Place the skewers and cook on high flame for 5 to 8 minutes each side, until browned. Keep basting the chicken with hot oil or melted butter while cooking.
Do you want the tikka to be charred (restaurant-style)?
Cook them on direct flame for about 2 to 3 minutes after removing from the pan. Keep turning the skewers to expose all the sides to the flame.
Recipe Tips, Substitutions and Variations
- Marinade: Add ½ teaspoon ground cumin or chaat masala for variation. (Chaat masala contains salt, so reduce salt accordingly.)
- Chilli powder: I’ve used Kashmiri chilli powder for the color (it’s not hot) and regular chili powder or cayenne pepper for the heat. You can skip the latter if you want to avoid the heat.
- Roasted besan: You can try this recipe without besan too. It would tastes equally good with a slight difference in texture. You’ll also get a brighter red tint on your tikka without besan!
- Marinating time: Marinate the chicken for 8 hours or overnight for best results.
- Assembling: Shake off the excess marinade when you thread the chicken onto the skewers. Discard the leftover marinade.
- Skewers: If using metal ones, smear them with oil before threading the chicken. This will help remove the tikka with ease. If using wooden skewers, soak in water for about 20 minutes before using. This will prevent them from getting burnt.
- For easy clean-up: Line the baking tray with parchment paper.
Is tandoori chicken tikka spicy?
Tandoori chicken tikka, with its orange-red color, looks hot, but its spice level is quite low. The tandoori marinade uses Kashmiri red chilli powder that is bright red but not spicy. I have intentionally added chilli powder (cayenne pepper) to make it a little spicier!
Is chicken tikka made of breast?
Chicken tikka can be made with any boneless chicken pieces, breasts or legs. Since breasts are the leanest cut of the chicken, they tend to dry out when cooked. So you’ll need to tenderize them.
One method is using baking soda (mentioned above). Another is to marinate for a longer period of time. I would recommend overnight to 24 hours in the refrigerator. And bring them to room temperature before you start cooking.
If using boneless chicken legs, marinating for about 30 to 40 minutes is enough to keep the tikka tender and juicy.
Why is my tandoori chicken not red?
Tandoori chicken and tikka served at the restaurants use food color for the characteristic red color. You can make your tandooris and tikkas naturally red using this hack: Heat mustard oil and add the hot oil to Kashmiri red chilli powder and cool it. Add it to the rest of the ingredients for tandoori marinade (explained above).
What’s the difference between roast and broil?
Roasting is a slow-cooking method that uses overall heat from all sides of the oven to cook food evenly. In contrast, broiling is a quick-cooking technique that uses high, direct heat from your oven’s top heating element. Broiling mainly provides top-down heat at high and extra-high temperatures to brown or crisp the top of food.
What’s the difference between tandoori chicken and chicken tikka?
Tandoori chicken is made with whole or half chicken or parts of chicken with bones, like whole legs or thighs. The chicken is marinated using the tandoori marinade and cooked at high temperatures for long periods of time. Chicken tikka uses the same marinade, but they are boneless bite-sized pieces of chicken from breast or legs. They can be marinated and cooked much quicker.
What To Serve With Chicken Tandoori Tikka
Serve this chicken tikka as an appetizer or main dish with the classic mint chutney.
Serve with coconut cauliflower rice for a low carb dinner.
Get creative and serve with this fruit chaat for a balance of spice and fruity sweetness.
More Tandoori and Tikka Recipes
More Chicken Recipes
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