A foolproof easy recipe for tandoori chicken in the oven, marinated with aromatic spices and yogurt, roasted to reddish-brown perfection with a yummy, healthy twist!
Tandoori chicken needs no introduction. With its flavors of Indian spices and appetizing bright red color, you could never have missed it if you’ve visited Indian restaurants.
This recipe will show you how to cook tender, juicy Indian tandoori chicken baked in the oven that looks and tastes amazing, though it is not cooked in a tandoor. You are about to find out the little secrets of achieving uniquely flavored chicken tandoori roasted in the oven and that appetizing bright color without food coloring!
Planning to feed a crowd? Serve this easy tandoori chicken with flavored rice (classic Indian cuisine) and/ or a fresh salad. A keto-friendly and gluten-free recipe and an easy menu for entertaining, you can also serve this as a surprise family dinner.
The only catch here is the marinating time which is a minimum of 2 hours. Once you take care of that, prep and cooking take less than an hour. These tandoori chicken legs can be done in huge batches in the oven, thus saving a lot of time.
what is tandoori chicken?
Traditionally, a whole chicken is marinated in spices, yogurt, lemon juice, ginger and garlic, and cooked in a Tandoor, a cylindrical clay oven at high temperatures. The spice mix is called Tandoori masala.
In this recipe for oven baked tandoori chicken, we marinate whole chicken legs (with thighs) in the tandoori marinade overnight and roast in the conventional oven. A whole chicken, or cuts of chicken with bones like chicken drumsticks or bone-in chicken thighs, can also be used. The cooking time and quantities need to be adjusted accordingly.
can chicken breasts be used for this recipe?
Unfortunately, the leanest cut of chicken is not suitable for this recipe. The chicken breast tends to dry out when cooked in the oven.
ingredients for tandoori chicken marinade
The tandoori spice mix includes chili powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder, garam masala, cumin powder and salt. Add yogurt, lemon juice, ginger-garlic paste and oil to the spice mix and you get the marinade for tandoori chicken.
tips and tricks to make your tandoori chicken in oven look and taste amazing
- A healthy way to add bright red color to the tandoori chicken is to add Kashmiri chili powder, which gives the characteristic red color without the spice. Missing in your pantry? The closest alternative would be paprika.
- Another ingredient that gives a “wow” factor to this tandoori chicken recipe is garlic powder. Adding a teaspoon of garlic powder to the tandoori spice mix makes a world of difference.
- Want your tandoori chicken nicely and evenly browned? Baste with a little butter before you start broiling.
cleaning the chicken
Trim off the skin and fat and clean the chicken legs. For the last rinse, mix the chicken legs with 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder and wash. This helps disinfect the chicken and also gives a yellow tint, to start with.
Make a few deep cuts on each chicken leg, perpendicular to the bones. This helps the marinade penetrate the flesh, or else you’ll be left with tandoori chicken that’s flavorful on the outside but bland on the inside.
how to make tandoori chicken in the oven
Printable recipe card with the full recipe below!
Once you mix all the ingredients for the marinade, use your fingers to thoroughly rub the chicken legs with the marinade.
Leave the marinated chicken in the refrigerator overnight for the best results. If time is a constraint, marinate for at least 2 hours. The longer you marinate, the better.
Remove the chicken from the refrigerator 30 minutes before you start cooking. Preheat the oven to 210 degrees C (410 degrees F). Place the chicken legs in a roasting pan lined with parchment paper and brush with the remaining marinade.
Set the oven to “roast” mode and cook for 15 minutes. Flip the chicken legs and baste with the juices in the pan. Cook for another 15 minutes.
Baste the chicken legs with a little butter and change the setting to “broil“. Cook for 15 minutes, flipping once more in between.
Remove from the oven. Let it stand for 5 minutes and drain on paper towels.
what to serve with tandoori chicken
- lemon-flavored brown rice
- stir-fried red rice with Thai flavors
- cauliflower rice stir fry for a keto low-carb option
- pomegranate salad with mango, coconut and palm sugar dressing
- pasta salad with mint yogurt dressing (reserve some dressing to drizzle on the tandoori chicken, tastes awesome!)
- beet orange salad
meal prep option
Sorry guys, I can’t help you here. DO NOT FREEZE the marinated chicken. You will lose the texture of the meat and it becomes tough when cooked.
We have an option, though. The chicken legs may be frozen and then thawed before marinating. you will have to soak the chicken in warm salted water for about 15 minutes, after thawing completely. Then marinate and proceed as above.
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Tandoori Chicken in oven
- 4 chicken legs 250 grams or 9 ounces each
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon sunflower oil or cooking oil of your choice
- 2 teaspoons ginger-garlic paste
- 1 teaspoon butter to baste
tandoori spice mix
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon Kashmiri chili powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons coriander powder
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Mix all the spices and add to the rest of the ingredients for the marinade. Mix well.
- Coat the chicken legs with the tandoori marinade.
- Marinate in the refrigerator overnight or for a minimum of 2 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 210 degrees C (410 degrees F).
- Place the chicken legs in a roasting pan lined with parchment paper. Brush the chicken legs with the leftover marinade to cover the chicken completely.
- Set the oven to "roast" mode and cook for 15 minutes. Flip the chicken legs and baste with the pan juices. Cook for another 15 minutes.
- Now set the oven to "broil". Baste the chicken legs with a little butter and broil for 15 minutes, flipping once after 10 minutes.
- Remove from oven and let it stand for 5 minutes.
- Drain on paper towels and transfer to a serving platter. Enjoy your perfectly browned tandoori chicken!
- The measurements and cooking time are based on the size of chicken legs as mentioned in this recipe. You may want to increase or decrease based on the size and type of chicken pieces you use.
- DO NOT FREEZE the marinated chicken legs. For the best results, use fresh chicken. Another option is to freeze chicken before marinating. After thawing, the chicken has to be soaked in salted warm water for 15 minutes, then marinated for at least 2 hours and follow the recipe as above.
- Marinate the chicken legs overnight, or at least for 2 hours. The longer you marinate, the better.
- Kashmiri chili powder gives the Tandoori chicken its characteristic bright colour. It looks similar to chili powder, but without the heat. In case you can’t find it, the closest alternative would be paprika.
- Don’t skip the garlic powder. It makes all the difference between an ordinary tandoori chicken recipe and an amazing one.
- Basting the chicken legs with a little butter before broiling gives perfectly browned tandoori chicken.