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! Learn how to make tandoori chicken at home!
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!
Love tandoori flavors? These roasted tandoori cauliflower wings will blow your mind!
Planning to feed a crowd? Serve this easy tandoori chicken with flavored rice (classic Indian cuisine) and/ or a fresh salad or raitha. 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. (Like the sheet pan lemon garlic chicken legs.)
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, chicken breasts are not suitable for this recipe. The chicken breast tends to dry out when cooked in the oven. If you want to bake chicken breasts in the oven, use this recipe for juicy baked chicken breasts.
Ingredients for easy tandoori chicken marinade
Make your own Tandoori Masala because it is so easy to make and you can control what goes into it. The store-bought ones may contain food coloring and the spice levels may not suit your preferences. This tandoori masala recipe uses chili powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder, garam masala, cumin powder, garlic powder and salt. Add yogurt, lemon juice, ginger-garlic paste and oil to the masala and you get the marinade for tandoori chicken.
How to make tandoori chicken in the oven
(You can find the exact measurements and instructions in the recipe card at the end of this page.)
How to marinate 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.
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.
Cooking the chicken
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. Broiling will help you get the characteristic charred look on the Tandoori chicken.
Remove from the oven. Let it stand for 5 minutes and drain on paper towels.
Tips to make your tandoori chicken look and taste amazing
- A healthy way to add bright red color to the tandoori chicken is to add Kashmiri chili powder to the tandoori masala, which gives the characteristic red color without being too spicy. Missing in your pantry? The closest alternative would be smoked paprika.
- Another ingredient that gives a “wow” factor to this tandoori chicken recipe is garlic powder. The traditional recipe does not use garlic powder, but adding a teaspoon of garlic powder to the tandoori masala makes a world of difference.
- Want your tandoori chicken nicely and evenly browned? Baste with a little butter before you start broiling.
What do you eat with tandoori chicken?
Traditionally tandoori chicken is served with onion and lemon slices, but why not try it with salads for a change? Healthier and yummier!
Meal prep option
DO NOT FREEZE the cooked chicken. You will lose the texture of the meat and it becomes tough when reheated.
We have an option, though. The marinated chicken legs may be refrigerated for upto 3 days or frozen for upto a week and then thawed overnight in the refrigerator. Ensure that you keep the chicken out of the fridge 30 minutes before cooking.
Like this recipe for tandoori chicken? Please let me know in the comments how it turned out for you. I would love to hear from you!
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