Tandoori Roast Chicken legs in the oven

Tandoori roast chicken legs, one of the popular Indian baked chicken recipes, can be easily made at home (without tandoor) in the oven. This is a healthy alternative to tandoori fried chicken that most of us resort to when we crave restaurant-style tandoori chicken.

What is tandoori chicken?

Tandoori roast 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.

In restaurants, this Indian baked chicken is made by marinating a whole chicken in a spice mix (Tandoori masala), yogurt, lemon juice, ginger and garlic, and cooked in a Tandoor, a cylindrical clay oven at high temperatures.

In this easy recipe, we marinate whole chicken legs (drumsticks 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, chicken wings or bone-in chicken thighs, can also be used. The cooking time and quantities need to be adjusted accordingly.

closeup view of tandoori roast chicken legs on a white plate.

Why you’ll love this recipe

  • This recipe will show you how to cook tender, juicy tandoori chicken drumsticks 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 spiced chicken and that appetizing bright red color without food coloring!
  • Apart from marinating overnight, this recipe doesn’t need much time or effort to cook but looks as though you spent hours in the kitchen! Who doesn’t love easy chicken recipes that you can make for a quick dinner?
how to make tandoori chicken- closeup view of oven baked tandoori chicken.

Planning to feed a crowd? Serve this easy tandoori chicken with flavored rice or biriyani (classic Indian cuisine) or rice and curry, like chana masala or spinach dal. A keto-friendly and gluten-free recipe and an easy menu for entertaining, you can also serve this as an appetizer with a fresh salad or raitha.

The only catch here is the marinating time which is a minimum of 2 hours. Once you prep well ahead of time (refrigerate or freeze even a week earlier), cooking takes 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.)

Love tandoori flavors? Try these roasted tandoori cauliflower wings.

What cut of chicken to use

Chicken quarters (drumsticks with thighs attached) are the most commonly used, but you can also use cut-up drumsticks and thighs. Bone-in pieces work well since they don’t dry out easily in the oven.

The skin is usually removed for tandoori chicken. Generally, you leave the skin on when roasting chicken so the moisture gets locked in. Here, the yogurt marinade does the same job, so you can save yourself from all that saturated fat in the skin.

Can chicken breasts be used for this recipe?

closeup view of oven baked chicken breast served with garden salad in a white ceramic plate

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 the marinade

Make your own Tandoori Masala because it is so easy to make and you can control what goes into it. It literally takes 5 minutes to put together. The store-bought ones may contain food coloring and the spice levels may not suit your preferences.

This tandoori masala recipe uses chili powder, Kashmiri chilli 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 flavorful marinade.

ingredients for tandoori chicken recipe in oven.

Step by step instructions

(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. The spices get completely absorbed by the chicken which is also tenderized by the yogurt-lemon marinade, resulting in flavorful, juicy chicken. If time is a constraint, marinate for at least 2 hours. The longer you marinate, the better.

How to roast the chicken

Remove the chicken from the refrigerator 30 minutes before you start cooking. Preheat the oven to 230°C / 446°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.

tandoori roast chicken legs on a white plate and a bowl full of biriyani on the upper right corner and a bowl of raitha next to it..

Recipe tips

  • 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 tip for restaurant-quality tandoori chicken: Heat 2 teaspoons of mustard oil and sauté 1 teaspoon of Kashmiri chilli powder on low heat. Cool it completely before adding to other ingredients in the marinade. This gives the characteristic ‘smoky’ flavor and also a brighter color.
  • Another ingredient that gives a “wow” factor to this 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.
tandoori roast chicken legs on a white plate and a bowl of raitha on the upper right corner.

Common questions about Tandoori Roast Chicken

What flavor is tandoori chicken?

Tandoori chicken is a combination of spicy and zesty flavors, predominantly yogurt, lemon, ginger and garlic with typical Indian spices chili powder, coriander, turmeric, cumin and garam masala.

Is tandoori chicken healthy?

The nutritional value of tandoori chicken depends on how you cook it and how much fat is used. This oven-roasted recipe results in tandoori chicken that is not only high in protein but also less in fat and calories than the fried version. It also has less saturated fat than those roasted versions with skin.

Why is my tandoori chicken dry?

The temperature and time of roasting are important. Chicken that is overcooked or cooked at a low temperature tends to dry out. Ensure that you roast for the first 30 minutes then broil for 15 minutes to lock in the moisture and brown the chicken at the same time. Also, do not forget to baste with the pan juices every 10 to 15 minutes.

What to serve with tandoori chicken?

Chutneys

Typically, tandoori chicken is served with mint chutney or cucumber raitha. It also tastes great with green mango chutney.

Flavored rice

When there is a huge crowd to entertain, you can serve Tandoori chicken with:

Fresh salads

Restaurants serve tandoori chicken with onion and lemon slices. Why not try it with these 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!

More chicken recipes

closeup view of tandoori roast chicken legs on a white plate.

Tandoori Roast Chicken legs recipe in the oven

Tandoori chicken legs, one of the popular Indian baked chicken recipes, can be easily made at home (without tandoor) in the oven. This is a healthy alternative to tandoori fried chicken that most of us resort to when we crave restaurant-style tandoori chicken.
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Marinating time 2 hrs
Total Time 2 hrs 50 mins
Course dinner, LUNCH, Main Course, Party food
Cuisine Indian
Servings 4
Calories 362 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 4 chicken leg quarters 250 grams or 9 ounces each

marinade

  • 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

To serve

  • 1 Carrot shredded
  • 1 onion thinly sliced

Instructions
 

  • 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 230°C / 446°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 with shredded carrots and sliced onions!

Video

Notes

  • This recipe uses chicken leg quarters which are drumsticks with thighs attached. The measurements and cooking time are based on the size of chicken legs as mentioned in this recipe.
  • You can also use individual pieces of drumsticks or thighs. Decrease the roasting time and broiling time by 5 minutes each. So it would be 25 minutes of total roasting time plus 10 minutes of broiling.
  • Marinate the chicken legs overnight, or at least for 2 hours. The longer you marinate, the better.
  • Make-ahead option: The marinated chicken legs can be refrigerated for 3 to 4 days or frozen for a week. Thaw the frozen legs overnight in the refrigerator. Leave the chicken legs out of the fridge 30 minutes before cooking.
  • Kashmiri chili powder gives the Tandoori chicken its characteristic bright red color. It looks a few shades darker than chili powder, but without the heat.
  • Do this for a ‘smoky’ tandoori flavor (restaurant-style) and even brighter color: Heat 2 teaspoons of mustard oil and sauté 1 teaspoon of Kashmiri chilli powder on low heat until it turns bright red. Cool it completely before adding to the marinade. Proceed as per the instructions.
  • Basting the chicken legs with a little butter before broiling gives perfectly browned tandoori chicken.
Substitutions:
  1. Smoked paprika can be used instead of Kashmiri chili powder. 
  2. Cayenne pepper can be used instead of chili powder.
 
 
Tandoori Roast Chicken legs in the oven
The nutrition information assumes that all of the marinade is consumed. However, apparently, it is not the case.
Keyword chicken tandoori in oven, how to make tandoori chicken in oven, recipe for tandoori chicken, tandoori chicken recipe oven

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– Sheeba.

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