Tandoori Chicken

4.84 from 12 votes

Make healthy lip-smacking Tandoori Chicken at home in under 15 minutes of active working time using my easy recipe. You can cook the marinated chicken in an oven, air fryer, stovetop, or grill (gluten-free, keto-friendly).

Tandoori chicken served on a plate.
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About Tandoori Chicken

Tandoori Chicken (Murgh Tandoori) is a popular North Indian appetizer where bone-in chicken pieces are marinated with lime juice, yogurt, and aromatic spices and then roasted or grilled until perfection. It is best served with green chutney, sliced onions, and lime wedges.

Just like Butter Chicken, Chicken Tikka Masala, and Dal Makhani, you will find this Indian chicken dish on the menu of all the Indian restaurants worldwide.

Tandoori chicken is a low-carb (keto) and gluten-free recipe that is super easy to make and takes only 15 minutes of active preparation time.

The homemade version gets its beautiful red-orange hue from using the best quality Kashmiri red chili powder, unlike the restaurant where they add red color. You can serve it for your house party appetizers or as a side dish with your North Indian meals.

Tandoori chicken was traditionally made in a clay oven or tandoor. But since modern homes no longer have clay ovens, I’ll show you how to make it in a regular oven, air fryer, stovetop, or grill.

The best murgh tandoori is made by marinating chicken twice. Do follow the recipe mentioned below, and I can guarantee that you will be able to make the best tandoori chicken you have ever had.

Chicken is one of the most versatile proteins to make starters or appetizers for house parties. Some of my favorites are

Ingredients

First marination Ingredients for Tandoori Chicken.
Second marination ingredients for tandoori chicken.
Serving ingredients for tandoori chicken.

Chicken

I have used whole bone-in chicken legs (thighs and legs) to make it. You can use only legs (drumsticks) or even boneless chicken breasts cut into small cubes.

Whole chicken legs with thighs have more fat content, making the tandoori chicken juicy and moist. But if you want a healthier version, use boneless chicken breast. Keep in mind that the breast will dry out fast post-cooking.

For The First Marination

You will need salt, freshly squeezed lime juice, ginger-garlic paste, and Kashmiri red chili powder. The first marination makes the chicken tender and juicy when cooked.

For The Second Marination

Thick Plain Yogurt (Dahi, Curd) – Thick yogurt binds all the spices and ensures they cling to the chicken. You can use Greek yogurt if you have it, or add the plain yogurt to a strainer and let it sit over a bowl for an hour. All the extra water will drip down, and you will get thick yogurt.

Oil – To make authentic tandoori chicken, use mustard oil in the marination. It gives a very traditional taste to it. If mustard oil is unavailable, you can use any other cooking oil.

You will also need ginger garlic paste, freshly squeezed lime juice, and dry spices like Kashmiri red chili powder, roasted cumin powder, garam masala powder, turmeric powder, and coriander powder.

Freshly squeezed lime juice adds a nice tangy taste and make it juicy and tender.

You can replace Kashmiri chili powder with cayenne pepper and lime juice with lemon juice.

Kasuri Methi and Heavy Cream – Add some Kasuri methi and unsweetened heavy cream to the marinade to give it a restaurant-like taste.

Some people add artificial food colors to this recipe, but since using them is unhealthy, I refrain from adding them.

Serving Ingredients – To serve the ready tandoori chicken, you will need butter, Chaat Masala Powder, lime slices, and sliced onions.

How To Make Tandoori Chicken

Marinate The Chicken (First Marination)

Wash 2 pounds (1 kg) of whole skinless bone-in chicken legs (thighs and legs) and pat the pieces dry using a paper towel. Make 3-4 slits on each piece using a sharp knife.

Note – You can use drumsticks or boneless breasts instead of whole legs. Keep in mind that the breast will dry out soon after cooking.

Gashes made on the chicken using a sharp knife.

Mix the ingredients for the first marinade in a large mixing bowl

  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon lime juice
  • 2 teaspoon ginger garlic paste
  • 1 teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder

Add chicken pieces to the bowl and mix them nicely with the marinade using your fingers. Cover the bowl with a lid or a cling film and refrigerate for an hour.

Chicken mixed with the ingredients of the first marination.

Second Marination

Add the ingredients for the second marinade that are

  • 2 tablespoon thick yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste
  • 1 teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper powder
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ½ teaspoon roasted cumin powder
  • ½ teaspoon garam masala powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 2 tablespoon mustard oil
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • 2 tablespoon unsweetened heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon Kasuri methi

to the bowl and mix them well with the chicken.

Cover the bowl with a lid or a cling film and refrigerate for another 4-5 hours or overnight.

Chicken mixed with the ingredients of the second marination.

Cook The Marinated Chicken

Oven Method

Preheat the oven to 360°F (180°C). Set a baking tray on the lower half of the oven and keep a wire rack on the baking tray.

Shake off the excess marinade and arrange the chicken on the wire rack. Grill for 15 minutes.

Chicken arranged on the wire rack set over the baking tray.

Flip the pieces using a tong and grill for 15-20 minutes or until tender. Baste 1-2 times with butter while grilling.

Set the oven to broil and broil for 5 minutes until the chicken is slightly charred.

Remove the tray from the oven and brush the chicken with butter. Sprinkle chaat masala on top. Serve hot with lime wedges and onion slices.

Ready tandoori chicken.

On The Stovetop

Heat a pan (preferably a grill pan) over the stovetop on medium heat.

Transfer the marinated chicken to the hot pan and drizzle 2-3 tablespoon of oil. Cover the pan and cook on medium heat for 8-10 minutes. Flip the pieces, cover the pan, and cook for another 8-10 minutes.

Remove the lid, increase the heat to high, and cook until all the liquid evaporates.

Place a wire rack on the stovetop and keep the chicken over the rack. Cook over direct heat on both sides until slightly charred. Flip the pieces a few times while cooking. Serve hot.

Steps to make stovetop tandoori chicken.

In An Air Fryer

Line the basket of the air fryer with aluminum foil. Keep some space on the side for the air to circulate.

Place chicken on the basket in a single layer and air fry at 400°F (200°C) for 15 minutes. Baste with butter and flip the pieces using a tong and air fry for another 15 minutes until slightly charred and browned. Serve hot.

Steps to make air Fryer Tandoori Chicken.

In An Outdoor Grill

Preheat your outdoor grill to medium-high heat. If using a gas grill, line the grates with aluminum foil to prevent the marinade from dripping and causing flare-ups.

While the grill is preheating, remove the chicken from the marinade and let the excess marinade drip off.

Place the pieces on the hot grill over direct heat.

Grill for about 20-25 minutes, turning occasionally to achieve even cooking and a nicely charred exterior. Baste with butter a few times while grilling.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long should I marinate the chicken to make tandoori chicken?

Chicken is marinated twice. The first marination uses salt, lime juice, ginger garlic paste, and Kashmiri red chili powder, and the chicken is refrigerated for an hour. The first marination makes the chicken tender and juicy.

The second marination is done for at least 4-5 hours or, better, overnight. It gives a lovely flavor to the chicken. I like to leave the second marination for as long as 24 hours.

What makes tandoori chicken red?

Kashmiri red chili powder and food-grade red food coloring (optional) make the tandoori chicken look bright red. You can avoid using the food color as I did when making it home.

Is tandoori chicken healthy?

Yes, chicken tandoori is popular not just because of its amazing taste but also because it is very healthy. Since the dish is made either in a tandoor or in an oven, it helps retain all the nutrients.

It needs very little oil, and if you are too conscious about the healthy part, you can skip the oil in the recipe. This flour-free dish is gluten-free and low in carbohydrates, making it a perfect Keto-friendly dish.

It is an absolute treat for people on a diet as it is super delicious and rich in protein.

How to use readymade tandoori masala powder in this recipe?

If you want to use readymade tandoori masala, skip adding all the powdered spices and use 2 tablespoon of tandoori masala powder. Keep the rest of the recipe the same.

Pro Tips By Neha

You can give a smoky flavor to tandoori chicken by giving Dhungar to the ready tandoori chicken. Heat a piece of charcoal over direct heat until it is red hot. Keep the chicken pieces in a large bowl. Keep a small bowl in the center, and keep the hot coal in the small bowl. Drizzle 1 teaspoon ghee over the coal and immediately close the lid of the large bowl. Let the tandoori chicken absorb the smoke for 10 minutes. Serve.

Making cuts in chicken pieces using a sharp knife ensures that the marinade penetrates every corner of the pieces.

Make sure to use thick yogurt to marinate the chicken. It will ensure that the spices stick to the pieces and do not wash off.

Adding Kashmiri red chilies gives the chicken a nice color without making it hot and spicy.

Marinate the chicken for at least 2-3 hours. However, the longer you marinate, the better the flavors. I try to keep the total marinating time up to 24 hours.

Double marination is the key to juicy tandoori chicken. Do not skip this process.

Serving Suggestions

Grilled tandoori chicken makes for a fabulous appetizer. Serve it with Green Chutney or Mint Yogurt Chutney and onion rings. Do not forget to serve lime wedges, thinly sliced onions, and some chaat masala.

It goes well with any Indian flatbread, including Roti, Naan, Plain Tawa Paratha, Lachha Paratha, Roomali Roti, etc. You can serve this delicious dish with some Saffron Rice as well.

Also, a nice green salad and some Indian rice perfectly complement it.

This delicious tandoori chicken is a great recipe if you are on a weight-loss diet.

Storage Suggestions

Let the tandoori chicken cool down fully. Once it is done, cover it with foil paper and store it in the fridge for about 2 to 3 days. Reheat it in an oven until it is nice and warm while serving it again.

You cannot freeze tandoori chicken once it is grilled or cooked. But you can freeze the marinated chicken for up to 2 months. Transfer the marinated chicken and the marinade to freezer-safe bags and freeze.

When you want to cook it, remove the bag from the freezer, let it thaw on the kitchen counter, and then grill it as mentioned.

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Make healthy lip-smacking Tandoori Chicken at home in under 15 minutes of active working time using my easy recipe. You can cook the marinated chicken in an oven, air fryer, stovetop, or grill (gluten-free, keto-friendly).
4.84 from 12 votes

Best Tandoori Chicken Recipe (Oven + Air Fryer)

Make healthy lip-smacking Tandoori Chicken at home in under 15 minutes of active working time using my easy recipe. You can cook the marinated chicken in an oven, air fryer, stovetop, or grill.
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 1 hour
Marination Time: 6 hours
Total: 7 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 4 people

Ingredients 

  • 2 pounds whole bone-in skinless chicken legs (legs and thighs) (1 kg, You can also use drumsticks or boneless breasts in place of whole legs. Keep in mind that the breast will dry out soon after cooking.)

For The First Marination

  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons ginger garlic paste
  • 1 teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder

For The Second Marination

  • 2 tablespoons thick plain yogurt (dahi, curd) (or Greek yogurt)
  • 1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste
  • 1 teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper powder
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ½ teaspoon roasted cumin powder
  • ½ teaspoon garam masala powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 2 tablespoons mustard oil (or any other oil)
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon Kasuri methi

To Serve

  • 1 tablespoon salted butter
  • 1 teaspoon chaat masala powder
  • lime wedges
  • onion slices
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Instructions 

First Marination of Chicken

  • Wash the whole chicken legs (thighs and legs) and pat the pieces dry using a paper towel. Make 3-4 slits on each piece using a sharp knife.
  • Mix the ingredients for the first marinade in a bowl. Add the chicken to the bowl and mix well with the marinade using your fingers. Cover the bowl with a lid or a cling film and refrigerate for an hour.

Second Marination Of Chicken

  • Add the ingredients for the second marinade to the bowl and mix them well with the chicken.
  • Cover the bowl with a lid or a cling film and refrigerate for atleast 4-5 hours or better overnight

Cook The Chicken

    Oven Method

    • Preheat the oven to 360℉ (180℃). Set a baking tray on the lower half of the oven and keep a wire rack above the baking tray. Shake off the excess marinade and arrange the chicken pieces on the wire rack. Grill for 15 minutes.
    • Flip the chicken using a tong and grill for another 15-20 minutes until they are cooked well. Baste the chicken 1-2 times with butter while grilling.
    • Set the oven to broil and broil the chicken for 4-5 minutes until it is slightly charred. Remove from oven and brush with butter. Sprinkle chaat masala on top. Serve hot with lime wedges and onion slices.

    Air Fryer Method

    • Line the basket of the air fryer with aluminum foil. Leave some space on the sides for the air to flow. Place chicken on the basket in a single layer and air fry at 400℉ (200℃) for 15 minutes. Baste with butter and flip using a tong and air fry for another 15 minutes until slightly charred and browned. Sprinkle chaat masala on top. Serve hot with lime wedges and onion slices.

    Stovetop Method

    • Heat a pan (preferably a grill pan) over the stovetop on medium heat. Transfer the marinated chicken to the hot pan and drizzle 2-3 tablespoon of oil all over. Cover the pan and cook on medium heat for 8-10 minutes.
    • Flip and cover the pan and cook for another 8-10 minutes. Remove the lid and increase the heat to high and cook until all the liquid is evaporated.
    • Place a wire rack on the stovetop and keep the chicken over the rack. Cook over direct heat on both sides until slightly charred. Flip a few times while cooking. Serve hot.

    In An Outdoor Grill

    • Preheat your outdoor grill to medium-high heat. If using a gas grill, line the grates with aluminum foil to prevent the marinade from dripping and causing flare-ups.
    • While the grill is preheating, remove the chicken from the marinade and let the excess marinade drip off.
    • Place the pieces on the hot grill over direct heat.
    • Grill for about 20-25 minutes, turning occasionally to achieve even cooking and a nicely charred exterior. Baste with butter a few times while grilling.

    Notes

    You can give a smoky flavor to the chicken by giving Dhungar to the ready tandoori chicken. Heat a piece of charcoal over direct heat until it is red hot. Keep the chicken pieces in a large bowl. Keep a small bowl in the center, and keep the hot coal in the small bowl. Drizzle 1 teaspoon ghee over the coal and immediately close the lid of the large bowl. Let the chicken absorb the smoke for 10 minutes. Serve.
    Making cuts in chicken pieces using a sharp knife ensures that the marinade penetrates every corner of the pieces.
    Make sure to use thick yogurt to marinate the chicken. It will ensure that the spices stick to the pieces and do not wash off.
    Adding Kashmiri red chilies gives a very nice color to the chicken without making it very hot and spicy.
    Marinate the chicken for at least 2-3 hours. However, the longer you marinate, the flavors get better. I try to keep the total marinating time up to 24 hours.
    Double marination is the key to juicy tandoori chicken. Do not skip this process.

    Nutrition

    Calories: 817kcal, Carbohydrates: 7g, Protein: 45g, Fat: 67g, Saturated Fat: 20g, Cholesterol: 276mg, Sodium: 1492mg, Potassium: 628mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 1435IU, Vitamin C: 6.3mg, Calcium: 69mg, Iron: 3.3mg
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    24 Comments

    1. Hi is there a reason you removed the other non-air-fry tandoor recipe? I liked that one and I’m looking for that one

    2. We just recently purchased in Airfryer and this recipe was so delicious. Thank you for sharing. I look forward to trying more of your recipes.

      1. 5 stars
        I make this in an Air Fryer all the time — and it is fantastic. Seems an Air Fryer is perfect as a home substitute for a Tandoori Oven.