Juicy Tandoori chicken baked in the oven is a delicious, easy recipe perfect for dinner served with naan bread, rice and cucumber salad.
This is the perfect recipe to make when you need to feed a crowd. The chicken is a slam dunk. Using boneless chicken thighs means the end result is ridiculously juicy and so perfect served with naan bread and a cool and crunchy cucumber salad. I like adding spiced basmati rice too but that’s completely optional. Add bowls of yogurt and sprigs of fresh cilantro/coriander so that your family/ guests can assemble their own bowls but make sure to make enough because this stuff is addictive!
Table of Contents
What is Tandoori chicken?
Tandoori chicken is a traditional Indian dish. Chicken is marinated in yogurt and spices before being cooked in a clay oven called a Tandoor. Tandoori chicken often has a vibrant red hue as a result of the red chili powder used. Red food coloring is also sometimes used but isn’t necessary and does nothing for the flavor of the chicken
What is the difference between Chicken Tikka Masala and Tandoori chicken? Tikka Masala is also marinated in yogurt and spices but instead of being cooked in a clay oven, it is skewered and grilled.
How to make Tandoori marinade
- Greek yogurt. Buttermilk can also be used.
- Garlic. Use fresh garlic cloves for the best flavor.
- Garam Masala. If you can’t find Garam Masala powder, use a good Indian spice mix containing turmeric, coriander, cumin, cinnamon, cardamom, etc.
- Chilli powder. Cayenne pepper can also be substituted.
- Salt and black pepper.
- Lemon juice. Lime juice can be used instead.
Start by toasting the spices in a pan set over medium heat. Allow to toast for a minute or two until fragrant. Combine yogurt, spices, garlic, ginger and lemon juice together in a large bowl and mix well. Add boneless chicken thighs and mix to coat the chicken in the marinade. Cover and allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes but up to 24 hours in the fridge.
How to make Tandoori chicken in oven
- Preheat the oven and the broiler (oven grill) to its hottest temperature. This is the best way to emulate a traditional Tandoor oven used in Indian restaurants. Place marinated chicken, skin-side up, on a wire rack set over a rimmed baking tray or sheet pan lined with aluminum foil.
- Place the chicken in the oven and allow to bake and broil for 20-30 minutes or until the chicken is starting to char and is cooked through.
- Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Can I make this ahead?
The chicken can be marinated and kept in the fridge for up to 24 hours before cooking. More than that and the yogurt will over-tenderize the chicken causing the meat to become mealy. Cooked chicken can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days and reheated before serving.
What to serve with Tandoori chicken
Yes, you can use bone-in chicken pieces like drumsticks, thighs or chicken wings as well as chicken breast for this recipe. The cooking time will just need to be adjusted.
Yes! Tandoori chicken is great in an air fryer. Marinate the chicken then add to the basket of your air fryer and cook for 15-20 minutes at 205°C/400°F, flipping half-way through cooking, until the chicken is caramelized and cooked through.
- 500 g (1lb) Boneless chicken thighs
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 3 garlic cloves crushed
- 2 tsp crushed ginger
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp Garam Masala
- 2 tsp Paprika
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground cardamom
- ½ tsp chilli powder
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
For the cucumber salad
- 1 cucumber sliced
- 1 red onion thinly sliced
- ½ cup white vinegar
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- Black pepper to taste
- Start by toasting the spices in a pan set over medium heat. Allow to toast for a minute or two until fragrant.
- Combine all the marinade ingredients together and add the chicken.
- Allow to marinade for at least 30 minutes up to 24 hours covered in the fridge.
- Preheat the oven to 220°C/450°F (or as hot as your oven goes) on the broiler/oven grill setting. Line a baking tray with foil and place a wire rack on top.
- Place the chicken on the rack and cook for 20-30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and is starting to char.
- To make the cucumber salad, place the cucumber and onion in a mixing bowl. Mix the sinegar, salt, sugar & pepper and pour over the cucumber and onion. Stir everything together and allow to stand for 15-20 mins.
- Serve the Tandoori chicken with naan bread, rice and cucumber salad.