Culinary Arts

Quick and Easy Tandoori Chicken Recipe: Make Tandoori Chicken on the Grill or in the Oven

Written by MasterClass

Apr 30, 2019 • 2 min read

Legend has it tandoori chicken sprang from the same mind that would eventually introduce the world to butter chicken, chicken tikka, and by default, its beloved British spin-off, chicken tikka masala. As chicken recipes go, it’s an easy stunner.


What Is Tandoori Chicken?

Tandoori chicken is chicken that has been marinated in yogurt and spices. While it’s traditionally roasted whole on skewers in a tandoor oven (a cylindrical clay oven heated with wood or charcoal, primarily used in the Northern regions of the Indian subcontinent), it can be made in a conventional oven, rotisserie, or grill.

What Spices Coat Tandoori Chicken?

Like many Indian recipes, the spice blend used to give tandoori chicken its signature heat profile often varies slightly. One Indian restaurant may use a different ratio than another; one street vendor might use a subtle signature twist.

Some Indian grocery stores carry tandoori masala, a mix that typically includes garam masala (itself a blend), garlic, onion, and ginger, but the dish also includes turmeric along with a red chili powder like cayenne pepper for coloring and heat. If you’ve seen the neon scarlet hue tandoori chicken occasionally sports, you’d be right to assume there’s a dash of red food coloring for drama, as well.

What to Serve With Tandoori Chicken

Tandoori chicken is often served as a main course alongside naan, basmati rice, and raita—a cooling yogurt sauce with cucumber.

How Long Does Tandoori Chicken Last?

Tandoori chicken will keep in the refrigerator for about a week. In the meantime, use it for butter chicken, or shred it and toss with caramelized onions for a pizza topping with a kick.

Easy Tandoori Chicken Recipe

Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
2 hr 25 min
  • 1 cup plain yogurt, such as Greek yogurt
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2–3 tsp chili powder (cayenne, Kashmiri red chili powder, or a smoked paprika), to preference
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 3 lbs skinless chicken thighs, chicken breasts, or drumsticks
  1. In a large bowl, combine the yogurt, garlic, ginger, chili powder, garam masala, cumin, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Stir well, until marinade is uniform.
  2. To prepare chicken pieces, make small, deep cuts into the flesh, so the marinade fully infuses with the meat. Add the chicken to the bowl, and turn to coat. Cover, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  3. Preheat the grill, brush grates with oil, and cook the chicken, basting periodically with olive oil or melted butter, over medium-high heat until blistered and cooked all the way through, at least 25 minutes.

In the oven: Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, and place a grill rack on top. Arrange chicken with a little space between the pieces, and roast for 30 minutes, basting and flipping halfway through.

Incorporate Indian spices into your cooking to create memorable meals. Learn from Alice Waters here.