Tandoori Chicken

Tandoori chicken

The Spruce / Elaine Lemm

  • Total: 35 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins
  • Cook: 25 mins
  • Marinating Time: 12 hrs
  • Servings: 4 servings

Traditionally, tandoori chicken calls for pieces of meat to be marinated in yogurt and spices, then baked in a cylindrical, clay tandoor oven. Most of us don't have one at home, but you can still enjoy the flavorful Indian dish using a regular oven.

Tandoori chicken is also renowned for its vibrant red color, which comes mainly from the spices used. If you think you can use up the old spices hanging around in your cupboard, think again— spices lose their color and their potency over time, so when making tandoori chicken at home, invest in fresh spices and the best quality you can afford.


  • 4 skinless free-range chicken breasts
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground garam masala
  • For the Marinade:
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
  • 1/2 cup full-fat yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons garlic (minced)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger (peeled and minced)
  • 3 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons tomato puree
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 to 3 drops red food coloring (optional)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Lay each chicken breast on a chopping board and cut into bite-sized chunks and put into a large, sealable plastic bag.

  3. Put all the ingredients for the marinade into a food processor or blender and process until a thick, smooth paste is created. If you are using fresh spices, the paprika will have turned the marinade a lovely red color; if you feel this is not strong enough, then add the drops of food coloring. 

  4. Pour the marinade into the plastic bag with the chicken, seal the bag, and gently massage the bag to make sure all the chicken pieces are coated. Put the bag into a bowl and into the fridge overnight if possible but at least 6 hours. 

  5. Remove the bag with the chicken from the fridge for 20 minutes to help it come up to room temperature, if you cook the chicken straight from the refrigerator it will take longer to cook through, and the chicken meat will be tough. 

  6. Preheat the oven to 360 F.

  7. Optional step: If you have a ridged griddle pan, heat it slowly on the stovetop to hot, but not burning and sear each of the chicken cubes to create lovely black markings before baking in the oven.

  8. Place the chicken into a heavy, ovenproof dish. Place in the middle of the oven and cook for 20 minutes if previously seared in a griddle pan or 25 minutes if not. Remove the dish from the oven and put to one side for 5 minutes to allow the chicken to rest. 

  9. Serve the chicken hot, sprinkled with the garam masala over cooked basmati rice with fresh coriander leaves and lemon wedges on the side to squeeze over the chicken.  


  • When making tandoori chicken, all types of chicken pieces are good. Breast meat is softer, quicker to cook, and good for those who do not like bones. However, thigh and legs are stronger meats and hold up well to the spices and flavors. The choice of which cut to use is up to personal taste.

Recipe Variations

  • Alternatively, you can serve the chicken inside a wrap with the fresh coriander and crisp salad greens.
  • This recipe also works well cooked on a barbecue on skewers and served as above.