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Tandoori Chicken

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Juicy on the inside, crisp on the outside, and seasoned to perfection, tandoori chicken is delicious and easy way to spice up your family dinners.

Serving platter of tandoori chicken.

Tandoori chicken is a traditional Indian dish of chicken marinated in yogurt, citrus, and spices, and then roasted in a tandoor, a cylindrical clay oven. The chicken gets its signature reddish hue from the combination of spices, the flavor of which is further enhanced by toasting them in a pan prior to incorporating into the marinade. Tandoori chicken is a simple dish to prepare, and you can replicate the tandoor environment at home by roasting in a high-heat oven. In this recipe, adapted from Food & Wine, the chicken is deliciously seasoned with super-crispy skin.

Instead of making a traditional green chutney, I serve store-bought mango chutney alongside – it adds a gingery sweetness that complements the spices. Serve tandoori chicken with naan, basmati rice pilaf with dried fruits and almonds (or simple basmati rice), and a refreshing cucumber mint salad. Kids love this one, too!

“This is the best tandoori chicken recipe you will find. It is definitely restaurant quality, or better.”


What You’ll Need To Make Tandoori Chicken

tandoori chutney ingredients
  • Paprika, Garam Masala, Cumin, Coriander, Turmeric, Cayenne Pepper: This blend of spices creates the signature flavor of tandoori chicken, providing warmth, depth, heat and a vibrant color.
  • Fresh Ginger and Garlic: Both are key aromatics in the dish, adding a punch of flavor.
  • Greek Yogurt: Acts as the base for the marinade, tenderizing the chicken thanks to its acidity. It also helps the spices adhere to the meat and contributes to the dish’s creamy texture.
  • Lime Zest and Juice: Adds a citrusy brightness to the marinade.
  • Chicken Drumsticks: Serve as the protein in this dish, chosen for their juiciness and ease of eating. Bone-in chicken thighs would also work, and the cook time would be about the same.
  • Jump to the printable recipe for precise measurements

Step-by-Step Instructions

Begin by combining the spices in a small skillet.

spices in pan

Toast for a few minutes until the spices are fragrant. This step really enhances the flavor.

Wooden spoon stirring toasting spices in a pan.

Next, zest the lime and chop your fresh ginger and garlic (the ginger and garlic will get blended in a food processor, but they won’t fully pulverize unless you give them a rough chop first).

lime, ginger and garlic on cutting board

Combine the toasted spices, ginger, garlic, yogurt, lime juice, lime zest, oil and salt in a mini food processor or blender.

marinade ingredients in food processor

Pulse until smooth.

blended marinade in food processor

Then, using a sharp knife, make slashes in the drumsticks. This increases the surface area of the chicken, so the marinade can penetrate the meat.

slashing the drumsticks

Toss the drumsticks with the marinade, cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.

chicken in marinade

Line a baking sheet with heavy duty aluminum foil and place a greased oven-proof rack over top. Arrange the marinated drumsticks on the rack, leaving a bit of space in between them.

marinated chicken on rack

Cook for 45 minutes, turning once, until the chicken is cooked and the skin is quite crisp.

roasted tandoori chicken

Finally, flash the chicken under the broiler for about 5 minutes, until the skin is super-crisp and a bit charred.

broiled tandoori chicken

Serve with mango chutney and lime wedges on the side.

Frequently Asked Questions

I don’t have time to marinate the chicken. Can I cook it straight away?

The chicken is best marinated for a few hours or overnight, but if you’re in a time crunch, you can simply coat the chicken with the marinade and cook it immediately; it will still be packed with flavor.

Most authentic tandoori chicken recipes call for Kashmiri chili pepper. Why doesn’t yours?

That’s correct, traditional tandoori chicken is typically made with ground Kashmiri chili pepper, a spice found only in Indian grocery stores and some supermarkets. Paprika makes an excellent substitute and is readily available, so I use that instead.

Can I use chicken parts other than drumsticks to make tandoori chicken?

Yes, besides drumsticks, bone-in chicken thighs are an excellent choice due to their juiciness and flavor, which stand up well to the high heat required for cooking. Thighs also tend to remain tender and moist, making them a preferred option over chicken breasts, which may not fare as well under the intense heat and could become dry.

Platter of tandoori chicken.

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Tandoori Chicken

Juicy on the inside, crisp on the outside, and seasoned to perfection, tandoori chicken is delicious and easy way to spice up your family dinners.

Servings: 12 drumsticks, 4 servings
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 1 Hour
Total Time: 1 Hour 20 Minutes, plus a few hours to marinate


  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala (substitute curry powder if you can't find it)
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (use ¼ teaspoon for less heat)
  • 3 tablespoons peeled and roughly chopped fresh ginger (see note)
  • 7 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup whole milk Greek yogurt
  • Zest and juice from one lime (about 1 teaspoon zest and 2 tablespoons juice)
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 2½ teaspoons salt
  • 12 chicken drumsticks (about 4 pounds)
  • 1 (9 ounce) jar mango chutney, for serving (optional)
  • A few sprigs cilantro, for garnishing the platter (optional)
  • Lime wedges, for serving (optional)


  1. In a small pan over medium-low heat, combine the paprika, garam masala, cumin, coriander, turmeric and cayenne pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 2 minutes, until spices are fragrant.
  2. Add the spices to a blender or mini food processor, along with the ginger, garlic, Greek yogurt, lime zest and juice, oil and salt; process until smooth.
  3. Using a very sharp knife, make 2 or 3 slashes in each drumstick (be careful; they are slippery). Place the drumsticks in a large bowl and toss with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.
  4. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line a baking sheet with heavy duty aluminum foil (for easy clean-up) and set an oven-proof rack over top. Spray the rack with nonstick cooking spray or grease with vegetable oil.
  5. Arrange the chicken on the rack, leaving a bit of space between the pieces. Spoon any marinade left in the bowl evenly over the drumsticks. Roast for 45 minutes, turning once midway through, until the chicken is golden brown and cooked through (be sure to turn on your exhaust fan as the oven will get a little smoky). Turn on the broiler and broil the chicken about 6 inches from the heat for 3-5 minutes, until lightly charred and crisp all over. Transfer the chicken to a platter and garnish with cilantro sprigs and lime wedges, and serve with mango chutney on the side.
  6. Note: Check out easy guidance on how to peel, grate, and chop fresh ginger here.

Pair with

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Serving size: 3 drumsticks (nutritional data does not include chutney)
  • Calories: 807
  • Fat: 53g
  • Saturated fat: 11g
  • Carbohydrates: 8g
  • Sugar: 1g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Protein: 73g
  • Sodium: 1884mg
  • Cholesterol: 369mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

See more recipes:


  • Can I freeze the marinated chicken, or should I just freeze the marinade? I’ve had this before when my mom made it and it is amazing!

    • Hi Hadley, Usually I wouldn’t recommend freezing something in a yogurt-based marinade like this chicken, but another reader commented that she did it successfully. Please LMK how it turns out if you try it! 🙂

  • I’ve made this recipe countless times. Love it!

  • Tried this tonight, soooo delicious!!

  • love this recipe.. only missing was that it wasn’t juicy from inside was i missing something?

    • Hi Salim, Sorry you found these to be dry! Based on the fact that the recipe calls for dark meat, they really shouldn’t be dry. My best guess is that they were a bit overcooked. If you make them again, I’d suggest shortening the time in the oven by just a few minutes.

  • What this recipe promises it delivers…delish!!!

  • Hi Jenn,
    I just wanted to let you know that I cooked this with bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs and only added about 10 minutes to the time. It turned out AMAZING. My husband, who’s a picky eater and usually a prince in attitude, found himself eating these with 10 fingers, while admitting “this is better than any Indian restaurant I’ve ever been to!” Thank you so much for the recipe!

    (note for others who might want to cook this: definitely don’t skip the spice-toasting step, it makes a huge difference!)

  • Fantastic recipe. Have made this 4 times now. Both of my sons love it and have asked for the recipe, too.

  • Hi Jenn- I’m making this for a dinner party tomorrow night. I’m using thighs instead of drumsticks. I’d like to have it done 60-90 minutes before serving so I can enjoy cocktail hour with the guests. If I kept the chicken in the oven on warm (200) for an hour or so do you think the skin would stay crispy and the chicken moist? Any other suggestions there?

    Also – I’ve made this multiple times and sometimes the skin is crispier than others. Is that just a function of the amount of time under the broiler? The only other thing I thought was perhaps I’m spooning too much marinade over the top sometimes.

    You’re the best!


    • Hi Cole, you could do what you suggested. The chicken may not be quite as crisp but because you’re using dark meat, it should stay moist. Another alternative is to slightly undercook the chicken, let it sit on the counter for a bit while you enjoy your company, and then stick it back in the oven for about 15 minutes to finish it off right before serving. Hope everyone enjoys! 🙂

  • Just made this recipe for dinner tonight. I only used half the amount of chicken so I froze half of the marinade. Excited to use it in the future. My family loved it. Thank you, Jen — your recipes NEVER fail!

  • This tandoori chicken is requested by my husband at least twice a month. The flavor of this chicken is amazing, and is not difficult to make at all. I have tried multiple recipes of tandoori chicken, and none have exceeded this. I also recommend pairing this with her homemade naan recipe for leftover sauce. I love making this, and really don’t ever feel the need to modify it.

    • — Allison Strickland
    • Reply
  • Delicious recipe. I had ginger paste so I minced the garlic and slipped using a food processor. Very juice. Thank you

  • Absolutely fantastic! I cooked them on my little Smokey Joe charcoal grill (indirect then direct heat) and it was perfect. Thanks for that wonderful recipe, a definite keeper! I’ll be trying one of your other recipes tonight…..

  • This recipe made me fall in love with you blog Jenn! I started using your website as a trusted source for weekly meals and got your cookbook for my birthday two weeks ago!

    • Aww, so glad you like the recipes, Touraya. Happy belated!

  • Would this recipe work with soy or coconut yogurt?

    • Hi Alysia, Yes I think either would work. Please lmk how it turns out!

  • Could you freeze before cooking

    • Typically I would recommend against freezing something in a yogurt-based marinade like this, but another reader commented that she has done it successfully. Please LMK how it turns out if you try it!

  • What a wonderful surprise! Our family is not big fans of drumsticks but we made this recipe as written and so tasty and easy to make! Cooked perfectly & oh so flavourful!

  • Your oven tandoori cooking technique is perfect. Only thing I did different was that I did not leave the skin on and baked/roasted 5 minutes less and broiled only 3 minutes. Then, glazed the cooked tandoori with melted ghee, lemon juice, paprika mixture. Adding you to my fave pages; thank you. Cheers!

  • Just finished making…… it’s delicious!!!
    Having lived in New York for many years, I have had really good Indian food… this is just as good.. will definitely be making again. Thanks for sharing

  • can this be made with skinless chicken pieces, especially thighs wings and legs?

    • Hi Jane, I think skinless pieces will work; they just won’t get as crispy.

    • Hello,
      I tried this in a convection toaster oven, I believe 45 minutes at 450 was too long, for roasting in convection, shall I reduce the cooking time or the oven temperature?

      • Hi Sheetal, If you’re using the convection setting, I’d reduce the oven temperature by 25 degrees next time.

  • Awesome. Simply brilliant. One of the best chicken dishes I have had.

  • My family loves this recipe! We find the flavor is even better if you marinate longer! We usually grill the chicken to get that crispy outside rather than baking. Fresh ginger is definitely better, but you can use the ground ginger from the spices section and its still AMAZING! We use the marinade on everything, not just chicken!

    • — Haley Suskauer
    • Reply
  • I made this recently – I did not use drum sticks, however – I used thighs and I bbq’d them. I love the char the grill adds, just intensifies the amazing flavor.. I will say that they did lack salt.. so after you take them off the grill, maybe add a spinkle of finishing salt or your favorite fresh ground sea salt, I would highly recommend Black Hawaiian Salt.. Delish! I’ve tried incorporating more recipes outside the more mainstream American Diner recipes for my family and this was a winner.. I would also consider making some naan bread, a yogurt sauce, and saffron rice to go with!

    • — Melissa Catron
    • Reply
  • Awesome recipe substituted mango chutney with peach mango preserves

  • How does this recipe turn out if you remove the skin from drum sticks?

    • I think it’d be fine, JC – you just won’t have that crispy skin.

      • Wow delicious! From toasting the spices until taking the crackling chicken out of the oven the aromas were amazing
        Straight forward and easy to follow recipe. This will be on repeat!!

  • My family loves this dish! Preparing the chicken is very easy and I always marinate it overnight for the best flavor. When baking the chicken, I lowered the temperature to 400°F as it makes the drumsticks juicer. I also love the combination of spices and the fragrance coming from cooking them in the pan. A simply delicious and now a regular at our home.

  • Do you have a recommendation for a substitution for the Mango chutney? I didn’t find it at my local store today. Thank you!

    • Hi Glinda, it’s perfectly fine to omit the chutney. However, if you feel like you need something for dipping, you could get a different flavor chutney if you can find it or a fruity salsa would work too. Hope that helps!

  • Hi. I love your recipes! I have made this before and love it! Do you think boneless-skinless chicken thighs could be substituted using the same broiling technique as in your Broiled Spicy Chicken Thighs with Sweet & Tangy Honey Glaze?

    • Glad you like the recipes, Canby! Yes, I think that what you’ve suggested should work. I’d love to hear how it turns out!

  • Is there a particular brand of mango chutney that you suggest?

    • My favorite is probably Crosse & Blackwell. Hope you enjoy the chicken!

  • I absolutely love this recipe. My date was super impressed and he is a picky eater! All the seasons make for a party in the mouth. I make this recipe frequently, especially if I’m trying to impress someone. 😉 The only thing I have changed with this recipe is I use cubed chicken breast instead of the dark meat only because I prefer the white meat. I cut the meat into cubes so that there is more surface area for the yummy sauce to cover and the chicken cooks quicker (win win!). Love it!

  • Yes, these can be grilled; I’d grill them over medium heat for about 30 minutes. You know your grill best (and how hot it runs), but I typically grill with the lid closed. Hope you enjoy!

  • Hello! My chicken is marinating overnight and I can’t wait to cook this tomorrow! However, I just realized that I don’t have a grill grate..can you make this in the oven on a baking sheet? Would it affect the cooking? Thank you!

    • Hi Stephanie, The cook time would be the same but the skin won’t crisp up unless the chicken is cooked on a rack. (It’ll still be good – just not crispy.) Enjoy!

  • This recipe is so full of flavor. The spices are so well balanced. I’ve made it many times. I like it best the day it is cooked.
    I’ve never had so much success with a single website. Thanks for posting things that work, it saves us so much time!
    Toronto, Canada

  • Hi! This was great. everyone loved it.

  • Awesome recipe!! I tried them and they came out very well. Thanks for sharing. However I have a question on cooking temperature, if we use frozen chicken drumsticks, which are usually tender and cook very fast, how much temperature adjustment should be made? I tried on 430F for 40 mins, it cooked well but still was wondering about temperature.

    • Hi Neetika, Are your drumsticks already cooked?

  • This is absolutely delicious! I made it both times on the gas grill. I marinated it overnight to get the full flavor. Thanks Jen for this yummy chicken recipe!

  • Very good recipe, Jen. Thank you. The flavours are authentically Indian. I paired it with your basmati rice recipe and it was a hit!

  • I made this last week because I got tired of cooking drumsticks the same old way. This recipe is delicious and not spicy at all, which was good for the kids. Everyone loved it, thanks for a very enjoyable meal.
    The naan bread sounded too good, so I had to make that as well. Hey, look everyone, I can make naan bread. I couldn’t believe I could actually make real naan bread. Everyone at the table made sure they had seconds among the oohs and aaahs. I spread half of them with homemade garlic butter. Mmmmmmm

  • Hi Jenn,
    I made this today for Father’s Day. My son and son-in-law were fighting over the leftovers. My husband grilled it on the barbeque. We will be making it again very soon. I garnished it with mint instead of cilantro because my Turkish son-law is not a big fan of cilantro.
    Thank you Jenn for your great recipes.
    Karen. Oakville, Ontario, Canada.

  • Hi Jenn! As always, a fabulous recipe! I thought I’d share a time-saving shortcut, for readers who have this dish in a regular rotation.

    The marinade freezes beautifully; you just need quite small airtight containers and to know how much chicken is used for each meal. My measurement is based on 6-8 legs or thighs per meal.

    I double the entire marinade recipe. For my use, I can get four batches of marinade, again for 6-8 chicken pieces. Each individually-frozen batch is just shy of 3 oz (yes I use a scale). So today’s double batch will give me enough marinade for tonight’s dinner, plus 3 more batches to go into the freezer for future meals.

    Prep time is now virtually zero. Just thaw and start marinating per instructions.

    • Great tip, Vicky. Thank you!

  • Made this with chicken thighs and it was great! Did not need to put it under broiler at the end, as the skin was already nice and crispy. Served with the basmati rice pilaf and cucumber salad – definitely a hit!

  • How would this work with thighs – bone-in or boneless?

    • Yes, it would work with either. If you choose boneless, they won’t need to cook for quite as long.

  • I made this tonight for dinner for my husband and myself, and once again, Jennifer’s recipe was absolutely delicious! You can NEVER go wrong with anything from her website.
    THanks for another lip smacking meal. Will definitely make the minted cuke salad next time as accompaniment.

  • Wife doesn’t like tandoori as much as I do, but this is one recipe we both enjoy, and it’s pretty easy as well. The chutney really puts it over the top. We had the mint-cucumber salad on the side, which was a treat.

  • I forgot all about the chutney, but the drumsticks were absolutely delicious, even though I started late and they only marinated for about 1.5 hours. I also removed the skin and we didn’t miss it one bit. We didn’t need as much chicken so I used a little more than a pound and halved the rest of the ingredients, which amounted to perfect portions. Great recipe. Thanks!

  • Hello Jennifer! You are the go to in our home! Thank you! Can I use 3 big chicken breasts? That’s all I have..My hubby asks “Is it a Segal night”? It’s time!!! We are so thankful for your recipes!! X and a O

    • So glad you all enjoy the recipes and I’m flattered that there are “Segal nights” in your house :)! I’m assuming you’re referring to bone in breasts? If so, it should work; just start checking them for doneness after about 35 minutes. enjoy

  • This dish turned out perfectly for me – doesn’t happen often! I was worried I wouldn’t like the flavor (I’ve never had chutney)or that it wouldn’t end up as beautifully as the photos. I really appreciate the step by step to read through. Awesome! Thank you Jenn!

  • How do I adjust the cooking time and/or oven temperature if I’m using chicken wings? How many wings will I need for the recipe?

    • Hi Rupal, I’d still buy 4 pounds of wings (so same as the drumsticks)and keep the oven temp the same. They should take slightly less time– I’d check them at about 35 minutes (and then broil them as the recipe indicates).

      • Thank you! This is great recipe. I’ve made it several times and it never fails to please ?

  • My family loved this meal even though I forgot the mango chutney. I substituted curry powder and ginger paste then marinated it overnight. It was still delicious!

  • I love this recipe– the only change I made was to leave out the cayenne –just the right amount of heat with the ginger and garlic for my family. The crispy skin is delicious and we gobbled up the mango chutney!

  • I made these as part of a “Once Upon a Chef” themed dinner club. We have been meeting monthly for 15 years, and this was very high on the list for best entree. Everyone raved about these. I used half large drumsticks and half boneless thighs folded onto themselves(cooking for 10 people so a triple recipe). I thought the time and temp seemed excessive, but 2 meat thermometers proved me wrong. So happy we have some left over. Made a great post walk snack yesterday.

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