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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.

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.

toasting spices

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.

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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:


  • This is one of my favorite chicken recipes. SO full of flavors! Definitely a party in the mouth.

  • This is the most flavorful chicken I have ever had. It was so delicious and the chutney was a great addition. I love all of Jenn’s recipes. This summer I went to help care for my new grandson and family. I cooked through many of her recipes for three weeks and loved all of them. Her site is my go to when I’m looking for a good recipe.

  • Delish – great flavor. I didn’t have ground turmeric but I got creative and used 2 of my turmeric capsules that I take as a daily supplement. The leftovers were excellent, looking forward to trying the Tikki Masala. I really enjoy your site Jenn – easy to follow recipes.

  • Make this regularly to rave review from teenage boys! Have frozen marinading chicken with oddly little adverse effect (would have thought yougut would do poorly, but fine.) Love the mango chutney, but in a pinch (including cost) apricot jam or duck sauce make reasonable substitutes.

  • One of my all time favorite recipes on the blog. I usually double or triple the marinade and freeze it so you can make it easily a second time. This recipe is super flavorful and a crowd pleaser, even with kids. Simply omit the cayenne or use 1/8 a tap if you’re serving anyone who is sensitive to spice.

  • This chicken tandoori is one one our favorite recipes. So flavorful. Especially nice with the mango chutney, basmati and naan. It’s not the quickest recipe, but much is hands off. We often make it with neatly bone-in thighs. They just need a few minutes more in the oven. So love this recipe.

  • This sounds yummy. Do you have a mango chutney recipe?

    • I don’t have one of my own – sorry! I will add it to my list of recipes to potentially develop. Hope you enjoy the chicken if you make it. 🙂

  • Great recipe! Can I use ginger garlic paste in place of the fresh ginger and garlic? If so, how much? Would I still need to blend with masalas in a blender since I’m using paste?

    • I don’t recommend it, Sk – sorry!!

  • Epic, fabulous. Definitely make again!

  • I made this recipe last night. It was absolutely delicious! I woke up thinking about it which is always a good sign. I tried both the chutney and and the cilantro shallot sauce from Food and Wine. They were both wonderful – very very different but both nice additions and very complimentary to the chicken.

  • The fragrances released by heating the spices perfumes the house is for hours..
    A simple and rewarding dish.

    • — Peter deSanctis
    • Reply
  • These are amazing! You’d think that 45 minutes at 450, plus another 5 under the broiler would turn the drumsticks to leather, but they are so moist.

  • Delicious! My family and I loved it. I made it just like the directions, except that we only had 7 drumsticks, and there was plenty of extra marinade. Next time we’ll make more because I think it would be great cold the next day too. I didn’t make the chutney because we didn’t have mango. I made a curried cabbage side dish, and my stepson made naan. It was a great meal and really hit the spot since we don’t have a nearby Indian restaurant.

  • this recipe was easy, delicious, and most importantly….AMAZING. so much flavor. My husband and I were scraping the plate for the leftover sauce. well done!

    • — Kendyan Shavers
    • Reply
  • Hi, please suggest a substitute for coriander.


    • — Accidental home cook
    • Reply
    • You could just replace it with more cumin. Hope you enjoy!

      • Can I use ginger garlic paste if I don’t have fresh ginger or garlic? If so, how much? Also would I still need to blend together in blender if using paste? Excited to try this recipe!

        • Hi Ofi, I don’t have any experience with ginger garlic paste so I can’t say for sure, but I think you can probably get away with it. I Googled it and it looks like if a recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of minced ginger and 1 tablespoon of minced garlic, use 2 tablespoons of the paste instead (I’ll let you do the math for this one). 🙂 And yes, I would still include it in the blender with the other ingredients. Please LMK how it turns out if you try it!

  • Hi Jenn, Do you think it would work to marinate the drumsticks overnight and then freeze the marinated drumsticks raw; then thaw and grill when my company arrives in a few days? Thank you!

    • Yes, I think that will work. Enjoy!

  • Really Really appreciate this recipe. Easy, great flavor, and my teenager that won’t eat anything liked it so much she’s mixing me up a batch of garam masala.

  • How would I cook these on a gas grill – it is just too hot to bake. I have ten bone-in chicken thighs marinating, the house smells wonderful from all the spices.

    • Hi Marilyn, Yes, this can be grilled. For both bone-in thighs and drumsticks, I’d grill them over medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes per side. Hope you enjoy!

  • Hi Jenn, would the flavour profile of your roasted tomato-peach jam be a good match with this tandoori chicken recipe? I’m thinking of serving it in place of the suggested mango chutney. I’ve tried out a couple of your recipes recently and love them! Your instructions, step-by-step photographs, and specific salt measurements in particular are super helpful to an inexperienced cook like me.

    • Sure, Alina, I think it would pair nicely with the chicken!

  • Another great recipe from Once Upon a Chef!! I made these tonight and the family gave it a thumbs up to add to my dinner rotation. My chicken was cooked in about 30 minutes. Didn’t have the mango chutney and it was delicious on its own. I’m loving everything that I’ve tried so far. Thanks Jenn.

  • I’m not usually a fan of drumsticks but everyone in the family loves this recipe, myself included. I stopped using the chutney with it, they don’t need it IMO.

  • Hi Jenn
    I did your chicken Tandoori recipe for dinner this evening (First time) doubled ingredients. Used 20 drumsticks instead of twelve. It turned out absolutely perfect our guests were impressed (one said I knew you could weld didn’t know you could cook ) I think the secret is slicing drumsticks and putting in marinades overnight. Every bite was full of taste and moisture!
    Thanks for your emails every week!

  • Cook these drumsticks up last night, after marinating them for 24 hours. My boys (53, 16 and 12) all loved them!! I only put a 1/4 tsp cayenne in as my 12 year old and I are pretty weak in the heat department. I will definitely up that next time I make these. Family rating – 5 stars!!

  • HI Jenn
    can I use chicken thighs instead of drumsticks? Would the cooking time change?

    • Hi Kelly, Sure thighs would work here. Assuming the thighs have bones in them, the timing should be similar. Please LMK how they turn out!

  • I want to make this marinade tonight but don’t have turmeric…will it work or what can I substitute?

    • Hi Liz, I’d use an additional 1/2 tsp. of cumin in place of the tumeric. Hope that helps and that you enjoy! 🙂

  • Fantastic! I followed the recipe “as is” and marinated overnight, which I highly recommend. I love lemon, but I use it in so many recipes. These drumsticks worked well with the change to limes. Paired perfectly with some General Grey’s Mango Chutney. I served it with sides of Indian Spiced Roasted Potatoes, and a Zucchini Curry.

  • Can u use coconut yogurt instead of regular yogurt? Thanks

    • Sure, Talie, that should be fine. Hope you enjoy!

  • Greetings from Canada.
    This recipe of yours is a definitely a keeper. Very good. Thank you.

  • Last night I made this recipe for the second time. With no yogurt on hand, I used mayonnaise instead. It was as delicious as the first time! Thank you, Jenn, for a great recipe. I’m making the chocolate banana bread today.

  • Absolutely marvelous, delicious, easy and delightful.
    Thank you!

  • Delicious, marinated overnight. …. everyone loved it served with all the linked suggestions…. will make again

  • Has anyone tried this with a broiler pan?

  • Amazing recipe!! My very picky teenager loved this recipe. I actually cooked them in the air fryer for 25 min at 400 and they came out nice and crispy. Thank you for your great blog and recipes!

  • Made this last night. My husband ate 7 drumsticks (I know, I know, right?!). Was juicy and just the right amount of spice. Skin was crispy. I didn’t have mango chutney but didn’t really miss it- I just served with a bit of yogurt on the side. I used lemon in the marinade instead of lime because I didn’t have any. I marinated this overnight- I think it makes a difference. Another stellar recipe!

    • Hi,
      Can I use the same recipe for marinating the whole chicken? Was thinking to grill whole chicken. Thank you 🙂

  • I made this tonight exactly as written. It was fantastic! Great flavor and crispy skin. My 7yr omg son even loved it, and he doesn’t like anything! I will make this again. Thank you!

  • I am always making this recipe. It’s perfect. Thanks

  • Have you ever tried this with shrimp?

    • Hi Heidi, I can’t say that I have. If you try it, I’d reduce the marinating time to 20-30 minutes. Please LMK how it turns out if you try it!

  • Update:

    This recipe was amazing. I followed the directions and didn’t add a thing. I marinated the chicken overnight and they came out crispy, flavorful and really pretty. :). Thanks Jen.

    • Loved this! I made this exactly according to recipe and turned out fabulous.

      My husband and I aren’t even big drumstick fans, but the flavor and crispy skin made it a big hit.

  • I am having a surprise birthday party. for my husband and of course, I am coming to Jen for another great recipe. I used 3 bags of chicken drummettes and doubled the marinade. They are in the oven now and the aroma is everything!

  • I have tried a lot of tandoori recipes and this is the best I’ve tried. I also added a 2 tbsp of kasoori methi and it came out fantastic. This will be our new go to recipe.

  • Wow! These are fantastic. Your recipes never disapppoint. I am excited to have the leftovers for lunch this week. Thank you again for a wonderful new meal idea!

  • I made these about a month ago, and came back for the recipe again. FANTASTIC! I even bought your book after trying this recipe. thank you

    • So glad you enjoyed the chicken and thanks for purchasing the cookbook! 💗

  • Best drumsticks ever!!

  • Do you think I could use a different type of oil? I have olive oil and coconut oil. Thanks!

    • Sure, Madison, I like vegetable oil here because it’s very mild tasting, but you can get away with using either olive or coconut oil. Hope you enjoy!

  • This was absolutely fantastic!! Perfect!

  • Another wonderful meal which surprisingly the kids enjoyed too. Made for a quick weeknight meal after making the marinade the night before – just needed to pop the chicken in the oven the next day.

  • Absolutely delicious, made exactly as written. The only thing I did since I did not have a baking rack was place the chicken pieces directly on a baking pan which I covered with foil. Am making it again this weekend.

    • If I don’t have fresh ginger can I use powdered ginger

      • Yes, but you’ll need significantly less; I’d suggest about 3/4 teaspoon. Hope you enjoy!

  • I wanted to try something new for dinner and so glad I picked this recipe. I used both chicken drumsticks and thighs, just removed the drumsticks a little sooner. Roasting the spices beforehand was new and smelled delicious. I did not have fresh ginger but used ground ginger and it worked just fine. It did set off the smoke alarm which sent my dog and cat scurrying to the basement-poor things! I thought it was delicious and best of all, my sister who is the real cook of the family, thought so too!

  • Jenn – thank you for this excellent recipe; it’s easy to follow, simple to make and most importantly delicious. I made this for my wife and we loved it, and are making it again tomorrow. Cheers!

    • This recipe sound yummy and because I’ve got a function of 150 guests, my question is, is it possible if I baked it a day or 2 before the time and refrigerate ND reheat it will it still be delicious/ good

      Thank u

      • — Petronella (Patsy ) Van Wyk
      • Reply
      • Wow, that’s a lot of chicken! Yes, these can be made ahead and reheated. Hope everyone enjoys! 🙂

      • Hello, I am looking at doing this for a large group as well, (90-100 legs) did you try this in advance? If so, how did the reheating go and how long did you reheat for? Thanks!

  • This was so good. Made as written. Did not have lime so did without. Will try next time with Lime.

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