You probably don't own a traditional tandoor oven, but you can use your home oven to bake incredibly flavorful and succulent tandoori chicken. The homemade result is surprisingly close to what you would get at a restaurant!
I've been making this recipe quite often lately because it's super easy to make and all my family members love it. I make chicken recipes often, so it's nice to find an interesting and highly flavorful way of cooking it. The Indian spices are phenomenal!
I was surprised and delighted to learn that you can bake a tandoori chicken in a regular home oven. It comes out succulent and intensely flavorful, and leftovers are great too. So I no longer have to wait until we go out to eat to enjoy this very flavorful dish.
Here are my comments about some of the ingredients you’ll need when making this tasty recipe. Scroll down to the recipe card for the full list and exact measurements.
Yogurt: It's best to use plain whole-milk yogurt in this recipe. You want the fatty yogurt to compensate for the fact that you're remiving the skin from the chicken.
Fresh lemon juice: I highly recommend using freshly squeezed and not bottled lemon juice.
Minced garlic: Mince it yourself, or use the stuff that comes in a jar. Both work.
Spices: I use turmeric, ginger, cumin, paprika, and cayenne pepper. It's very important to make sure the spices are fresh. We're using a lot of them here, and a stale spice can easily ruin a dish.
Chicken: I use drumsticks, and I remove their skin. Watch the video to see how I do it.
Cilantro or parsley: Used mostly for garnish, although it does add an additional layer of flavor.
Baking tandoori chicken in the oven is easy! Scroll down to the recipe card for the detailed instructions. Here are the basic steps:
First, prepare the marinade: mix plain yogurt with lemon juice, salt and pepper, and spices.
Now, add the chicken and toss to coat. Marinate it in the fridge for an hour.
Place the marinated chicken pieces on a greased roasting rack. Roast it until fully cooked and charred in spots, about 30-35 minutes at 475°F. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve.
Expert tip: use whole-milk yogurt
Since we're removing the chicken's skin in this recipe, it's really important to coat it in a thick layer of a yogurt marinade to protect it from drying out, and it's important to use whole-milk yogurt.
You want the fat content of the yogurt to help keep the chicken juicy, and fat also makes food more palatable. If you only have nonfat yogurt on hand, I suggest you mix in 1-2 tablespoons of oil.
Frequently asked questions
The traditional recipe is prepared by marinating chicken in yogurt and spices, then roasting it in a tandoor, a traditional cylindrical clay oven.
Yes! It won't be exactly the same. But if you use very high heat and traditional seasonings, it's actually very close.
For best results, set your oven to high heat (475°F) and roast the chicken until charred in spots. This will ensure juicy and flavorful chicken even without the traditional clay oven.
No. It's usually made with skinless bone-in chicken pieces. The thick yogurt coating helps prevent the meat from drying out, even without the protection of the fatty skin.
Traditionally the red color comes from the spices used, including red chili powder and cayenne pepper. In the US, many restaurants and home cooks add a drop of red food coloring to achieve that enticing hue. My personal choice is to allow the chicken to be dark orange in color rather than use food colors to make it appear red.
You could, but then I suggest mixing it with a little water. Greek yogurt is a bit too thick for a marinade.
Recommended side dishes
You can keep the leftovers in the fridge, in an airtight container, for up to 4 days. Reheat them gently, covered, in the microwave on 50% power.
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Oven-Baked Tandoori Chicken
- 1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt or ¾ cup plain whole-milk Greek yogurt mixed with 2 TBS water
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 8 large chicken drumsticks about 3 lb. total weight
- Avocado oil spray
- 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro or parsley
- 1 lemon cut into wedges
- In a large bowl, mix together the yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, ginger, kosher salt, black pepper, paprika, garam masala, turmeric, cumin, and cayenne pepper.
- Using a sharp knife, cut three slashes in each drumstick. Add the drumsticks to the bowl and rub the spiced yogurt onto them. Marinate for 1 hour in the fridge
- Preheat your oven to 475 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil for easy cleanup, fit it with a roasting rack, and spray the rack with nonstick spray.
- Arrange the coated chicken pieces on the rack, not touching each other. Roast them until cooked through and charred in spots, about 30-35 minutes. Garnish with cilantro and serve with lemon wedges.