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Tandoori Chicken | The Recipe Critic

by Chris Carlton

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Tandoori Chicken is a classic Indian dinner that marinates chicken legs in a creamy yogurt base, blended spice mix and freshly squeezed lime juice then cooked in the oven. This its a MUST have dinner recipe!

There is something about using turmeric spices to create a delicious chicken dinner. If you love Indian food as much as I do try this Butter Chicken or this Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala.

Tandoori chicken on a black plate with lettuce and lime wedges.

Easy Tandoori Chicken

Tender chicken meat on the inside covered by a light and hint of spicy flavoring on the outside. This chicken is irresistible and a hit in our family! The creamy marinade soaks into the chicken creating a flavorful and delicious chicken leg that falls right off the bone. Every bite is full of flavor and tastes AMAZING!

This chicken tandoori is perfect to have on a busy week night and ready quickly. Simply marinate the chicken legs earlier in the day or the night before. When ready to bake, place the chicken legs on a cooking rack over top a baking sheet and bake until cooked inside. These chicken legs will WOW your family and leaving you wanting more.

What is Tandoori Chicken?

Tandoori chicken is a popular Indian dinner. It is a main dish that is prepared by marinating the chicken in a yogurt and spice blend and then baked or roasted in a tandoor. A tandoor is known as a clay oven. Not everyone has a clay oven. Using a grill, electric or gas oven can also create the same tender chicken as the tandoor oven does.

A hot tandoor oven is a cylindrical shaped clay oven that roasts the chickens outside layer quickly. The tandoori chicken has a vibrant color because of the spices turmeric, chili powder and even food coloring is often added into the marinade. Together this is the perfect combination!

Chicken Tandoori Ingredients:

Simply combine all the ingredients together and create a beautiful red marinate that will coat the chicken. This marinade will soak into the chicken creating a delicious and flavorful chicken.

  • Yogurt: I used a plain Greek Yogurt for the creaminess and gives a thick consistency.
  • Lime: Juice from a fresh squeezed lime.
  • Chili Powder and Paprika: A hint of spice!
  • Turmeric: This is a blend of spices that help create that red color tone.
  • Garam Marsala: Make this homemade or purchase it already mixed together.
  • Garlic Cloves: Minced together
  • Chicken Legs: Bone-in, skinless chicken legs are what I used for this recipe. 

Bake Some Chicken!

The chicken is easy to prepare and bake. The oven is warmer than usual for baking chicken to help give the chicken leg a crisp outside with a tender inside. This combination is full of flavor and the chicken turns out to have a hint of spice with tender chicken.

  1. Marinate the Chicken: In a medium sized bowl combine the yogurt, lime juice, chili powder, paprika, turmeric, garam marsala, and garlic.  Add the chicken legs and let marinate for 1-2 hours.
  2. Bake the Chicken: Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with a wire rack and place the chicken on top.  Bake for 20 minutes and then flip the chicken baking for 20 more minutes until cooked throughout.

Spices in a glass bowl.

Why is Tandoori Chicken Red?

This tandoori chicken is a beautiful bright red that has vibrant colors from the spices that are used when marinating. Chili powder and cayenne pepper give it a nice red hue that makes this chicken stand out from the rest. Turmeric also adds to the coloring and gives it a vibrant look once it is baked.

Using less chili powder and cayenne pepper and more turmeric gives it a bright yellow or even orange coloring depending on how spicy you are wanting to make your marinade.

Marinating the chicken legs in a glass bowl.

How Do you Make Tandoori Chicken Red?

Tandoori chicken is a classic dish that is served with a bright red coloring. Making your own turmeric can help you create the best red hue that you are looking for when baking your chicken.

  • Kosher Salt: 1 teaspoon
  • Garlic Powder: 1 teaspoon
  • Onion Powder: 1 teaspoon
  • Ground Ginger: 1 teaspoon
  • Paprika: 1 teaspoon
  • Turmeric: 1 teaspoon
  • Cayenne Pepper: 1 teaspoon
  • Garam Masala: 1 Tablespoon
  • Cayenne Pepper: 1 teaspoon

How to Make Garam Masala Spice Mix:

If you have a love for Indian food these spices will already be in your pantry of seasonings. This is easier to create than purchasing the seasoning if you cannot find it in stores.

  • Cumin: 2 Tablespoons
  • Coriander: 1 tablespoon
  • Cardamom: 1 tablespoon
  • Ground black pepper: 1 tablespoon
  • Cinnamon: 2 teaspoons
  • Ground cloves: 1 teaspoons
  • Nutmeg: 1 teaspoon

The marinated chicken sitting on a cookie rack with aluminum foil underneath on top of a baking sheet.

Other Cuts of Chicken:

If you are looking for another cut of chicken rather than a chicken leg, simply use chicken breast or thigh to make the same chicken. Chicken breast tend to have a thicker and harder skin to bake. To help tenderize the chicken breast, take a fork or knife and poke small holes to allow for the marinade to soak into the chicken. This will help the chicken bake evenly and create a tender chicken inside.

What to Serve with Tandoori Chicken:

Tandoori chicken is a filling main dish that can be eaten alone with an extra squeeze of lime juice. Adding a few sides to this chicken dinner completes the meal and creates an Indian classic dinner. A few of my favorite side dishes are rice, a side of lettuce and/or bread to help with the heat from the chicken.

Cooked Tandoori chicken on a black plate with leaves and lime wedges on the left side and rice on the right side.

More Baked Chicken Recipes:

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