Tandoori Chicken Recipe- Airfryer/ Oven/ Instant Pot

May 15, 2020 By Aneesha |

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This easy Tandoori Chicken recipe is for a vibrant and flavorful Indian spiced roast chicken that makes for an incredibly succulent meal. In this homemade version, chicken is marinated in yogurt and spices, then cooked in an Air Fryer, Oven, Instant Pot or Outdoor Grill, until it is juicy on the inside and crisp on the outside!

Grilled Tandoori Chicken legs placed on a metal platter

Homemade ‘Restaurant-Style’ Tandoori Chicken

Recently, a friend asked me to adapt my tandoori chicken recipe for the air fryer. While I was testing the recipe for that, I also ended up re-testing it in the oven and Instant Pot (using the crisplid). So now, I have listed FIVE ways you can make and enjoy this juicy, crisp and flavorful grilled Indian chicken.

The signature char-broiled finish is what enhances the taste of tandoori chicken, so I definitely wanted to achieve that. After a few time and temperature experiments, I found that the air fryer or oven method gave the best results, the same restaurant-quality crisp exterior, while keeping the meat moist.

The result is a to-die-for flavor! If you’ve never tried it before, just trust me on this and go for it!

It’s ready to eat right after baking in the Air Fryer or Oven with one final garnish of lime and chaat masala. And I have listed variations to cook it using the Crisplid, Instant Pot or even the Outdoor Grill for your next summer BBQ!

What Is Tandoori Chicken?

Tandoori chicken, pronounced Ton-Do-Ree, is probably one of the most flavorful and popular chicken recipes from the Indian subcontinent. It is the Indian spiced version of barbecue chicken.

Chicken is marinated in a blend of yogurt, ginger, garlic, lime juice and warm Indian spices, then grilled to perfection.

Most restaurants grill it in a high-heat clay-oven called tandoor, which is where it gets its name from.  Tandoor is a cylindrical clay oven typically heated with charcoals. That is what gives the chicken a slightly smoky flavor.

But, since most of us don’t have a clay oven in our backyards, an air fryer or oven (or even an outdoor grill) can achieve a similar flavor!

I promise you, you will think this is the Best Homemade Tandoori Chicken Ever!

What Makes the Chicken So Tender?

The yogurt and citrus juice tenderize the chicken and help it absorb the aroma and flavors from the spices. But the real work is done by the yogurt. Let’s understand how!

Yogurt contains two enzymes that help it tenderize the meatactive microbes and lactic acid. Lactic acid does most of the work as it helps break down the meat proteins to make it incredibly tender.

Then, as soon as it hits high heat, the dairy caramelizes and creates a crisp exterior with an underlying tenderness still prevalent in the meat.

How Long Should you Marinate the Chicken?

It’s also important to note here that the yogurt doesn’t works so efficiently if you let the chicken sit for too long. The meat structure will actually start to break down too much and become mealy. If possible, try to marinate the meat for no more than 12 hours.

I find the ideal marinating time to be 30 minutes – 1 hour, this makes it perfect for a weeknight meal!

Tandoori Chicken Recipe, with chicken marinated in yogurt, lemon juice, aromatics and bold Indian spices. By Spice Cravings. #cooking #food #recipe #recipes #foodphotography #foodblogger #yummy #delicious #foodie

Why Is Tandoori Chicken Red?

Tandoori chicken is classically served in restaurants with a vibrant red hue because of the addition of a few drops of red food coloring.

The combination of Kashmiri red chili powder, paprika and turmeric will create a similar color at home. It will be more crimson than red though. If you prefer more red, reduce the turmeric to 1/2 teaspoon.

Homemade Tandoori Masala

Tandoori spice mix will vary by household, but this is the mix I go with that produces the best flavor. Simply combine:

  • 2 tsp garam masala (homemade or store-bought)
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp Kashmiri red chili powder, or paprika for mild
  • 1 tsp paprika, regular or smoked
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves) (optional but recommended)

This amount of spice is enough to season 1½ pounds boneless chicken marinated in 1/4 cup Greek yogurt, 2 tsp minced ginger, 2 tsp minced garlic and 1 tbsp lime juice.

How Spicy is it?

I would categorize this as a mild-medium spicy dish. And that’s because we use Kashmiri Red Chili powder in the marinade here. It provide a bright red color and very mild heat. If you want to make it milder, simply replace the Kashmiri red chili powder with paprika, which will make the total quantity of paprika in this recipe 2 teaspoons.

Which Chicken Cuts are Best for this Recipe?

Skinless chicken drumsticks or boneless, skinless chicken thighs work great for this Indian grilled chicken recipe. Both can withstand the high heat required for a crisp exterior. Plus, each has just the right amount of meat and fat to stay tender while getting a crispy exterior from the marinade.

That being said, you can also use chicken breast. If using chicken breast, I would recommend marinating it for at least 2 hours to ensure the chicken stays moist. Also, the cooking times will beed to be adjusted according to the thickness of the chicken breast.

Ingredients

This popular Indian food is made with a heavily spiced yogurt-marinade and chicken, then garnished with a squeeze of fresh lime juice and chaat masala at the very end.

  • Marinade: Simply combine yogurt, freshly ground ginger and garlic, lime juice, homemade garam masala, ground coriander, turmeric, Kashmiri red chili powder, paprika, salt and kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves).
  • Chicken: As mentioned before, I recommend either skinless chicken drumsticks or boneless, skinless chicken thighs since they can withstand high heat cooking while staying moist and tender. If you prefer white meat chicken, make sure to marinate the chicken breasts for at least 2 hours so the chicken stays moist while cooking.
  • Garnish: For extra zing, a final garnish of fresh lime juice and chaat masala makes all the difference.

How to Make Authentic Tandoori Chicken – 5 Ways!

This incredibly juicy and flavorful authentic tandoori chicken recipe can be made in the Air Fryer or Oven, but it also cooks beautifully in the Instant Pot using the Crisplid or Steamer, too. First, start with the marinade, then follow the steps for one of the cooking methods below.

Make Tandoori Marinade

  • In a large mixing bowl or gallon-size ziplock bag, combine all ingredients listed for the marinade. (pic 1 & 2)
  • Using a sharp knife, make ½-inch deep gashes (cuts) in the fleshy part of the chicken so it can absorb the marinade. Add the chicken to the marinade and toss well to coat all over. Refrigerate the chicken anywhere from 30 minutes to overnight. (pic 3 & 4)
Spices in small bowl and chicken legs coated in marinade

When ready, cook the marinated chicken one of FIVE ways listed below: Air Fryer, Oven-Baked, Instant Pot with Crisplid, Instant Pot Steam-cook, or BBQ Grill.

1. Air Fryer Tandoori Chicken

  • Place the marinated chicken legs in the fryer basket, keeping a little distance between each piece. Air fry at 360°F for 10 minutes. For chicken thighs, adjust the time to 6 minutes.
  • Pull out the basket, flip the chicken and brush it with oil (avocado or olive). Insert back the basket in place and cook another 5 minutes, or until the chicken cooks through and internal temperature reads >165°F.
tandoori chicken legs in air fryer
Tandoori Chicken cooked in the air fryer

2. Tandoori Chicken in Oven

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking tray with foil or parchment paper. Place marinated chicken on the tray. Bake for 20 minutes, then turn the chicken, brush it with oil and bake for another 15-20 minutes on the other side, until chicken is cooked through and registers a thermometer reading above 165°F.
  • For chicken thighs, place the baking sheet on the top rack keeping a 2.5-3 inch clearance. Turn on broil mode and cook for 8 minutes, flip, brush oil, and cook for another 6 minutes.

3. Instant Pot & Multipot Crisplid Method

  • Place the tall trivet in the Instant pot or Multipot and place the mesh basket on top. Spread out the chicken legs in that. Secure the Crisplid on top and cook at 350°F for 10 minutes. After that, flip the chicken, brush with oil and cook another 10 minutes, or until the chicken cooks through.
  • For chicken thighs, adjust time to 8 minutes, flip and cook another 6 minutes.
tandoori chicken legs in crisplid
Tandoori Chicken cooked using the air fryer lid with an electric pressure cooker

4. Instant Pot Steamer Method

  • Pour 1 cup water in the inner pot (adjust for your pot size). Place the trivet, or a steamer basket, in the pot. Place chicken on top. Close the lid and pressure cook on Manual/Pressure Cook for 10 minutes, high pressure, on sealing mode. Adjust the cook time for other cuts of chicken as follows: For chicken thighs, adjust the time to 6 minutes.
  • Wait for 10 minutes, then release the pressure manually by following quick release instructions. Transfer the chicken to a lined baking sheet. Place it under the oven broiler for 2-3 minutes to crisp up the chicken. This step is optional, but gives the chicken a char-grilled flavor.
marinated chicken legs placed on a trivet inside an electric pressure cooker
tandoori chicken being cooked in an electric pressure cooker

5. Grilled Tandoori Chicken on the Barbecue

Tandoori Chicken is a real crowdpleaser for BBQ parties and summer picnics! It makes a great appetizer for game day parties, too.

When making it for a crowd, I prefer using boneless skinless chicken thighs for this recipe. They cook faster and can stand the high-heat of the grill (also, no bones= no trash). To prepare tandoori chicken on the barbecue, simply:

  1. Using paper towels and tongs, grease the grill plates with avocado or canola oil.
  2. Remove the chicken from marinade, shake off excess and place it on the medium-high part of the grill. Avoid the direct heat area as the chicken will burn before it cooks.
  3. Cook the chicken 5-6 minutes on the first side, flip and cook another 5 minutes, or until it is cooked through (internal temperature >165F).
  4. Drizzle fresh lime juice and for an extra zing, sprinkle some chaat masala on top and serve warm.

Serving Suggestions

Tandoori chicken goes really well with a condiment like homemade cilantro chutney and pickled onions.

For nights when I am serving it as an easy weeknight meal, I like to pair it with freshly prepared saffron rice, lemon rice or warm store-bought naan along with a big garden salad on the side.

tandoori chicken legs on black plate with pickled onions and cilantro chutney

Recipe Tips

  • Use skinless chicken drumsticks or boneless, skinless chicken thighs for best results. Both can withstand the high heat required for a crisp exterior and each has just the right amount of meat and fat to stay tender while getting a crispy exterior.
  • Use chicken breasts if you prefer white meat. If using chicken breast, I would recommend marinating it for at least 2 hours to ensure the chicken stays moist.
  • Make ½-inch deep gashes (cuts) in the fleshy part of the chicken. This helps the chicken absorb the marinade.
  • Marinate the chicken for at least 30 minutes and up to 12 hours. After the 12 hour mark, the yogurt and citrus juice will actually start to break down the meat proteins, creating a soft, mealy texture.
  • If using the outdoor grill method, use chicken thighs as they can stand the high heat temperature of the grill and not dry out as fast as chicken legs. I would not use chicken breasts for the grill method.
  • To make this recipe very mild, substitute Kashmiri red chili powder with an equal quantity of regular paprika.

More Tandoori Recipes

More Indian Chicken Recipes From My Kitchen

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Tandoori Chicken Recipe, with chicken marinated in yogurt, lemon juice, aromatics and bold Indian spices. By Spice Cravings. #cooking #food #recipe #recipes #foodphotography #foodblogger #yummy #delicious #foodie

Tandoori Chicken Recipe

An easy Tandoori Chicken Recipe with chicken marinated in an authentic yogurt-spice blend is baked until juicy and crisp in air fryer, oven, Instant Pot or outdoor grill.
4.67 from 3 votes
Print Pin Rate Recipe
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 6 Drumsticks
Calories: 179kcal

Ingredients

  • pound chicken drumsticks skinned (or boneless chicken thighs)

Ingredients for Marinade

  • ¼ cup plain greek yogurt or ½ cup thick regular plain yogurt
  • 2 teaspoon minced ginger ½ – inch ginger, crushed or grated
  • 2 teaspoon minced garlic 2 cloves garlic, crushed or grated
  • 2 tablespoon avocado oil or olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice (about ½ lime) or lemon
  • teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 teaspoon garam masala (homemade or store-bought)
  • 1 tablespoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder or paprika for mild
  • 1 teaspoon paprika regular or smoked
  • 2 teaspoon kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves) (optional but recommended)

Garnish

  • 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice drizzled on top
  • ½ teaspoon chaat masala – sprinkle all over the chicken (optional)

Instructions

Marinate Chicken

  • In a large mixing bowl or gallon-size ziplock bag, combine all ingredients listed for the marinade.
  • Using a sharp knife, make ½-inch deep gashes (cuts) in the fleshy part of the chicken so it can absorb the marinade. Add the chicken to the marinade and toss well to coat all over. Refrigerate the chicken anywhere from 30 minutes to overnight.

Cook Chicken Using ONE of the Following Methods:

    Air Fryer Tandoori Chicken

    • Chicken Legs: Place the marinated chicken legs in the fryer basket keeping a little distance between each piece. Air fry at 360°F for 10 minutes.
      Chicken Thighs: Adjust time to 6 minutes.
    • Pull out the basket, flip the chicken and brush it with oil (avocado or olive). Secure the basket in place and cook another 5 minutes, or until the chicken cooks through and internal temperature reads 165°F.

    Tandoori Chicken in Oven

    • Chicken Legs: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking tray with foil or parchment paper. Place marinated chicken on the tray. Bake for 20 minutes, then turn the chicken, brush with oil and bake for another 15-20 minutes on the other side, until chicken is cooked through and registers a thermometer reading of >165°F.
    • Chicken thighs: Place the baking sheet on the top rack keeping a 2.5-3 inch clearance. Turn on broil mode and cook for 8 minutes, flip and cook for another 6 minutes.

    Instant Pot or MultiPot Crisplid Method

    • Chicken Legs: Place the tall trivet in the Instant pot or Multipot and place the mesh basket on top. Spread out the chicken legs in that. Secure the Crisplid on top and cook at 350°F for 10 minutes. After that, flip the chicken, brush with oil and cook another 10 minute,s or until the chicken cooks through.
      Chicken Thighs: Adjust time to 8 minutes, flip and cook another 6 minutes.

    Instant Pot Steamer Method

    • Chicken Legs: Pour 1 cup water in the inner pot (adjust for your pot size). Place the trivet, or a steamer basket in the pot. Place chicken on top. Close the lid and pressure cook on Manual/Pressure Cook for 10 minutes, high pressure, on sealing mode. Adjust the cook time for other cuts of chicken as follows:
      Chicken Thighs: Adjust time to 6 minutes.
    • Wait for 10 minutes, then release the pressure manually by following quick release instructions. Transfer the chicken to a lined baking sheet. Place it under the oven broiler for 2-3 minutes to crisp up the chicken. This step is optional and can be skipped.

    Outdoor Grill – For Best Results Use Chicken Thighs (see notes)

    • Grease the grill plates with some light oil. Place chicken thighs on the medium-high heat part of the grill. Avoid the direct heat area as the chicken will burn before it cooks.
    • Cook the chicken 6 minutes on the first side, flip, brush with oil and cook another 5-6 minutes, or until it is cooked through.

    Garnish and Serve

    • Drizzle fresh lime juice, and for an extra zing, sprinkle chaat masala over it. Serve with cilantro chutney, pickled onions and saffron rice or naan.

    Video

    Notes & Recipe Tips

    • Use skinless chicken drumsticks or boneless, skinless chicken thighs. Both can withstand the high heat required for a crisp exterior and each has just the right amount of meat and fat to stay tender while getting a crispy exterior.
    • Use chicken breasts if you prefer white meat. If using chicken breast, I would recommend marinating it for at least 2 hours to ensure the chicken stays moist.
    • Make ½-inch deep gashes (cuts) in the fleshy part of the chicken. This helps the chicken absorb the marinade.
    • Marinate the chicken for at least 30 minutes and up to 12 hours. After the 12 hour mark, the yogurt and citrus juice will actually start to break down the meat proteins, creating a soft, mealy texture.
    • If using the outdoor grill method, use chicken thighs as they can stand the high heat temperature of the grill and not dry out as fast as chicken legs. I would not use chicken breasts for the grill method.
    • To make this recipe very mild, substitute Kashmiri red chili powder with an equal quantity of regular paprika.
     
    Note: The nutrition facts below are my estimates.  If you are following any diet plan, I recommend cross-checking with your preferred nutrition calculator.

    Nutrition

    Calories: 179kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 70mg | Sodium: 666mg | Potassium: 226mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 383IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 24mg | Iron: 1mg
    Course: Appetizer, Main Course
    Cuisine: Indian
    Keyword: Tandoori Chicken in Oven, Tandoori Chicken Recipe, tandoori chicken recipe without oven
    Did you try this recipe?Mention @SpiceCravings or tag #spicecravings!

    This recipe was republished in 2020 with updated content and step by step instructions and photos.

    HEY! NICE TO MEET YOU!

    Aneesha holding a glass of white wine Hi, I'm Aneesha, a foodie by birth and the mind, body and soul behind Spice Cravings. Here I share quick, easy & healthy Indian & global recipes that are low in effort and big on taste! A recipe doesn't make it on the blog unless it is tested multiple times and gets a thumbs-up from my taster-in-chief, my husband, and my teen-chefs, my twin girls!

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