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How to Make Easy Tandoori Chicken

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You don’t need a tandoor to make mouth-watering tandoori chicken

tandoori chicken

This tandoori chicken is so good!

This is a tandoori chicken recipe without the tandoor oven. Instead, I recommend barbecuing it though it can be cooked in the oven. It’s easy and the marinade only takes minutes to make.

One of the most difficult things about barbecuing chicken is the fat from the skin dripping into the coals and flaring up. You shouldn’t have that problem with tandoori chicken as the skin is removed. In Indian cookery, the skin is usually removed which is much better for you and still tastes awesome.

No… you won’t miss the skin. This tandoori chicken recipe is succulent and full of flavour.

If you like this recipe, you might like to check out my garlic and coriander tandoori chicken recipe too.

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How to Make Easy Tandoori Chicken

How to Make Easy Tandoori Chicken

I prefer cooking this recipe on the barbecue but the oven works well too. If cooking in the oven, set your oven to the highest heat. Place the chicken pieces on a rack and cook for about 25 minutes. Turn the pieces half way through the cooking time. The chicken is ready when the juices run clear when pricked with a fork and the edges are blackened slightly.


  • 12 free range chicken thighs skinned and left on the bone
  • Juice of two lemons
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • red food colouring (optional)
  • 2 cups plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons garlic puree
  • 1 tablespoon ginger puree
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 green chillies finely chopped
  • 1 bunch of coriander leaves finely chopped


  1. Remove the skin from the chicken thighs.
  2. Using a sharp knife, make three slits in each thigh. This is done so that the thighs marinate better.
  3. Squeeze the lemon juice all over the chicken thighs and sprinkle with the salt and let sit while you make the marinade. You should also add a couple drops of food colouring at this stage if using.
  4. Place all the marinade ingredients in a food processor and blend to a fine paste. Cover the chicken pieces with the marinade and rub it with your hands deep into the flesh of the chicken.
  5. Allow to marinaded for six hours or up to 48 hours - the longer the better.
  6. When ready to cook, build a log fire in a kettle barbecue for best results. The flavour of the burning wood together with the marinated chicken is phenomenal!
  7. You are ready to grill when you can hold your hand two inches above the grill without it being unbearably hot. On a gas barbecue, set the grill to medium high heat.
  8. Cook the tandoori chicken turning occasionally until the chicken is cooked through and the edges are blackened.

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I like to serve tandoori chicken with saffron rice and a green salad. I also use it in my restaurant style (BIR) curries instead of using pre-cooked chicken done the curry house way.

Tandoori chicken is the most popular Indian barbecue recipe so enjoy and have fun!



Saturday 20th of April 2024

I'm new to cooking Indian dishes. I have a couple questions. The yogurt, is it Greek? And chilies, what kind of that exactly, jalapeño? Will I have the same success with the dish if the chicken thighs are not on the bone?

Dan Toombs

Thursday 25th of April 2024

Yes, use full fat Greek yogurt. If you can find the thin green bird’s eye chillies use those. If jalapeños are all you can get go ahead and use those. Yes, you can use off the bone thighs but bones add more flavour. Thanks Dan


Wednesday 1st of November 2023

have an issue when I cook boneless tandoori chicken. I put it in the oven at 180 celcius fanbake for 18 minutes for it to be properly cooked through however most of the marinade has slid off despite me putting no oil. The marinade that is in the tray tastes good but what's left on the chicken has become tasteless. The chicken is not even charred. If I put oil in the marinade the marinade slides off worse. If I use cornflour the marinade cakes and also becomes tasteless. The marinade tastes and smell good before putting on the raw chicken. If I only put in the oven for 14 minutes more marinade stays on the chicken and is flavourful but the chicken is barely cooked. I already put slashes in the thin boneless chicken thighs. I alreay toast the spices. How can I resolve this and what is causing this?

Dan Toombs

Monday 6th of November 2023

Usually when I cook in the oven I leave the yoghurt out of the marinade. This intensifies the flavour of the spices and other ingredients on the chicken. Tandoori chicken is of course best when grilled over fire or in a tandoor oven where the heat is intense. I recommend cooking the chicken in the oven until 90% cooked then place under a grill to char to your liking. Hope this helps. Dan


Thursday 8th of June 2023

Does the leftover lemon juice mix go in the marinade?

Dan Toombs

Friday 9th of June 2023

Yes you can add that to the marinade. Thanks Dan


Tuesday 28th of March 2023

what is red food coloring , where to buy it

Dan Toombs

Sunday 2nd of April 2023

You can buy this in most Asian grocery stores in powder form. It is also available on line. Thanks Dan


Wednesday 12th of October 2022

Hi Dan, I have cooked this recipe many times and it's a winner,as you say best done on a barbecue but I have had good success doing it under the grill. I like to serve it with yellow slit pea dhal and basmati rice. This one will really impress your friends, just don't tell how easy it is... Thanks Dan

Dan Toombs

Thursday 13th of October 2022

Thanks for your comments and agreed it works well cooking under the grill too.


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