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How To Make Tandoori Chicken Tikka

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Chicken tikka can be used in so many different recipes!

From delicious curry house style curries to amazing tandoori starters, proper chicken tikka is a good one to have in your recipe library.

In this recipe, you will learn everything you need to know about making tandoori chicken.

The recipes out there might be different but the techniques need for achieving excellent tandoori are all here. You might also like to try other chicken tikka recipes as I have a lot of them! Don’t forget the naans and chapatis!

Chicken tikka

Chicken tikka being cooked by chefs at Hasan’s

You will get great results with this tried and tested tandoori chicken tikka recipe!

I’m always looking for new and amazing ways to cook tandoori chicken tikka. There are a lot of recipe out there and this one is a good all-rounder!

This is one I came across one day by chance.

I was walking around The World Curry Festival in 2012, checking out the food stalls and noticed a very long queue in front of Hasan’s stall.

That day they must have served tons of chicken tikka to hungry visitors!

I ordered mine served on fresh naans.

Those succulent pieces of chicken were to die for. I had to get the recipe! And I did.

Making restaurant quality tandoori chicken tikka is easy.

It’s not at all difficult to make tandoori chicken tikka at home. You don’t even need a tandoor.

Yes, it is nice to go out to dinner and get spoilt with gorgeous Indian food but making a tandoori chicken tikka recipe like this at home is what cooking for me is all about.

Which chicken to use…

In this tandoori chicken tikka recipe, I used chicken breasts which are what you will usually find chicken tikka prepared with at restaurants.

Personally, I think it is much better with thigh meat. It’s not as pretty but the thigh chicken is much juicier.

There is a problem with thigh however. Many people falsely believe that it is undercooked. The meat is naturally red and juicy.

For this reason, whenever I’m serving a crowd, I use the breast which is white and looks amazing charred on the exterior.

What do you serve with chicken tikka?

Whether you are using your tikka in a curry, eating it on its own or wrapping it up in a naan or chapati, the following are alway popular with a good chicken tikka.

You might like to prepare a good tarka dal, chana dal or the slowly cooked and amazing dal makhani.

Personally, I love my chicken tikka with a good chutney or two such as mint chutney, coriander chutney, mint and coriander chutney, tamarind chutney and onion chutney. All of these are also good  slathered over a poppadom. So if you’re looking to make your chicken tikka into a feast, these chutneys will take your feast up a few notches!

How do you add chicken tikka to a curry?

British Indian restaurant (BIR) curries such as chicken madras and chicken tikka masala require pre-cooked meat and grilled chicken tikka is the best option.

You can simply whip up a curry house style curry sauce, which you will find here and stir it in. Curry house style curries require a base sauce. If time is an issue, you might like to have a look at my new no-base curry house curry recipes. Your chicken tikka can be added to any of those curries even if not called for in the recipe.

Tandoori chicken tikka is also a healthy method of cooking chicken.

When at home I like to make chicken tikka for the family. The kids love it.

All of the chicken skin is removed which makes tandoori chicken tikka and other tandoori chicken recipes, light.

There’s nothing like firing up the tandoor oven and cooking the tikka until they’re just cooked through and lightly charred on the outside.

This recipe could also be made on a barbecue or even in a hot oven. I actually prefer the barbecued method as it is something I can do outside.

How to serve tandoori chicken.

The meat can be served on its own or used in curries.

When serving on its own, I like to drizzle it with melted ghee or butter just before serving. This really takes tandoori chicken tikka and other tandoori meats and veggies up a notch or two.

Working ahead…

You should plan to marinate your chicken tikka a good couple of days before cooking for optimum flavour.

It really does make a big difference.

That said, I teach this same recipe in my cooking classes where a long marination time just isn’t possible.

Marinating meats has two advantages. The first is flavour and the marinade also helps tenderise the meat.

Purchase your chicken from a good butcher or supermarket and the meat is usually quite tender to begin with. As for the flavour…

I promise you that even if you only have a half hour to marinate your meat, you will still love it. This marinade works so well and tastes amazing.

Chicken tikka masala anyone? I love the smoky flavour barbecued chicken tikka adds to my curries.

On its own chicken tikka is great. It’s also delicious in these curries!

    • Chicken Korma
    • Chicken Madras
    • Chicken Dhansak
    • Chicken Chilli Garlic
    • Chicken Patia 
      Making tandoori chicken tikka

      Some of the ingredients you need to have on your list.


      Making chicken tikka

      Free range chicken is always best!


      Making chicken tikka

      The spices you need.

      I love to cook outdoors on the barbecue and have barbecued many different cuisines. Indian grilling and barbecue is different to other styles I have tried.

      Making chicken tikka

      Love the spice dabba.


      Making chicken tikka

      Chicken marinating in the lime juice and salt and pepper.

      Most Indian recipes call for two different marinades.

      First citrus juice like lime or lemon juice is rubbed into the meat with a little salt and garlic and ginger paste. This is the first marinade.

      The first marinade soaks into the meat giving it fantastic flavour. The problem with citrus, however is that it actually cooks the meat.

      No, you can’t eat it because it needs to be brought up to heat. But it still begins the cooking process.

      Think about what happens when you bite into a lime or lemon. You perk up right?

      That is exactly what happens to the meat. It needs something to stop the cooking process and that is dairy, in the form of yoghurt, cream cheese and/or cream.

      Making Chicken tikka

      Add the red food colouring powder (if using) to the first marinade.

      Food colouring is often added directly to the meat. If you read the labels of food colouring powder, you will see that you aren’t supposed to do that.

      Regardless, it is done a restaurant all over the world. Food colouring has not flavour so it is optional.

      I rarely use it for this reason but I have nothing against using it.

      Chicken tikka

      Whisk the second marinade ingredients together and allow to marinate for 3 to 48 hours. The longer the better.

      Dairy is the best natural tenderiser and it counters the cooking effect of the citrus juice.

      I give curry/tandoori classes weekly and as the classes are only 4 hours long, we have to marinate the meat and cook it within that time.

      It still comes out of the tandoor tasting amazing but for optimum results, let you chicken marinate over night or even for 48 hours if time permits but don’t not make this recipe because you are short of time.

      Making chicken tikka on the Thüros Kebab grill

      Kebab grills are perfect for making chicken tikka.


      Making chicken tikka on the Thüros kebab grill

      Cooking on skewers chars the exterior while keeping the meat so moist and tender.


      Making chicken tikka on the Thüros kebab grill

      So good!


      Chicken tikka

      Dig in!

      Looking for more tandoori chicken tikka recipes? You really should try these too!

      Pakistani Easy Tandoori Chicken Tikka
      Soola Chicken Tikka Kebabs (The famous green chicken tikka)
      Tandoori Lamb Tikka
      Tandoori Salmon Tikka
      Hariyali Green Chicken Tikka Kebabs
      Stovetop Tandoori Chicken

      Yield: 4 - 6

      How To Make Chicken Tikka

      Making chicken tikka on the Thüros kebab grill

      This chicken tikka recipe gets great results. It tastes just like the fantastic chicken tikka you find at the best curry houses.

      Prep Time 10 minutes
      Cook Time 25 minutes
      Total Time 35 minutes


      • 1 kilo (2 lbs.) chicken breasts - cut into bite sized pieces (tikka)
      • Juice of two lemons
      • 1 tablespoon salt
      • 250ml (1 cup) 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 citric acid powder
      • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
      • 1 teaspoon salt (more or less to taste)
      • 2 green chillies finely chopped
      • 1 bunch of coriander leaves finely chopped


      1. Place the chicken tikka in a large bowl and squeeze the lemon juice over them and sprinkle with a little salt.
      2. Now, whisk the second marinade ingredients together and pour it over the chicken.
      3. Cover the chicken pieces with the marinade ensuring the chicken tikka are completely coated with the marinade.
      4. Allow to marinaded for six hours or up to 48 hours - the longer the better. If you don't have time to marinate the chicken, 30 minutes or so will still be good.
      5. When ready to cook, light a barbecue. Gas barbecues will work but I prefer the flavour of charcoal barbecues.
      6. You are ready to grill when you can hold your hand two inches above the grill without it being unbearably hot.
      7. Cook the chicken tikka on skewers turning occasionally until the chicken is cooked through and the edges are blackened.

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      There are many different great chicken tikka recipes out there. Here is one of mine. Enjoy.

Melvyn Sibson

Sunday 17th of September 2023

Could this be done dairy-free with a non-dairy yoghurt?

Dan Toombs

Wednesday 20th of September 2023

I don't think that would work as it is the dairy that softens and tenderises the meat. Thanks Dan


Saturday 2nd of September 2023

What if you don’t have a BBQ is there another to cook this that you’d recommend please

Dan Toombs

Tuesday 5th of September 2023

You can sue a grill and that works really well too. An air fryer also works. Thanks Dan


Wednesday 31st of May 2023

I have made this several times already and I keep coming back to this recipe. Excellent.

Dan Toombs

Friday 9th of June 2023

Really good to hear. Thanks very much Dan


Friday 27th of January 2023

Hi I've just bought your book and the marinade for Tandoori Chicken tikka is different from your website. There is parmesan cheese in the marinade in the book. Is this correct? Thank you.

Dan Toombs

Tuesday 7th of February 2023

I do update my recipes occasionally. I learnt the trick of adding Parmesan to the marinade after writing the recipe on my blog. Parmesan does add an extra kick so go with it if you have some. Thanks very much. Dan


Saturday 5th of November 2022

Hi could you use paprika for color a little goes a long way and it's used in Sri Lankan curries at times?

Dan Toombs

Sunday 13th of November 2022

Yes, you could certainly use a bit of paprika for colour. Thanks very much. Dan

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