Tandoori Chicken – Once Upon a Chef

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Deliciously spiced with super-crispy skin, tandoori chicken is a family favorite.

Tandoori chicken is a traditional Indian dish of chicken marinated in yogurt, citrus, and spices, and then roasted in a tandoor, a cylindrical clay oven. It’s a simple dish to prepare, and you can replicate the tandoor environment at home by roasting the chicken in a high-heat oven. This is my go-to version. The chicken is deliciously seasoned with super-crispy skin. Instead of making a traditional homemade green chutney, I serve store-bought mango chutney alongside, which adds gingery sweetness that complements the spices. The chicken is best marinated for a few hours or overnight, but if you’re in a time crunch, you can simply coat the chicken with the marinade and cook it immediately; it will still be packed with flavor. Serve tandoori chicken with naan, basmati rice pilaf with dried fruits and almonds, and a refreshing cucumber mint salad. Kids love this one too!

What you’ll need to make Tandoori Chicken

tandoori chutney ingredients

Step-by-Step Instructions

Begin by combining the spices in a small saucepan.

spices in pan

Toast for a few minutes until the spices are fragrant. This step really enhances the flavor.

toasting spices

Next, zest the lime and chop your fresh ginger and garlic (the ginger and garlic will get blended in a food processor, but they won’t fully pulverize unless you give them a rough chop first).

lime, ginger and garlic on cutting board

Combine the toasted spices, ginger, garlic, yogurt, lime juice, lime zest, oil and salt in a mini food processor or blender.

marinade ingredients in food processor

Pulse until smooth.

blended marinade in food processor

Then, using a sharp knife, make slashes in the drumsticks. This increases the surface area of the chicken, so the marinade can penetrate the meat.

slashing the drumsticks

Toss the drumsticks with the marinade, cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.

chicken in marinade

Line a baking sheet with heavy duty aluminum foil and place a greased oven-proof rack over top. Arrange the marinated drumsticks on the rack, leaving a bit of space in between them.

marinated chicken on rack

Cook for 45 minutes, turning once, until the chicken is cooked and the skin is quite crisp.

roasted tandoori chicken

Finally, flash the chicken under the broiler for about 5 minutes, until the skin is super-crisp and a bit charred.

broiled tandoori chicken Serve with mango chutney and lime wedges on the side.

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Tandoori Chicken

Deliciously spiced with super-crispy skin, tandoori chicken is a family favorite.


  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala (substitute curry powder if you can’t find it)
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (use ¼ teaspoon for less heat)
  • 3 tablespoons peeled and roughly chopped fresh ginger
  • 7 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup whole milk Greek yogurt
  • Zest and juice from one lime (about 1 teaspoon zest and 2 tablespoons juice)
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 2½ teaspoons salt
  • 12 chicken drumsticks (about 4 pounds)
  • 1 (9 ounce) jar mango chutney, for serving (optional)
  • A few sprigs cilantro, for garnishing the platter (optional)
  • Lime wedges, for serving (optional)


  1. In a small pan over medium-low heat, combine the paprika, garam masala, cumin, coriander, turmeric and cayenne pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 2 minutes, until spices are fragrant.
  2. Add the spices to a blender or mini food processor, along with the ginger, garlic, Greek yogurt, lime zest and juice, oil and salt; process until smooth.
  3. Using a very sharp knife, make 2 or 3 slashes in each drumstick (be careful; they are slippery). Place the drumsticks in a large bowl and toss with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.
  4. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line a baking sheet with heavy duty aluminum foil (for easy clean-up) and set an oven-proof rack over top. Spray the rack with nonstick cooking spray or grease with vegetable oil.
  5. Arrange the chicken on the rack, leaving a bit of space between the pieces. Spoon any marinade left in the bowl evenly over the drumsticks. Roast for 45 minutes, turning once midway through, until the chicken is golden brown and cooked through (be sure to turn on your exhaust fan as the oven will get a little smoky). Turn on the broiler and broil the chicken about 6 inches from the heat for 3-5 minutes, until lightly charred and crisp all over. Transfer the chicken to a platter and garnish with cilantro sprigs and lime wedges, and serve with mango chutney on the side.

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Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Serving size: 3 drumsticks (nutritional data does not include chutney)
  • Calories: 807
  • Fat: 53g
  • Saturated fat: 11g
  • Carbohydrates: 8g
  • Sugar: 1g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Protein: 73g
  • Sodium: 1884mg
  • Cholesterol: 369mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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