This One Pan Tandoori Chicken recipe gives you juicy, succulent, smokey flavored chicken without the need for the tandoor (clay oven)! All you need is the stovetop, a nonstick skillet/pan and 30 minutes cooking time.
What is tandoori chicken?
Tandoori chicken is chicken made in a ‘tandoor’ which is an urn shaped clay oven. Tandoori cooking can be traced back over 5000 years to the Indus Valley Civilization, one of the oldest civilizations known to man.
Traditionally the tandoor uses a wood or charcoal based fire to roast meat or even bake naan and roti. And even though there is some version of the Tandoor (Tannur, Tanir etc.) in Western, Central and South Asian cuisines, It is Punjab, in Pakistan and India that this Tandoori style chicken belongs to.
Tandoori Chicken vs Chicken Tikka
If you’ve ever eaten at a South Asian restaurant, you may wonder what the difference between chicken tikka and tandoori chicken is. While tandoori chicken means chicken made in a tandoor, tikka means ‘bits or pieces’. Chicken tikka thus is basically chicken pieces, traditionally cooked outdoor on a charcoal grill.
Side note: Most Pakistani restaurants call chicken tikka leg quarters and bone in chicken breast as well.
Why you’ll love this tandoori chicken recipe
There is no need for a tandoor Although optional, we can achieve the smokey flavor by smoking the finished chicken.
It is fast and easy to make Quick marination and minimum active cooking time makes this an easy and quick recipe.
it is healthy yet flavorful Made on stovetop yet with very little oil.
Leftovers can be used for lunch Tandoori chicken is perfect as protein for a salad lunch or wrap (affiliate link) the next day.
It can be prepped ahead and refrigerated/frozen for future meals Uncooked chicken can stay up to 24 hours in the fridge and frozen for up to six months.
Tandoori chicken marinade
Yogurt Whole milk or Greek.
Ginger & garlic Minced or paste.
Spices Red chili powder, paprika, cumin, turmeric, garam masala, black pepper powder and salt.
Beetroot powder/ toxin free red food coloring Restaurants usually add a lot of red food color to tandoori chicken and tikkas. We’ll keep it toxin free with beetroot powder. I have also purchased plant based food coloring at Whole Foods.
Oil Avacado or olive oil are both fine to use.
Lime juice Lemon juice and vinegar can also be used. These are to add flavor and tenderize the meat.
How to cook tandoori chicken on the stove top
Make the marinade. Put all the marinade ingredients into a large bowl and whisk till well combined. Set aside.
Pat dry the chicken pieces. Dry the chicken pieces thoroughly with a paper towel and cut slits( 1-3 diagonally depending on the size of the chicken) into the flesh for better absorption of the marinade.
Massage the marinade into the chicken. Add the chicken pieces to the bowl of marinade and toss to coat completely. Ensure the marinade gets into the slits
Marinate Ideally for juicy chicken, the marination time is 4 hours to overnight but you can skip that if short on time. Using thighs and legs helps in this regard as well.
Sear and cook the chicken. In a large nonstick skillet heat oil and sear the chicken pieces on high heat for about 3 minutes on both sides. Once browned, cover the pan and let the pieces cook through on medium low heat, about 25 minutes. The chicken will release water but we are going to dry it out once the chicken pieces are cooked through.
Dry out the water. Next crank up the heat and dry out the moisture from the pan. The masala will stick to the chicken pieces and you will see oil rise to the top.
Smoke the chicken. This is an optional step but will give a more authentic taste and will be similar to restaurant style tandoori chicken. Full instructions in recipe card below.
Garnish and serve. Garnish with chopped cilantro and a drizzle of lime juice and serve immediately.
Restaurants add red coloring to the tandoori marinade so as to make it more appealing but we’re going to add beet root powder or even plant based food coloring to make it healthier and toxin free.
Yes! Tandoori chicken is grilled, air fried, baked or seared and cooked with minimal oil.
Tandoori chicken has a spicy, smokey flavor.
Bake in oven Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lay the chicken pieces on a oven safe rack palced in a sheet pan. You can line the sheet pan with foil for easy clean up. Cook the chicken for 30 minutes. Broil for 5 minutes to get some char on the meat.
Air fry Follow your air fryer’s instructions. I air fried my chicken pieces in 2 piece batches on 400 degrees for 20 minutes as I own a smaller model.
Tandoori Chicken sides
Salads and chutneys At most restaurants a salad of sliced onions, cucumbers and lemon wedges usually accompanies grilled items. Or make some kachumbar.
Raita (a mixture of green chutney and yogurt) and tamarind chutney is also served.
Daal Serve with daal and make it a well rounded meal.
Rice White, brown or cauliflower rice.
Naan Look for gluten free naan/flatbread (not always the healthiest option but now available at most Indian grocery stores.)
If you like easy chicken recipes, you’ll love my
If you try this recipe, I’d appreciate it so much if you would rate it ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️! And let me know in the comments how it worked out for you. I love hearing feedback and the recipe rating helps others find this recipe!
One Pan Tandoori Chicken Tikka
For the marinade
- 1/2 cup yogurt
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon minced ginger
- 1 teaspoon red chili powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika for color
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garam masala powder
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon beetroot powder or 6 drops red food coloring for color
- 1 tablespoons oil plus 1 tablespoon for pan
- 1/2 lime juiced
- 2 pounds chicken legs and thighs about 8 pieces
For the garnish
- cilantro for garnish
- 1/2 lime juiced for drizzling on cooked chicken
- lime wedges
- sliced onions
- 1 small piece of charcoal
- small piece of foil
- oil or butter to drizzle
- Put all the marinade ingredients into a large bowl and whisk till well combined. Set aside.
- Dry the chicken pieces thoroughly with a paper towel and cut slits( 1-3 diagonally depending on the size of the chicken) into the flesh for better absorption of the marinade. Add the chicken pieces and toss to coat completely. Ensure the marinade gets into the slits by massaging it in. Set aside.
- Heat a large pan and once hot, add 1 tablespoon of oil. Next, add the chicken pieces in one layer. On high heat, sear the chicken for 4 minutes on one side and then flip to sear the other side for another 4 minutes Lower the heat to medium low and cover the pan and let the chicken cook through, about 25 minutes.
- Uncover the pan. There will be water released from the chicken. Increase the heat to medium high and dry out the moisture. Once all the water has dried out, the masala will stick to the chicken and oil will rise to the top. The chicken is ready to eat.
- Make an inverted tent with a small piece of foil and place it in the center of the pan with the cooked tandoori chicken. Heat up a small piece of coal on direct flame. Once heated through, gently pick up the charcoal and lay it in the foil. Drizzle oil on the coal to get it smoking. Cover the pan and let the chicken smoke for 5 minutes.
- Garnish with sliced onion rings, cilantro and a drizzle of lime juice.
- Serve immediately with green chutney, tamarind chutney and or raita.
- The amount of time it takes to cook the chicken will depend on the size of the pieces. My pieces took longer but if you get the regular 12 piece cut chicken usually found in desi stores, it won’t take as long. Chicken should be cooked to 165°F/ 74°C internal temperature to be safe to eat. Check by inserting a food thermometer into the thickest part of the chicken.
- Try to make this recipe with chicken thighs and legs as they are juicier than breast meat.
- You can use plant based red coloring or beet root powder for that signature red color found in restaurants. Play with the amount. I prefer a more natural color so have used a small amount but you can increase it by 1/4 teaspoon increments to get your desired depth of color.