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Grilled Tandoori Chicken [EASY]

grilled tandoori chicken on a platter with cilantro and onions

Traditionally done in a tandoori-style oven, this crowd pleasing grilled tandoori chicken recipe can also be done on your backyard bbq. It packs a huge punch of flavor and even though the ingredient list seems lengthy, they’re all readily available at any grocery store.

Tandoori chicken is popular for its bold flavors. These flavors develop best over charcoal but if you only have a gas grill, that works too. Just let your grill preheat with the lid closed to ensure the hottest possible grilling temperature.

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Is Tandoori Chicken Spicy?

“Spicy” is a term that’s often used interchangeably with hot. So if the question is, “Is tandoori chicken hot?” the answer is no. I add an optional hot paprika because I like the subtle heat, but that’s not required.

chicken tandoori being grilled over flames

If by “spicy” we’re talking about the elements of flavor, and not heat, then yes tandoori chicken is spicy. The spices used are a big part of what makes this dish so flavorful and down right delicious.

What To Serve With Tandoori Chicken

There are a few things I always serve with my grilled tandoori chicken. First, it goes without saying that it should be served with naan!

stack of naan bread on a cutting board

Aside from naan, I love to pair this dish with jasmine rice and cilantro chutney. And, since the grill will already be ripping hot, I typically roast some whole carrots along with the chicken.

plate of roasted carrots with some greens

The carrots will provide a subtle sweetness to go along with the spicy and smoky chicken. The two go very well together and I highly recommend the carrots with tandoori chicken on the grill.

Is Chicken Tandoori Healthy?

Look, I’m no health expert. I know that’s surprising, considering my Adonis-like figure and all. lol Ugh, getting old isn’t easy, but I digress.

Having said that, this chicken is full of protein and very little carbs. So if that’s your definition of healthy, grilled chicken tandoori is a very healthy dish. Slightly more healthy than smoked blueberry cobbler for example.

plate of chicken tandoori

Tips For Making Grilled Chicken Tandoori

  • Prep: This dish is best prepped the night before, or the morning of the day you’re planning to make it. This allows sufficient time for the marinade to flavor the chicken.
  • Chicken: Typically, this recipe is made with skinless chicken; it’s delicious with boneless skinless chicken thighs. But the skin provides a crispy element that’s very pleasant; use what you like.
  • Grill Temperature: This dish is typically done in an extremely hot tandoori oven, so it’s important to get your grill ripping hot. Preheat for at least 30 minutes, especially if using a gas grill.
  • Flip & Move: You want the chicken charred, but not burnt. Flip and move the chicken around the grill often to prevent burning.
platter full of tandoori chicken with greens and onions

How To Make Grilled Tandoori Chicken

Prep Time: 15 mins | Cook Time: 35 mins | Serves: 4

Ingredients
4 bone-in, skin-on chicken leg quarters

Marinade: 
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
Juice of one lime
Zest of one lime
6 cloves garlic, finely grated
3 tbsp ginger root, finely grated
2 tbsp garam masala
1 tbsp smoked paprika 
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp hot paprika (optional)
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp cayenne
½  tsp ground nutmeg

Step 1: Whisk together all ingredients for the marinade until fully incorporated and set aside.

tandoori chicken marinade in a mixing bowl

Step 2:  Make a series of deep cuts into the chicken pieces to allow the tandoori marinade to penetrate the meat. Place the chicken in a sealable bag and add half of the marinade over the top of the meat. Place the remaining marinade in an airtight container, and store it in the refrigerator until it’s time to cook the chicken. 

Step 3: Remove as much air as possible from the bag, then massage the marinade into the chicken, ensuring it gets into the cuts. Place the bag on a plate and put in the refrigerator for a minimum of six hours, but preferably overnight.

Step 4: Light your grill and set it up for high heat, two zone cooking. While the grill is preheating, remove the chicken and the remaining marinade from the refrigerator and place it on the counter. 

Step 5: With the grill preheated, shake off the excess marinade and add the chicken to the grill grate directly over high heat. Flip the chicken often to ensure even charring on all sides. 

tandoori chicken on a hot grill

Step 6: When the chicken reaches an internal temp of 145°F (about 20 minutes) as indicated by a reliable quick read thermometer, move it to the indirect heat side of the grill. Glaze the chicken with the remaining marinade, and close the lid. Allow chicken to cook until the internal temperature reaches 180°F.

charred tandoori chicken on grill over flames

Step 7: Remove chicken from the grill, and serve hot.

grilled chicken tandoori being removed from the grill
grilled tandoori chicken on a serving platter

Grilled Tandoori Chicken

5 from 7 votes
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 4 bone in skin on chicken quarters

Marinade

  • 1 cup plain Greek Yogurt
  • juice of one lime
  • zest of one lime
  • 6 cloves garlic finely grated
  • 3 tbsp ginger root finely grated
  • 2 tbsp garam masala
  • 2 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp hot paprika optional
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg

Instructions

  • Whisk together all ingredients for the marinade until fully incorporated and set aside.
  • Make a series of deep cuts into the chicken pieces to allow the tandoori marinade to penetrate the meat. Place the chicken in a sealable bag and add half of the marinade over the top of the meat. Place the remaining marinade in an airtight container, and store it in the refrigerator until it's time to cook the chicken.
  • Remove as much air as possible from the bag, then massage the marinade into the chicken, ensuring it gets into the cuts. Place the bag on a plate and put in the refrigerator for a minimum of six hours, but preferably overnight.
  • Light your grill and set it up for high heat, two zone cooking. While the grill is preheating, remove the chicken and the remaining marinade from the refrigerator and place it on the counter.
  • With the grill preheated, shake off the excess marinade and add the chicken to the grill grate directly over high heat. Flip the chicken often to ensure even charring on all sides.
  • When the chicken reaches an internal temp of 145°F (about 20 minutes) as indicated by a reliable quick read thermometer, move it to the indirect heat side of the grill. Glaze the chicken with the remaining marinade, and close the lid. Allow chicken to cook until the internal temperature reaches 180°F.

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