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  • Writer's pictureheutemalindisch

Tandoori Chicken - Grilled chicken thighs marinated in yogurt spice marinade

Tandoori Chicken is a classic Indian dish that is healthy, easy to cook and definitely a crowd pleaser. Spicy chicken marinated in yogurt, red Kashmiri chili powder, fresh ginger, garlic, garam masala and then grilled to perfection! Whenever I want to bring a dish to a summer party, this tender and juicy dish comes to mind.

My husband loves Tandoori Chicken. For years we ate it in restaurants and our fingers would turn red from the food coloring used. Every time we went to India, we enjoyed my mom's Tandoori Chicken from her mini tandoor on the patio and it was so much tastier and bright red without artificial dyes. When I asked her, she let me in on the secret that the mild Kashmiri chili powder gives her tandoori chicken its bright hue. Besides yogurt, fresh ginger and garlic, the other key ingredient in this recipe is homemade garam masala.

I finally got her recipe and realized how easy it was to make Tandoori Chicken at home. Before we knew it, it was on our repeat list. It's also my favorite dish to make when I have guests and for balmy summer evenings.

I am so excited to share my modern and easy recipe for Tandoori Chicken using the Air Fryer, with you. The best part is that the pieces cook in the Air Fryer in just 15 minutes, less than half the time it takes in a conventional oven.

These flavorful chicken drumsticks are perfectly juicy, nice and crispy, and a lightly seared exterior that seals in all that flavor. Like the classic, the drumsticks are marinated in warming spices and creamy yogurt. You won't believe how quick and effortless it is to prepare this favorite Indian dish in the hot air fryer with the same authentic flavor and much less work.

Tandoori Chicken drumsticks from the Air Fryer are perfect for family dinners or as a main dish at parties and get-togethers. Chicken thighs are inexpensive and harder to overcook, so they are a good choice for larger gatherings. Trust me, just the sight of the plate of spiced Tandoori Chicken will make anyone hungry if the aroma that fills the house doesn't do it first.

This recipe will show you how to make the perfect Tandoori Chicken in an Air Fryer.

Don't have an Air Fryer? Make Tandoori Chicken in your oven! It's easy.

What is Tandoori Chicken?

Tandoori is a style of cooking in the Indian subcontinent that refers to cooking food in a clay oven, also called a tandoor. Traditional Tandoori Chicken is marinated in yogurt and strong spices before being roasted in a clay oven.

Since most of us don't have clay ovens, there are other ways we can replicate the cooking methods using our own kitchen appliances such as an oven, outdoor grill or Air Fryer

Ingredients for Tandoori Chicken

  • Chicken - Bone-in chicken drumsticks work best for this recipe for a tender, juicy and moist dish.

  • Yogurt - Full fat yogurt, you could also use plain Greek yogurt.

  • Spices - Mild red chili powder from Kashmir, turmeric and garam masala.

  • Ginger & Garlic - Fresh homemade ginger and garlic paste adds authentic flavors.

  • Lemon Juice - Freshly squeezed lemon juice to tenderize the meat.


How do you store leftover chicken drumsticks?

It's best to store leftover drumsticks in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They will stay fresh for up to 3 days. Heat the drumsticks in your Air Fryer/oven at 350 degrees for no longer than 4 minutes.

Can you use chicken wings instead of drumsticks?

Yes, you can make chicken wings in your Air Fryer/ oven with this recipe. You may want to adjust the cooking time since chicken wings are smaller and cook faster. Check them after about 10 minutes.

How do I make sure the chicken drumsticks are ready to eat?

The safe cooking temperature for chicken legs is 74°C. Check the temperature with a digital thermometer at the thickest part of the drumstick.

How do I get the charred marks on the drumsticks?

To get the charred spots, just leave the chicken in the Air Fryer /oven for another 1-2 minutes. Be careful not to overcook them.

What do I serve with this recipe?

Since this chicken has so much bold flavor, combine it with something milder. I usually make some vegetable biryani to serve with it. Together they make a very hearty meal.

Whenever I serve something spicy, I crave something sweet and sour to balance it out. In this case, serve some Pineapple Raita.

If you want to serve this as a light lunch, it's a good idea to pair it with a crunchy Indian cucumber salad for a low-carb meal.

Don't forget light drinks! Try the soothing Mango Lassi or the Nimbu Shikanji!


  • 6 pcs. Chicken legs, skinless

  • ½ cup plain or low-fat plain yogurt

  • 1 tbsp. garlic paste

  • 1 tbsp. ginger paste

  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice

  • 1 ½ tbsp Kashmiri chili powder or paprika powder

  • ½ tsp ground turmeric

  • 1 ½ tsp Garam Masala

  • 1 tbsp. kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves)

  • 2 tsp. table salt

  • 1 tbsp. oil ( for brushing while cooking in the oven / on the grill).

For the garnish

  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges

  • 1 small red onion, cut into slices


Make 3-4 slits across each lower leg.

Whisk yogurt, ginger paste, garlic paste, lemon juice, red chili powder, turmeric, Garam Masala , kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves)and salt to make a marinade.

Apply evenly to chicken pieces and let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes or up to 24 hours.

Preparation in the Air Fryer

Preheat the Air Fryer to 180°C.

Lightly spray the hot air fryer basket with cooking oil. Place marinated chicken in basket and spray with oil.

Fry at 180°C for 15 minutes. Shake the basket halfway through and spray it lightly with oil again.

When the cooking cycle is complete, check the internal temperature of the thickest piece and make sure it is 74°C. You could cook the chicken now for 1 to 2 minutes more to get the characteristic charred bits, but make sure it doesn't overcook.

Serve with fresh lemon wedges and Dhaniya Pudina Chutney . Pair it with crunchy Kakdi Koshimbir, my Indian Cucumber Salad, for a delicious low-carb meal.


The amount of food you could prepare at one time depends on the size of your Air Fryer basket. Make sure that Air Fryer basket is not too full and that there is enough space between 2 pieces of chicken. Cooking time may vary depending on the Air Fryer. Always check the internal temperature with a digital thermometer and extend the cooking time if needed.

Preparation in the oven or on the grill

Preheat the grill or oven to 225 °C. Take the chicken out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before grilling. Coat the chicken with some cooking oil and arrange it on a grill pan or outdoor grill.

You can grill the drumsticks on an outdoor grill for about 20 minutes or until the juices run clear.

Alternatively, you can bake the pieces in an oven for 15 minutes, followed by 5 minutes of grilling to get some perfectly grilled charred spots.

Serve with fresh lemon wedges and Dhaniya Pudina Chutney .


  • Pat chicken drumsticks dry to avoid extra liquids in the marinade.

  • Marinate chicken for at least 20 minutes, but preferably overnight or up to 24 hours total.

  • Discard leftover marinade or spread on chicken legs before cooking.

I look forward to hearing from you...

...if you like my blog, my recipes inspire you and your curiosity for Indian cuisine has been piqued.

Feel free to give me feedback if you would like to share your cooking accomplishments or have a suggestion for improvement. I appreciate any kind feedback. Whether via the comment function, email, Facebook or Instagram (best tagged with #heutemalindisch and @heutemalindisch, then your cooking success can also inspire others).



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