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Tandoori Chicken Tikka

Tandoori Chicken Tikka Our chicken skewers grill with a spiced-yogurt marinade for smoky, succulent pieces of chicken breast that are the perfect building blocks for any meal. Eat them traditionally with fresh naan, top a salad, or serve them as a tasty appetizer. Tandoori chicken tikka is easy to cook, healthy, and like our Grilled Tandoori Chicken, it’s a crowd pleaser.

Finished tandoori chicken tikka in a serving bowl with raita on the side..

WHAT IS TIKKA TANDOORI?

Tandoori chicken tikka refers to chicken pieces (quarters, legs, bite-sized pieces) that are skewered and lowered into a tandoor. Tandoors are cylinder clay pots heated by an open flame; the result is robust chargrilled chicken packed with smoky flavor and richly-spiced masala. Since a tandoor is something few people have in their backyard (I certainly don’t), recreate the Indian style of cooking on the grill for juicy chicken with a similar flavor; you won’t even know it was made on the grill and not in a tandoor.

WHAT YOU NEED TO MAKE THIS RECIPE

  • Chicken Marinade: Make a paste with yogurt, garlic, ginger paste, salt, turmeric, cayenne powder, paprika, Garam Masala, Kashmiri chili powder, lemon, and sliced onion.
  • Chicken: I cut chicken breast into 2-inch pieces for this recipe, but you can also use chicken thighs. Be sure to adjust the cooking time accordingly; the safe internal temperature for chicken is 165° F (73° C).

HOW TO MAKE TANDOORI CHICKEN TIKKA 

Combine ingredients for tandoori masala in a food processor; incorporate until smooth. Then, add it to a mixing bowl and set it aside.

Tandoori masala in a blender.

Add the chicken to a mixing bowl and toss them with the tandoori masala and chopped onion. Cover and marinate in the fridge for at least 6 hours.

Chicken pieces tossed with tandoori masala.

Preheat the grill by setting all the burners to high heat for 10 minutes. Turn down the heat, but maintain an overall grill temperature of 400° F (204 ° C). Then, use a wooden grill paddle to clean the grates or remove them if you prefer.

Clean the grill grates before adding the chicken.

Hold the metal skewer with one hand, and slide the chicken pieces onto it. Repeat with the remaining ingredients until all the skewers are loaded.

Tandoori chicken tikka on the grill..

Line the skewers onto the grill; cook until they blister for about 7 minutes. Don’t move the chicken or open the grill to allow the pieces to develop a char.

Tandoori chicken tikka on the grill..

Flip the chicken and cook for another 5 minutes, and begin checking the temperature of the chicken until the chicken has reached 165° F (73° C)

Tandoori chicken tikka on the grill..

Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with cilantro, red onion, lemon wedges, and Raita.

Tandoori chicken tikka on the grill..

COOKING TIPS

  • I recommend marinating the chicken for 24 hours (but at least 6 hours) to ensure the flavor penetrates; use the marinade in this recipe- it’s delicious!
  • Preheat the grill and let it get hot before adding the chicken; this helps the chicken get a nice sear; doing so flavors the chicken and locks in the moisture- which is necessary for cooking chicken breast.
  • Carefully shake off the excess marinade and onions before adding the chicken to the grill.
  • Cook the chicken to 165-170° F (76° C). More than that, the chicken will be dry and difficult to eat.

SEARCHING FOR MORE LIKE THIS? 

If you love this recipe, try one of our other Indian-inspired meals!  

Finished tandoori chicken tikka on the skewers.

SERVING SUGGESTIONS 

If you’re deciding what to serve with tandoori chicken, check out a few of our suggestions.

WHAT TO DO WITH THE LEFTOVERS 

  • FRIDGE – Store leftovers in an airtight container; they will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days.
  • FREEZER – Allow the chicken to cool, then add it to a freezer-safe container or bag. Tandoori chicken tikka freezes for up to 4 months. When you’re ready to eat it, defrost it in the fridge overnight.
  • REHEAT – Reheat defrosted or leftover chicken in the oven at 400° F (204° C) for 5-10 minutes.
  • REPURPOSE – This may be a given, but make chicken tikka masala or Butter Chicken with the leftovers, or use the chicken to top a pizza, quesadilla, or sandwich.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS 

What is the difference between tandoori and chicken tikka?

There is a lot of confusion surrounding the terms tandoori chicken and chicken tikka, and many use them interchangeably.
Charga – Similar to our Peruvian Chicken or Tandoori Turkey, chicken charga refers to a whole chicken that’s grilled or cooked.
Tikka – Most people in the West consider small pieces of chicken (usually breast) to be tikka when in reality, chicken tikka can also mean leg quarters, legs, or bite-size pieces of chicken like we use in this recipe.
Tandoori – Tandoori chicken is chicken (whole or parts) that cook in a tandoor; since most kitchens do not have access to tandoors, you will find Grilled or Baked Tandoori Chicken recipes that attempt to recreate the cooking technique.

What does tandoori chicken tikka taste like?

The bite-sized pieces of chicken are melt-in-your-mouth juicy and smoky, and they have the perfect subtle spice from the tandoori masala.

Is tandoori chicken healthy?

Tandoori chicken tikka is a good base for any meal and perfect for those who volume eat or meal prep. The chicken pieces are packed with protein and low in carbohydrates; they are perfect alongside a tossed salad or vegetable side dish to complete a meal.


Can I make the recipe ahead of time?

Absolutely! And since the grilling process doesn’t require much time, I recommend cutting the chicken and allowing it to marinate for up to 24 hours before you’re ready to prepare the meal. If you need to go beyond that, I recommend leaving the lemon juice out of the marinade; you can keep the chicken this way in the fridge for up to 2 days.

Is tandoori tikka spicy?

The red color of the chicken appears spicy, but the tandoori masala is pretty mild. While not overly spicy, it’s packed with flavor and traditional Indian spices. If you prefer the chicken to be less spicy, reduce the amount of cayenne and Kashmiri chili powder.

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Finished tandoori chicken tikka in a serving bowl with raita on the side..

Tandoori Chicken Tikka

Tressa Jamil
Restaurant-quality Tandoori chicken tikka is easy to make on the grill; it's healthy, tasty, and a guaranteed crowd-pleaser.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Marinating Time 6 hrs
Total Time 6 hrs 45 mins
Course Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine Indian, Pakistani
Servings 7 Servings
Calories 382 kcal

Equipment

Ingredients
  

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup plain yogurt, full-fat
  • 1 tablespoon garlic paste
  • 1 tablespoon ginger paste
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 2 teaspoon Kashmiri Chili Powder
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice, plus lemon wedges to garnish
  • ½ medium red onion, roughly chopped, plus sliced onion to garnish
  • 3 pounds chicken breast, cut into 2-inch pieces

Instructions
 

  • Combine ingredients for tandoori masala in a food processor; incorporate until smooth. Then, add it to a mixing bowl and set it aside.
  • Add the chicken to a mixing bowl and toss them with the tandoori masala and chopped onion. Cover and marinate in the fridge for at least 6 hours.
  • Preheat the grill by setting all the burners to high heat for about 10 minutes. Turn off the rightmost burner, but maintain an overall grill temperature of 400° F (204 ° C). Then, use a wooden grill paddle to clean the grates or remove them if you prefer.
  • Hold the metal skewer with one hand, and slide the chicken pieces onto it. Repeat with the remaining ingredients until all the skewers are loaded.
  • Line the skewers onto the grill; cook until they blister for about 7 minutes. Don't move the chicken or open the grill to allow the pieces to develop a char.
  • Flip the chicken and cook for another 5 minutes, and begin checking the temperature of the chicken until the chicken has reached 165° F (73° C)
  • Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with cilantro, red onion, lemon wedges, and Raita.

Notes

Cooking Tips: 
  • I recommend marinating the chicken for 24 hours (but at least 6 hours) to ensure the flavor penetrates; use the marinade in this recipe- it’s delicious!
  • Preheat the grill and let it get hot before adding the chicken; this helps the chicken get a nice sear; doing so flavors the chicken and locks in the moisture- which is necessary for cooking chicken breast.
  • Carefully shake off the excess marinade and onions before adding the chicken to the grill.
  • Cook the chicken to 165-170° F (76° C). More than that, the chicken will be dry and difficult to eat.
 
Nutrition Disclosure:
  • The nutritional information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for professional advice.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 ServingCalories: 382kcalCarbohydrates: 4gProtein: 58gFat: 13gSodium: 973mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1g
Keyword tandoori chicken tikka
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