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Tandoori Chicken Tikka

Skewers of tandoori chicken tikka are coated in spiced yogurt marinade and gritlled to perfection for flavorful chicken bites you can scoop with fresh naan. The tandoori-style chicken is easy to make, and like joojeh kabobs, this meal is a crowd-pleaser.

Tandoori chicken tikka in a serving dish.

What is Tikka?

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 chargrilled chicken packed with a smoky masala flavor.

Since a tandoor is something few people have in their backyard, recreate the Indian cooking technique on the grill for juicy chicken. You won’t even be able to tell that it was grilled instead of being cooked in a tandoor.

Ingredients You’ll Need

How to Make Tandoori Chicken Tikka

The full recipe with measurements is in the recipe card below.

Step 1: Combine ingredients for the tandoori masala (apart from the onions) in a food processor until smooth.

Tandoori masala in a food processor.

Step 2: Transfer it to a mixing bowl with the chicken pieces and sliced onion. Toss to combine. Then, cover and marinate in the fridge for 6 hours (but at least one hour).

Chicken in a bowl with tandoori masala.

Step 3: Preheat a gas grill by setting all the burners to high heat for 10 minutes. Then, use a wooden grill scraper to clean the grates.

Grill grates being cleaned with a paddle.

Step 4: Hold a wide metal skewer with one hand and slide the chicken pieces onto it. Repeat with the remaining ingredients until all the skewers are loaded.

Chicken tikka arranged onto skewers.

Step 5: Set the skewers onto the grill and cook over high heat for 7 minutes.

Tip: Avoid opening the grill and moving the chicken so the pieces develop a nice char.

Tandoori chicken tikka on the grill..

Step 6: Flip the chicken skewers and cook for 5 minutes. Check the temperature of the chicken, and continue cook until it reaches 165°F (73°C)

Tandoori chicken tikka on the grill..

Step 7: Remove the chicken from the grill and transfer it to a cutting board or serving dish to rest for 10 minutes.

Tandoori chicken tikka on skewers.

Expert Tips

  • I recommend marinating the chicken tikka for 6-24 hours (but at least one hour) to ensure the flavor penetrates and flavors the chicken.
  • Preheat the grill, letting it get hot before adding the chicken. Doing so locks in all the moisture as the chicken sears and develops a nice char, which is necessary for chicken breast, which is prone to drying out.
  • Carefully shake off the excess marinade and onions before setting them onto the grill.  

If you enjoy the meal, try one of these Indian recipes!  

Tandoori chicken tikka on skewers.

Serving Suggestions

If you’re deciding what to serve with tandoori chicken, here are a few of my favorite side dishes:

What to do with the Leftovers

  • Refrigerate: Store the leftover chicken pieces in an airtight container for 3-4 days. They are perfect for weekly meal prep to toss in a salad or make a quick wrap.
  • Freeze: Let the chicken cool, then transfer it to a freezer-safe container or bag. Tandoori chicken tikka freezes for up to 2-3 months.
  • Thaw: Defrost the chicken in the fridge overnight for the best results.
  • Reheat: Reheat defrosted or leftover chicken in the oven at 400°F (204°C) for 5-10 minutes.
  • Repurpose: Make chicken tikka masala, butter chicken masala, or chicken tikka biryani with the leftover chicken, or use it to top a pizza, quesadilla, or sandwich.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between tandoori chicken 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 how I prepare Peruvian chicken or tandoori turkey, chicken charga refers to a marinated whole chicken that’s grilled or cooked.

Tikka: Most people in the West consider small pieces of chicken (usually chicken breast) to be tikka when chicken tikka can also be leg quarters or legs, similar to the ones I use to make BBQ chicken legs. However, the term also covers the bite-size pieces of chicken I use in this recipe since the word ‘tikka’ just means pieces in English. 

Tandoori: Tandoori chicken is chicken (whole or parts) that cooks in a tandoor oven. Since most kitchens aren’t tandoor-equipped, you will find grilled and 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. They have a subtle spice from the tandoori masala and smokiness from grilling over an open flame. But the tandoori chicken tikka isn’t spicy. I know the red color of the chicken may appear that way, but it’s pretty mild. 

While the chicken isn’t overly spicy, they are loaded with flavor and warm Indian spices. If you prefer less spicy chicken, I recommend leaving out the cayenne pepper and reducing the amount of Kashmiri chili powder.

Is tandoori chicken healthy?

Tandoori chicken tikka is an excellent part of a well-balanced diet and perfect for those who volume eat or meal prep. Add them to a tossed salad or serve it alongside a vegetable side dish to complete the meal.

Can I make the recipe ahead of time?

Absolutely! And since the grilling part doesn’t require much time, I recommend cutting the chicken and letting it marinate for up to 24 hours before you want to prepare the meal.

If you need to go beyond 24 hours, I recommend leaving the fresh lemon juice out of the marinade. You can store the marinated chicken in the fridge this way for up to 2 days.

More Chicken Recipes:

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Tandoori chicken tikka in a serving dish.

Tandoori Chicken Tikka

Tressa Jamil
Skewers of tandoori chicken tikka are coated in spiced yogurt marinade and grilled to perfection for juicy chicken you can scoop with fresh naan.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Marinating Time 6 hours
Total Time 6 hours 35 minutes
Course Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine Indian, Pakistani
Servings 8 Servings
Calories 168 kcal
Ingredients
  
Instructions
 
  • Combine ingredients for the tandoori masala (apart from the onions) in a food processor until smooth. Transfer it to a mixing bowl with the chicken pieces and sliced onion. Toss to combine. Then, cover and marinate in the fridge for 6 hours (but at least one hour).
  • Preheat a gas grill by setting all the burners to high heat for 10 minutes. Then, use a wooden grill scraper to clean the grates.
  • Hold a wide metal skewer with one hand and slide the chicken pieces onto it. Repeat with the remaining ingredients until all the skewers are loaded.
  • Set the skewers onto the grill and cook over high heat for 7 minutes.
    Tip: Avoid opening the grill and moving the chicken so the pieces develop a nice char.
  • Flip the chicken skewers and cook for 5 minutes. Check the temperature of the chicken, and continue cook until it reaches 165°F (73°C)
  • Remove the chicken from the grill and transfer it to a cutting board or serving dish to rest for 10 minutes.
Notes
Expert Tips: 
  • I recommend marinating the chicken tikka for 6-24 hours (but at least one hour) to ensure the flavor penetrates and flavors the chicken.
  • Preheat the grill, letting it get hot before adding the chicken. Doing so locks in all the moisture as the chicken sears and develops a nice char, which is necessary for chicken breast, which is prone to drying out.
  • Carefully shake off the excess marinade and onions before setting them onto the grill.  
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 Serving | Calories: 168 kcal | Carbohydrates: 4 g | Protein: 26 g | Fat: 6 g | Saturated Fat: 1 g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.3 g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2 g | Cholesterol: 79 mg | Sodium: 945 mg | Potassium: 96 mg | Fiber: 1 g | Sugar: 2 g | Vitamin A: 406 IU | Vitamin C: 2 mg | Calcium: 46 mg | Iron: 0.4 mg
Did you make this recipe? Let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and follow @thejamilghar or tag #thejamilghar on Instagram!
5 from 2 votes (2 ratings without comment)
Recipe Rating