Tandoori Chicken, Simplified

Tandoori Chicken is not usually something that's made at home. For one, it's most commonly cooked in it's namesake, the Tandoor, an expensive beehive-shaped oven pumping out temperatures that, at nearly 1000 degrees fahrenheit, make your KitchenAid seem more like an "Easy Bake".

Secondly, most recipes call for marinating the meat 24 hours in advance, meaning that even if you did somehow possess an at home Tandoor, you would still have to do some major planning to get this dish on the table tasting just right.

HOWEVER, thanks to my bffs over at Cook's Illustrated, there is finally a way to get this restaurant staple into your home kitchen without the headache of a Tandoor or the 24-hour marinating process.

The secret lies in massaging the thighs with a flavor-packed spice rub that takes the place of the hours long marinating process, followed by a quick soak in a curry-yogurt concoction before a low and slow baking process. The heat of the oven is then cranked up to full blast for the last few minutes of cooking, resulting in meat that is tender and juicy on the inside and perfectly charred and unmistakably Tandoori on the outside.

Tandoori Chicken

(Adapted from Cook's Illustrated Recipe)


Spice Rub:

  • 2 lbs. chicken legs and thighs

  • 1 tablespoon Kosher Salt

  • Juice of 1 lime

  • 2 tablespoons Garam Masala Curry powder

  • 2 teaspoons finely minced garlic (like through a press)

  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger

  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin

  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • Optional: If you want your chicken to have the brick red color add 2 teaspoons ground Annatto seed to your rub. It won't affect the flavor much at all.

Tandoori Chicken Recipe
Baking the chicken in a low oven for the majority of its cooking then cranking the heat at the end ensures juicy, flavorful meat and perfectly charred skin.

Yogurt Marinade:

  • 2 cups full fat greek yogurt

  • Juice of 2 limes

  • 1 tablespoon honey

  • 1 tablespoon finely minced garlic (like through a press)

  • 1 tablespoon finely minced/grated ginger

  • 1 tablespoon Garam Masala Curry powder

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • Optional: 1 tablespoon minced lemongrass. To see how to prepare it click here. 1 tablespoon ground annatto seed.


  1. Preheat the oven to 325ºF.

  2. In a small bowl, combine the salt, lime, curry powder, garlic, ginger, cumin, black pepper, and optional annatto powder.

  3. Using a sharp knife, make two slashes down to the bone on each chicken leg to allow the flavor to penetrate deeper, faster. Rub the legs and thighs with the spice mixture and let sit in a medium bowl for 30 minutes.

  4. In the meantime, make the yogurt marinade. Combine the yogurt, lime juice, honey, garlic, ginger, curry powder, salt, pepper, and optional lemongrass and annatto. Set aside

  5. Line a baking sheet with foil and place a wire rack on top. Pour yogurt mixture over chicken and massage into meat. Let sit covered at room temperature for 30 minutes. Discard extra yogurt mixture.

  6. Place chicken in one layer on wire rack and bake at 325ºF for 15-25 minutes or until an instant read thermometer registers 140ºF (this is not safe eating temperature, but here we crank up the oven). Turn the oven to 500ºF and cook for 10-15 minutes more, until the chicken is charred in places and the internal temperature registers 175ºF (dark meat needs to reach a higher temp. than white).

  7. Transfer chicken to a large plate and serve.