Grilled Tandoori Chicken

This classic Indian Tandoori Chicken dish is marinated in a delicious yogurt sauce and then grilled until lightly charred. It comes out tender and packed with flavor every time. Easy Indian food at home.


Juicy, easy to make, and filled with bold flavors, this Grilled Tandoori Chicken is the perfect healthy summer recipe. Serve it alongside a bowl of rice and your favorite veggie for the ultimate meal. Make this alongside this Vegetable Korma or Baked Samosas for an Indian feast.

With summer just around the corner, it’s officially the start of grilling season. That means it’s time to share some of my favorite grilling recipes like this delicious Tandoori Chicken. The chicken breasts are marinated in a simple yet flavorful combination of yogurt, lime juice, and a blend of Indian spices.

This traditional Indian dish is perfect for meal prep, as you can make a big batch on Sunday and enjoy it all week long. I like to use leftovers for sandwiches, salads, and rice bowls. If you’re in the mood for pizza, you could even use it as a pizza topping with some fresh arugula on a Naan bread pizza.

If you’re a fan of Indian cuisine, then you’re going to fall in love with this dish. It’s beyond flavorful, easy to throw together, and only needs 30 minutes of marinating time to allow all the incredible flavors to come together. Whether you’re hosting a pool party or barbecue, or cooking dinner for the family, this amazing dish guarantees to be a crowd-pleaser.

Indian Tandoori chicken that has been grilled and served with Naan bread and a cucumber salad.

What is Tandoori Chicken?

Tandoori Chicken is a traditional dish in Indian cuisine made by marinating chicken in yogurt and spices, then roasting it in a clay oven called a tandoor. The dish is known for its vibrant color, which it gets from brightly colored spices like turmeric, cinnamon, and chili powder or cayenne pepper. While the traditional way of cooking the dish is in a tandoor, it’s now prepared all over the world either on the grill or in the oven. In this recipe, we grill the chicken for maximum flavor and beautiful char marks.

Key Ingredients and Easy Swaps

The key ingredients you will need for this dish include:

  • Chicken breasts: Make sure to use boneless and skinless chicken breasts for this recipe. You can also use chicken thighs or drumsticks if you prefer.
  • Yogurt: I like to use plain nonfat yogurt, but you can also use full fat coconut milk for a paleo and dairy-free version. Greek yogurt also works.
  • Lime juice: The acidity in lime juice brightens up the rest of the flavors in the dish, making it extra delicious. Lemon juice works as well but will result in a slightly different flavor.
  • Spices: We’re going to use a flavorful combination of salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, cardamom, turmeric, cumin, ground mustard, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  • Onions: After sauteing the onions, we will blend them up with the marinade for a ton of extra flavor.
  • Garlic: Sauteed garlic adds aromatics and lots of rich, savory flavor to the dish. Garlic powder or minced garlic can be used in a pinch. 

What to Serve With This Dish

This bold and flavorful grilled chicken dish can be paired with a wide variety of dishes, from rice and potatoes to cooked veggies and salad. Here are some of my favorite side dishes for Grilled Tandoori Chicken:

Serving and Substitution Tips

These are some of my top tips for serving styles and substitutions:

  • For a stunning presentation, garnish with lime wedges and fresh cilantro or parsley.
  • Serve this dish alongside basmati rice, naan bread, quinoa, cauliflower rice, cooked veggies, or your favorite salad.
  • Since you’re already using the grill, this is the perfect time to grill up some naan bread to pair with the dish. If you have any extra tandoori sauce that you didn’t use to marinate the chicken, you can dip the naan bread in this.
  • While I use nonfat plain yogurt for this recipe, you can use any kind of plain yogurt you like. For a dairy-free version, you can also use coconut milk. If you go this route, I recommend using the full-fat kind, as it’s thicker and more yogurt-like.
  • If you make any additional marinade, you can store it separately in the fridge for up to a week.
  • For tandoori chicken skewers, you can chop your chicken breasts into one inch chunks before placing them in the marinade. Once you’re done marinating the chicken, add them to your skewers and grill them like that.

How to Store This Dish

To store this dish, make sure to first transfer it to an airtight bag or container. The leftovers are great for Once properly contained, the chicken can be easily stored in one of two ways:

  • In the fridge for up to 4 days
  • In the freezer for up to 4-6 months

What does tandoori chicken taste like?

Tandoori chicken is a deeply spiced chicken dish with Indian flavors reminiscent of Indian curry since it has many of the same warm spices. It is very tender since it is marinated in yogurt and has a nice smoky flavor from being cooked on the grill. Tandoori chicken is sometimes very red in color when it is made with lots of chili powder and paprika. In other preparations (like this one), the chicken is a deep yellow color from turmeric. 

Tandoori chicken breast marinated in yogurt and spices then grilled and served with Naan bread and cilantro.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some of the most frequently asked questions about this dish:

What can I use other than chicken breast?

If you want to switch it up, you can use another cut like drumsticks or thighs, or another type of meat like pork, shrimp, or fish. For a vegan alternative, you can also try cauliflower, tempeh, or tofu.

What is tandoori sauce made of?

The tandoori marinade we use to make this dish is made from a base of yogurt, lime juice, spices, onions, and garlic. While the spices used in the tandoori sauce can vary from recipe to recipe, we use a blend of salt, pepper, cardamom, cayenne pepper, cumin, cinnamon, turmeric, ground mustard, and nutmeg.

Can I freeze this dish?

Yes! Grilled chicken keeps well in the freezer, so you can store it in an airtight bag or container in the freezer for up to 4-6 months. When you’re ready to eat it, simply let it thaw in the fridge overnight and reheat it either in the oven or on the grill.

More Healthy Indian Recipes

If you liked this Grilled Tandoori Chicken recipe, try these next:

The Recipe
Grilled tandoori chicken on a plate with Naan bread, cucumbers, red onions, and cucumbers.

Grilled Tandoori Chicken

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  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 cup diced onion (about 1 medium sized onion)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp kosher salt (or other coarse grain)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/8 tsp ground mustard
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • 1/3 cup plain nonfat yogurt (Paleo and Dairy Free use coconut milk)
  • 2 lbs. boneless and skinless chicken breasts

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Add the vegetable oil, onion, garlic, and all of the spices to a skillet over medium low heat. Saute for 6-10 minutes or until onion is tender.


Add the cooked onions and spices to a blender with the lime juice and yogurt. Start on low and blend until smoothing, increasing speed as necessary.


Marinate the chicken in this mixture for at least 30 minutes.


When ready, let excess marinade drip off (save the marinade!) and grill until cooked through (when an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken reads 165°F), around 7-10 minutes per side depending on thickness. Place the leftover marinade in a small pot. Cook over medium until boiling. Cook for one minute. Serve over the cooked chicken.

Nutritional Facts
Serving Size: about 6 oz. (183g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 206
Calories from Fat 34
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 4g
Saturated Fat 0g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 74mg
Sodium 457mg
Total Carbohydrate 4g
Dietary Fiber 0g
Sugars 2g
Protein 33g

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.

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About the authorMeet Kristen McCaffrey
Hi, I’m the cookbook author, recipe developer, and food enthusiast behind Slender Kitchen. I am obsessed with making healthy food that is easy to prepare and absolutely delicious. Meal planning is my secret weapon and I hope I can make meal time easier for you with our tried and tested recipes and foolproof meal plans. Learn More
On Grilled Tandoori Chicken
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Jeanne Harris
January 24, 2019 - 11:23
I have a question about the amount of vegetable oil. The recipe says 1 tablespoon, divided. How much do you use to saute the onion and garlic, and where is the remainder used?

Thanks for all of your recipes. Many have become part of my regular rotation.
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August 16, 2021 - 17:48
Updated the recipe! All the oil is used to saute the onion and spices. Thanks so much!
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