Whole Roasted Tandoori Chicken
This Whole Roasted Tandoori Chicken is perfect for easy family weeknight dinners, feeding a crowd, or your holiday table! A whole chicken is spatchcocked and smothered in a tenderizing yogurt-based marinade that’s infused with BIG flavors from fresh aromatics and flavorful warm spices. It’s then roasted in the oven to juicy and tender meat perfection with charred edges!
If you love to order Tandoori chicken when you visit an Indian restaurant, I’ve got FANTASTIC news for you. You can easily make a delicious Tandoori chicken at home in the oven! The conventional oven and broiler method is the next best thing if you don’t have a Tandoor oven at home or the ability to grill outdoors.
One thing is for sure, the BIG and BOLD flavors are exquisite. This homemade Whole
Roasted Tandoori Chicken will certainly receive the nod of approval from everyone at your table!
It’s easy to make, and great for feeding a crowd or hungry family. It would also be a fantastic main on your holiday table if you’re looking to switch things up and feature an Indian or Asian theme this year.
The chicken gets coated in a savory and spicy yogurt-based marinade that is infused with fresh garlic, ginger, chilies, and flavorful spices. It’s then roasted in the oven until the chicken is incredibly juicy and tender, and wonderfully charred!
Serve it with a creamy and refreshing Cilantro and Mint Sauce (it’s a game changer and a MUST to enjoy with this Tandoori chicken!), fresh red onion and cucumber slices, roti or naan (Indian flatbread), and warm steamed rice for the ultimate Indian roast chicken dinner!
Why This Recipe Works
- It’s easy to cook and great for an easy weeknight dinner if you marinate the chicken in advance.
- Adding Greek style yogurt and cooking oil to the marinade makes the chicken meat wonderfully juicy and tender!
- Creating large deep slits in the chicken’s flesh allows the flavors of the marinade to penetrate the chicken.
- Spatchcocking the chicken allows for the whole chicken to cook evenly, without the breast drying out, since the chicken is lying flat. It also prevents you from having to flip the chicken halfway through cooking.
- Basting the chicken with the leftover marinade that’s reduced in oil adds layers of flavor. The oil also helps the outer layer of the chicken to char, whilst keeping the inside meat moist and tender.
- Fresh Garlic and Ginger: Many recipes will call for store-bought ginger garlic paste for Tandoori chicken marinade. I myself have used the paste form of these aromatics for my Paneer Tikka Kathi Rolls, Butter Chicken Pasta Bake, and Oven Grilled Chicken Tikka Drumettes. However, after a few rounds of testing, I’m positive that nothing can beat the flavor of fresh garlic and ginger when it comes to flavoring the meat for oven roasted Tandoori chicken. Therefore, I recommend using fresh ingredients over any store-bought ginger or garlic paste for this particular recipe.
- Fresh Red Chilies: I used Bird’s Eye chilies, but any hot red chilies will work. Use more or less based on your heat level preference.
- Greek Style Yogurt: Or plain whole milk yogurt. This will act as a tenderizer for the meat.
- Lemon: As always, I recommend using freshly squeezed lemon juice for best flavor.
- Kosher Salt: If using iodized table salt, use half the amount or to taste.
- Garam Masala: I highly recommend using homemade garam masala instead of store-bought for best flavor, even though either will work. It’s easy to make and will last in your pantry for months! You can use it in other Indian recipes too.
- Other spices & seasonings: Ground cumin, coriander powder, turmeric powder, ground cardamom, and ground Cayenne (or use Kashmiri red chili powder). Adjust the ground cayenne to taste depending on how spicy or mild you want to make the chicken. Kashmiri red chili powder is milder than ground cayenne, and is available at Indian grocery stores
- Dried Fenugreek Leaves: Also known as Kasuri/Kasoori Methi. It’s sold in packets at Indian grocery stores, and is available online, at Walmart, and some large well-stocked supermarkets.
- Red-Orange Food Coloring Powder: This will give the Tandoori chicken its signature orange-red color. In fact, this powder is often called Tandoori color instead! It’ll be available at Indian grocery stores or online. Alternatively, you can use a few drops of red/orange liquid food coloring.
- Oil: Use a neutral flavored cooking oil like canola or vegetable oil.
- Whole Chicken: You’ll need one whole fryer chicken that weighs 1.7 to 2 kilograms (3.6 – 4.4 pounds). Ensure that there’s nothing inside the cavity before you start working with it.
- To Serve: Cilantro and Mint Sauce, roti or naan (Indian flatbreads), steamed rice, red onion slices, cucumber slices, lemon wedges for squeezing, chopped coriander (cilantro) and/or mint leaves
Full ingredient list and amounts are in the recipe card below.
How to Make Roasted Tandoori Chicken in the Oven
1. Make the marinade. Pound the garlic, ginger, and red chilies into a smooth paste using a mortar and pestle. (Alternatively, you can use a blender to blend into a smooth paste. However, pounding the aromatics by hand will allow for more natural oils to be released from the aromatics, and in turn make the chicken more flavorful.)
Transfer to a large mixing bowl, and add the Greek style yogurt, lemon juice, ginger garlic chili paste, all of the spices and seasonings, and a tablespoon canola oil. Mix well until evenly combined and set aside.
2. Spatchcock the chicken. Spatchcock (also known as butterfly) the chicken and remove all of the skin except for on the wings and wingtips. (Note: Refer to my Spicy Thai Roast Chicken post for step-by-step photos and instructions on how to spatchcock a chicken. In a nutshell, you need to cut on either side of the spine using kitchen shears and remove it. Then flip the chicken over and press down on the breast plate to flatten it.)
Using a sharp knife, make deep slits on the breasts, thighs, and legs.
3. Marinate the chicken: Place the chicken in the marinade bowl and rub the marinade all over and inside the cavity. Cover and place in the fridge to marinate for 6-8 hours, or 24 hours for best flavor.
4. Prepare for roasting. Line a large baking tray with aluminum foil and place a wire cooling rack on top. Brush the rack lightly with oil, then place the chicken on top and tuck the wingtips underneath if you can. This setup ensures that air will circulate all around the chicken and helps it cook evenly. You’re welcome to use a roasting tin instead if you have one.
Pour 2 cups of water into the baking tray to prevent dripping marinade from burning during roasting.
5. Roast the chicken: Roast the chicken for 20 minutes in a preheated oven at 200°C/400°F. While the chicken is in the oven, add oil and the remainder marinade to a small saucepot and reduce on the stovetop. Then baste the chicken with it. Continue roasting for 10-15 minutes, or until the chicken has cooked through.
To check for doneness, you can pierce the area between the leg and breast to check if the juices run clear. Or insert a digital kitchen thermometer to check – it should register 73°C/165°F.
Broil. Switch on the broiler/grill setting on high and broil for 3-5 minutes, until the wings and meat has charred around the edges. Once the chicken has cooked through, transfer the tray to a cooling rack and allow to rest for 10-15 minutes.
Serve! You can either present the chicken whole with sliced red onion, cucumber, lemon wedges for squeezing, and coriander on a large serving plate or platter to carve at the dining table. Or cut into pieces and arrange on the platter so everyone can help themselves.
Serve with cooling and refreshing Cilantro and Mint Sauce (SO GOOD when drizzled over the Tandoori chicken! 🤤 ), Indian flatbreads like naan or roti, a simple salad, and warm steamed rice.
Oh, and if you happen to have any leftovers, I’ve got the perfect lunch idea for you! Smother a naan bread with the Cilantro and Mint Sauce, pile on some warmed up juicy shredded Tandoori chicken pieces, red onion and cucumber slices, and garnish with a sprinkling of coriander and mint leaves. Fold up that beauty, take a HUGE bite of your Tandoori chicken naan wrap and go straight to YUM TOWN! 😍
Full detailed instructions are in the recipe card below.
- Wear disposable food gloves when rubbing the marinade on the chicken. This will protect your skin and prevent any of the orange-red food coloring powder or turmeric powder from getting on it. It can take multiple washes to get it off, so be sure to wear those gloves!
- Marinate overnight. Six to eight hours will give you great flavor, but marinating for 24 hours will give you the BEST flavor and juicy texture thanks to the yogurt in the marinade. But DO NOT marinate for more than 24 hours. The lemon juice in the marinade will cause the chicken to dry out and result in a stringy meat texture.
- Adjust spice level to taste. As with all my savory recipes, I recommend adjusting the spice elements (fresh red chilies and ground cayenne) to taste based on your spice level preference. This Tandoori chicken is medium spicy for me, but you might prefer to make it milder.
- Be careful when removing the skin from the chicken. You don’t want to tear too much of the muscle fibers and connective tissues. If too much is removed, the chicken leg pieces may detach while roasting.
While ground cayenne or chili powder helps to give the Tandoori chicken a slight red hue, the signature red-orange color actually comes from red-orange food coloring powder. It is often simply called Tandoori color powder in India, and used in various Indian tandoori and tikka dishes in restaurants. You can find it at Indian grocery stores, or use a few drops of red or orange food coloring instead.
It is not super spicy, but it is made with a marinade that does have chili powder or ground cayenne. The marinade is also infused with plenty of warm spices like turmeric powder, garam masala, ground cumin, and coriander powder. My recipe includes fresh hot red chili peppers in the marinade, which you can use less of or omit if you’d like to make the Tandoori chicken milder.
Tandoori chicken is traditionally cooked with the skin off. In fact, almost all Indian chicken recipes usually call for skinless chicken, if not boneless too. Although roasting chicken without the skin can tend to dry out the meat, a spatchcocked chicken cooks quicker than a whole chicken and the yogurt and oil in the marinade keeps the meat moist and tender.
More Chicken Recipes
- Spicy Thai Roast Chicken
- Juicy Baked Chicken Breasts
- Oven Grilled Chicken Tikka Drumettes
- Garlicky Black Pepper & Turmeric Chicken Drumettes
- Or browse the entire Chicken recipes collection.
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- Butter Chicken Pasta Bake
- Chicken Tikka Naanza (Naan Pizza!)
- Panner Butter Masala (Panner Makhani)
- Paneer Tikka Kathi Rolls
- Or browse the entire Indian recipe collection.
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Whole Roasted Tandoori Chicken
A whole chicken is spatchcocked and smothered in a tenderizing yogurt-based marinade that’s infused with BIG flavors from fresh aromatics and flavorful warm spices. It’s then roasted in the oven to juicy and tender meat perfection with charred edges!
- Prep Time: 30
- Cook Time: 40
- Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
- Yield: 4
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Roast
- Cuisine: Indian
- Diet: Gluten Free
- 1-inch piece Ginger – roughly chopped
- 10 Garlic cloves – roughly chopped
- 2–10 fresh Red Chilies (I used Bird’s Eye, but any hot red chilies will work), to taste – roughly chopped
- ½ cup Greek Style Yogurt (or plain whole milk yoghurt)
- 3 TBLS freshly squeezed Lemon Juice
- 1.5 TBLS Kosher Salt, or to taste
- 1 TBLS Garam Masala (homemade or store-bought)
- 1 TSP ground Cumin
- 1 TSP Coriander powder
- 2 TSP Turmeric powder
- ½ TSP ground Cardamom
- ½ – 1 TBLS ground Cayenne (or Kashmiri red chili powder), to taste
- 2 TBLS Dried Fenugreek Leaves
- ¾ TSP Red-Orange Food Coloring Powder (or 1–2 drops of red/orange liquid food coloring)
- 3 TBLS + 1 TSP Canola Oil
- 1 Whole Chicken (1.7 – 2 kilograms / 3.7 – 4.4 pounds)
- 2 cups Water, for pouring into baking tray
- To Serve: Cilantro and Mint Sauce, roti or naan (Indian flatbreads), a simple salad, steamed rice, red onion slices, cucumber slices, lemon wedges for squeezing, chopped coriander (cilantro) and/or mint leaves
- Make the ginger garlic chili paste: Roughly chop the garlic, ginger, and red chilies, Using a mortar and pestle, pound into a smooth paste. (Alternatively, use a blender to blend into a smooth paste).
- Make the marinade: In a large mixing bowl, combine the Greek style yogurt, lemon juice, ginger garlic chili paste, kosher salt, garam masala, ground cumin, coriander powder, turmeric powder, ground cardamom, ground cayenne, dried fenugreek leaves, red-orange food coloring powder, and 1 tablespoon canola oil. Mix well until evenly combined, then set aside.
- Spatchcock the chicken: Spatchcock (also known as butterfly) the chicken and remove all of the skin except for on the wings and wingtips. (Note: Refer to my Spicy Thai Roast Chicken post for step-by-step photos and instructions on how to spatchcock a chicken. You need to cut on either side of the spine using kitchen shears and remove it, then flip the chicken over and press down on the breast plate to flatten it. If your chicken came with any giblets, you can remove them and either save for another use or discard.) Use paper towels to pat-dry and clean the chicken well and remove any slimy or bloody bits from the inside cavity. Using a sharp knife, make a few deep slits on the breasts, thighs, and legs.
- Marinate the chicken: Place the chicken breast side down in the marinade bowl and using your hands (wear disposable gloves), rub the marinade all over. Then flip the chicken over and rub the marinade all over the top part until fully coated. Cover the bowl with cling wrap and place in the fridge. Allow to marinate for 6-8 hours, or 24 hours for best flavor.
- Prepare for roasting: Remove the chicken from the fridge 45 minutes before you’re ready to roast to take the chill off. Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F. Line a large baking tray with aluminum foil and place a wire cooling rack on top. Lightly brush the rack with 1 teaspoon of olive oil (or spray with cooking spray). Place the chicken breast side up on the wire rack and tuck the wing tips underneath if you can. Pour 2 cups of water into the baking tray (to prevent dripping marinade from burning while the chicken cooks.)
- Roast the chicken: Place the chicken in the middle rack of the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, add 2 tablespoons canola oil to a small sauce pot and add any remaining marinade from the bowl. Simmer over medium heat for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until darkened and slightly thickened. Remove the chicken from the oven at the 20 minute mark and baste with the thickened marinade using a silicone pastry brush. Return the chicken to the oven and bake for another 10-15 minutes, or until the chicken has cooked through. (Note: To check for doneness, insert a digital food thermometer into the inner thigh area close to the breast but not touching the bone. It should register 73°C/165°F. If you don’t own a digital thermometer, you can check if the chicken has cooked through by piercing the same area with a knife. The juices should run clear.)
- Broil: Turn on the broiler and broil for 3-5 minutes, until the wings and meat has charred around the edges.
- Rest: Transfer the baking tray to a cooking rack and allow the chicken to rest for 10-15 minutes.
- To Serve: Arrange red onion slices, cucumber slices, and lemon wedges on a large serving platter. Place the chicken on the platter, either whole to carve at the table or cut into pieces. Garnish with chopped coriander and mint leaves and serve with Cilantro and Mint Sauce, roti or naan, a simple salad, and warm steamed rice.
- Spice level. Adjust the spice elements (fresh red chilies and ground cayenne) to taste based on your heat level preference. This Tandoori chicken is medium spicy for me, but you might prefer to make it milder if you’re sensitive to spicy food or are dining with kids. Kashmiri red chili powder is milder than ground cayenne, and is available at Indian grocery stores.
- Dried Fenugreek Leaves. Also known as Kasuri/Kasoori Methi. It’s sold in packets at Indian grocery stores, and is available online, at Walmart, and some large well-stocked supermarkets.
- To make this gluten-free. No changes needed for the Tandoori chicken, but serve with gluten-free naan or roti.
- To make this dairy-free. Use a dairy-free plain yogurt or Greek style yogurt.
- Storing and reheating leftovers. Store cut pieces in a sealed airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. Reheat in the microwave or high for 1-2 minutes or until hot throughout.
- Nutritional information provided is for the chicken, not for the Cilantro and Mint Sauce and other serving accompaniments.
- Prep time does not include time for marinating the chicken.
Shop the Recipe
- Serving Size: 1/4 of chicken
- Calories: 413
- Sugar: 8.1g
- Sodium: 1549.4mg
- Fat: 18.5g
- Saturated Fat: 3.1g
- Unsaturated Fat: 13.9g
- Trans Fat: 0g
- Carbohydrates: 18.6g
- Fiber: 3.4g
- Protein: 41.9g
- Cholesterol: 119.8mg
The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary based on several factors. It should only be used as a general guideline. For more information, please see our Disclosure.
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This post may contain affiliate links. We are a part of the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you) by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary based on several factors. It should only be used as a general guideline. For more information, please see our Disclosure.