This air fryer tandoori chicken recipe allows you to make classic Indian cuisine at home. You can achieve the signature charred texture and deep, rich taste without the need for a tandoor oven or outdoor grill.

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Air Fryer Chicken Legs

What is Tandoori Chicken?

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If you are one of them, you are in the right place. Before diving into the details, let’s first explain what tandoori chicken is and why it has become a beloved dish around the world.

Tandoori chicken is a popular Indian dish made by marinating chicken in a mixture of yogurt, spices, and other seasonings, and then cooking it at high temperatures, typically in a tandoor oven.

A tandoor is a traditional clay or metal oven, usually shaped like a cylindrical pot, that uses charcoal or wood to generate intense heat, allowing for quick and even cooking.

The marinade for tandoori chicken typically includes yogurt, ginger, garlic, lemon juice, and a blend of spices like cumin, coriander, turmeric, paprika, and garam masala. This combination tenderizes the chicken and imparts a rich, complex flavor with a balance of tangy, spicy, and aromatic notes. Paprika or red food coloring is often added to give the dish its vibrant red-orange hue.

Tandoori chicken is often served with various accompaniments like naan bread, basmati rice, or cooling condiments such as raita or chutneys. It’s a staple in Indian cuisine, loved for its bold flavors and versatile presentation, whether as an appetizer, a main course, or a component in other dishes like wraps or salads.

How to Make Tandoori Chicken without Tandoori?

While traditionally cooked in a tandoor, tandoori chicken can also be prepared on a grill, in a conventional oven, or even in an air fryer. The high heat creates a charred exterior, enhancing the texture and adding a smoky flavor while keeping the chicken tender and juicy.

Tandoori oven

My favorite way to make tandoori chicken without tandoori is by using my Typhur Dome air fryer. This air fryer provides high heat and even air circulation, which are key factors in replicating the tandoori cooking method.

Best Chicken for Air Fryer Tandoori Cooking

The best chicken for tandoori cooking is bone-in cuts, such as drumsticks, thighs, or leg quarters. These cuts are ideal because they remain tender and juicy during the high-heat cooking process, whether in a traditional tandoor, oven, or grill.

The bone structure helps retain moisture, preventing the chicken from drying out and provides a deeper flavor compared to boneless cuts.

Step 1: Prepare the tandoori chicken marinade

Yogurt acts as a base to carry spices and other flavoring agents in the marinade. Its creamy texture allows it to cling to the chicken, ensuring even distribution of spices like ginger, garlic, and Kashmiri chili powder. This leads to a more flavorful and consistent outcome.

Thoroughly coat each drumstick in the marinade. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator. Allow the chicken to marinate for at least 30 minutes and up to 12 hours.

Step 2: Air Fryer Tandoori Chicken Legs

What to Serve with Tandoori Chicken?

With these sides, you can create a balanced and satisfying meal that complements the vibrant flavors of tandoori chicken.

sous vide asparagus

Sous Vide Asparagus

Sous vide asparagus is a refined and delicious side dish that complements the bold flavors of tandoori chicken. The sous vide method ensures the asparagus is perfectly cooked, with a tender texture while retaining its vibrant color and nutrients.

Get the sous vide asparagus recipe

Rum Poached Sous Vide Pineapple

Rum Poached Sous Vide Pineapple

Serving rum-poached sous vide pineapple with tandoori chicken creates an intriguing combination of flavors, balancing spicy and savory with sweet and aromatic.

Get the rum-poached sous vide pineapple recipe

air fryer chickpea fritters

Air Fryer Chickpea Fritters

Chickpea fritters, also known as falafel, bring a crunchy texture and a burst of savory flavors, while tandoori chicken adds a rich, smoky, and spicy element. This pairing creates a balanced meal with a variety of textures and tastes.

Get the air fryer chickpea fritters recipe

FAQs about Tandoori Chicken

What Does Tandoori Chicken Taste Like?

Tandoori chicken has a complex and bold flavor profile. The marinade, which often consists of yogurt, garlic, ginger, lemon juice, and a mix of spices like cumin, coriander, paprika, and garam masala, imparts a balance of tangy, spicy, and earthy notes. The yogurt base gives the chicken a creamy undertone and helps tenderize the meat. The cooking process, often done in a tandoor (a traditional clay or metal oven), or using high heat in an oven or air fryer, creates a slightly smoky flavor with a crispy, charred exterior and juicy, tender meat inside.

What is the Difference Between Chicken Tikka and Tandoori Chicken?

Chicken Tikka: This dish features boneless chicken pieces (often breast or thigh) marinated in a similar blend of yogurt and spices as tandoori chicken. These smaller pieces are usually skewered and cooked, making them ideal for appetizers or use in dishes like chicken tikka masala.
Tandoori Chicken: Typically made with whole chicken legs or drumsticks, tandoori chicken involves larger cuts of bone-in chicken. It is also marinated in yogurt and spices, then cooked at high heat, often in a tandoor. The key difference lies in the cut of chicken used, with tandoori chicken focusing on larger bone-in pieces, while chicken tikka uses smaller, boneless portions.

What is the Red Stuff in Tandoori Chicken?

Tandoori chicken gets its characteristic red color mainly from Kashmiri red chili powder, a spice derived from dried and ground Kashmiri red chilies. This chili powder is known for its intense red hue, adding a vibrant color to dishes without overwhelming spiciness. It’s a staple in many Indian recipes because it provides a visual appeal without excessive heat.

Tandoori Chicken Drumsticks

Chicken drumsticks cooked in a flavor-packed yogurt marinade are the perfect weeknight dinner. Combine with basmati rice and your favorite steamed vegetables.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 4 people
Calories 25 kcal


  • 8 each chicken drumsticks
  • Vegetable oil spray as needed
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 each garlic clove finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp ginger finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp Kashmiri chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tsp dried fenugreek
  • 1 tsp Garam marsala
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice


  • Combine the marinade ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Mix until well combined.
    1/2 cup plain yogurt, 2 each garlic clove, 1 tbsp ginger, 1 tbsp Kashmiri chili powder, 1/2 tsp ground turmeric, 2 tsp dried fenugreek, 1 tsp Garam marsala, 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt, 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • Thoroughly coat each drumstick in the marinade. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator. Allow the chicken to marinate for at least 30 minutes and up to 12 hours.
    8 each chicken drumsticks
  • Preheat the Typhur Dome to 355°F/ 180°C. (Around 5 minutes)
  • Lightly spray the cooking tray with non-stick spray before placing the chicken in the cooking tray and returning it to the Typhur Dome.
  • Allow the chicken to cook for 15 minutes at 355℉/180℃. Once the cooking time has been completed, use an instant-read thermometer to check the internal temperature of the chicken. It should register at 165°F. If needed continue cooking the chicken in 2-minute intervals.
  • Carefully remove the chicken from a serving plate or tray.
  • We like to enjoy these flavor-packed drumsticks with steamed basmati rice and our roasted cauliflower recipe.


Calories: 25kcalCarbohydrates: 2gProtein: 3gFat: 0.4gSaturated Fat: 0.1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.1gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.1gTrans Fat: 0.003gCholesterol: 3mgSodium: 884mgPotassium: 59mgFiber: 0.2gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 2IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 30mgIron: 0.2mg

(Nutrition information is calculated automatically by Spoonacular API and should be considered an estimate.)