Air Fryer Tandoori Chicken gets plenty of flavor from the vibrant tandoori spices, fenugreek, fresh ginger, and garlic in this healthy recipe. Every bite of chicken tandoori is tender and flavor-packed, making this a crowd-pleasing favorite. [Can be made in an air fryer or oven].
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Tandoori chicken is a very popular Indian spiced chicken dish, especially in Indian restaurants. Chicken is marinated in yogurt flavored with tandoori seasoning, fenugreek, ginger, and garlic.
In authentic tandoori chicken recipes, marinated chicken is grilled at high heat in a clay oven called a tandoor. I’ve found that the high temperature air circulating in the closed environment of the air fryer is a pretty good substitute for a tandoor!
Air fryer chicken tandoori is traditionally made with bone in chicken pieces such as chicken thighs or chicken legs. I make it with bone-in or boneless chicken. They both taste great.
I think you’ll agree that is the best tandoori chicken recipe! I’ve been making it for over 25 years and I get regular requests for the recipe.
I used to either grill or bake the chicken, but lately, I love using my air fryer to cook the chicken.
The chicken is marinated in a yogurt marinade with vibrant flavor and that makes this air fryer tandoori chicken recipe a real crowd-pleaser. If you have a chance to leave the chicken in the marinade for 4 to 6 hours, I highly recommend it.
More Easy Air Fryer Recipes…
- Chicken 65 is a South Indian chicken appetizer of crispy spicy chicken bites.
- Samosas are an easy frozen appetizer of pastry-stuffed meat or vegetables that you can heat up as a delicious snack.
- Salmon turns out superb in the air fryer. Try blackened salmon for a change from the ordinary.
- Make Chicken Wings in the air fryer with this buffalo wings air fryer recipe!
Tandoori Chicken Tips
Cuts of Chicken
Please use these timings as a guide. Every air fryer is different and you may need to adjust the cooking time and temperature based on your particular model. Refer to your manual for specific instructions.
Cooking time will depend on what part of the chicken you’re using. Measure the internal temperature of the chicken by inserting a digital thermometer in the thickest part of the chicken to make sure it’s fully cooked.
Boneless chicken thighs
Boneless skinless chicken thighs are convenient and no fuss. At 380° F, they air fry in about 12 to 14 minutes. The chicken is fully cooked at an internal temperature of 165 degrees F but for optimal flavor, the chicken should be at about 180 degrees Fahrenheit.
Bone-in chicken legs and chicken thighs
You can also make air fryer tandoori chicken legs and/or bone-in thighs. They’re more flavorful, more forgiving, and harder to overcook. Make a few slashes in the chicken with a sharp knife to allow the marinade to penetrate. At 380° F, they take about 18 to 20 minutes to cook. Cook the chicken to about 180 degrees Fahrenheit internal temperature.
Boneless chicken breast
I’m not a huge fan of chicken breasts and prefer to use chicken drumsticks and thighs for most of my recipes. You can use chicken breast, but you’ll have to reduce the cook time.
Keep in mind that it’s easier to overcook chicken breast since it’s white meat. If the chicken pieces are too thick, place them between two sheets of plastic wrap and use a meat mallet to pound the chicken to even out the thickness.
At 380 degrees, they take about 13 to 15 minutes to cook. Cook chicken until it reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit internal temperature. Bone-in chicken breasts can take another 7 to 10 minutes longer.
I always use Shan Tandoori Masala spice mix. The word masala means spice. It’s a pre-mixed blend that’s available at South Asian or Indian grocery stores. It’s also available on Amazon. If you can’t find this mix, you can use Shan Chicken Tikka mix. If you can’t get hold of either, use the following spice powders:
- 1 ½ teaspoon Kashmiri chili powder (or a smaller quantity of cayenne pepper)
- ½ teaspoon black pepper powder
- 1 teaspoon garam masala powder
- ½ teaspoon cumin powder
For this tandoori chicken recipe, it’s important to use thick whole-milk plain yogurt. You can either use Greek yogurt or you can take regular yogurt and strain it, letting the liquid drain for about an hour.
I like the balance that the sugar provides. It’s not a lot of sugar, but it adds a nice touch to the marinade. This tip is from my mother-in-law. You can omit the sugar if you wish.
Fenugreek is an herb that’s commonly used in Indian cooking. In Hindi, it’s referred to as methi or kasuri methi. Methi leaves and seeds are common in Indian cooking. Fenugreek’s flavor has been described as a cross between celery and maple.
I like to use dried fenugreek leaves because of their shelf life and they’re easily available at Indian grocery stores or on amazon. I highly recommend fenugreek but if you can’t find it, omit it.
Ginger Paste and Garlic Paste
Many Indian recipes call for ginger paste, garlic paste, or ginger garlic paste. I learned to cook from my mom and she generally doesn’t use these pastes, so I just mince the ginger and finely chop garlic for most recipes.
However, for this recipe, you should try and use ginger paste and garlic paste because it gives the marinade a bold flavor and a smooth consistency. You can buy these at the Indian store but you can make them at home too.
Blend ginger or garlic to a smooth paste, with enough oil to get the blender contents moving. The leftover paste can be frozen in ice cube trays and used in any recipe calling for ginger or garlic. Since this recipe uses equal quantities of both, you can blend equal quantities (by weight) of ginger and garlic.
One teaspoon of garlic paste equals one teaspoon (a large clove) of garlic. One teaspoon of ginger paste equals one teaspoon of minced ginger.
I’ve made this tandoori chicken recipe numerous times with ginger powder and garlic powder. They are fine substitutes, but with mellower flavor. Use ½ teaspoon garlic powder and ½ teaspoon ginger powder.
Traditionally, tandoori chicken is made with bone-in pieces of chicken (although I make it with bone-in or boneless). Chicken tikka is made with boneless chicken cut into cubes and cooked on a skewer. The spices are about the same for both.
For best results, it’s good to spray the air fryer and the chicken with some oil before air frying. If you want to reduce the quantity of oil in the marinade, you can do that.
It depends on the quantity of tandoori masala you use. This recipe, as written, is medium spicy. You can add more tandoori masala or chili powder to make it spicier.
Reduce the quantity of tandoori seasoning to about 1 ½ teaspoons and increase the paprika by 1 ½ teaspoons.
Yes, you can double the recipe. Cook the chicken in batches.
No, the seeds are very different from the leaves. Omit the fenugreek if you can’t find it.
Tandoori Chicken – Ingredients
- Onion powder
- Ginger paste
- Garlic paste
- Lemon juice or lime juice
- Brown sugar
- Olive oil
- Tandoori masala
- Red chili powder
- Fenugreek (dried)
More details in the recipe card at the bottom of this post
How to Make Tandoori Chicken in Air Fryer (Step by Step Instructions)
- Make marinade
- Air fry chicken
- Add tandoori masala, onion powder, paprika, salt, brown sugar, fenugreek leaves, ginger, garlic, yogurt, lemon juice, and oil to a small bowl.
- Stir marinade ingredients together.
- Add chicken to a large mixing bowl.
- Thoroughly coat the chicken with the marinade.
Air fry the Chicken
- Place chicken in the air fryer in a single layer and air fry at 380 degrees F for 13 minutes.
- Flip pieces halfway through air frying.
- Measure the internal temperature of the chicken to make sure it’s cooked through. Remove the air fryer chicken and let it rest for a few minutes before serving. Serve with sprinkled cilantro and lemon wedges.
How to Make Chicken Tandoori in the Oven
- You can double or triple the recipe for the grill or oven.
- Make the marinade
- Let the chicken marinate for at least 30 minutes, preferably 4 to 6 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Place a rack on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet.
- Place chicken on the rack, shaking off excess marinade.
- Bake for 20 minutes, flip the chicken and brush with some marinade.
- Bake for 15 more minutes, basting with more marinade if desired.
- Turn on broil mode and broil the chicken until it is slightly charred.
See the recipe card below for detailed instructions.
Tandoori Chicken Recipe
- 4 teaspoon tandoori masala spice mix (Shan brand), to taste *
- ¾ teaspoon onion powder
- 2 teaspoon paprika
- ¾ teaspoon salt or to taste
- ½ teaspoon brown sugar or to taste
- 2 teaspoon dried fenugreek leaves (methi)
- 2 teaspoon ginger paste or ½ teaspoon ginger powder
- 2 teaspoon garlic paste or ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ⅓ cup plain Greek yogurt or whole milk yogurt (whey removed)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice or lime juice
- 2 teaspoon olive oil or vegetable oil, more for spraying
- 4 pieces boneless skinless chicken thighs **
- In a small bowl, stir together tandoori masala, onion powder, paprika, salt, brown sugar, fenugreek leaves, ginger, garlic, yogurt, lemon juice, and oil.
- Marinate the chicken with the spice mix in a medium sized bowl.
- Refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours, or at least 30 minutes. Overnight marination will add even more flavor.
Air Fryer Instructions
- Preheat the air fryer to 380 degrees Fahrenheit for 5 minutes.
- Oil the air fryer basket. Shake off excess marinade and place the chicken pieces in the basket without overcrowding.
- Air fry the chicken for 13 minutes ***, flipping after 7 minutes. Baste the chicken and spray with some oil after flipping.
- Once the cook time is up, insert a digital meat thermometer in the thickest part of the chicken. The internal temperature of thighs should be about 180 degrees for optimum flavor. If the chicken hasn't reached this temperature, air fry for another couple of minutes.
- Remove the chicken and let it rest for a few minutes before serving.
Oven Instructions (Recipe can be doubled or tripled)
- Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place a rack on the baking sheet. Coat the rack with oil, to prevent sticking.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Shake off excess marinade from each piece of chicken and place on the rack. Spray the chicken with some oil.
- Bake for 20 minutes, flip the chicken and brush with some of the marinade.
- Bake for 15 more minutes, basting some more if needed.
- Turn on broil mode and broil the chicken until it is slightly charred, 5 to 10 minutes.
- Check the internal temperature of chicken to make sure it's 180 degrees F. Remove chicken and rest for a few minutes before serving.
- * Shan tandoori masala is available on amazon and at Indian or South Asian grocery stores. If you can’t find it, substitute 1 ½ teaspoon Kashmiri chili powder (or to taste), ½ tsp black pepper, 1 tsp garam masala, ½ tsp cumin, and salt to taste.
- ** To use bone-in chicken thighs or legs, increase cooking time to 18 to 20 minutes. Read tips for other cuts of chicken.
- *** Cooking time may vary depending on the air fryer model. Adjust cook times based on your instruction manual recommendations.
- Nutrition information includes all the marinade. Keep in mind that some amount of the marinade will be discarded.
- See the blog post for more detailed recipe tips.
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I am not a certified nutritionist. I provide my best estimate of nutritional information merely as a courtesy to my readers. If you depend on nutritional information for dietary or health reasons, I suggest using your favorite online nutrition calculator to confirm the nutritional value of this recipe based on the actual ingredients that you use.
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