Oven-Baked Tandoori Chicken


paleo tandoori chicken

Tandoori chicken is a really popular dish, and food good reason. It’s tender, juicy, and full of flavor.

oh so tasty. don't you want to take a bite?

What is Tandoori Chicken?

I think it’s fair to say tandoori chicken is probably one of the most ordered dishes at any Indian restaurant (alongside butter chicken). It’s typically marinated with yogurt and spices and then baked in a tandoor, aka a clay oven. I like to use unsweetened full-fat coconut milk in place of yogurt (you won’t taste the coconut – it just helps tenderize the chicken the way that yogurt does).

I think most restaurants use artificial color to get that signature red tandoori color. If you prefer your chicken without the red dye, you can get a more natural red hue by using paprika or Kashmiri red chili powder.

Now keep in mind that no amount of paprika can get you that restaurant shade of red, but here’s how I add a natural reddish hue to my tandoori chicken: make a couple of deep incisions on each drumstick, and then with a spoon, add a mixture of paprika, salt, and lime. Do this before adding the marinade, and you’ll get a redder color than you would otherwise. Additionally, this will help get more flavor into the chicken.

add spice paste into drumsticks to enhance color

When you blend your marinade, it will have some texture to it. You don’t need it to be a completely smooth paste. The texture will make your chicken look a little more authentic, and you’ll be able to better taste some of the individual flavors in the marinade. Once the chicken is well coated, add a couple of tablespoons of mustard oil on top. This will give the chicken a nice sheen and add a touch of tanginess to the dish.

Marinate the chicken for 30 minutes in the fridge, then bring it to room temperature and pop it in the oven.

Chicken in Marinade
Chicken in Marinade

When you take a bite of this chicken, you’ll see that it’s just as good if not better than what you’ll get in any restaurant.

Oven-Baked Tandoori Chicken

Oven-Baked Tandoori Chicken

5 from 7 reviews
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Servings 4 pounds chicken
Cuisine Indian


  • 4 pounds of chicken drumsticks skin removed

Spice Paste

  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ½ lime juiced

Tandoori marinade


  • Rinse chicken and remove the skin. With a sharp knife, make 2 deep incisions in each drumstick and cut the tendon on each drumstick.
  • Make a spice paste by combining salt, paprika, and lime juice in a small bowl. Rub the paste into the cuts in chicken.
  • While the chicken is absorbing the flavors from the spice paste, coarsely grind your coriander, cumin, fennel, cardamom, and cloves in a spice grinder.
  • In a blender, add garlic, ginger, lime juice, coconut milk, salt, paprika, cayenne, and freshly ground spices. Blend together and add the mixture to the chicken. Once the chicken is well coated, add a couple of tablespoons of mustard oil on top.
  • Place the chicken in the refrigerator to marinate for about 20 minutes. Take out of the fridge and bring it to room temperature before putting it in the oven.
  • Place the drumsticks on a wire rack sitting on top of a foil-lined pan.
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees on the convection setting and cook for 20 minutes or until done.
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Find out more about my cookbooks Indian Food Under Pressure and South Asian Persuasion.

About Ashley

Hi, I’m Ashley. Thanks for being here! I truly believe that food brings us closer together. Gather around a table with good food and good people, and you’ll have the ingredients you need to create some happy memories. My hope is that you find recipes here that you can’t wait to share with family and friends.


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  1. Nakul says

    5 stars
    Awesome recipe!! Used it to marinate drumsticks overnight and cooked in a kamado grill @350 degrees, about 15 min on each side. Yum! 🙂

  2. Suyagya Agrawal says

    Thank you for another amazing recipe. Your recipes are almost always on-point and I love how you always ask for everything from scratch usually.

    Since I don’t tolerate coconut milk well, I substituted with almond milk yoghurt (greek-style) and it turned out great!

  3. Paul says

    Can the chicken be marinated and frozen for a day or two? Also, can you use regular coconut milk or only unsweetened coconut milk?

    • Ashley - My Heart Beets says

      I haven’t tried freezing it after marinating but it’ll be fine to marinate it in the fridge for a day or two. Canned coconut milk has a lot more fat which is why I suggest using that vs. regular coconut milk.

  4. Scott says

    5 stars
    De-lish! I make this over and over again. I really prefer the coconut milk method as it really gives some nice fat and texture to the paste. Thank you for this…it is my go to for Tandoori.

  5. Narmeen says

    5 stars
    I made this amazing recipe today for my husband he LOVED it. I am vegan so I didnt have it but I could tell from the smell it was delicious. I also made it with coconut milk instead of yogurt as my husband is trying to cut back on dairy. Thank you so much for this amazing recipe

  6. Marina says

    This recipe was delicious, I will be making it again.
    I also made the paleo roti with the almond flour – also great.
    I used olive oil on the chicken but would like to use mustard oil next time if I can find it. Could you please tell me which brand of mustard oil to get and where I can find it? I live in Manhattan NYC

  7. Jessica says

    5 stars
    My husband just told me this was the best chicken he had ever tasted. Had to make a few substitutions (olive oil + mustard powder instead of mustard oil), but the spice combo was excellent. Grinding whole spices really elevates the flavor.

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