Skip to main content

Grilled Tandoori Chicken Thighs

By June 30, 2023July 12th, 2023Dairy Free Option, Gluten Free, Keto, Low Carb, Nut Free, Paleo, Whole30

This healthy chicken recipe is incredibly tender, juicy, moist and outrageously delicious. The marinade of garlic, ginger, spices and yogurt tenderizes the chicken and infuses it with a robust Indian flavor. Grilling gives it the authentic lightly smoked taste you find in Indian restaurants.

Grilled Tandoori Chicken Thighs over head shot close up with riata and limes

What Is Tandoori Chicken

Tandoori chicken is an Indian dish of chicken marinated in yogurt and spices giving the meat its trademark red color. It is traditionally roasted in a tandoor, a cylindrical clay oven but here we get the same robust smoky flavor cooking it on the grill. This dish is perfect for barbecues, picnics, and gatherings.

With origins dating back to 3000 BC, the tandoor has been utilized in Indian cooking for centuries. Some people say this dish was popularized by a man named Kundan Lal Gujral in his restaurant Moti Mahal (Palace of Pearls) in Delhi.

Here I serve it with Raita and grilled lime slices.

Grilled Tandoori Chicken Thighs close up side view

Are Indian Tandoori Chicken Thighs Healthy?

Yes, it is an incredibly healthy dish. What makes tandoori chicken so healthy is the marinade is made with probiotic rich yogurt and healing spices that are beneficial to your digestive system. The chicken provides plenty of protein and the dish is low in carbs.

The ingredients used in this marinade give the dish a robust flavor. You’ll love the taste and how good it makes you feel.

Grilled Tandoori Chicken Thighs ingredients

Health Benefits of Grilled Tandoori Chicken

  • Cumin is well known for its positive effects on digestive health and its ability to cleanse and detoxify the body. The high amount of antioxidants help protect your cells.
  • Coriander is a very balancing seed that cools and calms the GI tract. They are rich in copper, zinc, iron, magnesium, antioxidants and vitamins K, C.
  • Turmeric contains curcumin a natural anti-inflammatory compound. It lessens inflammation, improves memory, lessens pain, and lowers the risk of heart disease.
  • Ginger improves digestion. It also increases serotonin and dopamine levels so you feel calm and happy. 
  • Garlic is widely recognized for its ability to fight bacteria, viruses, fungi, and even parasites.
  • Garam Masala is an Indian spice blend. In Hindi garam means “hot” while masala means “spices,” but it’s not hot and spicy — the name refers to the warm flavors of its ingredients, such as cinnamon and cumin. It’s an anti-inflammatory, which makes it beneficial for controlling cholesterol. 
  • Paprika contains capsicum, which is known for aiding digestion by assisting in increasing gastric acid secretion that is vital for the breaking down of foods.
  • Cloves are used in Ayurvedic medicine to improve digestion. This spice provides many nutrients that help control sugar levels, reduce cholesterol and triglycerides, and improve bone and liver health.
  • Yogurt contains probiotics, which can enhance the gut microbiota. It also helps tenderize the chicken. Coconut yogurt or any nut milk yogurt can be substituted for dairy free.
  • Lemon juice has antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. It’s also high in vitamin C.

How spicy is Grilled Tandoori Chicken?

The spices used in the tandoori give it a warm, aromatic flavor but it is not spicy. You can add cayenne pepper to increase the level of hot spice.

How to Make the Recipe (Step by Step)

Grilled Tandoori Chicken Thighs raw chicken with slits

Step 1: For this recipe buy bone in, skin on chicken thighs, then remove the skin and pat dry. The thighs grill up moist and delicious.

Traditionally the skin is removed but you can leave it on or ask your butcher to remove it. The chicken will flare up more when grilling with the skin on.

Using a sharp knife, cut 3-4 shallow incisions in the chicken pieces at about 1/2-inch intervals.

Grilled Tandoori Chicken Thighs a bowl of marinade without chicken

Step 2:  In a large bowl, combine the yogurt, lemon, garlic, ginger, spices, salt, and oil. The marinade should be thick not runny, so it sticks to the chicken

Grilled Tandoori Chicken Thighs marinating in the bowl

Step 3: Add the chicken; turn to coat. Let marinate for 4 hours or up to 24 hours in the refrigerator. If you’re in a hurry marinate for 1 hour at room temperature.

I recommend marinating overnight.

Grilled Tandoori Chicken Thighs on the grill

Step 4: Preheat your grill on high. Scrape off excess marinade. Oil the grill.

Turn off one side of the grill. Place chicken on the hot side of the grill. Cover and grill for 5 minutes or until it develops grill nice marks.

Flip chicken, and grill, covered, until chicken is lightly charred on the other side, about 5 minutes until lightly charred.

Transfer chicken to unlit side of grill, and grill, covered, flipping occasionally, for 20-30 minutes until done. A thermometer inserted in thickest portion of chicken will register 165°F.

Step 6

Transfer chicken to a platter and let rest 10 minutes.

While chicken rests, make the Raita and grill the sliced limes, if using. Place the sliced limes if using over the lit side of the grill. Grill uncovered, until limes are lightly charred about 2 minutes per side.

Serve chicken with lime slices, Raita sauce and lime wedges.  

Grilled Tandoori Chicken Thighs table over view  with raita with 2 hands picking up chicken with fork.

Why I Recommend Marinating the Chicken Overnight

  1. It gives the chicken lots of time to soak up the flavors of the marinade to get the best Grilled Indian Tandoori Chicken Thighs ever. They will be juicy and incredibly flavorful.
  2. All the prep is done when you’re ready to grill the chicken, it’s so easy.

Storing

Any leftover chicken can be stored covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

I love the way it tastes cold. It’s also great to take to the beach or picnic.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make it dairy free?

Yes, it comes out great using coconut yogurt or cashew milk yogurt.

Can it be made in the oven instead of the grill?

Yes, place it on a parchment lined sheet pan and roast at 425° F for 30 minutes or until nicely brown and slightly charred around the edges. Don’t crowd the chicken together leave room between the pieces.

Can reuse the marinade?

No, when you remove the chicken from the marinade you should discard it. You can’t reuse it since it’s touched raw meat. 

Can I make the recipe with chicken breasts?

Yes, in that case I recommend getting bone in, skin on chicken breasts and remove the skin before marinating. The bone left in the chicken gives it lots of flavor and keeps it moist. They may take less time to cook.

Is Indian Tandoori Chicken always served with a Raita sauce?

No you don’t need to make the Raita but I love sauce and it tastes so good. It can also be served with your favorite grain.

Grilled Tandoori Chicken Thighs on plate with grilled limes

Enjoy the recipe, it is tender, moist, outrageously flavorful with a robust char-grilled taste everyone will love. It’s easy to make, without a lot of fuss. Yes, there are many spices but all you have to do is measure them. Happy Grilling!

⭐️ PLEASE RATE THE RECIPE!

Please leave a ⭐️ rating letting us know how you like the recipe! You can leave a rating without leaving a comment. This helps my business thrive so I can continue to share these recipes with you. If you leave a comment or question, I will get back to you right away! Thanks, 💛 for supporting Eat Well Enjoy Life.

If you like this dish, try these other delicious grilled recipes:

Would you like to have more of these delicious healthy recipes sent to you each week? CLICK TO SIGN UP for my weekly email newsletter of recipes and tips for you to eat well and enjoy your wonderful life.

Print
clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon

Grilled Tandoori Chicken Thighs


  • Author: Ingrid DeHart
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x

Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 1/23 pounds bone in chicken thighs skin removed (68 pieces)
  • 1/2 cup full fat Greek yogurt, for diary free use coconut or cashew yogurt
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder or 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 Tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves (optional)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons avocado oil
  • 2 limes sliced, to grill for serving (optional)
  • Lime wedges for serving

Raita 

  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt (whole milk is best, or use coconut or nut milk yogurt for dairy free)
  • 1/2 cup cucumber, seeds removed, finely diced (leave skin on if organic)
  • 2 teaspoons lemon or lime juice, more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 3 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Instructions

  1. Remove the skin from the chicken thighs and pat dry Using a sharp knife, cut 3-4 shallow incisions in the chicken pieces at about 1/2-inch intervals.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the yogurt, lemon, garlic, ginger, spices, salt and oil.
  3. Add the chicken; turn to coat. Let marinate for 4 hours up to 24 hours in the refrigerator. If you’re in a hurry marinate for 1 hour at room temperature.
  4. Remove chicken from the refrigerator. Preheat your gas grill to high (450°F to 500°F). It will take about 10 minutes.
  5. Scrape off excess marinade. Oil the grill. Turn off one side of the grill.
  6. Place chicken thighs on lightly oiled grates over lit side of grill.
  7. Grill, covered, until it develops grill marks, about 5 minutes.
  8. Turn the chicken over, and grill, covered, until chicken is lightly charred on the other side, about 5 minutes.
  9. Transfer chicken to unlit side of grill, and grill, covered, flipping occasionally, for 20 – 30 minutes until a thermometer inserted in thickest portion of chicken registers 165°F. While cooking your grill should maintain a temperature of at least 350 degrees.
  10. Transfer chicken to a platter and let rest 10 minutes.
  11. While chicken rests, prepare the Raita and grill the lime slices. Place the sliced limes over lit side of the grill. Grill uncovered, until limes are lightly charred about 2 minutes per side.
  12. Serve chicken with grilled lime slices, raita and lime wedges.

Raita

  1. Place all ingredients in a bowl and stir.
  2. Garnish with mint and cilantro.
  3. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  4. Raita will keep 4-5 days in the fridge.

Notes

The chicken needs time to marinate in the refrigerator, at least 4 hours but overnight is best. If you’re in a hurry marinate at room temperature for 1 hour. 

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Category: Main Dish, Chicken
  • Method: Grill
  • Cuisine: Paleo, Gluten Free, Dairy Free Option

Keywords: tandoori chicken thighs, grilled tandoori chicken thighs, healthy tandoori chicken, Indian tandoori chicken

2 Comments

Rate & Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Recipe rating 5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star