posted January 10, 2022
Grilled Tandoori Chicken
These grilled tandoori chicken thighs are a backyard twist on a traditional Indian favorite. They’re marinated in a classic tandoori chicken blend of ingredients and cooked over an open flame for a delicious flavor that any BBQer can master.
Grilled Tandoori Chicken Thighs
If you’ve ever had a hankering for some amazing tandoori chicken but you don’t have the right tools, no stress! You can achieve a classic tandoori flavor in your own backyard with this recipe for grilled tandoori chicken thighs.
Authentic tandoori chicken is marinated and cooked in a clay or brick tandoori oven over hot wood coals for an amazing texture and flavor. Most of us don’t have access to such an awesome oven in our backyards, so we’ve created this grilled version to mimic the flavors and textures the best we can.
The result is a deliciously tender and flavorful chicken thigh with crispy skin and juicy meat, that still brings traditional flavors thanks to the charcoal grill and marinade.
How to Grill Tandoori Chicken
This chicken takes a bit of work, but it’s well worth the effort when you get juicy tandoori chicken as the final result! Here’s how to make your own grilled tandoori chicken at home.
- Marinate. Scroll to the recipe card below for the marinade ingredients. Combine all ingredients in a glass or plastic container and add the chicken. Place it in the fridge and marinate for 12 to 24 hours.
- Preheat. When you are ready to cook your chicken, preheat the grill to 350 degrees F for two-zone cooking.
- Grill over direct heat. Remove the thighs from the marinade and place them skin side up over the direct heat side of the grill. Cook for 5 minutes. Flip the chicken and cook skin side down for 2-5 minutes.
- Finish cooking over indirect heat. Move the chicken over to the indirect heat side of the grill and cook for 20-30 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches between 170-180 degrees F.
- Serve. Once the chicken has reached its final temperature, remove it from the grill to a serving platter. Rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.
How Long to Grill Tandoori Chicken
With the grill is preheated to 350 degrees F, it will take approximately 30-40 minutes to fully cook. These chicken thighs are first seared over direct heat for 5 minutes per side then slowly brought up to a final temperature of 170-180 degrees F over indirect heat.
Make sure you give yourself leeway with the time for this cook. Each cut of meat cooks differently, and I ALWAYS recommend you cook to temperature and not to time. Use a reliable meat thermometer to gauge the temperature of the chicken and remove it from the grill once it’s done cooking (internal temp through the thickest part of the meat reads 170-180 degrees F).
Tips for Grilling Tandoori Chicken Thighs
Hold up for a second, grillers! This tandoori chicken needs just a little extra love and care to help get you the best tandoori experience. Check out a few of my tips for grilling these thighs before venturing onto the recipe card.
- Charcoal and some added wood chips are your best bet at recreating that Tandoori oven experience in your backyard. If you don’t have a charcoal grill and are making this attempt on a gas grill, you can follow my tips for smoking on a gas grill and make a foil packet of wood chips to add some smoky flavor to your thighs.
- Cook your chicken thighs to 175 degrees F. This is higher than you cook chicken breasts, and for good reason. Chicken thighs have a higher fat content than breasts and can hold up to a higher temperature. Additionally, thighs have a better texture at a higher finished temperature because some of those connective tissues begin to break down at 175 degrees F.
- Marinade time matters. While you can get the thighs coated in the marinade and go straight to the grill, the flavor and texture are greatly improved by giving these thighs at least 12 hours. The acid in the yogurt acts as a great tenderizer and makes for incredibly moist and tender thighs.
- Skip the skin and bones. Boneless and skinless thighs work great for this recipe if you want to save time. You can cut your marinade time down to 6 hours and your grill time down to 20 minutes.
More Grilled Chicken Recipes
While I’m quite partial to this tandoori chicken recipe, I can’t recommend these other grilled chicken recipes from Hey Grill Hey.
Grilled Tandoori Chicken Recipe
Now that you have all my nuggets of knowledge, you’re ready to scroll down and make this grilled tandoori chicken recipe yourself.
If you’re a fan of Hey Grill Hey, make sure to follow us on social media! You can find me on all sites @HeyGrillHey. If you made this chicken and you’d like to share it with us, tag us or use the hashtag #heygrillhey!
Grilled Tandoori Chicken
- 4 pounds chicken thighs (bone-in, skin-on)
Tandoori Chicken Marinade
- ½ cup Greek yogurt
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 3 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon coriander
- 1 Tablespoon garam masala
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 3 teaspoons Kashmiri chili powder (can substitute with regular chili powder)
- 1 Tablespoon ginger (grated)
- 1 Tablespoon garlic (grates)
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- Trim. Trim any excess fat and cartilage off the thighs.
- Marinate. In a large, non-reactive (plastic or glass) bowl, stir together the marinade ingredients. Add the chicken thighs to the bowl and stir to thoroughly coat the chicken. Cover with plastic wrap or a lid and allow it to marinate for 12 to 24 hours (if you don’t have the time to marinade, it can go straight to the grill and will still be delicious).
- Preheat. Preheat the grill to 350 degrees F with two-zone cooking, one direct side and one indirect.
- Grill. Begin grilling the tandoori chicken thighs by placing the thighs, skin side up, over the direct heat, allow them to cook 5 minutes, flip them over so they are skin side down and allow them to cook 2-5 minutes. Watch closely to make sure the skin does not burn.
- *Optional step. Add smoke. After moving the chicken to the indirect side of the grill, add some wood chips to the charcoal of the direct heat side of the grill. If you're cooking on a gas grill and still want the smoky flavor, add a handful of wood chips to a piece of foil and fold to create a packet. Pierce all over with a fork and place the wood packet on the direct heat of your grill.
- Finish cooking. Close the lid and cook the chicken over indirect heat for 20 to 30 minutes. The chicken thighs are finished when the temperature reaches 170-180 F and the skin is nice and browned.
- Enjoy. Remove the chicken from the grill and rest for 5 minutes. Serve hot.
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