If you are already in love with the quintessential tandoori chicken, then this air fryer tandoori chicken will give you extra reasons to love it even more and that too guilt-free!
Homemade tandoori chicken is the love of our life! Why would it not be? The smoky grilled pieces of chicken infused with beautiful aromas of classic Indian spices is a match made in heaven!
And when you can make such a delicious dish at home in under 30 minutes, you would definitely want to dance with joy! Want to know how it is possible?
Enters the magic device of this decade – air fryer! I know I have been late to the air fryer party; but as they say, it’s better to late than never! And it can’t be truer than this in case of a genius air fryer!
If you want to eat your favorite fried food guilt-free, you need this baby in your life! And you know what? It just doesn’t do good fried food without oil, it can do much more than that which was beyond my expectation when I first got it!
What is air fryer?
If you are a cooking enthusiast just like me, then I’m sure you already know about or actually own an air fryer. But if you just stumbled upon this recipe while searching for tandoori chicken, then let me decode air fryer for you.
As described in Taste of Home, the air fryer is essentially an amped-up countertop convection oven—it doesn’t actually fry your food. Patented by Philips Electronics Company, this small appliance claims to mimic the results of deep-frying with nothing more than hot air and little or no oil.
Yes! That sums it up!
I got my air fryer a couple of months back and have been experimenting with it since then. Finally, when I have cracked the perfect recipe of tandoori chicken made in air fryer, I am ready to share it with you all.
More experiments are ongoing with my air fryer and I will keep sharing more air fryer recipes as I perfect them because I do feel this kitchen equipment deserves all the love it is currently getting everywhere. Air fryer is the trendiest thing all over the world at the moment!
What is tandoori chicken?
Tandoori chicken is the super popular Indian grilled chicken recipe that is traditionally made in a tandoor oven which is a clay oven designed to withstand extremely high temperatures. To grill in a tandoor oven, meats and vegetables must be threaded onto skewers and lowered into the oven from the top opening [source].
Tandoori chicken is named after the oven to make it evident that these pieces of grilled chicken come with a lot of smokiness as it is made inside a tandoor and with a flavorful marination of yogurt and spices.
Tandoori chicken also has an authentic red vibrant color which I have achieved by using an organic red liquid food color. If you don’t want to use color in homemade food, please feel free to omit it.
What is different in air fryer tandoori chicken?
I have made tandoori chicken uncountable times at home during the pre-air fryer era. When I make it in a traditional oven, I use the broiler setting keeping the tandoori chicken on the top rack. I flip over the chicken halfway between the cooking time.
In the air fryer, heat is always coming from top and you have to put the chicken on the basket that comes with the air fryer; so less complication and more user-friendly. Choose the air fry mode at 180 degrees C to air fry the chicken and set the timer for 20 minutes.
Every air fryer is different, so start with a shorter duration, check the doneness of the chicken and keep it for air frying for a few more minutes if it is not done. Chicken cooks much faster in air fryer than in the traditional oven.
What would you need for air fryer tandoori chicken?
The marination process of air fryer tandoori chicken is same as the regular tandoori chicken. but when you make it in air fryer you will need lesser oil.
Chicken: Drumsticks or chicken thighs work best for tandoori chicken, but if you really like chicken breast, you can use it too. Feel free to use skinless or skin-on chicken pieces. I used chicken drumsticks for my tandoori chicken.
Hung curd: The most essential ingredient to make a good tandoori chicken is hung curd. To make hung curd, tie the regular plain curd in a large muslin cloth and squeeze out all the water. Then hang it on top of your kitchen sink for about 4 hours to let the remaining excess water drip off. Finally, what you get is the thick and creamy curd which is nothing but a magic ingredient.
Aromatics: Ginger and garlic paste are the quintessential ingredients for any good Indian recipe. You will need a tablespoon each of ginger and garlic paste to make your tandoori chicken exceptionally flavorful.
Spice powders: Now comes the spiciest part of making a tandoori chicken which makes them super addictive. You will need all the regular Indian spices that are typically used in any Indian recipe i.e. turmeric powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, red chilli powder of 2 kinds and garam masala.
Use about a teaspoon of hot red chilli powder for the spiciness and 2 heaped teaspoons of Kashmiri chilli powder for vibrant red color. For garam masala, I suggest using the homemade version to bring out the best flavor; check out my video of homemade garam masala.
Oil: The best-suited oil for tandoori chicken is mustard oil because of its strong pungent flavor that beautifully complements all the spices and aromatics. But if mustard oil is too strong for you, use any other flavorless oil, for example, canola oil, sunflower oil or vegetable oil.
Food color: This is optional but if you want to give your homemade tandoori chicken a restaurant-like look, then use a few drops of organic liquid red food color. Don’t worry, food color will not alter the test of the dish.
Seasoning: To round up all the ingredients, you will need salt and freshly crushed black pepper to taste.
How to make air fryer tandoori chicken?
Now let’s get cracking with the tandoori chicken!
Step 1: Wash and pat dry the chicken. Take the chicken in a large mixing bowl. Using a sharp paring knife make a couple of deep cuts on the thickest part of each chicken drumstick.
Step 2: Sprinkle half a teaspoon of salt, ginger and garlic paste and half a teaspoon of Kashmiri red chilli powder. Give a good mix making sure each drumstick is coated well with salt and aromatics. Set them aside.
Step 3: In another medium-sized mixing bowl, take the hung card and add all the remaining powdered spices, oil and seasoning. Do not mix the color yet.
Step 4: Using a wire whisk, give the curd mixture a good mix. Make sure all the powdered spices are evenly mixed without any lumps. Take your time to make this tandoori marinade as this is a crucial step.
Step 5: Once the yogurt mixture is ready, add the red food color, if using. Give a final thorough mix with the wire whisk for a minute and your tandoori marinade is ready.
Step 6: Transfer the spicy yogurt mixture to the bowl with chicken drumsticks. Now preferably using your hand, coat each drumstick with the yogurt marinate making sure the marinate goes inside the cuts. Take time to coat each drumstick so that each piece is evenly covered with the spicy yogurt marinade.
Step 7: Once all the chicken drumsticks are well coated with the marinade, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave it for at least 2 hours.
Step 8: When you are ready to airfry your tandoori chicken, set your air fryer at 180 degrees C for 20 minutes. If your air fryer has a preheating mode, preheat it before adding your chicken.
Step 9: When your air fryer is ready, place the marinated chicken drumsticks in a single layer inside the air fryer basket. do not place any drumstick on top of another; neither force fit them too tight without leaving any gap.
If your basket is not big enough to hold all the chicken pieces at the same time, do it in 2 different batches. If you tightly arrange the chicken drumsticks inside the basket, hot air will not circulate evenly around each drumstick ending up with uncooked piece of chicken.
Step 10: Insert the basket and start air frying your tandoori chicken. My air fryer stops automatically halfway through the cooking time and asks to turn the food over; If yours doesn’t, then stop the air fryer after 10 minutes, brush the chicken drumsticks with some oil and flip them over. Brush this side of the chicken too with oil.
Step 11: Insert the basket again and let the tandoori chicken cook for the remaining time. After the end of cooking time take the basket out and check the doneness of chicken by poking a sharp knife at the thickest part of the drumstick.
If the meat feels tender with no pink left and juices run clear, your tandoori chicken is ready. If not, air fry it for 10 more minutes.
Step 12: Once your chicken is fully cooked, transfer the tandoori chicken to a serving platter, sprinkle some chaat masala on top and serve it with green coriander chutney along with a few lemon wedges. Enjoy!
If you love grilled food, you will love these recipes below:
- Chicken drumsticks – 6, skin-on or skinless
- Hung curd – ½ cup
- Ginger paste – 1 tbsp
- Garlic paste – 1 tbsp
- Turmeric powder – ¼ tsp
- Coriander powder – 1 tsp
- Cumin powder – 1 tsp
- Red chilli powder – 1 tsp
- Kashmiri chilli powder – 2 tsp
- Homemade garam masala – 1 tsp
- Mustard oil – 2 tsp
- Freshly crushed black pepper – ½ tsp
- Salt to taste (approximately 1 tsp)
- Organic liquid red food color for vibrant tandoori look – ½ tsp
- Wash and pat dry the chicken drumsticks. Make couple of deep cuts at the thickest part of each drumstick.
- Now take the drumsticks in a large mixing bowl. Add ginger garlic paste and half a teaspoon each of salt and Kashmiri chilli powder. Mix well to evenly coat each piece. Set them aside.
- Now prepare the tandoori marinade by mixing all the powdered spices, oil and seasoning with the hung curd using a wire whisk. Make sure the mixture is even without any lumps. Next add the red food color if using. Give a final mix to distribute the color evenly.
- Add the tandoori marinade to the chicken pieces and coat each piece thoroughly with spicy yogurt mixture making sure the marinade goes inside the cuts and covers the pieces all over.
- Once all the pieces are thoroughly coated, cover the bowl with a plastic wrap and leave it for at least 2 hours.
- When you are ready to air fry, set your air fryer at 180 degree C for 20 minutes. Once your air fryer is preheated, arrange the chicken drumsticks inside the basket in a single layer living at least a centimetre gap between two so that the hot air can circulate evenly around each piece.
- Start air frying the tandoori chicken and after 10 minutes, stop the fryer, take the basket out, brush the chicken pieces with oil, flip them over, brush other side too and insert the basket again to continue air frying for the remaining duration.
- After 20 minutes, check the doneness of the chicken by poking a sharp knife onto the thickest part of the drumstick. If the meat feels tender without any pink left and juices run clear, your tandoori chicken is ready. If not, insert the basket back to the fryer and air fry for 10 more minutes.
- Your air fryer Tandoori chicken is ready to serve. Transfer them to a serving platter, sprinkle chat masala on top and serve them with green coriander chutney along with lemon wedges on the side. Enjoy!