How to make tandoori style chicken tikka in an air fryer

Air fried tandoori chicken tikka
  1. Preheat air fryer
  2. Cook at 400F for 2 minutes, shake to ensure marinated chicken isn’t sticking to cooking basket
  3. Cook for another 10 minutes, shaking every 3 minutes
  4. Check chicken for doneness, cook another 3 minutes for extra crisp/char finish

This recipe is based of using the COSORI Air Fryer (5.8QT model, affiliate link).

The key to this recipe is hot and fast cooking. This ensures the chicken remains juicy, while the marinated exterior quickly develops an enjoyable charred crust in parts. It’s one of my favorite air fryer recipes.

Cooking notes

Here I am using two decently sized chicken breasts. I don’t like to crowd the frying basket so the chicken can cook and crisp at a good pace.

In the above picture, I found my chicken tikka was nicely cooked and very juicy – around the 12 minute cooking mark. I ended up cooking for the full 15 minutes though, as I wanted to develop a little more char on the chicken.

Depending on how thick you cook your chicken pieces, how big your fryer basket is, and how much marinade is coating the chicken – you’ll obviously have to tweak the timing by a few minutes here and there. You’ll need at least 10 minutes cook time at 400F through.

As ever, please use caution and safety when cooking raw meats. Always ensure your chicken is thoroughly cooked and to temp!

How to make chicken tikka marinade

To make the above air fried tandoori chicken tikka you will first need to marinate your chicken. The ideal time is 4-6 hours in the refrigerator. The mix of yogurt, lemon, salt and oil will help tenderize the chicken, and let the flavors penetrate.

This isn’t a recipe where more is necessarily better. Be careful of marinating for extended periods as the chicken will become mealy. To make the marinade mix the following ingredients in a large bowl:

  • 4 tbsp plain greek yogurt
  • 4 cloves grated garlic
  • 1 inch grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala

For hot sauce, I used Nando’s Peri-Peri XX Hot sauce, as I find the flavor profile is similar to Indian lime pickle. You can replace with your hot sauce of choice, a tsp of cayenne pepper, or omit entirely.

Once you’ve mixed all these items together, add roughly chopped chicken pieces to the mix. I like cubes a little bigger than an inch – remember they will shrink as they cook – so allow for that.

Stir the chicken pieces in the marinade until evenly coated. The chicken should have a thin coating all over, but not be swimming unrecognizably in a pool of sauce.

At this stage I like to transfer the chicken to a sealable gallon freezer bag. This lets you rub and work the marinade over the chicken easily without making a mess. It’s easy to then store in the fridge for the marination time.

When ready to cook, I add the marinated chicken directly to the air fryer, I don’t bother to remove too much marinade if any.

Lastly, note that I didn’t use any food coloring in the recipe. The vibrant golden yellow color comes mostly from turmeric; I don’t like to add food coloring to my food personally.

This guide is presented as a reference only. Please ensure your food is thorughly cooked before consuming. Many variables may influence your own cooking times. If in doubt contact your air fryer or product manufacturer.

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