Tandoori chicken drumsticks are crispy on the outside, juicy and tender inside, and packed with delicious flavor. This easy dinner is a traditional Indian meal that is typically made in a tandoor oven, but we have adapted it to an easy-to-make at home dinner that you can cook in the oven, stovetop, or on the grill. With quick prep and just a few dishes, this will become a staple on busy weeknights. Plus, if you marinate the chicken in advance, it will absorb more delicious flavor and will just require a simple pop into the oven. So simple and tasty.
Why You'll Love Tandoori Chicken Drumsticks
- Easy to make. Tandoori chicken drumsticks are easy to make. It takes just a couple minutes to throw the marinade together and coat the chicken. Once marinated, you just pop them into the oven. It's a serious low-maintenance meal that even first time cooks can succeed at well.
- Packed with flavor. The delicious marinade is what gives these drumsticks its iconic flavor. It's loaded with spices like turmeric, cumin, ginger, and garam masala. Plus, we recommend making a few shallow cuts in the meat to allow the flavor to infuse even better.
- Great on their own or with sides. These easy tandoori chicken drumsticks are a delicious meal on their own, or can be paired well with so many sides. Some of my favorites to pair this with are Garlic Naan Bread, Basmati Rice, or roasted vegetables such as Roasted Cauliflower, Honey Roasted Carrots, Roasted Garlic Green Beans, or Garlic Parmesan Baby Potatoes.
To make these easy and delicious tandoori chicken drumsticks, you need the following ingredients:
- chicken drumsticks - You need about 3 lbs. or 10 drumsticks. I keep the skin on because crispy skin is everything. You can remove the skin if you prefer, but the texture may be slightly drier.
- salt and pepper
- garlic powder
- ginger root powder
- ground turmeric
- ground cumin
- garam masala
- paprika - People often add red food coloring to get a deep red color in the tandoori chicken. We use some paprika to help add that coloring instead. For a deeper red color, feel free to add some red food coloring.
- olive oil
- lemon juice
- plain Greek yogurt
- fresh cilantro - optional, for garnish.
How to Make the Best Tandoori Chicken Drumsticks
- Prep the chicken. Use a paper towel to pat dry the chicken drumsticks completely before adding seasoning. Score each drumstick with a knife to make 2-3 shallow cuts, about ¼-inch deep. This helps the chicken soak in all the flavors.
- Marinate the chicken. In a small mixing bowl, combine salt, pepper, garlic powder, ginger root powder, turmeric, cumin, garam masala, and paprika. Mix well with a spoon until evenly distributed. Rub the seasoning all over the chicken to coat evenly including in between the cuts.
- Refrigerate. Place chicken drumsticks into a zip-loc bag. Add in all the wet ingredients including oil, lemon juice, and yogurt and stir well to combine. Press the air out of the bag and seal tightly. Press the marinade around the chicken drumsticks to coat. Place bag in the refrigerator and marinate for at least 1 hour, up to overnight.
- Cook the chicken. You can cook the chicken in the oven, on the stovetop, or on the grill.
- To cook in the oven: Preheat the oven to 400F. Arrange the marinated chicken drumsticks on a large half sheet baking pan and bake for 40-45 minutes until the skin is crispy and the internal temperature for the chicken reaches 165 F. Turn over once halfway through baking. Turn the broiler on high and and cook until nicely charred, about 5 more minutes.
- To pan fry: Heat 1 tablespoon cooking oil in a large cast-iron skillet or grill pan over medium-high heat for 2 minutes until the hot oil sizzles and shimmers. Sear the drumsticks in batches for 6-8 minutes on each side until cooked through and nicely charred. The internal temperature for the chicken should reach 165 F.
- To grill: Preheat the grill to high heat for at least 5 minutes. Place the chicken drumsticks on the grill and cook over medium heat for 3-4 minutes on each side until nicely charred and the internal temperature for the chicken reaches 165 F. Flip occasionally to avoid overcooking.
- Serve. Let the drumsticks rest for 5 minutes. Drizzle with extra lemon juice and garnish with cilantro.
- How to store: Allow the chicken drumsticks to cool to room temperature, then transfer to a shallow airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- How to reheat: Reheat uncovered in a 325 F preheated oven for about 20 minutes until warmed through. You can brush or spray them with oil for extra crispy skin. You can also reheat them in the microwave (in increments of 20 seconds until heated all the way through), but they retain their taste and texture better when reheated in the oven.
- How to freeze: Allow the cooked chicken drumsticks to cool to room temperature, then transfer them to an airtight container or freezer bag. Eliminate as much air as possible to avoid freezer burn, and store in the freezer for up to 3 months.
More Chicken Recipes
- 60 Best Chicken Recipes
- Baked Curried Chicken Drumsticks
- Indian Butter Chicken
- Tandoori Chicken Sheet Pan Dinner
- Sheet Pan Curry Chicken and Vegetables
- Baked Queso Chicken
- Chicken Marsala
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