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Instant Pot Tandoori Chicken

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Instant Pot Tandoori Chicken, almost authentic…

Tender, juicy, fragrant, light spiced Tandoori Chicken, made in the Instant Pot for a delicious weeknight dinner that you can prepare ahead.

Authentic Tandoori chicken requires a Tandoor (clay) oven. It’s the same oven that traditional Naan and Paratha’s are cooked in. Basically a clay or metal fire pit, cooks at a super high heat, keeping meat moist and bread crisp while adding a gentle smokiness to whatever you are cooking. It’s really quite delicious and something we often order when eating out. Happily it’s not hard to make, especially with this Instant Pot version.

Tandoori Chicken, serve with Naan, Basmati Rice and Raita

What is Tandoori Chicken?

Tandoori chicken marinated in a combination of yogurt and traditional Indian spices.

  • Garam Masala
  • Ginger
  • Garlic
  • Cumin
  • Tumeric
  • Lemon juice

Chicken thighs are marinated, and then traditionally cooked in the Tandoor. In this homemade version, we marinate the chicken for at least 6 hours, then cook in the Instant Pot for ease and tenderness. Finishing in the oven and then finish in the oven for a crisper, slightly smoky flavor.

Why Red Food Coloring?

You’re going to notice that the recipe calls for red food coloring. No, it’s not a typo, and yes it may seem odd, but it’s also totally optional. It’s used purely to get that traditional deep orange/red color. If want to achieve the bright red color, but don’t want to use food coloring, substituting Annatto powder or paste is a great natural alternative. It’s not always easy to find, check in the International aisle of your grocery store or buy it online.

Make Ahead meal

I love make ahead meals of all kinds and often find ways to adapt traditional recipes to be prepaheadable. This recipe doesn’t need adapting, it’s perfect for meal prepping. I usually spend a few hours one day a week prepping a few meals for the week that can then easily be finished as needed for weeknight dinners. I also like to plan leftovers so we have easy lunches and snacks.

Unlike many traditional marinades that use lemon or vinegar only to tenderize, Tandoori chicken uses yogurt and only a small amount of lemon juice. I especially like this as the more traditional marinades can change the texture of your meat, and not always in a good way. This isn’t great for meal prepping and I LOVE prepaheadable recipes.

This recipe needs at least 6 hours, but longer is better. Over night or up to 2 says will be great. Meal Prep WIN!!

If you’re looking for more recipes that work well for Meal Prepping, check out some of my weekly meal plans here!

Instant Pot Tandoori Chicken

Juicy Tandoori marinated chicken thighs, cooked until tender in the Instant Pot and finished under the broiler.
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Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Marinating Time 6 hours
Course Dinner
Cuisine Indian
Servings 4 people


  • 6 skinless boneless chicken thighs
  • 1 cup plain yogurt whole milk
  • 1/2 fresh lemon juiced
  • 2 tsp. garam masala powder
  • 1 tsp. fresh ginger grated
  • 1 tsp. garlic minced
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1/4-1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 3-4 drops of red food coloring


  • Take a knife and make slits into the tops of each chicken thigh.
  • Do not cut through.
  • In a medium bowl add all the ingredients, except the chicken.
  • Mix until smooth.
  • Using a large sealable bag add the chicken and pour the sauce on top of the chicken
  • Seal the bag and massage the sauce all over the chicken.
  • Marinate for at least 6 – 10 hours. Overnight is best.
  • Place the chicken in the Instant Pot.
  • Cover and lock the lid.
  • Cook on high pressure for 15 minutes.
  • Do a quick release of steam.
  • Preheat broiler.
  • Line a rimmed baking tray with foil and lightly coat with oil.
  • Broil the chicken until it has a grilled look, turning once.


Serve tandoori chicken with rice or naan.
Keyword Instant Pot Beef, Tandoori Chicken
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
By on August 2nd, 2020
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Lara Brooks

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