Chicken tikka is boneless tandoori chicken on a stick. The pieces are smaller. That’s good. More surface equals more seasoning. These are little tandoori flavour bombs.

Chicken tikka is perfect party food

Who doesn’t love chicken on a stick. This is Indian finger food. Serve it up with a sauce or two. Smiles all around. 

Or use it in a curry or two. Chicken tikka masala is probably the most famous curry after butter chicken. Everybody loves it. Start with crazy flavourful chicken makes for amazing curry. Serve that and expect adulation. Impress everyone every time.

Making chicken tikka is easy. Cut up the chicken. Coat liberally with tandoori marinade. Refrigerate for a few hours. Soak your skewers. Assemble. Wear gloves to skewer if you used food colouring. Grill. Eat. Or use them to make chicken tikka masala.


Tandoori marinade in a white bowl.


Grilling technique is key

As always I think charcoal makes a difference. If you can cook these over charcoal they will taste better. But they will be pretty darn good over gas as well. Don’t let it stop you.

The big thing is the seasoning. Smoke just puts it right over the top. And charcoal is just the right kind of smoke. Delicate. Delicious.

Grilling technique is key. You are working with small pieces of chicken – it’s easy to overcook them. You need to be careful.

For charcoal, build a two stage fire. Hot on one side. Cool on the other. For gas, turn one burner on high and leave the other one on low.

Start with low or indirect heat. Finish over high direct heat. Get them mostly cooked on low then blast them with heat. You want a bit of char. You don’t want dry chicken. Watch it closely.


Tandoori marinade on chicken tikka skewers.


All sorts of ways to serve chicken tikka

Chicken tikka are little tandoori flavour bombs. Marinate the chicken, skewer and grill and you have a great starter to any Indian meals.

Serve chicken tikka over a small green salad. You can do a tikka sizzle –  serve them on a bed of fried onions. Serve them straight up. Tamarind dip, raita or a green chili chutney mixed with yoghurt all pair well.

The key is this dish is the tandoori marinade. Bad marinade equals bad results. The tandoori marinade here has a lot of ingredients. It may sound a bit daunting but it really works. 

Chicken tikka is great on it’s own. It’s delicious in salad. In a naan bread sandwich. And it’s just the thing for tikka masala. Always a hit. Guaranteed.


Chicken tikka are little tandoori flavour bombs. Marinate the chicken, skewer and grill and you have a great starter to any Indian meals.
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4.1 from 11 votes

chicken tikka

Chicken tikka makes a great appetizer for an Indian meal. Serve it when you want an explosion of tandoori flavour in small bites. Make sure you soak your skewers before you assemble.
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Indian
Keyword chicken tikka, tandoori chicken, tandoori marinade
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 12
Calories 174kcal


chicken tikka

  • 12 boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • tandoori marinade recipe below
  • 1/2 lemon - juiced

Tandoori marinade

  • 1 Tbsp cumin powder
  • 1 Tbsp coriander powder
  • 2 tsp madras curry powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp mint sauce (not mint jelly)
  • 2 tsp kashmiri chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp coriander stems/leaves chopped
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp kasoor methi - dried fenugreek leaves
  • 1 Tbsp Patak's tandoori marinade
  • 1 Tbsp garlic ginger paste
  • 3 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup water - you may need a little more. You are after a runny paste.


  • Combine all the ingredients for the tandoori marinade in a stain proof bowl.
  • Cut each thigh into 4 pieces. Cut each breast, if using, into 8 pieces. Combine tandoori marinade with chicken. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 12 hours.
  • Soak skewers in water for 30 minutes.
  • Add the lemon juice to the chicken. Mix to combine. Let stand no more than one hour.
  • Light your grill. Build a two zone fire if using charcoal. Turn one burner to high and another to low if using gas.
  • Remove chicken from marinade. Use gloves if you have them. Tandoori marinade stains something fierce.
  • Skewer the chicken.
  • Grill over indirect heat until almost done - around 10-15 minutes. You want an internal temperature of about 150F for breasts or 160F for thighs at this point. You will be cooking them a bit more over direct heat. Your final target is 165F for breasts and 175F for thighs.
  • Move chicken skewers over direct (high) heat and grill an additional 2-4 minutes, turning every minute.. You want a bit of char but you don't want it to burn or dry out.


If you prefer chicken breasts substitute 6 chicken breasts for the thighs. White meat is more delicate so be extra vigilant when grilling. It dries out very easily.
You can add a bit of food colouring if you really want the restaurant look (like in these pictures). Just a pinch though. Don't go crazy. Orange is actually better than red for this. Or maybe a mix of orange and red. 


Serving: 6servings | Calories: 174kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 107mg | Sodium: 503mg | Potassium: 309mg | Vitamin A: 375IU | Calcium: 10mg | Iron: 1.6mg


16 thoughts on “chicken tikka

    • I don’t know actually. Never tried. Might be a bit to heavy. I think a yoghurt based dip would go best but these are flavourful enough you don’t even need dip if you don’t want to bother…

  1. I have the chicken marinating in the kitchen right now. I’m very much looking forward to it, I even have a few chunks of lamb marinating in a separate bowl smothered in your tandoori paste recipe.

    I will report back and rate soon.

  2. Hi Romain,

    Thanks for all the recipes. I’m getting your restaurant style technique. It’s a revelation. My wife thought the lamb saag I made her this week was better than she had ever had in an Indian restaurant.

    Anyway, I am making some tandoori drumsticks on the bbq tomorrow, so I thought I’d also do some tikka sticks to use in a curry later in the week.

    Apart from tikka masala, which of your chicken curries benefit the most from using chicken tikka in rather than simmered chicken?

    Many thanks, Chris (north London)

    • Nice to hear you’re getting into it. It’s lots of fun and results are worth it I think!

      The butter chicken recipe uses tandoori chicken and it has a bit more flavour and bite than the average butter chicken.

    • Because I don’t like the way yoghurt dulls the flavour. I learned that trick at a kebab house in Bangalore and much prefer it…

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