tandoori chicken bites

$7.48 recipe / $1.50 serving

A week or so ago, I got a wonderful email from a fellow New Orleanian (is that a word?) who said she had seen some yummy looking tandoori chicken nuggets at Whole Foods and she wondered if I could try my hand at making some. Well, I ran right out to that very same Whole Foods, bought the chicken nuggets to taste them, and set to work making my own.

I think I achieved a pretty close replica! Neither nuggets (store bought or my own) are breaded, but if you prefer a breaded nugget, the marinade would make an excellent base to adhere some bread crumbs too. I thought about it, but in the end didn’t feel like breading would mix well with the tandoori flavor.

The tandoori spice mix that I used for this recipe was adapted from this recipe. Since most of the marinade is wiped off prior to baking, it wasn’t at all spicy. I wanted mine spicy, so next time I think I’ll sprinkle on a little bit more cayenne just before baking.

I baked the nuggets because that’s just what you do with nuggets, but realized later that it would have been much faster and easier to just toss them onto my George Foreman grill. They’d be a little bit flatter on the grill, but SO much less time and effort.

Oh, and in anticipation of these chicken bites being spicy (which they weren’t), I made a cooling raita dipping sauce to go along side. That will be posted later today!

Tandoori Chicken Bites

Tandoori Chicken Bites

4.7 from 6 reviews
tandoori chicken bites
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Total Cost: $7.48
Cost Per Serving: $1.50
Serves: 5
  • 3 large chicken breasts $6.37
  • ½ cup plain yogurt $0.27
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice $0.05
  • 2 cloves garlic $0.16
  • 1 inch fresh ginger $0.18
  • ½ tsp salt $0.02
  • ½ tsp coriander $0.03
  • ½ tsp cumin $0.03
  • ½ tsp turmeric $0.03
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper $0.03
  • ½ Tbsp garam masala $0.08
  • 1½ Tbsp paprika, divided $0.23
  1. Cut the chicken breasts into small chunks. I cut each breast into 3-4 strips lengthwise, and then each strip into 4-5 chunks to yield approximately 40 pieces. Place the chicken pieces in a large zip top bag.
  2. Add to the rest of the ingredients to the bag (yogurt, minced garlic, grated ginger, lemon juice, salt, coriander, cumin, turmeric, cayenne, garam masala, and ½ Tbsp of the paprika). Close the bag tightly and smoosh it around to mix the ingredients. Place the bag in the refrigerator for 2 to 24 hours to marinate.
  3. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with foil and spray with non-stick spray. Wipe the marinade from the chicken pieces and place them in a bowl. Sprinkle the last tablespoon of paprika and a pinch more of salt over the chicken pieces (add more cayenne if hot chicken pieces are desired). Toss to coat. The extra paprika here just helps the red color, you can skip it if desired. A little extra salt definitely helps, though.
  4. Place the chicken pieces on the prepared baking sheet, spaced out so they do not touch. Bake for 15 minutes in the fully preheated oven. Take the sheet out, turn each piece of chicken over, and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Serve warm.
If you are sensitive to spicy foods, you can leave out the cayenne or start with ¼ tsp.

Tandoori Chicken Bites

Step By Step Photos

tandoori chicken nuggetsThese are the store bought chicken nuggets. Pretty delish, but also pretty pricy. $5.99 for 2.5 servings of about 6 pieces each. Ouch.

whole chickenIt was slim pickins’ for chicken at the store this time around, so I saved some money by purchasing skin on, bone attached chicken breasts. Sure, part of the reason that it’s less expensive is because of the bone and skin, but with skinless/boneless chicken you are also paying a hefty fee for convenience. The skinless boneless breasts were *twice* the price per pound. Removing the skin is easy, it practically peels right off. The rib bones can be removed by just sliding a knife between the breast and bone. It may take a minute to figure it out if you’ve never done it, but it’s not nearly as confusing as say, deboning a pork shoulder.

chunks of chickenCut the chicken into small chunks. I got about 40 chunks out of mine. I first cut each breast into 3-4 strips lengthwise (depending on how big the breast was) and then cut each strip into 4-5 chunks.

seasoningAdd the chicken chunks to a zip top bag and then add the yogurt, lemon juice, coriander, cumin, turmeric, cayenne, garam masala, salt, and 1/2 Tbsp of the paprika (I use the other tablespoon of paprika later).

garlic gingerMince two cloves of garlic and add it to the bag. Peel and grate about one inch of fresh ginger into the bag.

mix marinadeClose up the bag, removing as much air as possible. Smoosh the bag all around to mix up the ingredients. Place the bag in the refrigerator and allow it to marinate for 2 hours to over night.

bake chicken bitesWhen you’re ready to make the chicken bites, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with foil and spray it with non-stick spray. Take each piece of chicken out of the marinade and wipe off the excess (I forgot to get a picture of this part…). Place them in a bowl and sprinkle on the last tablespoon of paprika and a pinch more of salt (and cayenne if you want it spicy). Place the chicken pieces on the baking sheet so that they are not touching. Bake for 15 minutes and then take them out and flip them over. This picture is after the first 15 minutes of baking.

baked chicken bitesPlace the chicken back in the oven and bake for another 15 minutes. The liquid that comes off of the chicken as it bakes may look burned on the baking sheet, but the chicken itself will not be.

Tandoori Chicken BitesI served mine with some fresh naan, a yogurt dipping sauce (raita), and I plan to make some creamed spinach as well.

tandoori chicken bite with raitaStay tuned for the raita dipping sauce recipe later today!!


  1. Veronika says:

    So good! I marinated these for close to 24 hours. Some of my pieces were a bit small since I had small chicken breasts, but I ended up with plenty of liquid in the tray and they were not too dry. I could not stop eating these! Will definitely make again.

  2. celi says:

    These were not as tasty as I expected but I might have made my pieces a bit too small because I only baked them for 15 mins and they were still a bit dry. I will need to experiment a little more to get it right I think but overall a great addition to an Indian meal

  3. Chelsea says:

    Never thought I would be able to replicate food from an Indian restaurant – this is major victory (and a much cheaper alternative). So good, although I did burn a bunch of the marinade onto the bottom of my oven (my own fault, I didn’t want to wipe off the delicious marinade and used a sheet pan without a lip). Anyway, will definitely be making this all the time!

  4. Art Vandelay says:

    Hey Beth, love your website. chilly beef mac n cheese is my fav. I tried this one and my chicken came out dry as hell (I marinated in fridge for 2 hours). I am still a noob at cooking and was wondering if you had any tips for juicier chicken. Thanks

    • It sounds like maybe it was just over cooked? Oven temperatures vary some and the size of your bites may have been slightly different than mine, so the 30 minutes that I baked may have been too long for you. Cooking longer at a lower temperature can help, too. You could try 350 for 30 minutes, check to see if they’re done, and add more time if needed.

  5. I made these for dinner tonight and they are good, good, GOOD! I doubled the batch and did not wipe off the marinade, so they did turn out a bit juicy. I just poured off the extra liquid and cooked them a little longer. I did find the level of spicy-ness was sufficient with 3 small taps of cayenne since I kept all the spice mix on and I am cooking for the kids too. I used a curry mix instead of the turmeric and garam masala, cause that is what I had on hand and it still worked nicely. I added an extra shake of salt and paprika on top half way through cooking time and it was perfect. Overall, I found this recipe to be low on time/fuss and big on yum and favor. The Hubbs and I will have ours over a salad instead of the rice. Thanks for posting it! It’s going on my go-to chicken recipe list.

  6. Rachelle says:

    These are like crack. My advice is to make two batches: you can eat the first batch fresh out of the oven while standing in the kitchen, and you can serve the second batch to the rest of your dinner guests after you stuff yourself silly.

  7. Alicia says:

    Love it! It was excellent. I served this with a Persian Cucumber dip to balance the heat. Grate a peeled cucumber, mix with dill, mint and Greek yogurt. Refrigerate for an hour, then serve. Easy and delicious! Thank you for this and all your recipies. I cook at least 2 of your recipies per week!

  8. Jennifer says:

    Made this dish as well and received good reviews from the family. No leftovers, but it went well with salad, tomato’s from the garden and the raita and naan. I do agree with some of the feedback from above, the cooking time is linked to the size of your morsels. If they are small, cut the time back as mine were done pretty quick.

  9. Angela says:

    Although I think the baking time was too long (I did 15 minutes on each side as instructed, and they came out almost too dry), these were absolutely scrumptious! I will make them again and again and again and again…

  10. Made these last night and they were delicious! Served it with some aloo palak and spinach bolani.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I absolutely love these! I made them twice already and plan to make again this week as I have surplus chicken.I keep in fridge or freezer already cooked and will use them for a low fat protein with a salad, as a snack. These taste just like the tandoori chicken at our Indian restaurant in town. You hit the spice combo perfectly!As a main course I make Basmatti rice with it.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Wow!!! It looks really delicious.
    I will definitely try it today!!


  13. I made these last night. Totally delicious! Just a caution though. When I pulled them out to flip them at the 15 minute mark, they were nearly done. I left them in for another 5, and that was probably too much. Depending on your oven and the size of your yummy morsels, they may be done much more quickly. I served them with your Cucumber Raita (also yum) for dipping, a side of your Tabouleh (a standard in our house now) and steamed asparagus. Sooooo good! Thanks Beth!

  14. Love this recipe! You make it look so simple to prepare Indian food at home. This recipe is on my must-try list! Also, I liked this recipe so much that I featured it on my blog today: http://thecookssister.wordpress.com/2012/06/15/five-favourites-for-friday-18

  15. Michelle says:

    I was asked to make pulled chicken sliders for a baby shower, so I made up this recipe last night to see how it would taste. I altered it a bit by boiling my chicken first and then shredding it while it was hot and putting it in the marinade. I let it sit until I was ready to serve to my guinea pigs and I heated the chicken and marinade on the stove. I topped each slider with the cucumber raita and romaine lettuce for a crunch. It was absolutely delicious. So, I’m definitely making this in slider form for the shower.

  16. Thank you! I bagged this up last night so just had to cook it when I got home tonight. My eight year old made the naan bread dough while I made the raita and the whole meal was a great success! Will DEFINITELY add this to our repertoire!

  17. E.P. says:

    This was absolutely fabulous! I tried yesterday and it tasted just like in Indian restaurants.Had enough left over for two lunches. I will defintely make this again. I served it with basmatti rice.

  18. Maybe I will try these and make my first attempt at Indian food… my husband is Indian, and I have never made Indian food… let’s see if I can impress him and his family!!!

  19. Erica – I was thinking about that too. I think I would try to freeze it in the marinade so that it can marinate as it thaws in the fride (probably over night). But, I haven’t actually tried it yet.

  20. Do you think you could double the batch and freeze some? And if so, would you freeze before or after cooking? Love, love your blog! Thanks!

  21. Oh wow yum. What a great idea. You just can’t get better than Indian spices. Thanks for sharing, I will definitely be making this soon!

  22. Sarah says:

    Can’t wait to try this. I plan on using the leftover bones to make chicken stock. Thanks!

  23. Thanks, I’m always looking for different ways to cook chicken. I’m going to also adapt this to the grill–perhaps even using skewers. And, I’m looking forward to the recipe for the “raita” sauce.

  24. Chris says:

    These look amazing! I LOVE indian food but I always buy from a restaurant because it seems like such intimidating food. I can’t wait to try these to satisfy my next tandoori craving!

  25. these sound so flavorful! i love homemade nuggets but hate taking the time to bread them, so these are a good option!

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