Baked or Grilled Tandoori Chicken Legs

5 from 2 votes
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Grilled Tandoori Chicken Legs bring exotic flavors to your backyard barbecue. A simple marinade made with coconut milk and a blend of Indian spices is an easy way to infuse these tastes and aromas. Take a flavor trip around the world without even leaving your town by making these dairy-free, gluten-free, and paleo recipe for chicken drumsticks in the oven or on the grill.

Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Gallo Family Vineyards via Sunday Supper, LLC. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author, and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Gallo Family Vineyards.

Baked or Grilled Tandoori Chicken Legs sprinkled with cilantro and on a serving plate

Of course, since it is National Picnic Month, it would probably be best for all of those around me if I go into hiding. You see, my picnic track record is not all that stellar. Put me in the backyard for a barbecue or even in the parking lot outside a concert for some tailgating after picking up some sub sandwiches on the way, and I’m usually good to go. But packing picnic baskets and coolers and heading out to a grassy knoll has not often fared well for me.

One year we were heading to a local hot air balloon festival in New Jersey. Inevitably, the weekend of the balloon festival is the hottest weekend of the year – temperatures approaching 100°F and humidity at its max. You’d think that knowing this, I would have planned the menu accordingly, but I made sloppy sandwiches. And, you know, who doesn’t want ginormous hot, melty, chicken and cheese-filled sandwiches when they are going to be walking around in a sauna all day?! Bleh.

On our honeymoon, we decided to do a little sea kayaking trip one day in what is supposed to be one of the nicest places in the world to kayak. Along with the kayak rental, they packed sandwiches and chips and such so that when you reached this beautiful beach, you could enjoy a nice picnic and refuel before heading back.

Of course, we happened to be there on literally the windiest day there pretty much ever was. There were kite-boarders there, and there were never kite-boarders there, and they were flying like five or six feet above the waves. So kayaking was nearly impossible. I was paddling as hard as I could, and at times I was literally going backward. The sea turtles were passing me.

By the time we got to the beach, we had ten minutes to scarf down our sandwiches because we were starving from working so hard, grab a photo just to prove we had made it, and head back. So much for a picnic.

Then when The Bug was two, we planned to go out on The Hubby’s fishing boat and then have a picnic along the shore. So we cruised for a bit, docked, unpacked the lovely (and expensive!) lunch I had picked up from one of those fancy pants grocery stores. It was Mother’s Day, so I didn’t really want to go through too much effort to prepare the food.

We spread out the blanket, took out the food, and The Bug proceeded to throw up all over the blanket. Yup, appetite gone. And by that evening I was feeling queasy, and we all ended up with a stomach virus.

I give up.

Or maybe I don’t. I am determined to be a picnic success. Maybe I just need better food…

Closeup of juicy chicken drumsticks with Indian spices

Tandoori Chicken Drumsticks in the Oven or On the Grill

These Baked or Grilled Tandoori Chicken Legs are a combination of a few different recipes that I’ve used over the years, with one or two changes here or there. While the word “tandoori” often evokes thoughts of spicy Indian cuisine, it really refers to the method of cooking in a tandoor oven. Using the grill or cooking the chicken on a rack in the oven produces a similar result.


About this Baked or Grilled Tandoori Chicken Legs Recipe:

  • This tandoori chicken legs recipe uses coconut milk as the base for the marinade as opposed to the traditional yogurt in order to make a dairy-free version with an extra infusion of flavor.
  • The acid in the yogurt is supposed to help the flavors work their way through the meat. In order to have the acid, the marinade uses the juice of the lime instead of just the zest.
  • Tandoori chicken is typically marinated with a lot of spices, but it isn’t necessarily spicy. It’s just an explosion of the flavors from the warm and smoky spices like cinnamon and cumin and cardamom.
  • Four to six hours in the marinade is plenty, but If you are preparing for a picnic the night before, you can throw the chicken in the marinade then, and toss it on the grill at your picnic site. If you will be cooking it at home, wrap it in plenty of foil to keep it warm, or just enjoy it at room temperature.

Baked or Grilled Tandoori Chicken Drumsticks sprinkled with cilantro

What Can I Serve with Tandoori Chicken Legs?

  • Browned Butter Cauliflower Rice can be made with ghee (clarified butter) for an Indian touch to this low carb side dish that also keeps it paleo.
  • Dairy Free Peach Mango Lassis are the perfect cool and creamy drink to balance the spices.
  • Dal Makhani are Indian Buttery Lentils from The Food Charlatan that you can serve with these chicken drumsticks or offer as a main dish to your vegetarian guests.
  • Quick Fresh Peach Chutney from Boulder Locavore is a great side condiment for this dish.
  • Slow-Cooker Kheer (Indian Rice Pudding) from Magnolia Days is a dessert to round out your Indian-inspired meal.

You can also pair wine with Tandoori Chicken Legs…

Gallo Family Vineyards offers a selection of their wines in mini bottles that are perfect for packing in your picnic basket or cooler. Whether it’s dinner al fresco for two or a big picnic party, the mini bottles make it easy to ensure everyone has their favorite variety. When it’s summertime and I’m in the great outdoors, I love a nice, chilled wine, and two of the Gallo Family wines that are available in the mini bottles – Moscato and White Zinfandel – are a perfect match for these chicken legs. The lightness of the Moscato allows the flavors of the chicken to shine through while still being refreshing. And the crisp White Zinfandel pairs nicely with so many dishes that it’ll complement even a diverse picnic menu.

Baked or Grilled Tandoori Chicken Legs can be paired with wine

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A platter of Tandoori Chicken Drumsticks ready to serve on plates at your barbecue

Baked or Grilled Tandoori Chicken Legs Recipe

After a long soak, the heavily seasoned marinade permeates the meat and ensures moist and tender chicken legs that are bursting with flavors and spices, but definitely not blow-you-away hot. Whether you bake or grill these tandoori chicken drumsticks, your mind will be blown by how fabulous it tastes, though. I’ll be honest, I’m not the world’s biggest fan of Indian food, but I loved it. The Hubby, well, this was a special treat for him because he loves Indian food, but we rarely buy or make it. And even my little guys each ate two or three chicken legs.

If you love these as much as we do, I hope you’ll leave a comment and give it a FIVE STAR rating!

5 from 2 votes

Baked or Grilled Tandoori Chicken Legs

A simple marinade filled with exotic flavors brings mild but flavorful Indian-inspired flair to your picnic with Baked or Grilled Tandoori Chicken Legs.
Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Marinating Time 6 hrs
Total: 30 mins
Servings: 6


  • one 14 oz. can light coconut milk
  • juice and zest of a lime
  • 2 Tablespoons minced cilantro, plus additional for garnish, if desired
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon dried ground ginger
  • 1 Tablespoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1 Tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3-4 pounds chicken legs


  • Combine all of the ingredients except the chicken legs and stir until thoroughly combined.
  • Transfer the marinade and chicken legs to a large plastics storage bag or a bowl and mix around until the chicken is thoroughly coated. Place in the refrigerator for at least 6-8 hours or overnight.
  • If you are baking, preheat the oven to 450°F, and place a cooling rack on top of a cooking sheet. Remove the chicken from the marinade, dry with paper towels, and place on the rack. Bake for 30 minutes, flip the legs, then bake for and additional 10-15 minutes, or until the juices run clear and the meat reaches a temperature of 165°F.
  • If you are grilling, preheat your grill, remove the chicken from the marinade, dry with paper towels, and place on the grill. Grill over indirect medium heat for 40-50 minutes, or until the juices run clear and the meat reaches a temperature of 165°F.
  • Sprinkle with additional cilantro for garnish if desired.
Nutrition Facts
Baked or Grilled Tandoori Chicken Legs
Amount Per Serving
Calories 345 Calories from Fat 225
% Daily Value*
Fat 25g38%
Saturated Fat 10g50%
Cholesterol 120mg40%
Sodium 941mg39%
Potassium 315mg9%
Carbohydrates 5g2%
Fiber 1g4%
Protein 21g42%
Vitamin A 715IU14%
Vitamin C 0.6mg1%
Calcium 32mg3%
Iron 2.1mg12%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.


  1. Yummy – I would love a plate of those. They look amazing! Do you recommend searing over high heat for the last minute or will it just burn the coconut based marinade?

  2. Ooh love your Tandoori chicken and all flavorful spices you’ve added !I bet the coconut milk adds its own creamy richness and flavor !So yum!

  3. LOL, I hope there a lots of better picnic days in your future!!! Boy, does your chicken look irresistible!!! I may not be able to wait till my next picnic to try it 🙂

  4. Awww, maybe these tasty chicken legs are the “charm” you need for better picnic situations. They’re definitely worth it in humidity, wind, a way to combat annoying friends…They look delish! I love the idea of coconut milk too.

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