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Tandoori Chicken Legs

Scott Phillips

Servings: 6

These legs get a triple blast of flavor: first from a soak in lemon juice and salt, then from a pungent marinade of spices and yogurt (which also tenderizes the meat), and finally from a bit of butter brushed on at the end of cooking. Removing the skin from your chicken legs before grilling may seem like a waste of potentially crisp deliciousness, but it helps the marinade penetrate the meat more easily, as does making deep slashes in the meat before marinating.


For the chicken:

  • 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • 6 whole chicken legs (2 to 3 lb.)
  • Vegetable oil for the grill

For the marinade:

  • 1 Tbs. finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • 1/3 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
  • 3 Tbs. vegetable oil
  • 1-1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. sweet paprika
  • 3/4 tsp. hot dry mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

For finishing:

  • 2 oz. (4 Tbs.) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium lime, cut into wedges

Nutritional Information

  • Calories (kcal) : 390
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 250
  • Fat (g): 28
  • Saturated Fat (g): 10
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 6
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 10
  • Cholesterol (mg): 125
  • Sodium (mg): 400
  • Carbohydrates (g): 3
  • Fiber (g): 1
  • Protein (g): 30


Prepare the chicken:

  • Combine the lemon juice and 1 tsp. salt in a large zip-top plastic bag and massage the bag until the salt crystals dissolve.
  • Pull the skin off the chicken legs. Using a sharp knife, make 2 or 3 deep slashes in each leg, almost to the bone. Toss the chicken legs in the lemon juice, seal the bag, and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Marinate the chicken:

  • Mash the ginger, garlic, and 1 tsp. salt to a paste with the side of a large knife and transfer the paste to a small mixing bowl. Whisk in the remaining marinade ingredients. Add the marinade to the chicken legs and massage the bag to thoroughly coat the legs. Seal the bag and refrigerate the chicken for at least 4 hours but preferably 12 to 24 hours.

Grill the chicken:

  • Prepare a gas or charcoal grill fire for indirect grilling over medium-high heat (400°F).
  • If using a charcoal grill, bank the coals to one side. Put a 9×13-inch foil drip pan on the grate next to the coals and fill it halfway with water. Replace the grill grate.
  • If using a gas grill, put a 9×13-inch foil drip pan on the inactive burners and fill it halfway with water. Replace the grill grate.
  • Clean the grate with a wire brush and, using tongs, wipe the grate with a paper towel or cloth dipped in oil.
  • Arrange the legs over the drip pan and away from the heat. Grill, flipping once, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat reads 170°F, 25 to 30 minutes.
  • Transfer the chicken to a platter and brush each leg with the melted butter. Garnish with the cilantro leaves, onion slices, and lime wedges and serve.

Serve with Grilled Naan Filled with Herbs and Cheese or Basmati Rice Salad with Mango and Cucumber.



Rate or Review

Reviews (9 reviews)

  • fortkcook | 07/04/2014

    Easy and delicious. I already had boneless skinless thighs on hand, so used them with excellent results. Grilled off the fire for first 20 minutes (10 per side), then another 8 mins or so direct heat to get a nice char.

  • CoffeeBreak | 01/05/2014

    Absolutely delicious !

  • Pittmtl | 08/06/2013

    Chicken was crispy and moist, delicious. Maybe could have been spicier?

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