Chicken tikka, a well-liked Indian appetizer, comprises of succulent and juicy chicken chunks that are marinated and grilled flawlessly. The preparation of this dish is uncomplicated as the chicken is seasoned with yogurt and spices, threaded onto skewers, and then grilled to perfection.
The word "tikka" translates to "chunk" or "piece," and it was the Mughals who brought this dish to the Indian subcontinent. However, it was the combination of this cooking style with Indian spices and yogurt that gave rise to the contemporary kebabs we adore today, which have become an essential part of Indian cuisine.
Why you will love this recipe?
- Tender and Juicy Meat: This chicken tikka kebab recipe is incredibly delicious, tender, and juicy, and can be easily made in an air fryer. The use of an air fryer makes the cooking process faster and more convenient.
- Flavorful spices: My tried and tested recipe calls for basic Indian spices, which give the chicken its signature flavor.
- Versatile: Chicken tikka can be enjoyed as a standalone appetizer or as a main course with rice or naan bread, making it a versatile dish.
- Crowd-pleaser: This tikka kebab retains its authentic taste and texture, making it a perfect dish to serve at any party or gathering.
Also called murg tikka (or murgh tikka), this flavor-packed chicken dish can also be served as a main meal too when paired with naan bread. It is also great for wraps and sandwiches. I love making chicken tikkas in the air fryer as it gets done very quickly. I am also including oven and outdoor grilling instructions in this post. Check out this recipe to make the vegetarian alternative, paneer tikka which is made using Indian cottage cheese.
It is usually served with green chutney but it pairs well with tomato sauce (ketchup) or any dip of your choice. Tikka chicken can be served with a side of laccha pyaz, kachumber salad, or cucumber raita. Make the BEST chicken tikka at home with this easy and fail-proof recipe for your next party and wow your guests. Definitely, a crowd-pleaser.
Got leftover chicken tikka? Try this recipe to make the BEST chicken tikka naanwich.
Related: Air fryer onion pakora.
Chicken: Boneless skinless chicken thighs work best to make tikka. See the tips section below if you want to use chicken breast.
Veggies: We need red onions and bell peppers (I have used a mix of red and green).
Spices: I use red chili powder, garam masala, and ground coriander. I also used kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves) in this recipe.
Yogurt: Thick plain yogurt is used for marination. The yogurt in the marination helps tenderize the check and keeps the kebab soft and juicy. You can also use Greek yogurt.
Besan: (chickpea flour or gram flour) This is used to add thickness and body to the marinade. Roast the besan on low heat for 4-5 minutes to remove the raw smell before using it.
Other ingredients: Ginger garlic paste and olive oil.
Step 1: Dry roast the chickpea flour on low heat for 3-4 minutes. Transfer it to a large bowl and combine yogurt, olive oil, ginger-garlic paste, chili powder, ground coriander, garam masala, kasoori methi, and salt with it.
Step 2: Mix well to make the tikka marinade.
Step 3: Add the boneless chicken thighs and mix well making sure they are well coated. Cover using a plastic wrap and let it marinate for 30 minutes at room temperature.
Step 4: Once the chicken is marinated, add onion and bell peppers to the marinated chicken pieces.
Step 5: Mix well making sure the veggies are well coated in the marination. Let it marinate for 30 minutes.
Step 6: Take bamboo skewers (wooden skewers) and alternatingly thread bell pepper, chicken, and onion pieces. Place the skewers on the air fryer basket.
Step 7: Preheat the air fryer to 400 F (205 C) for 2 minutes. Place the air fryer basket.
Step 8: Air fry for 10-15 minutes. Keep an eye after 10 minutes.
Pat dry the chicken using a paper towel before marinating them. This will help remove any excess water content on the chicken.
Roasted besan (chickpea flour) is an important ingredient in making tikkas and cannot be skipped. It adds thickness to the marinade and helps coat the marinade to the meat. It also imparts a nice nutty flavor to the dish.
Chicken thigh works best to make tikka. It needs less marination time and the meat will be juicy without drying out. However, if you are planning to use chicken breast, increase the marination time to at least 2 hours. Marinating for longer will help the chicken breast stay tender.
Traditionally, mustard oil is used in this dish, however, I use olive oil as I find mustard oil a bit overpowering. Olive oil adds pungency and aroma to the dish without overpowering it. You may also replace it with ghee, vegetable oil, or any cooking oil of your choice.
Any leftovers can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days in the refrigerator. Tikka also freezes well and can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Add chicken tikka to rich and creamy tikka masala curry sauce to make chicken tikka masala. Check out this recipe to make the vegetarian version, paneer tikka masala.
Never run out of ideas on what to serve with naan with this detailed guide.
Alternate cooking methods
Outdoor grilling: It is very easy to make tikkas on an outdoor grill. Follow this recipe until preparing the skewers, after that grill them on high heat in the barbecue (or charcoal grill) for around 5 minutes. If you are using wooden skewers, soak them in water for 10 minutes beforehand to prevent them from burning (alternatively, use metal skewers).
Oven instructions: You can also cook chicken tikka in an oven. Preheat the oven to 400 F (205 C). Place the prepared skewers on a baking tray, making sure the chicken is suspended and does not come in contact with the cooking juices. Cook for 18-20 minutes. Transfer it to a wire rack and let it cool slightly before serving.
Using a grill pan: Heat a grill pan or frying pan and lightly brush some oil. Place the skewers carefully and let them cook on medium heat. Flip and cook on both sides until the chicken is cooked and begins to turn golden brown. This may take 10-15 minutes depending on the size of the meat. Increase the heat and let it char for 1-2 minutes for the authentic taste.
Serve hot. If you are cooking for a crowd, you can prepare the chicken tikka kebabs earlier in the day and keep them wrapped in aluminum foil which will prevent them from drying out. For reheating, place the kebabs in the air fryer or oven and reheat at 300 F (150 C) for 5-6 minutes.
Sprinkle chaat masala and lemon juice on the chicken pieces before serving. Add masala laccha pyaz (spiced onion salad) as a side dish.
Yogurt mint chutney goes very well with chicken tikka kabob. It is very easy to whip it up - just blend some mint leaves, coriander leaves, green chili, salt, fresh ginger, and garlic. Add this to whisked yogurt and mix well. See this green chutney recipe for measurements.
Pair tikka kebabs with fresh naan and raita for a delicious main meal. Or serve it on a bed of this delicious saffron rice. You can also use them to make wraps or sandwiches.
Related: Chicken korma.
Tikka refers to small pieces of meat, paneer, or vegetables that are marinated in spices and yogurt and grilled. Tikka masala is a curry in which grilled tikka is cooked and is made using onion, tomatoes, and spices.
While they are both made in a tandoor traditionally, the spices used and the cut of meat in tandoori and tikka preparation is different. Tikka is made using boneless, skinless chicken thigh (or chicken breast) whereas tandoori can be made using chicken legs, half chicken, or whole chicken.
No. Butter chicken has a rich, creamy, and mild curry sauce made using heavy cream (or coconut milk for a dairy-free version). Butter chicken curry does not use onions and the curry base is made using tomato puree or tomato paste.
Take wooden skewers and alternatingly thread bell pepper, chicken, and onion pieces. Repeat until you reach the end of the skewer. Always start and end with a vegetable and place the meat in the center.
If you liked this recipe, please don't forget to give a 5-star rating and leave a comment below.
The BEST Chicken Tikka
- 2 lb chicken thigh cut into 1½-2 inch pieces
- 1 large onion diced
- 1 cup bell peppers diced
For the marinade:
- ¾ cup plain yogurt
- 2 tablespoon chickpea flour (see notes)
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
- 1 teaspoon Kashmiri chili powder
- 2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 2 teaspoon garam masala
- 1 tablespoon kasoori methi optional
- 1 teaspoon salt adjust as per taste
Marinate the chicken:
- Cut the chicken into 1½-2 inch pieces and place them in a bowl.
- Dry roast the chickpea flour on low heat for 3-4 minutes. Let it cool down.
- Transfer the roasted chickpea flour to another bowl and add yogurt, olive oil, ginger garlic paste, chili powder, ground coriander, garam masala, kasoori methi, and salt. Mix well to make the marinade.
- Add the boneless chicken pieces and mix well making sure they are well coated.
- Cover and let it marinate for 30 minutes at room temperature. You can also marinate it in the refrigerator overnight.
- Once the chicken is marinated, add onion and bell peppers to it. Mix well making sure all the veggies are well coated.
Thread into skewers:
- Take wooden skewers and alternatingly thread bell pepper, chicken, and onion pieces.
- Repeat until you reach the end of the skewer. Always start and end with a vegetable and place the meat in the center.
Air fryer instructions:
- Preheat the air fryer to 400 F (205 C) for 2 minutes. Place the skewers in the air fryer basket.
- Air fry for 10-15 minutes until the tikka is golden brown. Keep an eye after 10 minutes.
- Serve with mint chutney or dip of your choice.
- Preheat the oven to 400 F (205 C). Place the prepared skewers on a baking tray, making sure the chicken is suspended and does not come in contact with the cooking juices.
- Cook for 18-20 minutes. Transfer it to a wire rack and let it cool slightly before serving.
- Serve with mint chutney or dip of your choice.
These kebabs are a perfect party appetizer! I love making them in my air fryer!
This was the first time I tried making chicken tikka in the air fryer. What a time saver! Delicious and easy recipe.
These kabobs are amazing! We had so much fun making them and then devoured them. The flavors and spices were on point!
This came out so tender and flavorful! We made it in the air fryer and served it with mint chutney and it was enjoyed by all!
Great recipe, thanks for sharing! It is so easy to make the marinade in the morning and then it is almost no effort to get dinner on the table.
Sherry L Ronning says
I love your tip about making sure to use chickpea flour. Your directions were super easy to follow and my chicken tikka skewers tasted amazing!
Had this for dinner last night with some naan. So much flavor in every bite, kids loved it!