Tandoori Roast Turkey Recipe (Smoked in your Home Oven)

Tandoori turkey made in the home oven
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What is Tandoori Turkey?

The Indian word tandoori comes from the word tandoor, which is a cylindrical clay oven (image below). Tandoori chicken is what many people around the world are particular familiar with.

The resultant meat (or vegetables/cheese) has a beautiful, smoky flavour from being cooked over coals.

And that’s the flavour and aroma that we are going to replicate, but in a regular home oven.

But let’s clear something up first: tandoori does not equal red. It’s the flavour you want, not the colour. So please don’t be tempted to add red food colouring. It’s not about the colour, it’s about the flavour. See below, on Kashmiri chilli powder.

chicken cooking in a tandoor, a clay oven (OLD, holiday photo)

Tandoori Turkey Recipe

Our tandoori turkey is a very easy recipe to make at home, in your regular oven. If you’ve got a smoker, that’s great, you’re off to a winning start.

However, this post is written for folks who don’t have any such contraption. If you have a smoker, go ahead and use the recipe here, then cook your turkey as you normally would.

As mentioned, it’s a super easy recipe. We marinate the turkey twice before roasting it.

  • The first one is a quick marinade for about 30 minutes that delivers a sharp flavour hit to the meat.
  • The second marinade, of yoghurt and spices, is the one that delivers the deeper flavour that will come through in the cooked meat. This part, we can do on Christmas eve, so the turkey has the whole night to sit in its marinade.
  • We then roast it for however long you need. In this recipe, I’m working with a 5kg bird, so we’re talking 3 – 3.5 hours.
  • After the bird is done cooking, we’ll smoke it in the oven!

How to Smoke Tandoori Turkey

This is really a very easy process, requiring a small piece of charcoal, a small ovenproof ramekin and a little oil. And heatproof tongs.

Many of you would have seen me doing this in the Chicken Mandi post, the Yemeni Smoked Chicken and Rice Dish. Click here for the Chicken Mandi video.

Yemeni Chicken Mandi, smoky roast chicken on a bed of rice
Yemeni Chicken Mandi

This is what we’ll be doing.

  1. When the turkey is done, turn the oven off and burn a piece of charcoal on your gas stove. This is perfectly safe, I do it all the time. Put your extractor on or open the windows. Or both.
  2. Heat the coal for about 5 minutes until it’s red hot, see the video.
  3. Pour about 2 teaspoons of oil in a small ovenproof ramekin, and place this in the oven, see video.
  4. When the charcoal is done, use your tongs to pick it up, and drop it in the ramekin, immediately closing the oven door.
  5. Leave the turkey to smoke in the oven for 15 minutes.

Then, we take the turkey out, cover with foil, then a tea towel, and leave to rest for 45-60 minutes.

Tandoori Turkey Ingredients

Let’s briefly take a look at some of the ingredients for our tandoori turkey recipe.

Kashmiri Chilli Powder

Kashmiri chilli powder is ground, dried, red Kashmiri chillies which are all about colour and flavour, not heat. Click here to read more.

This chilli powder imparts a vibrant red hue to South Asian dishes they are used in, alongside ratan jot and/or mawal, 2 Kashmiri ingredients I’ve talked about at length on their individual posts.

So basically, that means the more Kashmiri chilli powder you use, the redder your tandoori turkey. However, be careful not to use too much, as too much of any chilli powder will make your recipe bitter.

Kashmiri chillies are super mild chillies, measuring a mere 1000 – 2000 on the Scoville Scale. They are grown for the vibrancy they give to recipes. As a comparison, jalapeños hit around 5000 – 8000 units on the Scoville Scale.

If you can’t find real Kashmiri chilli powder, get the mildest one you can find. Or use sweet paprika.

To my American readers: chilli powder outside of the US means just that – ground, dried chilli peppers, nothing else added. What you guys would call cayenne powder.

Kashmiri chilli powder photograph
Kashmiri chilli powder

Mustard Oil

If you can get real, unadulterated mustard oil, is a pungent and flavoursome oil that lends a delicious depth to whatever it’s added to.

Wonder why some tandoori dishes are not quite the same as others? Why some have a more involved, lingering flavour and aftertaste? It’s the mustard oil. We add some to our second marinade to build up the layers of flavour and aroma of our tandoori turkey.

Where to get Mustard Oil?

If you are lucky enough to have access to a South Asian (Indian/Pakistani/Sri Lankan) store, then you should be able to get mustard oil easily. If the label says not edible, I suggest you ask the shop owner about that.

In my experience, most, if not all, are edible, despite the label. The local Indian grocers taught me that, and I’ve never had a problem.

If you can’t find them at a local shop, do what I did in Lockdown, and get it online; Amazon is always handy.

Now you know I’ve said this before: do you want to exercise your culinary muscles? Go online to get those exotic ingredients! This is the mustard oil I get from Amazon (affiliate link).

Garlic and Ginger Pastes

These are standard ingredients in South Asian cooking, and I’m always amazed at how so many recipes just assume that it’s something non Indians are familiar with.

These days, you can easily buy jars of garlic and ginger pastes, but these will usually contain some vegetable oil, and perhaps some citric acid and salt.

But you know, garlic and ginger pastes are so easy to make at home, you only need two ingredients for each. Make a big batch and store in a clean jar in the fridge for up to a week.

In the recipe, I’ve given you amounts for both, the pastes, as well as how much of the whole stuff you will need to get the equivalent amount. Use either.

How much ginger equals ginger paste?

  • 1″ ginger = 1 tsp ginger paste
  • All you need to make ginger paste is the ginger, pounded down, with a little water, if you need it.

How much garlic equals garlic paste?

  • 1 large clove garlic = 1 tsp garlic paste
  • All you need to make garlic paste is the garlic, pounded down, with a little water, if you need it.
tandoori turkey on white Christmas table setting
I serve it with all the trimmings

Turkey Cooking Times

You’ll find different advice on different sites for cooking turkey, and here’s another one! Not really! Cooking turkey times also seem to have changed over the years, with keeping with food safety standards in various countries.

However, when you add up the times given in the different variations, you’ll find that you will get the same total time for a similar sized turkey.

The method I’ve always used is to give 20 minutes to every half a kg. This started off as 20 minutes for a pound (450g) in non metric days. Then, I give it an additional 20 -30 minutes on top of that, if the turkey needs it.

So a 5kg turkey will need 20 minutes x 10 = 200 minutes = 3 hours and 10 minutes. But a turkey is hardly ever an exact weight, it’s usually just under or above a whole kg.

So that’s why, in the recipe card, I’m asking you to check the turkey at 3 hours. So adjust the times accordingly. If you have a 4.5kg turkey (10 lbs), that should be enough time.

If you are stuffing your turkey, weigh the turkey after it’s been stuffed, and use that as going weight. Or weigh the stuffing you’ll be using and add them up.

How to Serve Tandoori Turkey?

If it’s for Christmas, I usually serve tandoori turkey with the usual suspects. If you watch the video, you’ll see that I squeeze some lemon juice all over the turkey before carving, just for that extra flavour.

So your Christmas menu could look like:

  • tandoori turkey
  • roast potatoes
  • gravy, leave this as it is, with dripping from the turkey added on Christmas Day
  • cranberry sauce
  • parsnips
  • carrots
  • brussels sprouts
  • pigs in blanket, if you like – these could be made with a mango chutney spread, in keeping with the theme. I’ll try and get these done soon!
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Or Serve it Differently

You could also serve this tandoori turkey as part of a South Asian or Middle Eastern menu.

  • so think curries, raita, bombay aloo, saag paneer and so on, if you’fre thinking South Asian.
  • for Middle Eastern dishes, once again, there are so many options, click here for ideas.
  • This tandoori turkey would also be great in fajitas and similar rolls.
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There you have it, all you need to know to make tandoori turkey at home, in your regular oven. Perfect for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Shall we get our aprons on?

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And if you make the recipe, share it on any platform and tag me @azlinbloor, and hashtag it #linsfood

Lin xx

Tandoori turkey made in home oven

Tandoori Turkey for Christmas (Smoked in your Regular Home Oven)

Tandoori turkey recipe, made and smoked in your regular home oven. Click here for my easy to follow recipe and video!
5 from 18 votes
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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Anglo-Indian
Keyword: christmas, festive recipes, indian, turkey
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Marinade Time: 12 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 10 (8-10)
Calories: 430kcal
Author: Azlin Bloor


  • Oven
  • Roasting Tray
  • Foil
  • bowls x 2 for marinade
  • small oven proof bowl for smoking
  • small piece of charcoal
  • heatproof tongs


  • 1 turkey weighing 4.5 – 5kg (about 10 pounds, give or take)
  • 1 whole garlic bulb
  • 2 Tbsp enough light olive oil or vegetable oil for frying for smoking the turkey

First Marinade

  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice keep the squeezed lemon halves for stuffing the turkey
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 6 garlic cloves (2 Tbsp garlic paste) pounded or chopped to a paste
  • 15 cm ginger (about 3 x 2.5cm/2" pieces) (2 Tbsp ginger paste) pounded or chopped to a paste
  • 2 Tbsp Kashmiri chilli powder or any EXTRA mild chilli powder

Second Marinade

  • 200 g yoghurt zero fat works too
  • 6 garlic cloves (2 Tbsp garlic paste) pounded or chopped to a paste
  • 15 cm ginger (about 3 x 2.5cm/2" pieces) (2 Tbsp ginger paste) pounded or chopped to a paste
  • 2 Tbsp Kashmiri chilli powder or more, if you want a redder turkey
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • Tbsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 Tbsp mustard oil if using non mustard oil, just use 1 Tbsp


First Marinade

  • Mix all the marinade ingredients, and set aside. So that's the lemon juice, salt, garlic paste, ginger paste and Kashmiri chilli powder. Set aside.
  • Remove any giblets and set aside, to make gravy, if you like. Pat dry the turkey all over, including the cavity.
  • Now rub the marinade all over the turkey, getting into the cavity and under the skin as much as you can. But be very gently when going under the skin, don't tear it. If you have long nails, put on some gloves if you're not doing so already.
  • Leave to marinate for 30 minutes.

Second Marinade

  • Remember the garlic bulb? Rinse it, pat it dry, then slice off the root end of it. Keep the bulb whole to stuff the turkey with. If you're stuffing the turkey, you won't need it.
  • When the 30 minutes are almost up, mix all the ingredients for the second marinade and once again, rub all over the turkey, getting under the skin and in the cavity.
  • Place the garlic bulb and the spent lemon halves in the turkey's cavity.
  • Cover, and leave to marinate for at least 1 hour. If you're doing this for Christmas, cover it and place on the fridge overnight. On Christmas Day, bring it out first thing, at least 1 hour before it goes in the oven, to allow it to come to room temperature.
    Click here to get my Christmas Day Schedule.

Let's Roast our Tandoori Turkey

  • Turn the oven on to 180°C (350°F/Fan160°C).
  • Your turkey should be covered with foil, and if it was in the fridge, should have been out for about an hour to come to room temperature. Place the turkey in the oven and roast for 3 – 3½ hours, as discussed in the post above.
    Less time for a smaller turkey. You'll find the calculations in the post above.
  • Remove the foil after 2½ hours, and just lightly baste it with some of the liquid in the roasting pan. Roast for another 30 minutes.
  • At 3 hours, check to see if the turkey is done. 2 things will tell you this: has the skin around the legs shrunk by at least 2"/5cm over the bone? Next, using a sharp knife, pierce the thickest part of the leg. If the juices run clear, no reddish liquid, then your turkey is done. If not, place it back in for another 20 – 30 minutes.
    If using a thermometer, you should be reading 70°C (160°F).

Smoking the Tandoori Turkey

  • When the turkey is done, turn the oven off, and leave the door halfway ajar, to stop the turkey from cooking further.
  • Place the piece of charcoal on your smallest burner, and light it up. Using your tongs, turn the charcoal around halfway through to quicken the process. 5 minutes should do, altogether.
  • Take your ovenproof ramekin and pour the oil in. Place this ramekin on the lowest shelf in your oven.
  • When the charcoal is done, pick it up with your tongs, and drop it into the ramekin that's now sitting in your oven. Close the door immediately and leave the turkey to smoke for a good 10 minutes. 15 if you can spare the oven (as you'll have the potatoes to do.
  • When you're done smoking the turkey, take it out of the oven and cover with a fresh layer of foil. Top with a tea towel or two and set aside to rest for at least 45 minutes, up to 90 minutes. This will give you plenty of time to reheat the oven to get your potatoes and parsnips going.
    Serve as mentioned above.



Calories: 430kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 57g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 188mg | Sodium: 816mg | Potassium: 694mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 1113IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 66mg | Iron: 3mg
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11 thoughts on “Tandoori Roast Turkey Recipe (Smoked in your Home Oven)”

  1. 5 stars
    That’s a beautiful bird with bold flavours, Lin! And I’m sure the aroma must be pretty sensational too when it comes out of the oven. A real showstopper! The Kashmiri chillies and turmeric would together add a lovely radiant colour.

  2. I love the way you have detailed almost everything in the recipe. I want to try with whole chicken as it really looks tempting 🙂

  3. 5 stars
    That turkey looks so inviting with your signature glamorous style written all over it! Tandoori is my most favourite of the marinades, must make the cooked meat taste so flavourful and tender inside.

        1. Hi there, I think Pinot Noir would be my choice with tandoori chicken, or perhaps even a dry Zinfandel. For white whine lovers, you can’t go wrong with a dry Riesling here.

  4. I’m planning to make this for Christmas, Lin. The piece of charcoal, can I use one from the barbecue pack from the summer?

  5. 5 stars
    Thank you, I just watched the video, and am here to get the whole story! You are such a natural in front of the camera, I love watching you!

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