Middle Eastern Chicken Kebabs

grilled-chicken-kebabs

I’m so excited to share this recipe with you: the first I made it, my family enjoyed it so much that I actually ran out of food! Chicken is marinated in a tangy Middle Eastern-style marinade made with Greek yogurt, lemon, garlic and spices, and then grilled on skewers until golden brown. Try it over a bed of golden Basmati Rice Pilaf with Dried Fruits and Almonds (as pictured above), with my Couscous Salad with Apricot Vinaigrette or on top of a Greek salad.

Begin by combining the marinade ingredients in a small bowl. 

You’ll see that there’s a good bit of crushed red chili flakes in the recipe. I love the heat, but you can always cut back a little if you prefer.

Next, prepare the chicken. I’ve specified boneless skinless chicken thighs for this recipe. They’re more flavorful than chicken breasts, and easier to cook without drying out. I know some people prefer white meat (my husband included) but I’d urge you to try the chicken thighs — I’ve made it both ways, and it’s far superior with dark meat.

The only drawback to using chicken thighs is that they need to be trimmed of any excess fat and gristle before you use them. I think it’s easiest to use kitchen shears, as opposed to a knife. (Note that there’s a fair amount of waste with the thighs — that’s why the recipe calls for 2-1/2 pounds of dark meat versus 2 pounds of white meat.) Using the scissors, cut the meat into bite-sized pieces and then thread onto skewers alternating occasionally with the red onions.

Place the kebabs on a baking sheet lined with foil, and then spoon or brush the marinade over top, making sure to coat well. Cover and let the kebabs sit in the fridge for at least 8 hours or overnight — the longer the better.

Preheat the grill to medium-high heat, grease well, and then grill the kebabs until golden brown. As you can see, the yogurt makes a thick marinade that adheres to the chicken and creates a flavorful crust as it cooks.

This is a good one…Enjoy!

Middle Eastern Chicken Kebabs

Print Recipe
Servings: 4-6
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 10 - 15 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup plain whole milk Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (reduce to 1/2 teaspoon if you don't like heat)
  • Zest from one lemon
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, from one lemon
  • 1-3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2-1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs (or 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts), trimmed of any excess fat and cut into large bite-sized pieces
  • 1 large red onion, cut into wedges
  • Vegetable oil, for greasing the grill

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the yogurt, olive oil, paprika, cumin, cinnamon, red pepper flakes, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, pepper and garlic.
  2. Thread the chicken onto metal skewers, folding if the pieces are long and thin, alternating occasionally with the red onions. Be sure not to cram the skewers. (Note: You'll need between 6-8 skewers.) Place the kebabs on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Spoon or brush the marinade all over the meat, coating well. Cover and refrigerate at least eight hours or overnight.
  3. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. To grease the grill, lightly dip a wad of paper towels in vegetable oil and, using tongs, carefully rub over the grates several times until glossy and coated. Grill the chicken kebabs until golden brown and cooked through, turning skewers occasionally, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer the skewers to a platter and serve.
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  • Risa

    My whole family loved this chicken. I served it over rice pilaf. It is easy to prepare and a crowd pleaser!

  • I wanted to do something else with some chicken rather than stir fry etc so cooked this last night for my partner & I….wow! absolutely amazing……I added some little extras on the skewers & served with cous cous but the marinade is what makes the dish, thanks for the recipe top class +++

  • Q

    This chicken is fabulous! It was really easy. I prepared it in the broiler. I can’t wait until the weather is warmer so I can try it out on the grill.

  • Emily

    I don’t have a grill and want to know the next best way of cooking them on the skewers?? They look so good!!

    • Jenn

      Hi Emily, You can bake them in the oven and then flash them under the broiler at the end to give them some color. They will still be delicious.

  • Leah

    This is so amazingly delicious! I added ground coriander to the marinade and added some red bell pepper chunks to the skewers, but otherwise prepared just as the recipe said. Served with basmati rice and yogurt sauce. YUM!

  • Mrs. Gamgee

    Just wanted to let you know that I made this (with the amazing rice) and it was a huge hit with my whole family, including two somewhat finicky preschoolers. Due to some scheduling conflicts, I was only able to marinate it for about four hours… I can’t wait to try it after giving it the full overnight treatment. I found your recipe via pinterest, and I will be back to check out the rest!

  • The Middle Eastern Chicken Kebabs are fabulous and fool proof. When served with home-made tzatziki and Greek salad and a little rice or couscous, they are perfect for dinner parties and seem much harder to prepare than they are. I’ve served them to guests now three times in three weeks–always to rave reviews! This one is bookmarked. Once the grill gave up and I finished them under the broiler, which was fine too.

  • Wanda

    I followed this recipe to a tee. I did have to bake it. Awesome, awesome! We ate the leftovers with some homemade Greek potatoes, and naan with homemade tzatziki sauce. Yum!

  • Beth

    AMAZING! This was sooooo good! I might use rosemary stems as skewers next time. My kids LOVED it too. Can’t wait to eat it in a shwarma tomorrow!

  • Shamila

    This was amazing!! I had it with hummous in pita bread with salad – absolutely devine!!! I cooked half the chicken straight away in the oven and the other half after I had let it marinade overnight. Both were tasty.

  • Susan

    Outstanding! Instead of grilling kebabs, I spread it into a single layer on a large baking sheet, tucking red onion wedges all around here and there. I then roasted it in the oven at 500 f, and it got a little charred just like in your picture. So good! I’m now considering using this recipe for a graduation lunch serving 50+ people. They can make their own sandwiches in pita, topped with red onion, tomato, cucumber, and sauce, with falafel as a vegetarian option. OH My GOODNESS, THANK YOU FOR POSTING THIS RECIPE!!

  • Marlee

    Hello! I want to try this recipe but am wondering if I can cook it in the oven instead? If so, at what temperature and for how long? Also, would wood skewers work instead of metal?

    Thank you so much!! Sounds like a delicious marinade :P

    • Jenn

      Hi Marlee, Yes that would work fine. I’d broil them about 6 inches from the heat source, turning occasionally, for the same time the recipe calls for. Please come back and let me know how they come out.

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