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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  • YUM! Your food always looks so good! I want to eat at your house!

  • Excellent recipe, which I will make tonight, and excellent subscription. I look forward to it and open the email right away!

    Gotta run – have to marinate those chicken thighs!

    And I have to check out that grilled Moroccan chicken recipe before it’s too late to cook outdoors!

    • Jenn

      Thank you, Richard! Hope you enjoy this one :)

  • Danita

    You have saved me again. I needed a new easy recipe for company this weekend. Please post the rice recipe too. It looks delicious too.

  • These pictures just made me sooo hungry!!

  • MickMil

    Another one of your recipes that makes me want to lick the screen! Beautiful!

    • HAHAHA…I thought I was the only one who wanted to lick the screen!!

      • Sheryl Bender

        No, I absolutely third licking the screen!

  • Love receiving your recipes and I have tried almost all of them so far. Now with this one however I would like to know how you made your golden basmati rice pilaf. If you wouldn’t mind sharing I would appreciate it very much. I would like to complete this meal. Thank You! for your postings.

    • Jenn

      Hi Debbie, It’s coming next week :)

  • Tina

    This will be the second recipe I will be making. I found Once Upon A Chef last week.
    Your meatball with the ground veal was the best meatballs I ever made. One night we had them with pasta and the next night we had meatball subs with a little melted cheese. mmmmmgood.
    Thank You,

  • Can’t wait to try this recipe. My husband is not a fan of chicken, but this sounds like something he will like. Love your recipes.

  • Jane Palmer

    YUMMY! Sounds just like what you get in a good middle eastern kebob restaurant. Am looking forward to making this and hope you send the yellow rice recipe SOON!!!

  • Oh yum! I will add this to my “absolutely must make” list.

  • Danita

    Reporting back Jenn: Made this last night and it was a huge hit. My husband and guest couldn’t stop eating. I bought fresh crusty sourdough bread from the bakery and they kept making mini sandwich bites, wrapping bread around chunks of chicken.

  • Mary

    The kabobs are marinating in the fridge, and we’ll be having them tonight for dinner. Can’t wait to try them.

  • Daymel

    I subscribed to your blog last week and right away made two winning recipes, this one is one of them. Simply outstanding and so super easy to make. Feeds a crowd. Made my own version of the pilaf – so good ! Thanks !

  • Dee

    These were wonderful!! Very smooth flavor not overpowering. Easy to make.

  • Allie

    Boy, were these a HUGE hit with my family! My husband must have said, “Mmmm….this is SO good” about four or five times during the meal, and my 3-year-old gobbled up her chicken and asked for seconds! (She actually ate two servings of the chicken before she touched her rice, which is a first!) It’s definitely worth seeking out whole-milk Greek yogurt, as it adds a richness to the chicken that I think a lower-fat version wouldn’t. The spices in the marinade are just amazing. I served this with mujadarra (Middle Eastern rice and lentil dish) and some peas. As we licked our plates, we imagined how tasty this chicken would be sandwiched into a soft, warm flatbread. Thanks for delivering yet another winning recipe, Jenn!

  • Lauren

    Does this recipe work if the kebabs are placed in the oven instead of on the grill? I do not own a grill, and hate being confined to non-grill friendly foods.

  • Looks great. Will have to try this out soon.

  • Mary

    Made this dish with low fat Greek yogurt since I could not find the whole milk version, and it still came out very tasty. The only error my husband made while grilling was that he did not cook long enough, so the kabobs had to be put back on the grill to finish. (So check for thoroughness before taking off the grill. Chicken kabobs are easy to undercook.) Still came out great though.

  • I didn’t had the yogurt at the moment, and I used sour cream, it was a outstanding, everyone love it!

  • knitmaiden

    These are just perfect. The flavors are amazing. Now I want that rice recipe to go with them!!!! LOL
    Thanks so much for your wonderful recipes!

  • Hope

    This is amazing! So easy to make and most ingredients are already in the pantry! Love how the yogurt gives it that tang. Perfect with rice pilaf and roasted vegetables.
    Thank you for posting this recipe!

  • Mike

    Terrific tasting… used white meat… Never have acquired a taste for thighs. Served with rice… nothing left this morning!!

  • Liesel

    This was an easy and very tasty recipe – definite crowd pleaser. I used white meat and also wooden kabob skewers (pre-soaked, of course). This recipe is all about the prep work; then you can sit back and relax – my husband is the grill expert! This was served with my version of yellow basmati rice. The next day, we took the chicken and onions off the skewers and sauteed with the leftover rice to make a middle eastern fried rice. Two super meals!

  • Lindsay

    I made the marinade Tuesday night and cooked these on the BBQ last night – omg they were SO DELICIOUS. i made it exactly as described here and wouldnt change a thing…other than making a double batch!

    The only little thing i did different was marinate the chicken in a bag, and then put it on the skewers the next day. a little messy but worked fine. the onions were delicious. i loved it.

    • Lindsay

      oh – I used 2% plain greek yogurt b/c i couldn’t find whole greek yogurt. it was still amazing.

      • Lindsay

        PS
        made them again…double batch…YUM

  • Linda Chaviano

    We grill all the time and I can’t wait to try this one.

  • Scissors! After years of using a sharp paring knife to trim fat from chicken thighs, I just tried kitchen shears per your instructions. Thank you! What a difference that small trick makes in efficiency and thoroughness. Thanks, Jenn, again and again!

  • Janet

    I’m making this for the third time tomorrow night. My husband and I absolutely love it! The first time I made it on the grill and I used chicken thighs as recommended. I’d never used them before and it was unbelievable. The second time I made it I mixed the marinade the night before then threw everything in the slow cooker in the morning and it was just as good. Tomorrow I’m using the slow cooker again. I like that the meat falls apart and you just serve it over rice with a side of veggies. This is a new favorite. Thanks!

  • Ziad

    Hi Jennifer,
    Thank you so much for your absolutely wonderful website. I stumbled upon your website as i was looking for a tilapia recipe and found the crispy tilapia dish which was just wonderful. Then the next day I did the Mediteranian Kebabs dish and my pickey eater daughter looked at her mom and said ” You know what? This ain’t so bad at all”.
    For the past 3 days since finding out about your web site i have spent a lot of time reading your recipes. Just awsome. I told my wife that i have found a new woman that can cook. :-)
    Thank you for sharing your passion for cooking with others, very much appreciated. i can’t wait to try more of your recipes.

    Ziad Jaber

    • Jenn

      So sweet, Ziad. Thank you!

  • Mandy

    Have made this many times and it is delicious. Have even broiled in the oven and tasted just as good

  • Laura

    I tried this recipe and it was delicious! I didn’t marinate it the whole time (only an hour or so) and it was still tasty — in the future I’d marinate it longer though!

  • Shayne

    Hi Jennifer,

    I am pretty new to the cooking world, but as one of my resolutions for the new year, I sought to cook one dish that I have never made before every week. Well, about a month ago, I had a hankering to make a red spicy lentil soup and wanted a main dish to accompany it. I did some research online and came across this recipe and I am so glad that I did. It came out perfect on the first try! (Thanks to your step by step recipe of course). In any event, I did not have any skewers, so I just threw in the chicken and vegetables (I added green, orange, and red peppers) all into the yogurt spiced mixture and put in the fridge overnight. The next day I cooked it on my grill pan on the stove and it was delicious! So bold and flavorful!

    Needless to say, your website has encouraged me to fulfill my new years resolution with ease and all in all, inspired me to cook at home. So, thank you, and I look forward to making more of your dishes!

  • Regular staple I our house.since the weather has been cold , I broil these (minus the kebab) and serve with couscous. Plates are elways licked clean

  • Love this!! I use breasts, and I broil it in the oven without skewers. Still comes out amazing!

  • Theresa

    This was the first Kabob recipe I’ve ever tried and it was delicious. I did try it again without the Kabobs, becuase that was a bit time consuming for me. So I just marinated the chicken pieces and grilled them and served them with onions and green peppers it was just easier for me to omit the skewing step.

  • Lindsay

    I used chicken breasts instead of making kabobs and serviced with Jasmine rice, delicious!

  • Anju

    this recipe was spot on! I added some extra red pepper and thought I could have added even more! only marinated this for 3 hours so I’m sure it would have been ever better had I let it marinate for even longer!

    Pair this meal with some homemade tzatziki and everyone will be satisfied!

  • Made this tonight, it was delicious. Thanks for posting, I’m looking forward to trying some other recipes on your site (which I came across for the first time today). Thanks again!

    Sarah

    • Jenn

      So glad you enjoyed, Sarah — and welcome to the site!

  • Nadiyah

    Do you have the recipe for the rice that is accompanying this chicken dish?

  • Karen Purdy

    Hi Jennifer. I just love your recipes and the occasional pix of your kids. Do you have a recipe for black bean cakes? We used to get wonderful ones at The Tobacco Warehouse in Shockoe Slip in Richmond.

    • Jenn

      Thanks so much, Karen. I don’t have a go-to recipe for black bean cakes but it’s a great idea – I will add it to the list :)

  • Ponce

    Hello Jenn – This is the 2nd time I’ve made this for my family and it was a hit. In addition, I made the rice pilaf today and it was a hit as well. Thanks. I will be trying the Peruvian chicken and green sauce recipes soon.

    Love your website.

  • rafa

    yummy

  • Clive Swain

    I found this recipe on a google search. It looked enticing. Prepared and marinated last night. The only change I made was using Spanish smoked paprika dulce. Used the bbq tonight in between thunderstorms here in the UK. The family loved it. So I’m adding it to my small repitwar of dads meals. I’m now browsing your site for my next one!
    Thanks :-)

  • You can also use lamb. Try it out. It was wonderful. I made no other adjustments other than using “country style traditional” Middle Eastern yogurt which I purchased from a Middle Eastern Grocery. I also cooked the lamb kebabs (the first time) over a campfire after making the marinade the nigh before leaving on the trip, so it was about 30 hrs of marinade time.

    • Jenn

      Great suggestion, Jerry. I can’t wait to try that myself.

  • Wowfood

    This tasted so good that after I ate it I had nothing else to look forward to in life. This dish ruined my life because it was too good.

  • Theresa

    I made this with your basmati rice pilaf last week and we loved it so much that I am making it again tonight. I used chicken breast and marinated it overnight. Delicious flavors!

  • Steve

    Any suggestions what to do for the rice? I notice you have in the picture saffron rice w/ raisins, but the middle-eastern restaurant serves some delicious white rice with a sort of yellow sauce on top

    • Jenn

      Hi Steve, I’m not familiar with the white rice and yellow sauce, but here is the rice recipe that is pictured:
      link to onceuponachef.com

      Hope that helps!

  • Amber

    This is so good! I cut the recipe in half to serve my husband and myself. Otherwise, followed recipe exactly. Served with white basmati rice, tabbouleah, the hummus recipe from this site (which is also good!) and pita bread. My husband loved it and wrapped it up in the pita bread with the hummus and tabbouleah I served. It is also good cold the next day!

  • These kabobs are in our normal dinner rotation. I usually marinate meat for 1 hour due to schedules. It still tastes great!

  • F. Shea

    Note to self: do NOT think lemon salt will work. Too salty. Too fake lemony. Love this recipe. Thank you.

  • Xao

    Made these for a picnic this summer and they were so good. Love the tangy taste. Added cherry tomatoes as well and served over white rice. I am thinking how delish it would be in a salad. Will try this soon. Thanks for an awesome and easy recipe.

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