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Middle Eastern-Style Grilled Chicken Kabobs

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You’ll make these flavorful chicken kabobs all summer long.

Middle Eastern-Style Grilled Chicken Kabobs

One of my go-to chicken recipes for summer cookouts, these Middle-Eastern style grilled chicken kabobs are wonderful over a bed of rice pilaf or served with a Greek salad. The chicken is marinated in yogurt, olive oil, lemon, garlic and spices, and then grilled over an open flame until juicy and golden brown. The only time-consuming part of the recipe is threading the meat and onions onto skewers. Short on time? Skip the skewers and grill the chicken pieces whole, and slice the red onions into large wedges and pop them right on the grill. A word to the wise: make more than you think you’ll need. The first time I made these chicken kabobs for a crowd, I actually ran out of food!

What You’ll Need to Make grilled Chicken Kabobs

chicken kabobs ingredientsI’ve specified boneless skinless chicken thighs for this recipe; they’re juicier and more flavorful than boneless skinless chicken breasts, and they also hold up better when using an acidic marinade; yogurt or lemon-based marinades can make boneless skinless chicken breasts leathery. Chicken thighs are also much easier to cook without drying out. (If you’d like to experiment with other chicken thigh recipes, BBQ-spiced chicken thighs and char siu chicken are both huge crowd pleasers.)

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1: Make the Marinade

In a medium bowl, combine the yogurt, olive oil, paprika, cumin, cinnamon, red pepper flakes, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, pepper and garlic.
marinade ingredients in bowl

Stir to combine.

marinade in bowlStep 2: Prep the Chicken and Thread onto Skewers

Trim the chicken of any excess fat and gristle. Don’t worry about getting every last bit of fat; most of it will melt off on the grill. Then cut the meat into bite-size pieces. I think it’s easiest to use kitchen shears as opposed to a knife.

trimming and cutting chicken thighs

Thread the chicken pieces onto skewers alternating with the red onions. Metal skewers are ideal as they won’t catch fire on the grill. If using wooden skewers, soak them in water for 30 minutes first so they’re slower to char on the grill.

threading chicken and onions on skewers

Step 3: Marinate the Chicken

Place the kabobs on a baking sheet lined with foil, and then brush the marinade all over the meat, coating well. Cover and let the kabobs sit in the fridge for at least 8 hours or overnight.

chicken kabobs ready to marinate

Step 4: Grill the Kabobs

Preheat the grill to medium-high heat, grease well, and then grill the kabobs until golden brown.

grilling chicken kabobs

Serve and enjoy!

Chicken Kabob Video Tutorial


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Middle Eastern-Style Grilled Chicken Kabobs

You’ll make these flavorful chicken kabobs all summer long.

Servings: 4 to 6
Prep Time: 35 Minutes
Cook Time: 15 Minutes
Total Time: 50 Minutes, plus at least 8 hours to marinate

Ingredients

  • 1 cup plain whole milk Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ⅛ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (reduce to ½ teaspoon for less heat)
  • Zest from one lemon
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, from one lemon
  • teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2½ to 3 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1½-inch pieces (see note)
  • 1 large red onion, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 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. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil for easy clean up. Thread the chicken onto metal skewers, folding if the pieces are long and thin, alternating with the red onions. Be sure not to cram the skewers. (Note: You'll need between 6-8 skewers.) Place the kabobs on the prepared baking sheet. 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 kabobs until golden brown and cooked through, turning the skewers occasionally, 13 to 15 minutes. (The yogurt marinade makes these kabobs prone to sticking to the grill grates; if necessary, use a metal BBQ spatula to scrape underneath the kabobs and release them.) Transfer the kabobs to a platter and serve.
  4. Note: I've specified boneless skinless chicken thighs for this recipe; they're juicier and more flavorful than chicken breasts, and they work better in this type of yogurt and lemon-based marinade. They're also much easier to cook without drying out.

Pair with

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (6 servings)
  • Calories: 350
  • Fat: 15g
  • Saturated fat: 3g
  • Carbohydrates: 6g
  • Sugar: 3g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Protein: 41g
  • Sodium: 871mg
  • Cholesterol: 186mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

Gluten-Free Adaptable Note

To the best of my knowledge, all of the ingredients used in this recipe are gluten-free or widely available in gluten-free versions. There is hidden gluten in many foods; if you're following a gluten-free diet or cooking for someone with gluten allergies, always read the labels of your ingredients to verify that they are gluten-free.

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Comments

  • Can you bake these in the oven? If so, what time and temp?

    • — Katherine on November 27, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Katherine, yes, I’d recommend broiling them for about 6 minutes on each side. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on November 27, 2023
      • Reply
  • Hi! I’ve made this recipe several times and loved it!
    I have some chicken drumsticks to use up and was wondering if these would work at all? Thanks!

    • — Brooke on November 20, 2023
    • Reply
    • Glad you like it! And, yes, I think drumsticks will work – please LMK how they turn out!

      • — Jenn on November 20, 2023
      • Reply
      • I didn’t have a few ingredients on hand like the yogurt which I substituted with leftover coconut cream and cumin so I substituted with coriander and it was a hit with the boyfriend! I was so tired of always making the same thing and this recipe came through in a pinch <3 I also used chicken breast because that was all I had and marinated for 20 minutes and it still came out with the flavors shining through. Highly recommend! Another thing if you have leftover bell peppers the sweetness of the peppers compliments this dish as well <3

        • — Sarah on November 26, 2023
        • Reply
  • I didn’t have yogurt but I substituted with sour cream. I really liked this marinade recipe and will make again.

    • — Meghan Taylor on November 5, 2023
    • Reply
  • I never write reviews but for this, I just had to! I discovered your web page just two days ago and tried this recipe first. It was absolutely delicious and super easy to make and clean up (very important after a long work day). I didn’t have time to skewer the thighs so I broiled them whole with the cut up red onion and they were perfectly moist with the a nice slight char as if they had been grilled. 10 minutes on one side, 5 on the other did the trick. Thank you so much – looking forward to trying many more of your recipes.

    • — Wendy W on October 6, 2023
    • Reply
  • Awesome Recipe!

    • — Deb C on September 18, 2023
    • Reply
  • So, so, so good. Made for dinner last night and had leftovers for lunch AND dinner today. Still not tired of this dish.

    • — Susan Finlay on September 12, 2023
    • Reply
  • If I wanted to meal prep these… would you recommend marinading them and leaving them for 2-3 days before cooking… or cook everything and then warm up later?

    • — Bonnie on August 20, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Bonnie, You can marinate these. I wouldn’t push the marinating past two days so if you think it may be longer, I’d cook them and reheat. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on August 21, 2023
      • Reply
      • Thank you!

        • — Bonnie Banerjee on August 21, 2023
        • Reply
    • My wife and I loved these. I would highly recommend marinating the chicken and onions (un-skewered) in a plastic bag overnight, instead of brushing the marinade on the skewers as recommended in the recipe. We tried it both ways on the grill, and they were much more moist and flavorful by not brushing on the marinade.

      • — Michael V on September 19, 2023
      • Reply
  • It seems everyone loves it and that’s great! I just found this pretty mild, maybe I should put double amount of spices next time. Marinade tasted very good when I tasted before putting it in the chicken, but it kind of got lost.

    • — Ilima on August 18, 2023
    • Reply
  • I’m looking forward to trying this! I see that if I want to add more veggies (like peppers, mushrooms, and zucchini) you suggest putting them on separate skewers since they may have a different cooking time. If I do this, should I marinate the vegetables for the same amount of time or less time? Thanks!

    • — Stephanie on August 14, 2023
    • Reply
    • You can marinate them for the same amount of time. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on August 15, 2023
      • Reply
  • Absolutely superb! Also prepared the rice which was the perfect accompaniment! Thank you!

    • — Ivi Brenner on August 13, 2023
    • Reply
  • These were so delicious. This is a fabulous recipe. I ended up using sour cream, cuz that’s what I had in the house, and they worked amazingly.
    Thanks for such a delicious and easy recipe!

    • — Melissa on August 11, 2023
    • Reply
  • Absolutely delicious! We were out of propane, so I just broiled them for 10 minutes, turning them once. They came out perfect. Served with the recommended basmati rice and a little Major Grey’s chutney on the side. My picky husband even liked it. Thank you.

    • — KarenM on August 6, 2023
    • Reply
  • I’ve made this many times and love it but I always make it with the rice. If I made it with baby potatoes on the side, what herbs and/or spices would you use?

    • — Cam Hastings on August 3, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Cam, If you want to make potatoes with these, I think they would be really nice seasoned with za’atar. This recipe looks like a good basic one to give you an idea. (And glad you like the kabobs!)

      • — Jenn on August 4, 2023
      • Reply
  • Delicious, tender, perfect!

    • — Brandilene on July 29, 2023
    • Reply
  • Well received by my family. I subbed with sour cream for the yogurt and doubled recipe for my large brood. The tang of the lemon zest and the end of every bite is phenomenal. Served with basmati rice as recommended minus the onions. Yum. Adding this to the menu rotation.

    • — Liliana G on July 12, 2023
    • Reply
  • This recipe sounds delicious! Can it be served cold for a concert picnic?

    • — Mary on July 2, 2023
    • Reply
    • Sure, Mary, that will work. 🙂

      • — Jenn on July 3, 2023
      • Reply
  • I made this twice in two days, one for company and one for a recovering friend. They all loved it. Served with your Yellow Basmati Rice. Absolutely delicious! This is also the most tender chicken thighs I’ve ever eaten. I am practicing on our pellet grill and these were perfect.
    I appreciate the idea of what to pair your recipes with. Very helpful.

    • — Christina Gibson on June 20, 2023
    • Reply
  • Hello, how many kebobs are in one serving? Thank you

    • — Stacy Sachais on June 11, 2023
    • Reply
    • 1 to 1.5 kabobs – hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on June 12, 2023
      • Reply
  • I made these for my family last night after marinating for nearly 12+ hours. I added zucchini and grape tomatoes (with the red onion) to the skewer and served over yellow rice. My family LOVED it and requested again very soon. Thanks for the great recipe!

    • — Finn on June 7, 2023
    • Reply
    • Instead of putting on skewers, can I bake the chicken thighs in oven? Or, do you suggest making on bbq?

      • — Luci888 on September 11, 2023
      • Reply
      • Sure, Luci – that’s fine. I’d flash them under the broiler towards the end to get some nice color. Grill would work too.

        • — Jenn on September 12, 2023
        • Reply
  • Fantastic recipe, I’ve tried many kebab recipes and this is by far the best, so flavoursome, couldn’t fault it in any way, I always, always use this recipe for all our BBQS, always use thighs as opposed to breast for juicy tenderness.

    • — Mary Davey on June 6, 2023
    • Reply
  • Big fan of chicken, kebabs, and middle Eastern flavours, this is a new fave. Took much longer than I expected but it was well worth the effort, saving this to do again in the future.

    Actually did a mix of thigh and breast and noticed no difference, both were soft and juicy, served with bbq carrot and asparagus on the side and they went nicely with the marinade and rice. I set aside some of the sauce as well before adding some to the chicken, glad I did too, its a delicious dressing for the chicken once it was cooked, saved quite a bit from going down the drain. Paired well with the veggies~

    It goes great with the suggested pilaf!

    • — Matthew on June 2, 2023
    • Reply
  • Hi Jen! If I wanted to grill your chicken kebabs for a large group of approximately 20, would they dry out if I cooked them ahead of guests’ arrival? Would you reheat covered in foil or just serve room temp? Any advice appreciated. Weezie

    • — Weezie Thompson on May 25, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Weezie, because these are made with thighs, they’re not likely to dry out. You could get away with serving them at room temperature. If you want to serve them warm, I’d reheat them in the oven in a baking dish covered with foil until warmed through. Hope everyone enjoys!

      • — Jenn on May 25, 2023
      • Reply
  • I am sure it’s been asked but, I couldn’t find an answer in the recent comments. Can 2% Greek yogurt be used? The store didn’t have 5%.

    I haven’t made this in a long time but, I remember it being phenomenal.

    • — Kerrie on May 19, 2023
    • Reply
    • Sure, you can get away with it (and glad you like it)!

      • — Jenn on May 22, 2023
      • Reply
    • I used chicken breasts with 0% Greek yogurt (no WW points!) and they were delicious!

      • — Colleen on July 14, 2023
      • Reply
  • Can I grill these in advance and serve the next day or two? Has anyone done that? Best way to reheat? Thanks!

    • — Lms on May 10, 2023
    • Reply
    • Sure, that’s fine. I’d reheat them in the oven in a baking dish covered with foil. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on May 11, 2023
      • Reply
  • Delicious recipe! Made it on a whim, as I already had all of the ingredients on hand. My mother and brother loved it. Mother said it was absolutely delicious – words she does NOT use lightly – so props to you and the recipe! Served it alongside tabouli (over chopped lettuce with olive oil and feta), and baba ghanoush on the side. Will definitely be making this again for my summer barbecue. Thanks for the recipe!

    • — Marietta on May 8, 2023
    • Reply
  • Great recipe as far as the marinade, but if you want more flavor marinate the chicken in a bowl or bag overnight, then thread onto skewers, also use a charcoal grill with good hardwood lump with a mix of birch wood.

    • — DLO on April 17, 2023
    • Reply
  • I have concern about marinating raw chicken with raw vegetables on the same skewer for fear of food poisoning. For that reason I plan to cook them separately but just wondering will the meal be less tasty?

    • — Marcy on April 9, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Marcy, It’s totally fine to do it that way – won’t be less tasty. 🙂

      • — Jenn on April 9, 2023
      • Reply
  • Made this for a dinner party, it was easy to make and delicious! Had multiple people ask me for the recipe after

    • — tanya on March 19, 2023
    • Reply
  • This chicken kabob recipe is so good! It tastes like it came from a restaurant. I made the basmati rice with dried fruit and almonds and it was amazing and restaurant quality as well. I can hardly believe I made it. Followed both recipes as written. Love this website.

    • — Karen Lally on March 2, 2023
    • Reply
  • I am going to make these next weekend but I have a question, I am on a very restrictive low-sodium diet and question is the salt necessary? I know some recipes such as dressings need it as an emulsifier. I am NOT a Chef, but this seems like a lot of salt.
    Would also like to add I am also making your Creamy Whipped Feta Dip to pair with this along with the rice.

    • — Terry Oelmann on February 25, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Terry, The salt isn’t necessary from a scientific standpoint — it’s just used for flavoring. Feel free to cut back on the added salt and add more salt to taste when you serve them. Hope you enjoy both the kabobs and dip!

      • — Jenn on February 28, 2023
      • Reply
  • So very good! Loved it with your Basmati rice dish with dried fruit and almonds. Perfect pairing.

    • — Judy on February 16, 2023
    • Reply
  • One of my favorite recipes! I’ve made it at least 6 – 8 times. On my last go, I didn’t have Greek yoghurt for the marinade, so I subbed in sour cream and it was interchangeable. Cooked in the oven under the broiler for about 7 mins on each side and it was perfectly charred. For those who complained it was bland, you can always go heavy on the spices or mix in za’atar, sumac, garlic salt, onion powder and/or cloves, then taste the marinade before adding the chicken. I like it as-is, though sometimes I’ll add more spices to change things up. The suggested batsmati rice is a must (only add golden raisins and sliced almonds).

    • — AlwaysSummer on January 26, 2023
    • Reply
  • Wow, the flavours! This dish is a taste sensation! I used chicken breast and cut them into strips, skipping the skewers and onions. Our 6 and 10 year old loved it! They don’t usually enjoy rice and I made your Basmati Rice Pilaf (sans dried fruit and nuts) to go with it and the kids loved it and asked if I could make this supper more often. Such a win when everyone loves a new dish! Thanks for another absolutely delicious and simple to make supper.

    • — Mandy on January 9, 2023
    • Reply
    • The chicken breasts didn’t seem dry? I’d love to try this recipe, but thighs aren’t a favorite.

      • — K on February 2, 2023
      • Reply

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