Middle Eastern Chicken Kebabs

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These chicken kebabs marinated in a tangy blend of yogurt, lemon, garlic and spices are a huge crowd-pleaser.

One of my all-time favorite recipes for entertaining, these chicken kebabs are marinated in a tangy Middle Eastern blend of Greek yogurt, lemon, garlic and spices, then grilled on skewers until golden brown. They are delicious over a bed of golden Basmati Rice Pilaf with Dried Fruits and Almonds (as pictured above) or on top of a Greek salad. Just be sure to make extra — the first time I made this dish for a crowd, I actually ran out of food!

What You’ll Need to Make Middle Eastern Chicken Kebabs

ingredients for Middle Eastern Chicken KebabsI’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.

How To Make Middle Eastern Chicken Kebabs

Begin by combining the marinade ingredients in a small bowl.
marinade ingredients in mixing bowl
Whisk well to combine.
Whisked yogurt marinade in mixing bowl

Next, prep the chicken thighs by trimming any excess fat and gristle. 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.) Trimming chicken thighs

Using the scissors, cut the meat into bite-sized pieces and then thread onto skewers alternating occasionally with the red onions.chicken thighs and red onions threaded on skewers

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.Chicken kebabs marinating on baking sheet

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.Chicken kebabs cooking on grill

This is a good one. Enjoy!

Grilled chicken kebabs

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Middle Eastern Chicken Kebabs

These chicken kebabs marinated in a tangy blend of yogurt, lemon, garlic and spices are a huge crowd-pleaser.

Servings: 4-6
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 15 Minutes
Total Time: 35 Minutes, plus 8 hours to marinate

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, 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.
  4. Note: I've specified chicken thighs as opposed to boneless chicken breasts for this recipe because they are more flavorful, and less likely dry out. Additionally, the lemon juice in the marinade will make boneless chicken breasts tougher when cooked.

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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Reviews & Comments

  • ❤️❤️❤️this recipe! 🚫 boring chicken! So flavorful, moist and yet, easy! The fruited rice is exceptional too.

    • — MaryJo on January 20, 2021
    • Reply
  • First, I want to thank you for your awesome site. I recommend it all the time. I love your buttermilk chicken tenders, Peruvian roasted chicken and, I just fell in love with your key lime pie recipe!

    I was excited to try this chicken recipe but I must say I was disappointed. I personally didn’t care for the overall flavor… I prepared it on a cast iron stovetop grill without the onion (maybe that would have made a big difference). I’ve tried at least 5 recipes from this site. Most of my ratings have been 5 star ratings. With those odds, I’m searching your site looking for my next favorite only minutes after I’ve devoured your key lime pie. Thanks, Jen!

    • — Kristy on January 19, 2021
    • Reply
  • I made this recipe for dinner two nights ago and my husband loved it. I used chicken breasts instead of thighs and it turned out perfect. Very yummy! I served it with grilled eggplant, humous, a bulgur and wild rice salad and, of course, pita. DELICIOUS!

    • — S.J.Kriger on January 19, 2021
    • Reply
  • This recipe has become a family favorite. My kids love it! Thank you.

    • — Shannon Ball on January 9, 2021
    • Reply
  • Fabulous recipe! Easy to prepare before guests arrive and just grill. I cut up the chicken thighs, mixed them in a bowl overnight. In the morning I threaded the skewers — chicken only, red onion only and tri-colored pepper only, each on it’s own skewer (because each is cooked at a different rate). Served with the basmati pilaf, greek salad, pita bread and a platter of Trader Joes’s hummus, red pepper spread, pitted kalamata olives and tzatziki sauce.

    • — washingtoncindy on January 8, 2021
    • Reply
  • Loved this chicken recipe!! Made it twice as kebabs on the grill, and then as chicken tenders fried, and both came out delicious! Thank you!

    • — Samantha on January 8, 2021
    • Reply
  • I was so afraid to try this at first. My teenager daughter is terribly picky (in the sense that chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese are her main choices). The whole family absolutely loved this! I made with chicken breast… followed the reviewer who suggested 5 minutes one side, flip and another 3 then tent with foil. It was falling apart it was so tender. I followed the recipe exactly, not being sure what the outcome would be. The flavors were incredible, very different, but we couldn’t stop eating them. My only regret is I didn’t make more. Thank you for posting this amazing recipe! I served with lemon lentil soup, fried tortillas with hummus, and caprese on skewers.

    • — Lori on January 5, 2021
    • Reply
  • AMAZING RECIPE

    • — Omerine on December 21, 2020
    • Reply
  • This is the BEST middle eastern chicken recipe ever! I prepared everything the same way, but used chicken tenders and my husband cooked them whole. People could not stop raving about how delicious and tender the meat was!! Try this recipe. You will not be disappointed.

    • — Liz Durango-Cohen on December 20, 2020
    • Reply
  • This was delicious. I doubled the amount of cumin and marinated the chicken overnight. I broiled them for about 7 minutes on each side. So yummy!

    • — Nat on December 13, 2020
    • Reply
  • This is one my my favorite chicken recipes on this site. I served it with the recommended rice and Jenn’s brussel sprouts. My entire family loves it. I take about 15 minutes the night before to prep it and marinate it and skewer and grill it when I get home from work. Leftovers at lunch make all my coworkers jealous! At this point, if you haven’t ordered Jenn’s cookbook you’re seriously missing out. Get on it!

    • — Kristyn Cardosi on December 6, 2020
    • Reply
  • Thank you Jenn! They were delicious! And appreciate the hint about using thighs instead of boneless breasts. Made all the difference…. Also i just grilled them on a grill pan. 👌👌

    • — Vidula Warawdekar on November 19, 2020
    • Reply
  • Can I cook the skewers in the oven? If yes, what temp and for how long?

    • — Kat on November 9, 2020
    • Reply
    • If you want to use the oven, I’d broil them. Set the broiler to high. The timing should be the same; just be sure to turn the skewers so they brown evenly. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on November 10, 2020
      • Reply
    • Did you try broiling? How did they turn out?

      I want to just marinade the chicken and bake it on a baking sheet in the oven. Will it lose the essence of this recipe you think?

      • — Koko on November 12, 2020
      • Reply
      • I haven’t broiled these myself, but I think they will turn out nicely using a broiler. I wouldn’t really recommend baking them as you won’t get that nice char on the outside that makes the kebabs so good.

        • — Jenn on November 13, 2020
        • Reply
        • I broiled mine in the oven and they turned out just fine!

          • — SJKriger on January 19, 2021
          • Reply
      • I oven broiled them, turned out great with some delicious char.

        • — Mary on January 16, 2021
        • Reply
  • I followed the recipe and the kebabs were delicious!

    • — Kat on November 8, 2020
    • Reply
  • I have made this dish several times and have found it fabulous in every way. I was wondering if this marinade can be used with other meats such as lamb or beef?

    • — Rich on November 5, 2020
    • Reply
    • Sure, Rich, that should work!

      • — Jenn on November 6, 2020
      • Reply
  • Can I add the chicken thigh/breast fillet with the marinade, and just freeze everything for future cooking? If so, how long can i keep them frozen and still be good?

    • — Shadel on October 27, 2020
    • Reply
    • Sure, that will work. And you can freeze it for up to 3 months. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on October 27, 2020
      • Reply
  • This is very easy, very tasty and has become a go-to for me. It’s a keeper.

    • — Becky on October 25, 2020
    • Reply
  • I have extra chicken in the marinade that I haven’t cooked yet. Can I freeze in the marinade or should I cook it first then freeze?

    • — Monika Parker on October 21, 2020
    • Reply
    • You can go either way — you’ll just need to boil it for at least 3 minutes (to rid it of any bacteria) if you plan to use it as a sauce.

      • — Jenn on October 22, 2020
      • Reply
  • Wonderful recipe. Enjoyed by all. Marinated the chicken overnight and result was tender and flavorful meat. Can’t wait to make it again!

    • — Richard on October 18, 2020
    • Reply
  • Can I make this with low fat plain Greek yogurt or is that not advised? Trying to make it more diet friendly 🙂 it’s delish as is.

    • — Danielle on October 1, 2020
    • Reply
    • Sure — they just won’t be quite as rich. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on October 1, 2020
      • Reply
      • Dear Jenn, have just discovered your bolg🤗 one question, in this recipe – is it smoked paprika or regular? Thank you!

        • — Ramune on October 4, 2020
        • Reply
        • Happy you’ve found the blog! You’ll need regular paprika here. (I’ll always specify if you need the smoke variety). Hope that helps!

          • — Jenn on October 5, 2020
          • Reply
      • Can these be frozen

        • — Jade Mapp-mckenzie on October 21, 2020
        • Reply
        • Sure, you can get away with freezing them. Enjoy!

          • — Jenn on October 21, 2020
          • Reply
  • So good! This recipe was actually brought to a potluck by a friend of mine a few years ago and it’s how I discovered this blog. I made it last night and I’m so glad I did! The chicken is tender and flavorful and even tastes good cold. I like serving it with hummus. I think it would be a great picnic food since it’s still yummy if it isn’t hot. Thanks!

    • — Danielle on October 1, 2020
    • Reply
  • I made these twice for BBQs in the summer strictly according to recipe and they were delicious. Today l made them using Skyr natural yogurt not Greek and cut up chicken breast instead of thighs as it was what l already had. I also baked them in my fan oven for 35mins at 200c as it’s autumn now and l was only cooking for myself. They were still delicious and l honestly could not tell that much difference. Lovely.

    • — Mike on September 30, 2020
    • Reply
  • Hi there! I came across this recipe after trying another one a few weeks back (that I really enjoyed-the white chicken chili) and have been looking forward to it since. I make a similar kebab with beef or lamb using the yogurt but with different spices. I have this all set marinating in my fridge, and was a bit worried because I’ve experienced issues with chicken marinating in citrus for more than a few hours before and it becoming really tough/having an unappealing texture. I guess I just wanted to double check that the overnight marinade was really ok in this case. Appreciate any feedback you have-I did do it with thighs, as suggested, so looking forward to that change from normal 🙂

    • — naseem on September 29, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Naseem, because thighs are used in this recipe, it’s fine to have citrus in the marinade and marinate overnight. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on September 30, 2020
      • Reply
  • Really nice recipe I found I had to leave mine in longer as it didn’t look properly cooked but it was bursting with flavour thank you!

    • — Jodie on September 23, 2020
    • Reply
  • The chicken kababs were delicious and tender.

    • — Gerry on September 21, 2020
    • Reply
  • My wife makes fun of me because when its my turn to cook, the first thing I do is google “the best… hamburger, the best.. taco recipe, etc”. It almost never fails to turn out awesome! Thanks internet. My wife likes complex food, fresh food, healthy food, etc. I like to work in the garage and cook things with less steps. For example, frozen pizza – heat oven, open box, put pizza in oven, wait, take out, cut, serve.. 4-5 steps!! You’ve probably figured out by now, this methodology is not acceptable for my wife.. 🙁 As a solution, now when I have to cook, I try to find recipes that most ingredients go in one bowl or all go in the pan you will cook them in. There are some awesome honey glazed chicken thighs in here somewhere, all prepared and cooked in a deep casket iron skillet. Anyway… this time I searched “the best chicken kabobs” and came up with this recipe. I’ve done this before by the way. If you were wondering if you always get the same recipe, ya don’t. So this time I searched for kabobs I got this one. Hands down, easily one of the best kabob recipes ever! The chicken thighs were tender. However next time I think I’ll do the recipe on a cast iron skillet for some more crispiness! I also did all of the sides, awesome! The Israeli salad rocks!

    • — Frank on September 20, 2020
    • Reply
    • lol Frank, I’m with you – in fact I think you are me 🙂
      Exactly what you do, I do.
      Great write up, it put a smile on my face.
      An Aussie.

      • — Geoff on November 27, 2020
      • Reply
  • Could you sub the yogurt for a dairy free yogurt?

    • — E on September 18, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi E, I haven’t made this with dairy-free yogurt, but I feel confident it would work. Please LMK how they turn out!

      • — Jenn on September 18, 2020
      • Reply

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