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

  • Can I just make these in the oven because I don’t have a grill? What temp and for how long?
    I love your recipes and the fact that I do not have to tweet them! Thanks Jenn

    • — Renee P Medina on February 21, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Renee, you can broil them in your oven. 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 February 22, 2021
      • Reply
  • This is our favorite chicken recipe. Can’t. Stop. Eating. It. We have to stop ourselves from eating an entire 2lbs of chicken (and there’s only two of us!) . I have found a couple hours is even enough to marinate, and have spread the chunks of marinated chicken on a sheet pan (with sides as there’s a lot of juice) and it’s also come out great!

    • — Leslie on February 19, 2021
    • Reply
  • This is our go to recipe especially when we are able to cook on the backyard grill. The whole family loves these.

    • — Liz Malone on February 18, 2021
    • Reply
  • Amazing!

    • — Bina Indelicato on February 17, 2021
    • Reply
  • How would this marinade go with lamb? I am wanting to do both chicken and lamb kabobs!

    • — Monet on February 9, 2021
    • Reply
    • I think it would work nicely with lamb. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on February 9, 2021
      • Reply
  • Wow these are popular! Look how many reviews! I can see why, these were delicious. We’re apartment dwellers without a grill, so I make these on a rack over a foil lined baking sheet and put them under the broiler which gives them nicely charred tips, too. Even without the flavor of the grill, these are really great.

    It’s personal preference, but I agree with you, I prefer chicken thighs for a variety of chicken dishes, especially when skewered. To me, not only do they taste better, but they’re more forgiving too and don’t dry out even if a little overcooked.

    I have yet to try the golden rice pilaf but want to (hubby not crazy about dried fruit/regular fruit in savory recipes), always make this over a simple greek salad. A very easy supper.

    Thank you, Jenn!

    • — Tiina on February 3, 2021
    • Reply
  • I made these Kebabs yesterday and my family loved them. I love the flavor the red onion gave the chicken. I did them with thighs as I prefer dark me. It is a simple and easy ingredient recipe. I will definitely make these again for the 4th of July.

    • — Ericka on February 2, 2021
    • Reply
  • These kebabs are so delicious and juicy, perfect pairing with the rice pilaf.

    • — Ian on February 1, 2021
    • Reply
  • My husband is Middle Eastern, and he thinks this dish tastes very authentic! When it’s too cold or snowy in NJ to grill, I use my oven and turn to low broil. Still comes out delicious!

    • — Donna and Dave Shahrabani on January 31, 2021
    • Reply
  • I have made this so many times for my KETO loving husband . He had this dish years ago in an Indian Restaurant in L.A. and had always remembered it and asked me to find a recipe just like it. So finally after years of trying unsuccessfully… this recipe is just like he remembered, DELICIOUS! Thanks

    • — LuAnn Pitts on January 31, 2021
    • Reply
  • This is one of the best chicken recipes we’ve had in quite awhile. We used lean chicken tenders instead of thighs, increased cumin and marinated over night. In mild weather we grilled but when the weather is harsh use a grill pan indoors and find it delish! Have shared this recipe with multiple family members and even the children love it. We serve with the yellow rice recipe to which we add dried fruit. Amazing !!!

    • — Maureen Lacey on January 31, 2021
    • Reply
  • The best chicken kebabs I’ve ever had! I made them first a few years ago for my high school friends’ annual reunion and now they are a “must”! The yogurt marinade keeps the chicken moist. I’ve cooked both on an outdoor and an indoor grill and they are a winner either way!

    • — Andria K on January 30, 2021
    • Reply
  • This recipe is absolutely delicious! There is so much flavor. I saved the marinade to use as extra sauce over the grilled chicken, my husband couldn’t get enough. I made it with the recommended Basmati Rice Pilaf with Dried Fruit and Almonds, and used all the dried fruit varieties mentioned for the recipe, so good!

    • — Lindsey B. on January 30, 2021
    • Reply
  • These kebabs are outrageously delicious – definitely make more than you think you will eat, because you will eat every bite! Worthy of making for company or for a special occasion.

    • — Mairi Townsend on January 30, 2021
    • Reply
  • I love these Middle Eastern Chicken Kabobs! This recipe is so flavorful and easy! I serve it with white basmati rice and a side of yougurt and cucumber!

    Thanks for your yummy recipe!

    • — Penny Dodd on January 30, 2021
    • Reply
  • Have made this both with thigh and breast meat and can confirm that it is much better with thigh meat! Delicious either way, though.

    • — Jess K on January 30, 2021
    • Reply
  • The first time I made this, we were amazed at the wonderful flavor that comes with just a few key ingredients! Absolutely delicious! So the next time I made it, I tried it with the Basmati Rice Pilaf with Dried Fruit and Almonds, as recommended. This combination totally completes the dish and my family requests it often now. In addition to threading the red onion on the skewers, I sometimes include wedges of red bell pepper, which complements the flavors nicely. It’s so nice to have new “Go-To” recipes, which I always get from “Once Upon a Chef”. Thank you!

    • — Nancy Chambers on January 29, 2021
    • Reply
  • i made this yesterday ! excellent !

    • — Karine Roussel on January 29, 2021
    • Reply
  • These kebabs are simply delicious! I make these very often and my family loves them, even my picky eaters! My husband and I enjoy it with rice and my kids usually have it with a piece of naan. Win win!!

    • — Shivani Agarwal on January 29, 2021
    • Reply
  • So good! I was looking for something a little different and this recipe for perfect – easy and delicious.

    • — Joy P on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • Love these kabobs! My family is Armenian so we are particular about our kabobs and these are excellent! They are perfect with the rice

    • — Mara on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • This was absolutely delicious! Loved the rice too!

    • — Michelle Bryant on January 28, 2021
    • Reply

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