once upon a chef

Middle Eastern-Style Grilled Chicken Kabobs


– 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 – 1¾ 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

One of my all-time favorite recipes for outdoor entertaining, these chicken kabobs are wonderful over a bed of golden basmati rice pilaf with dried fruit and almonds (pictured) or on top of a Greek salad. The chicken is marinated in a yogurt and olive oil-based marinade flavored with 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. If you’re in a time crunch, feel free to skip the skewers and grill the chicken pieces whole (the red onions can be cut into large wedges and placed directly on the grill as well). One hint: make extra – the first time I made these chicken kabobs for a crowd, I actually ran out of food!

Step #1

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

Step #2

Stir to combine.

Step #3

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.

Step #4

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.

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.

Step #2

Grill the Kabobs Preheat the grill to medium-high heat, grease well, and then grill the kabobs until golden brown. Serve and enjoy!