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Yogurt-marinated chicken

I love using yogurt as a marinade for chicken. It works because the lactose in the dairy helps tenderize the meat but more importantly is a great carrier for flavorful spiceslike cumin, turmeric, and other Indian-inspired flavors. I used 0%, non-fat but you can use 2% or even whole milk yogurt for extra richness. Either way, the yogurt chars a little when cooking and develops little, crusty bits which I think are especially delicious.

I always make sure to set aside some of the marinade at the beginning to use as a sauce for serving at the end. As a reminder, it’s never a good idea to reuse marinade after it has been in contact with raw meat.

To make the recipe extra easy and mess-free, you can go the tried-and-true route of combining all of the ingredients for the marinade and the chicken in a large, gallon sized plastic bag. Zip the bag and massage to combine. You still might want to place the bag in a bowl, glass or aluminum baking dish, or on a baking sheet pan to catch any dripsjust in case the bag has tiny holes that you otherwise aren’t able to see.

I like the plastic bag option if I am going to be grilling elsewherelike at a friend or a family member’s house or for a BBQ at the park or beachbecause it travels better and takes up less space if I am putting it into a cooler. If I am staying at home, though, I typically like to use my largest Pyrex glass bowl that has a nice, matching lidthere’s no sense in using then tossing a plastic bag if I can avoid it.

The chicken is great by itself with a side of rice, couscous, or a vegetable but I especially love it served as a sandwich or a flatbread made with naan.

Yogurt-marinated chicken
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
20 mins

Excellent when grilled as whole chicken breasts or thighs or you can also cut into small pieces prior to marinading, then skewer on bamboo or metal skewers to cook as kebabs. Save some of the marinade at the beginning to use as a dip or sauce for your chicken when serving.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: chicken, grilled, grilled chicken, kebab, quick and easy, quick marinade
Servings: 4
  • ½ cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon toasted ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon toasted ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon tumeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon garlic minced fine
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 pounds chicken breasts or thighs
  1. In a bowl, combine spices, yogurt, olive oil, lime juice. Add additional salt and pepper to taste and whisk to combine. Reserve about 1/3 cup for serving at the end.

  2. Add chicken and toss until well coated. Cover with a tight-fitting lid or plastic wrap and refrigerate, at least a half-hour or up to overnight. Let come to room temperature about 10 minutes prior to cooking.

  3. Preheat grill or grill pan to 350° Fahrenheit. Grill chicken 8 minutes on one side, flipping and grilling another 7 minutes or until a thermometer reads 165° Fahrenheit when inserted in the thickest part of the breast or thigh.

  4. Remove from grill and let rest, covered with foil, 5-10 minutes. Serve with the reserved marinade as a sauce.