This easy yogurt marinade is the key to tender chicken kebabs

Cutting a piece of meat into bite-size pieces and attaching them to a skewer before grilling it might seem like an unnecessary extra step in the dinner-making process, but the effort can be worth it.

First off, as everyone in Minnesota who attends state fairs knows, food on a stick is fun. But it’s not only fun, sometimes it also serves a purpose. Smaller pieces of meat mean more nooks and crannies for the flavors, both from a marinade and from the grill, to stick together.

So why do kebabs often turn out to be dry and disappointing? This usually involves choosing the protein and marinade and how long the protein stays in the marinade.

This week’s recipe for Yogurt Marinated Grilled Chicken Skewers with Cucumber Mint Salsa finds the right combination of all the elements, resulting in a flavorful, chewy and tender skewer that can be marinated as long as the entire night, which can make it easier to plan weekday meals. .

Let’s start with the protein. Boneless, skinless chicken thighs are a great choice for the grill, as they’re not as susceptible to overcooking as, say, boneless, skinless chicken breasts. They also have more flavor than their white meat counterparts.

The marinade can also make a big difference. The job of a marinade is to make a protein more tender, flavorful, or both. It usually does its job using a combination of acid and salt. Often times, vinegar or citrus juice is used on the acidic side of the equation, but they can break down a protein too much if left on for too long, making it mushy and unpalatable.

Lactic acid, the kind found in yogurt, is another option and much milder. It tenderizes, without the danger of porridge, and also encourages the protein to retain moisture. And, while you don’t have to soak your protein in a yogurt marinade overnight to reap the benefits, you can, if you like.

To turn up the volume on these tender and chewy skewers, I like to accompany them with a creamy yogurt and feta cheese sauce, as well as a fresh salsa / salad, made with cucumbers, tomatoes and mint.

Pair them with warm pita bread or pilau rice for a light but satisfying summer meal.

Yogurt marinated grilled chicken skewers with cucumber mint salsa

For 4.

Note: A simple yogurt marinade helps ensure these Greek-inspired grilled chicken skewers are tender and flavorful. Try serving with hot pitas or pilau rice. This recipe should be prepared at least two hours in advance. From Meredith Deeds.

• 1 C. plain Greek yogurt with whole milk, divided

• 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

• 1 tbsp. Grated lemon zest

• 3/4 c. salt

• 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

• 1 1/4 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 2 inches. rooms

• 4 to 6 skewers

• 1/4 tsp. crumbled feta cheese

• 2 tbsp. chopped fresh mint

• 1 tbsp. lemon juice

• Cucumber and mint salsa (see recipe)


In a medium bowl, combine 1/2 cup of the yogurt, garlic, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Add the chicken and toss to coat with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Soak wooden skewers in water for 1 hour or use metal skewers.

In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1/2 cup of yogurt, feta cheese, mint and lemon juice. Put aside.

Heat a charcoal grill or set a gas grill to high; accumulate coals or turn off the burner on one side. Oil grids. Thread the chicken onto skewers, leaving a little space between each piece of meat.

Grill over direct heat, turning about every minute, until spots begin to char, about 4 to 5 minutes total. Move to the colder side of the grill and continue to grill, turning frequently, until cooked through, about 4 to 5 minutes more.

Serve the chicken with the feta-yogurt sauce and the cucumber mint salsa.

Cucumber mint salsa

Makes 2 cups.

Note: From Meredith Deeds.

• 1 C. seeded and chopped English cucumber

• 1 C. chopped tomato

• 1/4 tsp. chopped fresh mint

• 1 medium Fresno or jalapeño pepper, thinly sliced, optional

• 2 tbsp. olive oil

• 1 tbsp. lemon juice

• 1/4 tsp. salt


In a medium bowl, add all the ingredients and toss to combine.

Meredith Deeds is an Edina cookbook author and culinary editor. Contact her at [email protected] Follow her on Instagram at @meredithdeeds.

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