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Grilled Middle Eastern Chicken Kebabs

 June 14, 2024

One of my go-to summer recipes, these Grilled Middle Eastern Chicken Kebabs are tender, juicy, and practically melt in your mouth. The chicken comes together with a marinade of protein-packed greek yogurt, lemon juice and zest, fresh garlic, and a medley of delicious seasonings for a burst of flavor in every bite. And, if this recipe couldn’t get any better, it can be prepared two different ways: on the grill, or in the air-fryer!

A green tray displays several skewers of grilled chicken and red onions. Tongs lie on the tray next to the skewers. In the background, there is a salad bowl with tomatoes and greens, a partially visible stack of pita bread, and glasses of water.

Chicken Kebabs are a staple of any Middle Eastern cuisine, but especially Armenian cuisine. As an Armenian myself, I grew up eating these delicious, tender kebabs on a regular basis! My dad would prepare them on the grill, and serve them alongside Armenian staples like Eech and Tabouleh. These kebabs are filling, yet light, and are perfect for those warm summer evenings. And the best part is, they can be prepared two different ways!

While the classic preparation is on the grill, you can also prepare these kebabs in the air fryer! I love this “hack” for the days when I don’t have time to fire up the grill, or for situations when you don’t have access to a grill! I loved using this “hack” back when I was living in a tiny apartment in San Francisco and couldn’t have a grill. It’s so simple and easy!

\And if you’re looking for ideas of what to serve these kebabs with, there are so many options. Of course, you could go the Armenian recipe route. But, if you’re looking for more non-traditional options, I love serving these kebabs with my delicious Cucumber Salad with Crunchy Quinoa or a hearty lemon rice.

What You Need to Make These Tender & Juicy Chicken Kebabs

  • 🍗 Chicken Breast:  When it comes to the perfect cut of chicken for these skewers, I love using boneless, skinless chicken breast.
  • Greek Yogurt: Greek yogurt not only adds protein to this recipe, but it makes the chicken tender and delicious. If you want to make this recipe dairy-free, see my notes in the recipe card below!
  • 🧄 Garlic: I always recommend using fresh garlic, whenever possible. The flavor is truly unbeatable!
  • Olive Oil: A little bit of olive oil adds a delicious flavor to this chicken, and helps the outside get perfectly crispy.
  • Seasonings: A combination of cumin, paprika, and crushed red pepper flakes adds the perfect seasoning to these chicken kebabs.
  • 🍋 Lemon Juice and Zest: Both the juice and zest of one lemon are needed for the chicken marinade. Don’t skip this!
  • 🧅 Red Onions: These kebabs are simple, with just a combination of the marinated chicken and the red onion slices. But, the flavor is absolutely delicious!
Skewers of marinated raw chicken pieces and red onion slices are arranged on a green tray. The chicken appears seasoned with a reddish marinade, and the skewers are ready for grilling. The background features a textured surface with a few scattered kitchen items.
Assemble the kebabs by skewering the chicken and onion pieces, alternating them one-by-one. Repeat until all of the chicken and onion are used up. You should end up with 8 kebabs total!

How to Make These Kebabs – Two Ways!

The best part about these kebabs? They can be prepared two different ways: on the grill and in an air-fryer. While I highly recommend the grilled method, both work just as well, and yield tender and juicy chicken kebabs, every time!

Four grilled chicken skewers with pieces of marinated chicken and red onion slices are placed on a black grill tray. The skewers are arranged parallel to each other, showcasing the golden, slightly charred surface of the chicken.
Next, heat your grill to 450 F. Transfer the kebabs to the grill and allow them to cook, undisturbed, for 6-7 minutes. Then, flip the kebabs and allow them to cook for another 6-7 minutes, or until the chicken is fully cooked through.

The Grill Method:

To make these chicken kebabs, start by preparing the chicken. Cut the chicken breast into cubes, approximately 1 1/2 inch thick, and place them into a large bowl. Next, add in the greek yogurt, olive oil, garlic, paprika, crushed red pepper flakes, lemon juice, and lemon zest, to the bowl with the chicken, and toss to fully combine. Set the chicken aside and allow it to marinate for 30 minutes.

While the chicken is marinating, grab your wooden skewers and place them into a bowl of water to soak for 30 minutes. This helps ensure that the skewers won’t burn on the grill! Once the chicken and skewers are done, assemble the kebabs by skewering the chicken and onion pieces, alternating them one-by-one. Repeat until all of the chicken and onion are used up. You should end up with 8 kebabs total!

Next, heat your grill to 450 F. Transfer the kebabs to the grill and allow them to cook, undisturbed, for 6-7 minutes. Then, flip the kebabs and allow them to cook for another 6-7 minutes, or until the chicken is fully cooked through.

Once they’re done, remove them from the grill. Then, serve and enjoy!

Grilled chicken skewers with pieces of red onion sit atop flatbread on a plate. Also on the plate is a mixed green salad with cherry tomatoes and red onion slivers. The table has a green, marbled surface, and part of another plate with salad is partially visible.
Serve the finished kebabs with your favorite salad and warm pita bread, then serve and enjoy!

The Air-Fryer Method:

To prepare these kebabs in an air fryer, repeat steps 1-5 as described above.

Next, line an air fryer basket with parchment paper and lay the kebabs inside. Transfer them to the air fryer and allow them to cook at 400 F for 10 minutes, undisturbed. Then, flip the kebabs and allow them to cook for another 8-9 minutes, until the chicken is golden brown and fully cooked through.

Once they’re done, remove them from the air fryer. Then, serve and enjoy!

If you make this recipe, please be sure to leave a review and rating below! To see more recipes and behind the scenes, follow along on InstagramTikTok, and Youtube! I’m also now on Pinterest, so stop by and take a look at what’s new.

** Photography by Tanya Pilgrim
A green tray displays several skewers of grilled chicken and red onions. Tongs lie on the tray next to the skewers. In the background, there is a salad bowl with tomatoes and greens, a partially visible stack of pita bread, and glasses of water.
gluten-free/Grain Free/Nut Free/Refined Sugar Free

Grilled Middle Eastern Chicken Kebabs

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Nicole Modic
SERVES 4 Servings (8 Skewers)
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One of my go-to summer recipes, these Grilled Middle Eastern Chicken Kebabs are tender, juicy, and practically melt in your mouth. The chicken comes together with a marinade of protein-packed greek yogurt, lemon juice and zest, fresh garlic, and a medley of delicious seasonings for a burst of flavor in every bite. And, if this recipe couldn't get any better, it can be prepared two different ways: on the grill, or in the air-fryer!

Equipment

  • 8 Wooden Skewers soaked in water for at least 30 minutes, so that they don't burn!

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ Pounds Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 Cup Greek Yogurt*
  • 8 Cloves Garlic
  • ¼ Cup Olive Oil
  • 2 Teaspoons Paprika
  • 1 Teaspoon Cumin
  • ½ Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1 Lemon zested and juiced
  • 2 Red Onions roughly chopped – these will go on the skewers!

Instructions

How to Make These Kebabs on the Grill:

  • To make these chicken kebabs, start by preparing the chicken. Cut the chicken breast into cubes, approximately 1 1/2 inch thick, and place them into a large bowl.
  • Next, add in the greek yogurt, olive oil, garlic, paprika, crushed red pepper flakes, lemon juice, and lemon zest, to the bowl with the chicken, and toss to fully combine.
  • Set the chicken aside and allow it to marinate for 30 minutes.
  • While the chicken is marinating, grab your wooden skewers and place them into a bowl of water to soak for 30 minutes. This helps ensure that the skewers won't burn on the grill!
  • Once the chicken and skewers are done, assemble the kebabs by skewering the chicken and onion pieces, alternating them one-by-one. Repeat until all of the chicken and onion are used up. You should end up with 8 kebabs total!
  • Next, heat your grill to 450 F.
  • Transfer the kebabs to the grill and allow them to cook, undisturbed, for 6-7 minutes.
  • Then, flip the kebabs and allow them to cook for another 6-7 minutes, or until the chicken is fully cooked through.
  • Once they're done, remove them from the grill. Then, serve and enjoy!

How to Make These Kebabs in an Air Fryer:

  • To prepare these kebabs in an air fryer, repeat steps 1-5 as described above.
  • Next, line an air fryer basket with parchment paper and lay the kebabs inside.
  • Transfer them to the air fryer and allow them to cook at 400 F for 10 minutes, undisturbed.
  • Then, flip the kebabs and allow them to cook for another 8-9 minutes, until the chicken is golden brown and fully cooked through.
  • Once they're done, remove them from the air fryer. Then, serve and enjoy!

Notes

** Note: If you want to keep this recipe dairy-free, you can replace the greek yogurt and garlic with a Middle Eastern garlic spread, like Toum! You can find this at any traditional Middle Eastern Grocery store, or Trader Joe’s has their own version, too.

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