yogurt chicken

Grilled Yogurt Chicken

Yogurt makes a great marinade for chicken, but can be a bit flavorless. Adding a bunch of spices and grilling the chicken solves the problem!


Grilled Yogurt Chicken

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There was some good options in last week’s poll which isn’t surprising since all the options were straight from my favorite Bon Appétit issue of the year: The grilling issue.

This was always my favorite annual issue even before I had a grill, but now it’s just butter to my bread baby.

This recipe is actually a beginning grilling recipe. The original uses just boneless skinless breasts and pounds them thin so they cook evenly and quickly. That’s all fine and good, but I like a really good char on my grilled chicken, so I just cut up a whole chicken that way I could have my thighs and legs and Betsy could have her breast meat.

Worked great!

Grilled Yogurt Chicken

Serves 4-8.
Prep Time:
Total Time:

Just a moment please...

yogurt chicken
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Helpful Equipment:

food processor

Yogurt makes a great marinade for chicken, but can be a bit flavorless. Adding a bunch of spices and grilling the chicken solves the problem!

From The Grilling Issue courtesy of the team at Dinner: A Love Story.


1-2 whole chicken, cut into pieces or 4-8 pieces of your favorite chicken parts.

Marinade: (This is easily enough for two whole chickens.)

2 Cups plain yogurt
1 Cup cilantro, stems and all
1/2 large onion, chopped
1/3 Cup olive oil, plus some for the grill
6 cloves garlic
1 Tablespoon lime juice
2 Tablespoons garam masala
2 Teaspoons kosher salt
1 Teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 2 inch piece of fresh ginger

Show Directions

1) Roughly chop marinade ingredients and add to a food processor.  Pulse until smooth.

2) If you using chicken breasts, pound them until they are an even width between two pieces of plastic wrap.  You can also just use a whole chicken, cut into pieces.

3) Pour marinade over chicken and rub it in well.  Let it sit for at least 6 hours in the fridge.  Overnight is even better.

4) Shake off extra marinade from chicken before grilling.

5) Heat grill to medium high and, if you’re using whole chicken, prepare a spot for indirect heat.

6) Cook breasts for about 10 minutes total.  Thighs and legs will take much longer, maybe 35-40 minutes.  Start them on high heat and then move them to the indirect area to finish cooking.

7) I always recommend checking chicken with a meat thermometer.  The thighs should register 170 degrees.

8) Let rest for a few minutes before serving.

A Yogurt Bath

Yogurt isn’t often used as a marinade here in the states but it’s really popular in India and other countries.

And let me just say that those people know what’s up. Yogurt is a perfect base for a marinade. It keeps the chicken really moist and also gives it this kind of subtle tangy flavor that’s irresistible.

But, it’s a good idea to beef up the flavor a bit with some good additions. These are the ones recommended.

Tasty marinade.

Just kind of roughly chop everything and add it to a food processor.

It’s definitely not necessary to have a food processor for this recipe, it’s just a lot easier. You could chop everything very finely and stir it together in a big bowl with more or less the same results.

ready to go
Let the processor do some work.

Pulse this until it’s well-combined and basically a liquid and then pour it all over your chicken.

Speaking of Chicken

So the original recipe uses just chicken breasts which you can definitely do. If you are using them, I recommend putting each breast between two pieces of plastic wrap and pounding it until it’s about 1/2 inch thick. Ideally, it’ll be the same thickness over the whole breast.

Frankly, I find boneless skinless breasts to be boring. I love skin, especially the grilled charred kind. But Betsy does like the boneless skinless thing.

So to solve this problem I usually just chop up a whole chicken that way I have some of everything. It’s a lot cheaper to buy a whole chicken also.

Whatever route you choose, just drown the chicken with the marinade when it’s ready.

This is a lot of marinade!

The recipe will make enough marinade for two whole chickens or 8 servings of boneless skinless breasts.

Let the chicken marinate for at least 6 hours, but overnight wouldn’t hurt.

When your ready to grill, pull your chicken out of your yogurt bath and gently shake off any extra marinade. It’s fine if there is still plenty on the pieces.

ready to grill
Crazy color.

Grillin’ the Chicken

If you’re using the pounded boneless skinless breasts, grilling is easy. Just heat your grill to medium-high heat and rub it with some oil so the chicken doesn’t stick. Then toss on your chicken and cook it for 4-5 minutes per side. Done deal.

If you went the whole chicken route, it’s a bit more complicated. You need to start the thighs about 20 minutes before the breasts. Also, you need to set up your grill with a section for indirect heat cooking. The thighs will need probably 35-40 minutes to cook through. If you cooked them over medium-high for that long, you’d have a completely charred exterior.

So cook the thighs and legs for about 5-6 minutes per side over high heat and then move them to the low heat/indirect heat area to finish cooking.

Nice marks man.

The marinade is really flavorful and goes well with rice and any steamed veggie really.

These thighs and legs were my idea of chicken heaven. Perfectly crispy skin with really juicy, flavorful meat.

My favorite piece.

This recipe is really all about the marinade. Feel free to use whatever chicken pieces you like and to make it your own.

It’s pretty hard to go wrong really!

10 Responses to “Grilled Yogurt Chicken” Leave a comment

  1. Yum! This is exactly what I am going to make for 4th of July.

    Um, can you show us how to cut up a whole chicken? I have tried in the past and it is not a pretty sight.

  2. This is very similar to the tandoori chicken my mom has made for years. Phenomenal on the grill and always a huge hit! I'll have to try your variation. Thanks Nick.

  3. May I just say…(outside of my daughter's blog: stylish,stealthy & healthy.com) that you are my "go to" guy for all things "recipe". I have had the yogurt/chicken thing on my "to do" list forever. I now know why I waited to make my chicken! I needed your recipe first.

    Seriously, many folks start a good thing, but you, my friend, truly know how to put on the finishing touches. Hats off to you!!!

  4. This marinade or just the thought of it makes my mouth water. Nice cross hatch marks on your chicken too. Obviously your cast iron grates were pre-heated correctly to get those sear marks, were they standard with the grill that you got or are they aftermarket?
    My recent post Fire Roasted Beef Tenderloin

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