Greek Yogurt Shish Kebabs are a simple little back pocket recipe that looks (and tastes) like so much more. Make them once you’ll be wanting to toss them on the grill all summer long (or what’s left of it, anyway!)
The first time I remember marinating with yogurt was when I made Yogurt-Marinated Shish Kebabs back in 2012. I was hooked not only on how moist and luscious the yogurt makes chicken (even chicken breast) but with the way it grills up so beautifully. And it doesn’t hurt that shish kebabs are so easy and quick to grill!
About Greek Yogurt Shish Kebabs:
This recipe uses all the same methods Yogurt Marinated Shish Kebabs but puts more of a Greek spin on the recipe. It’s garlicky, lemony, herby, and smokey and can be served with so many things. That makes it extremely versatile!
This time around I went with pita bread (which I brushed with olive oil and grilled, too) along with my favorite Rice Pilaf and a very simple salad for those who want it on the side or to stuff into the bread. And of course, some lemon slices just to drive home that flavor. Oh, yeah, there’s Tzatziki, too. That’s a must!
A couple of other substantial side dishes on my site that would shine with these Greek Yogurt Shish Kebabs are my Kicked Up Cous Cous or this Greek Brown Rice Salad. You can never go wrong with a big, fat Greek Salad, either!
Making Greek Yogurt Shish Kebabs:
The recipe is so simple. Just grate your lemon zest from one lemon and juice two, then mix together the ingredients for the marinade. Popular wisdom usually says marinade for 30 minutes to 3 hours but I like to go for at least an hour and preferably overnight.
This is a great make-ahead recipe by the way, because you can also freeze the chicken with the marinade. It will get all the marinade time it needs as thaws overnight. I like to double recipes like this and have one for now and one for later.
The most important thing for this recipe is to get nice, even cuts on your chicken so they’ll thread easily and cook up all at the same time. I cut it into strips first, then chunks, but I cut squarish chunks out of the thicker pieces. As I cut down to the narrower end of the strips, I make wider cuts, rectangles, so to speak, so I can fold the thinner pieces over into a nice square shape.
The Skewers and Grilling:
As far as the skewers, I like to use metal skewers, but either metal or wood will work.
- Metal skewers can be picked up at almost any price level, they’re always available, and they’re no hassle to use. Of course, you do have to wash them.
- Bamboo skewers are fine, but they can sometimes be hard to find and pricing is a variable. I’ve seen them both cheap and surprisingly pricey. They’re a hassle to store and they do have to be soaked for 30 minutes before using.
Whether you grill on gas or charcoal, a two-level fire is best for these kebabs. Start them out hot to get a little color, then move them to the cooler side to cook through. That will help keep them moist. They really only take minutes to grill.
This seems as good as place as any to show you what’s been going on at our house! Chance is very happy we have found homes so far for four of the itty bitty kittie posse!
How to Store and Use any Leftovers:
As with most leftovers, you’re looking at three to five days, although I personally think four is pretty much the max with chicken. Remove from the skewers and refrigerate promptly. Reheat gently; that means a low level in the microwave, so they don’t toughen up.
My favorite way to use any leftovers, though, is to toss them in a salad or if I’ve cooked something like my rice pilaf, to make a bowl out of them.
There’s no need to ever pay full price for chicken – it goes on sale too often. It pays to know the difference between a good sales price and a rock bottom sales price (usually about once a quarter) and stock up at the low. Often these are larger family packs so portion out in sizes suitable for meals for your family and freeze. Chicken thighs would be cheaper but I prefer breasts, so substitute if you’d like.
I habitually buy the large cartons of yogurt, even when I can get the individual ones on sale with a coupon, just because I try to avoid as many additives and as much sugar as possible and I find them to be a bit better quality, although these days that’s changing. Even so, the larger cartons are so great to cook with and in my book, plain is more versatile. Your yogurt will do double duty as the marinade and in the Tzatziki.
In season in the winter months here, Lemons will also be at the best price then and bags will be available at a discount. That’s when you want to go wild with lemon recipes, but do watch for sales throughout the year. Weigh several lemons in your hand and pick the heaviest; it will hold the most juice. Minor imperfections in color don’t matter but don’t’ buy lemons that are drying out and browning.
To get the most from your lemon, roll it on the counter with a good bit of pressure and/or microwave for 20 to 30 seconds. You’ll always get more juice if you ream rather than squeeze.
By the way, if you don’t have Kosher salt, I suggest about a teaspoon and a half of table salt. This Morton’s Conversion Guide is a handy thing to bookmark.
I hope y’all enjoy this recipe! None of us have the time to slave over a hot grill in August but I swear you’ll look like a grill master with little time and effort! Aren’t those the best recipes to have on hand?
Greek Yogurt Shish Kebabs
- Prep Time: 25 minutes + Marinate
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Total Time: 45 active
- Yield: 6 servings 1x
- Category: main dish
- Cuisine: Greek
- 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into cubes about 3/4” inch thick
- 1 cup plain whole-milk Greek-style yogurt** (8 ounces)
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 lemons, 1 zested and juiced, the other juiced, and the 3rd sliced for serving
- 5 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
- 1 tablespoon Greek seasoning
- 2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt, divided (if your seasoning contains salt, omit)
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black peppers
Add yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice and zest, garlic cloves, and Greek seasoning along with one teaspoon salt and the pepper to a bowl; whisk to blend. Add chicken and marinade as is, covered, or transfer to a Ziploc bag. Chill for at least 30 minutes. Can be made 1 day ahead.
Prepare a two-level fire, medium-high heat on one side, medium-low on the other. Thread chicken pieces on metal skewers, dividing equally. Sprinkle the skewers with the remaining salt. Discard marinade. Brush grill rack with oil. Grill chicken on the hot side until it picks up color; slightly charred in spots is ok, then immediately move to the cooler side to continue to cook through. Turn skewers occasionally, 10 to 12 minutes total. Transfer skewers to platter. Surround with lemon slices from the remaining lemon and serve.
Keywords: Bargain Meal of the Week, Chicken, Chicken Breast, Greek, Grilled or Smoked, Lemon, Marinate, Shish Kebabs, Yogurt
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