Grilled Chicken (Middle Eastern)

Grilled chicken is an all-time favorite for salads and sandwiches. It’s particularly popular in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine. That’s where the most delicious marinades come from that make your grilled chicken so juicy and tender.

If you’re looking for a Middle Eastern grilled chicken recipe that pairs well with anything from salads, sandwiches, bowls, rice to fries, then you have found the right candidate here. Let me show you step-by-step how to prepare the best grilled chicken breast.

Grilled chicken

Grilled Chicken Ingredients

  • Chicken breast: This recipe works great with chicken breast. You can also use chicken thighs instead, or a mix of both.
  • Olive oil: Olive oil (or another type of vegetable oil, such as sunflower oil) is required to fry the chicken in the pan.

For the marinade, you’ll need the following ingredients:

  • Yogurt: Plain whole-milk yogurt. This is the secret ingredient which makes your chicken so tender and juicy)
  • Olive oil: Olive oil provides the best taste. You can also use another type of vegetable oil such as sunflower or canola oil.
  • Garlic cloves: Use fresh garlic cloves
  • Lemon: Freshly squeezed lemon juice or bottled lemon juice.
  • Harissa (or tomato paste): Harissa is a chili paste that will give your marinade a slightly spicy flavor. You can use tomato paste if you don’t want it spicy.
  • Seasonings: dried oregano, paprika, Aleppo pepper (or cayenne pepper or chili for some more heat), ground coriander, salt and pepper.

Note: The exact quantities (according to the amount of servings) can be found in the recipe card at the end of this recipe.

Shawarma marinade

How to Make Grilled Chicken?

Ready to make Middle Eastern grilled chicken? Yallah, let’s get started!

Step 1: Prepare the marinade

To begin, prepare the marinade by squeezing lemon and crushing garlic cloves. In a mixing bowl, combine lemon juice, crushed garlic, oil, yogurt, chili paste and seasonings such as dried oregano, paprika, Aleppo pepper, coriander, salt and pepper. Whisk the ingredients well to make a marinade.

Step 2: Pound the chicken (optional)

If the chicken is uneven in thickness, you can make it even by covering it with plastic wrap and pounding it a few times with a mallet. Alternatively, you can filet it with a knife.

Step 3: Mix chicken and marinade

Add the chicken to the marinade and mix it well to ensure that the chicken is evenly coated in the marinade. Cover the marinated chicken and refrigerate it for at least 3 hours.

Step 4: Fry

Heat olive oil in a large frying pan or griddle pan. Add the marinated chicken to the pan and fry it on medium heat for 4-5 minutes on each side (8-10 minutes in total).

Step 5: Serve

Once the chicken is cooked, remove it from the pan and serve it uncut or cut into slices. Prepare any side dishes beforehand to ensure that the grilled chicken is served warm.

Grilled chicken Middle Eastern

What to Serve with Grilled Chicken?

Grilled chicken is a versatile dish that can be enjoyed in many ways. It can be added to a simple green salad or sandwich. Grilled chicken is a wonderful way to enhance a bowl. It tastes great in combination with beans and grilled vegetables.

Organizing a BBQ? Middle Eastern dips such as hummus, mutabal or muhammara make a wonderful addition to grilled chicken. It also tastes great with Middle Eastern salads like tabouli or fattoush as well as grilled halloumi.

If you’re serving it as a main course, try pairing it with Lebanese butter rice or french fries.

Green salad with chicken

Make Ahead & Storage

Grilled chicken tastes best warm, right after frying. That’s when it’s juicy and tender. Nevertheless, grilled chicken is a great candidate for meal prep. You can use it for salads, sandwiches and bowls.

Leave to cool any leftovers, then transfer them to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. Enjoy at room temperature or warm up in the microwave.

Any Questions or Feedback?

If you liked this recipe, I’d appreciate it if you could leave a star rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ below. In case you’ve any questions or feedback, please leave me a comment (down the page). I’m happy to help you make delicious Middle Eastern food at home.

Grilled chicken

Grilled Chicken (Middle Eastern)

Kitty Ramasamy
Grilled chicken is a classic across the globe. This is how to prepare Middle Eastern grilled chicken. Juicy and tender chicken filet coated in a savory marinade with Middle Eastern spices.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Middle Eastern, Arabic
Servings 4 people
Calories 408 kcal


  • 900 g (2 lb) chicken breast or thighs, boneless
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil for frying


  • 2 Tbsp whole-milk yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil for the marinade
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 lemon or lemon juice
  • 1 tsp Harissa chili paste, or tomato paste
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp Aleppo pepper or cayenne pepper or chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper


  • Start off with the marinade. Squeeze a lemon, crush the garlic cloves. Combine lemon juice, crushed garlic, oil, yogurt, chili paste and seasonings (dried oregano, paprika, Aleppo pepper, coriander, salt and pepper) in a mixing bowl. Whisk to combine.
  • If your chicken is very unequal in thickness, you can cover it in plastic wrap and pound it a few times with a mallet to make it equal in thickness. Alternatively, you can filet it with a knife.
  • Add the chicken to the marinade. Mix well to make sure the chicken is evenly coated in marinade. Cover and let rest in the fridge for at least 3 hours.
  • Heat oil in a large frying pan or griddle pan. Add the marinated chicken into the pan and fry it for 4-5 on each side (about 8-10 minutes in total) on medium heat.
  • Remove from the pan. Serve uncut or cut into slices before serving. Serve with rice, fries, bread or a salad of your choice. Sides can be prepared before you grill the chicken to ensure it’s served warm.


  • Which chicken to use? I recommend that you use boneless chicken. Chicken breast and thighs work best for this recipe. You can also use a mix of both.
  • Allow the marinate enough time (at least 2-3 hours, better overnight). However, don’t over marinate it either (max. 24 hours).
  • Unlike red meat, chicken always has to be well done. Your chicken should be browned from the outside and well done from the inside. Don’t overcook the chicken as it will become dry if you fry it for too long.
  • I like to use Harissa (Arabic chili paste) and Aleppo pepper to make the chicken slightly spicy. For a mild version of this dish, substitute the chili paste by tomato paste and omit the Aleppo pepper. Don’t have Aleppo pepper? You can substitute it with cayenne pepper.
  • Grilling the chicken on an outdoor BBQ? Olive oil is great for pan frying your chicken. However, I recommend that you use sunflower oil (for the marinade) when grilling the chicken on an outdoor BBQ. That’s because sunflower oil has a higher smoking point which makes it more suitable for very high temperatures.


Calories: 408kcalCarbohydrates: 6gProtein: 49gFat: 21gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 0.03gCholesterol: 145mgSodium: 592mgPotassium: 961mgFiber: 2gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 899IUVitamin C: 18mgCalcium: 60mgIron: 2mg

Nutrition information is only a rough estimate and may vary depending on factors such as the cooking method, exact weight, type, and brand of ingredients used.

Keyword Grilled chicken, Chicken
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