Lebanese Chicken combines lean boneless chicken breasts in a tangy lemon garlic sauce, perfectly cooked in 15 minutes on the grill (indoors or outside). These chicken skewers are an easy main dish or great as an ingredient in other dishes or meal prep!
No matter how you decide to cook this popular street food style chicken recipe, it's delicious. Grilling, indoors or out, gives it crispy edges adding loads of smoky flavor. We included oven instructions too.
A perfect main dish or use the juicy chicken in wraps, on salads, pita bread sandwiches and more. It's an easy recipe that's great way to keep chicken exciting!
The main flavors of this Lebanese chicken are borrowed from Shish Tawook (the Turkisk term meaning 'shish' skewer and 'tawook' chicken). In a traditional shish tawook recipe the boneless chicken breasts are marinated in a yogurt lemon spice marinade before grilling. We've omitted the yogurt and kept the lemon, garlic, tomato paste and spices.
What makes this skinny?
Lean chicken breast, very little olive oil or calorie-heavy ingredients in the marinade. Packed with flavor, not with calories.
Recipe Ingredients Notes
Boneless skinless chicken breasts. You'll need 1.5 pounds cut into 1-inch cubes. Ensure the pieces are the same size for even cooking time.
What skewers to use
There are a few types of skewers we recommend.
Flat skewers - metal or bamboo. The beauty of this type of skewer is the ingredient don't spin around ON the skewer as it's rotated over the heat. I'm sure you've made kabobs and are you turn the skewers the ingredients stick to the grill or don't rotate resulting in uneven cooking. Flat skewers take care of that.
Bamboo skewers with a grill guard. A grill master tipped me off years ago that a test was done on soaked and unsoaked bamboo skewers and they both caught fire in the same amount of time. I never soak bamboo skewers; I use a grill guard instead.
Simply fold a sheet of aluminum foil to lay on the grill and when placing the skewers on the grill ensure the exposed end (or do it on both ends if needed) are over the foil, not the open grill grates. It will get hot so be careful when rotating the skewers.
How to make Lebanese Chicken - Step-by-Step
STEP 1. Marinate the chicken
In a large bowl combine the chicken with marinade ingredients: olive oil, minced garlic cloves, smoked paprika, lemon juice, tomato paste, crushed chili flakes and salt and black pepper (photos 1-3). Toss to evenly coat (photo 4).
Cover with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
Alternatively the marinade can be combined into a gallon zipper top plastic bag and mixed together. Add the chicken, squeeze the air out of the bag and seal. Massage the bag from the outside to coat the chicken.
STEP 2. Make the skewers
Using six metal or bamboo skewers divide the marinated chicken evenly between the skewers (approximately 6 pieces per skewer).
Electric indoor grill or grill pan
This method works for a stand alone indoor grill, a grill pan on the stove top or a cast iron large skillet. With a cast iron pan check that the skewer length fits in the pan before beginning.
- If using a free standing electric indoor grill or a grill plate on the stove top heat to medium-high heat (400 degrees).
- Lightly spray with non-stick spray if not a non-stick grill plate.
- Place the skewers on the preheated grill in a single layer with some space in between. Rotate every 3-4 minutes to cook all four sides of the skewers for a total of 12-15 mintues. Check the temperature with a food thermometer to ensure the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165 degrees F.
- Remove from heat, allow to sit for a few minutes before serving.
- Heat the grill to medium-high heat (400 degrees F). Scrape and lightly oil the grill.
- Place the skewers on the grill and close the lid. Turn every 3 minutes to rotate each of the four sides to face the grill.
- Check the internal temperature. If it has reached 165 degrees remove the skewers and let rest for a few minutes before serving.
- Place the skewers on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet.
- Allow them to cook for 20-25 minutes, turning them over once during cooking.
- Check the internal temperature. If it has reaches 165 degrees remove the chicken and allow to rest before serving. If it has not reached 165 degrees allow to cook a few more minutes to reach the done temperature.
Boneless skinless chicken thighs. Substitute chicken thighs. Thighs stay moist when grilled due to a higher fat content and work great in this recipe.
Add lemon zest. The marinade has plenty of lemon flavor but you can also add some fresh lemon zest too.
Add more spices. Traditional Shish Tawook can everything from just a few spices to a handful creating a vibrant flavor profile. Other common spices used are: cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg, oregano, allspice or white pepper. You could add fresh herbs too.
It's amazing how a handful of everyday spices can create such a burst of flavors! You can change up this chicken dish every time you make it.
Do not marinate the chicken more than 1 hour. The amount of lemon juice in the marinade will begin to make the chicken breast meat tough if it's over marinated. Thirty to sixty minutes is all that is needed.
Don't jam the chicken pieces together on the skewer. They will cook more evenly if the chicken pieces are next to each other but not smashed together.
Make the chicken pieces the same size. This ensures even cooking for the whole skewer in the same amount of time.
How to Store
Remove the chicken from the skewers and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Reheat in the microwave.
FREEZER: remove chicken from skewers and allow to cool. Place in an airtight freezer container or freezer bag and freezer for up to 2 months. Thaw in the refrigerator.
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Lebanese Chicken Skewers
- 1 ½ pounds boneless skinless chicken breast cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 medium garlic cloves diced
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- Juice from 1 medium lemon
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
- In a bowl combine the chicken, olive oil, garlic, smoked paprika, lemon juice, tomato paste, crushed red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Toss to evenly coat. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate for 30-60 minutes in the refrigerator.
- Remove from the refrigerator. Divide chicken evenly between 6 skewers (around 6 pieces of chicken per skewer). Place them on the skewers so the pieces are touching but not jammed together tightly.
Grilling: indoor grill, grill pan or outdoor grill
- Heat a grill or cast iron skillet over medium high heat (400 degrees F). Place all the skewers on the hot grill with space in between them. Cook for 3-4 minutes on a side, flip and repeat for each of the four sides (total of 12-15 minutes). The internal temperature of the chicken should reach 165 degrees F.
- Remove from the grill, allow to rest for 2 minutes and serve.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the skewers on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet.
- Allow them to cook for 20-25 minutes, turning them over once during cooking.Check the internal temperature. If it has reaches 165 degrees remove the chicken and allow to rest before serving. If it has not reached 165 degrees allow to cook a few more minutes to reach the done temperature.