Lebanese grilled chicken kabobs, shish tawook, is a delicacy that graces every Sunday lunch table across my homeland. Imagine this: chicken breast cubes marinated in a combination of aromatic spices, skewered and grilled to perfection, served alongside homemade toum garlic sauce. If you're ready to spice up your week with one delicious grilled chicken kabob recipe, let it be this one.
The Secret To Shish Tawook
The secret to the best shish tawook is the marinade. The combination of garlic, citrus, olive oil, and yogurt gives you the juiciest, most delicious Lebanese chicken shish tawook. What's even better is that the marinade is super easy to make.
- Chicken breast cubes: Use fresh chicken breasts for this chicken kabob recipe, preferably organic and not previously frozen.
- Yogurt: Use plain unsweetened yogurt, either full-fat or fat-free (it doesn't matter).
- Olive oil: Any type of extra virgin olive oil works for this recipe.
- Lemon juice: I recommend using fresh lemon juice.
- Ketchup: I love adding a tablespoon because I feel it gives the chicken a bit more flavor and color when grilling.
- Garlic: Mash or press the garlic into a garlic paste.
- A mix of Lebanese spices: These include allspice, seven spices, white pepper and a hint of cinnamon.
How to Make Chicken Shish Tawook
Cube the chicken breast into similar-sized chunks. Place the chicken chunks in an oven baking dish or bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the chicken breast chunks.
Add the garlic, lemon juice, yogurt, ketchup, olive oil, and salt.
Hint: I like to add my marinade ingredients to the chicken one by one and I spread them a little to make sure all the cubes are flavored.
Mix the chicken shish tawook very well so that every chicken cube is well covered. Marinate the chicken overnight or at a minimum of 2 hours in the fridge.
Hint: The yogurt, lemon juice, olive oil, and ketchup tenderize the chicken and add an incredible flavor.
Skewer the chicken while the grill is getting prepared.
Grill the chicken shish tawook skewers for about 8 to 10 minutes, or 4 to 5 minutes on each side.
Tips and Tricks
- Use fresh chicken. This chicken kabob recipe is best using fresh, organic, free-range chicken breast.
- The longer you marinate, the juicier the chicken: I like to marinate the Lebanese chicken shish tawook overnight and feel that's the perfect amount of time for them to tenderize and be ready for grilling. That said, we're all in a rush sometimes, so if you're short on time you can marinate them for a minimum of 2 hours.
- Save some of the marinade and brush it on the shish tawook skewers while you're grilling them for an added layer of flavor.
- Don't overgrill: This is very important, because grilling the cubes for too long results in dry chicken.
Substitutions and Variations
- Oven baked shish tawook: Follow the same marinade steps for this recipe however bake the chicken skewers instead of grilling them. If you make this variation make sure to double the marinade ingredients so that the chicken doesn't dry out in the oven.
- Grilled Lebanese chicken veggie shish tawook: Add chopped onions, bell pepper chunks or even mushrooms to the chicken skewers to give them a colorful twist.
- Change up the shish tawook marinade: Add in a little bit of lemon zest to the shish tawook marinade. I sometimes play around with the spices when marinating the chicken. A dash of paprika, some oregano, or thyme will also work.
Use a chef's knife and cutting board to cut the chicken breast into chicken kabob chunks. Mash the garlic cloves with a mortar and pestle, or with a garlic press. Squeeze the lemons with a hand lemon squeezer or citrus juicer. Wooden grilling skewers or metal skewers are needed to skewer the chicken kabobs. Grill the kabobs using a gas grill or a charcoal grill.
Store chicken tawook in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. If the chicken is not previously frozen, you can marinate the chicken and store the chunks of chicken in a freezer-friendly storage bag in the freezer. Just defrost the chicken cubes and skewer the meat when ready to eat.
Recipes To Serve With Chicken Kabobs
Whatever you do, never serve these shish tawook skewers without a side of delicious toum garlic sauce. I love to serve these with some hot pita bread and a side of tabbouleh and Lebanese street fries. Grilled Lebanese shish tawook can also be served with a side of yogurt or yogurt drink (laban ayran).