Dinner on the Grill: Moroccan-Spiced Chicken Kabobs with Whipped Feta Sauce
Bookmark this recipe. You’ll want it the next time it’s too hot to cook in your kitchen — which might be tonight! I asked Lindsey to keep the easy summer dinner recipes coming, and she is totally nailing it. Don’t these Chicken Kabobs look amazing? At our house, we ADORE anything that even hints at Greek food (if a recipe includes feta, it counts!), and I know my whole family will give this meal 5-stars.
Here’s what Lindsey says:
We’ve moved from easy sheet pan dinners to meals that I can prepare (almost) entirely on the grill. And no one is complaining at my house! I can get my kids to eat practically anything if it’s cooked on the grill. Thus grilling season, I think, may be my favorite of all. That’s assuming it’s never not grilling season, I suppose. During the winter we put our grill away and it’s always a welcome sight when we bring it back out onto the patio.
One of our favorite things to grill is kabobs. They’re easy to make, cook, and eat. Chicken is always popular and I never run out of ways to change things up. These Moroccan-Spiced Chicken Kabobs are a huge hit and can be eaten straight off the skewer, or folded into a flatbread with hummus, lettuce, and veggies.
And there may be a delicious feta sauce too…
The key to great kabobs is totally the marinade. The grilling itself adds a lot of flavor, but grilling can also enhance a really delicious marinade and take it up a few notches.
Chicken breasts or thighs can be used here. Thighs have more flavor, but with the marinade and short cooking time, the chicken breasts stay tender and flavorful too. Use whichever you like best. And from there it’s all about the seasonings.
I use a base of either yogurt or buttermilk combined with olive oil and fresh lemon juice, and add tons of spice and plenty of salt. Before adding meat or chicken to marinades, it’s important to taste it. And this one is a little on the salty side, but that’s what helps keep the chicken flavorful. The buttermilk, yogurt, and lemon juice help tenderize the meat as it’s seasoned with the spices. If you’re short on time, marinate for 30-45 minutes, but it really benefits from 4-5 hours. I like to prep it in the morning, pop the chicken in the fridge to hang out for a few hours, and then it’s ready when 6:00 rolls around.
You don’t have to include veggies on the skewers, they can be cooked on separate skewers, but it is pretty with the alternating colors and the veggies do add extra flavor the chicken as it cooks. Just be sure to cut the veggies into small enough pieces so they cook in the same amount of time as the chicken. And for food safety reasons, be sure everything is piping hot and cooked through, including between the veggies and chicken.
A word about skewers. I go back and forth between metal and bamboo skewers, but I think I like the metal ones when there’s meat or chicken involved. The skewers get piping hot and help cook the inside as the outside is cooking and it seems to help prevent undercooking. If you’re using bamboo skewers, the kabobs may require a bit more cooking time. That’s when it’s nice to have an indirect heat side of the grill. You can also put the lid on to finish cooking. I don’t usually put the lid on the grill for something that cooks this quickly. But every grill is different, so do what works best for you and feels intuitive.
And now for one of the best parts: the Whipped Feta Sauce. Are you a fan of sauces? If there’s a yummy dipping sauce I’m a happy girl. This one is very simple — yogurt, feta, lemon juice, salt and pepper, a little olive oil, and fresh mint. And it’s glorious! Any leftover sauce can double as an awesome salad dressing or veggie dip too.
Moroccan-Spiced Chicken Kabobs with Whipped Feta Sauce
3 pounds chicken breasts or thighs, cut into 1.5-inch cubes
1/2 cup plain unsweetened yogurt or buttermilk
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon each: ground cumin, ground cinnamon, ground coriander, paprika
1/2 teaspoon each: ground ginger and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
For Whipped Feta Sauce:
4 ounces feta cheese
7 ounces Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Metal or pre-soaked bamboo skewers
1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2″ rounds
1/2 medium red onion, cut into 1″ pieces
1-2 bell peppers, cut into 1″ pieces (you won’t need an entire pepper, but the alternating colors are fun)
8 soft flatbreads or pitas, warmed
1. Place the cubed chicken in a casserole dish or large resealable plastic bag.
2. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the yogurt or buttermilk, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, sugar, and spices. Pour over the chicken cubes and toss to coat. Cover dish or reseal bag and refrigerate for at least 30-45 minutes, or preferably several hours to marinate.
For Whipped Feta Sauce:
While chicken is marinating, place all of the sauce ingredients, except the mint, into a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Add the mint and pulse a few times. Transfer to a jar or bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve.
1. Preheat a barbecue grill for direct heat. If using a charcoal grill, spread coals out evenly under the grate to prevent hot spots. Clean and oil the grill grates.
2. While the grill is preheating, thread the chicken cubes, zucchini, red onion, and bell peppers in alternating layers on the skewers. Set aside until ready to grill.
3. Place the prepared kabobs on the grill and allow to cook for 3-4 minutes on the first side, then rotate the skewers and allow to cook for several minutes each on the other three sides. The grill lid doesn’t need to be on for this. The kabobs cook fairly quickly.
4. Transfer the kebabs to a serving platter and keep warm until ready to serve.
Serve kabobs on the skewer or folded into a pita with a little hummus, lettuce, cucumber, and tomato, topped with a drizzle of the Whipped Feta Sauce. Serve warm.
– Cubed lamb or beef can be substituted for the chicken.
– Other vegetables can be substituted for the ones listed above.
– For a thicker feta sauce, use a little less yogurt. It will thicken slightly as it sits.
– To warm up the pitas or flatbreads, I use long tongs and place them directly on the grill after I’ve removed the kabobs. (This may require a little bit of scrubbing if the grates aren’t clean.) About 15-30 seconds per side is perfect.
Thank you, Lindsey! This meal looks so summery and delicious. I can’t wait to fire up the grill.
How about you, Dear Readers? Are your kids into kabobs? I don’t know if mine would be patient enough to remove the food from the sticks and put it in a pita — sometimes they prefer to eat right off the skewer. Yours too?
P.S. — Another dinner on the grill idea.
Credits: Recipe and photos by Lindsey Rose Johnson for Design Mom.
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