Turmeric-Yogurt Grilled Chicken

July 15, 2019
7 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland
  • Prep time 3 minutes
  • Cook time 12 minutes
  • Serves 6
Author Notes

Grilled chicken is one of my family’s favorite go-to meals in the summer (and year-round, thanks to my Nebraskan husband who will gladly grill in the snow), yet the options for preparing it are dizzying. I feel like we’ve tried every preparation under the sun.

As much as I like to experiment, we keep coming back to this turmeric-yogurt marinated chicken, inspired by Indian tandoori chicken that's marinated in yogurt and spices and blistered in a tandoor oven. It’s the sassiest, easiest, most beautiful chicken in our repertoire. The yogurt both tenderizes the chicken and promotes a gorgeous char on the grill, and the sunny brightness of the turmeric and lemon shines through in every bite.

Even better, the yogurt marinade doubles as a sauce, which is just as good slathered over grilled vegetables, grains, and flatbread as it is the grilled chicken. The flavors of the chicken and yogurt sauce pair well with practically any side dish, a boon for both well-planned and spontaneous gatherings. For a fun twist, substitute coconut yogurt for the plain yogurt. —EmilyC

What You'll Need
  • 1 1/4 cups plain whole-milk yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons Morton's kosher salt, divided (or 3 1/2 teaspoons Diamond Crystal, divided)
  • 1 teaspoon light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice, or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 1/2 to 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves with tender stems + lemon wedges (optional)
  1. In a small bowl, stir together the yogurt, turmeric, cumin, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, brown sugar, lemon juice, and olive oil into well integrated. Taste and adjust seasoning and acidity.
  2. In a bowl or plastic zipper-lock bag, combine chicken with 1/2 cup yogurt sauce and the remaining 1 teaspoon kosher salt, turning to evenly coat (reserve the rest of the yogurt sauce for serving). Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or up to 24 hours.
  3. Heat grill to medium-high. Brush your grates clean, then brush with oil. Grill chicken until golden brown and cooked through, about 5 to 6 minutes per side, or until 165 degrees F in the thickest part. Top with cilantro and serve yogurt sauce and lemon wedges on the side (if using).

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Jaxmccaff
  • EmilyC
  • ss

Recipe by: EmilyC

I'm a home cook. I love salads. Two things you'll always find in my refrigerator are lemons and butter, and in my pantry good quality chocolate and the makings for chocolate chip cookies.

3 Reviews

ss February 25, 2021
I've made this recipe many, many times. It's my go-to when feeding a crowd, since it's easy to scale up, and I've even made this camping (put the whole yogurt chicken marinade beforehand in a freezer ziploc in the cooler!)
Thanks for sharing this!
Jaxmccaff April 29, 2020
This is a great recipe! Easy to make and the marinade and resulting yogurt sauce are delicious. I used honey instead of brown sugar and chicken breast instead of thighs and it was lovely. I'll make this again for sure.
EmilyC April 30, 2020
Wonderful! So glad you tried and liked this. Thanks for your note!