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Lemony Moroccan-Style Chicken Kebabs

Scott Phillips

Servings: six

Microwaving the lemons is a quick method for giving them the flavor of preserved lemons.


For the marinade:

  • 2 lemons
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 1/8-inch-thick slices peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp. dried marjoram
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • Pinch saffron threads
  • 1 tsp. light brown sugar
  • 2-1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil

For the kebabs:

  • 2-1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 1 sweet onion (like Vidalia), cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch squares
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 1-inch squares
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley for garnish

For the Yogurt-Lemon Sauce:

  • 1 seedless cucumber, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 cups plain whole-milk yogurt
  • Kosher salt

Nutritional Information

  • Nutritional Sample Size based on six servings
  • Calories (kcal) : 396
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 191
  • Fat (g): 21
  • Saturated Fat (g): 6
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 4
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 9
  • Cholesterol (mg): 135
  • Sodium (mg): 583
  • Carbohydrates (g): 13
  • Fiber (g): 2
  • Protein (g): 38


Make the marinade:

  • Cut four deep, lengthwise gashes, equally spaced, into each lemon. Put the lemons and garlic cloves in a small microwavable container. Cover and microwave on high until the lemons are soft and juice has exuded from them, about 4 min. (If not soft, continue to microwave in 30-second intervals). Strain the juice into a small container and let the lemons and garlic cool briefly. When the lemons are cool enough to handle, separate them into sections. Scrape the pulp and most of the white pith away with a spoon; discard. Put the scraped lemon peels, garlic, lemon juice, and remaining marinade ingredients in a blender and purée to make a coarse, soft paste. Set 2 Tbs.aside to use for the yogurt sauce.

Marinate the chicken:

  • Put the chicken into a 1-gallon zip-top bag; scrape in the remaining marinade. Massage the bag to coat all the chicken pieces and marinate for 1 to 2 hours in the refrigerator.

Grill the kebabs:

  • Build a medium-hot charcoal fire or heat a gas grill to medium high. Dump the chicken into a bowl, but don’t scrape off any excess marinade. Put the onion and peppers in the marinade bag and massage them to coat with the marinade (it’s fine if the onion pieces break apart). Transfer to another bowl. Thread the chicken onto skewers, positioning a piece of onion and pepper between the pieces of chicken. If there’s extra pepper or onion, thread them onto separate skewers, if you like.

    When ready to grill, oil the grill grate. Grill the kebabs over direct heat (uncovered for charcoal; covered for gas), turning the skewers every 2 to 3 min. until the chicken is firm and shows no redness when cut into, about 10 to 15 min. Check several pieces of chicken to be sure.

Make the sauce:

  • Combine the reserved 2 Tbs. marinade with the cucumber, cilantro, yogurt, and 2 tsp. salt. Mix well. (Make the sauce no more than an hour before serving or it will be too watery).

To serve:

  • Remove the chicken and vegetables from the skewers and serve them in a mound with the yogurt sauce on the side.


Flat or double-pronged skewers keep food from spinning when you turn them.


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Reviews (10 reviews)

  • Artzee2 | 07/08/2011

    Really very special. I found the recipe easy and an easy summer meal. My husband, who tends to be a picky eater, ate every bite including the veggies.

  • twood | 07/03/2011

    This was so... good! I made this dish for a potluck BBQ and there was nothing left to take home! Like other reviewers, I used chicken breast instead of thighs and just grilled the breasts rather than making kebabs. I will try it as kebabs next time though, because I think this chicken would be excellent skewered with roasted peppers and onions as in the recipe. I will most likely zest the lemons before microwaving them next time around, because scraping out the pulp was kind of a pain. The cucumber-yogurt sauce was the perfect condiment! I added mint and parsley instead of cilantro, since many of my friends are anti-cilantro. All in all, this recipe is definitely a keeper!

  • Monona_Mom | 07/01/2010

    One other thing - cook whatever veggies you are using on separate skewers. The meat and the veggies often have different cooking times. This way you'll have both perfectly cooked veggies and meat.

  • MononaMom | 07/30/2009

    I have made this many times. It's a terrific summer dinner for guests. I usually make it with half lamb and half chicken, but otherwise follow the recipe pretty closely.I use wooden skewers - the trick to not having the meat spin on them when you flip the kabobs is to use two skewers about 1/4 inch apart per kabob.

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