Chicken koobideh features seasoned ground chicken cooked on flat metal skewers. Make this Persian kebab recipe for a flavorful healthy meal!
There are so many different ways to cook chicken, but there's something extra special about grilled or broiled chicken.
The crispy bits of caramelized meat are packed with flavor, and even better, grilled chicken dishes are typically healthier than most other preparations.
Cuisine: Middle Eastern / Iranian (Persian)
Kebabs are incredibly popular in Persian cuisine. In fact, chelo kebab is considered the national dish of Iran. The majority of Persian kebab recipes, including koobideh, call for either beef or lamb.
While beef and lamb koobideh are delicious, chicken koobideh is a fantastic option for anyone looking for a healthier option. It's a nice way to cut back on your consumption of red meat, too.
Plus, ground chicken is leaner, lower in cholesterol, fat, and calories than ground beef or lamb.
Persian ground chicken skewers, koobideh kebab
koo · buh · dae
broiled or grilled
Difficulty: Easy 🥄
Seasoned ground chicken and vegetable mixture formed around flat metal skewers, then grilled or broiled.
This chicken koobideh recipe is a cross between a traditional koobideh kebab and joojeh kebab, a Persian chicken kabob with pieces of chicken rather than ground meat.
I think you'll love this simple Persian grilled chicken recipe!
Ingredient notes and substitutions
The ground chicken sold at most grocery stores has a combination of white and dark meat, and about 20% of it is fat. An 80/20 blend is perfect, as the fat adds moisture (and flavor) to the koobideh.
If you have trouble finding packages of ground chicken, you can do what I do; make your own ground chicken!
All you need is a food processor or meat grinder. Grinding your own meat and poultry is usually less expensive, and the flavor is better too.
Spices and herbs
Saffron is a very popular seasoning in Persian dishes, but for this koobideh recipe, I changed things up a bit.
To give the dish Middle Eastern flair, I use ground coriander, paprika and Persian advieh to season the meat. Feel free to switch it up and try my Lebanese 7 spice instead. In addition to the spices, I use fresh parsley, cilantro, and lemon zest to add brightness.
To add flavor to the ground chicken mixture and also to help keep the chicken koobideh from drying out, I used a basting sauce.
The sauce has flavors of red bell pepper, red onion, and red shatta sauce and it is SO delicious!
Chicken Koobideh FAQ
Iranian shish kebab skewers are best for making ground meat kebab recipes. Made of metal, the skewers are flat rather than round, and including the handle, typically 14 to 16 inches long. The large, flat surface area assists in holding the ground meat mixture together.
If you don't have access to flat skewers, use two round wood skewers (soaked in water first) as a substitute for one flat skewer.
You'll want a bowl of cold water nearby to help with assembling the Koobideh. While you're filling the bowl, slip your hands under the cold water too. Having everything chilled helps to keep the meat from falling off the skewers.
The calories in one Koobideh kebab can vary depending on the quality and type of meat and other ingredients in the mixture. One skewer of lamb koobideh has about 236 calories. Meanwhile, one skewer of chicken koobideh with basting sauce has 206 calories.
Instructions and tips for assembling Koobideh kebabs
- Chill the skewers, the meat and your hands.
Before you start assembling the chicken Koobideh, place the meat mixture and metal Koobideh sticks into the refrigerator for a few minutes.
If you'll be using wooden skewers, soak them in water for 30 minutes to prevent them from catching fire.
You'll want to have a bowl of cold water next to you during assembly. When you're filling the bowl, slip your hands under the cold water for a minute. This helps prevent the warmth of your hands from overworking the chicken koobideh mixture.
- Shape chicken mixture around each kebab skewer.
Separate your ground chicken mixture evenly for however many koobideh you'll be making.
Take one portion of the mixture and press it onto a skewer, then dip your hands in the water and shape the meat around the flat metal skewer.
You can keep this simple and just create a log shape. For a traditional presentation, use the index finger and thumb of one hand to pinch some of the meat mixture together. The technique (shown in the below image) is similar to fluting a pie crust.
- Grill or broil the chicken koobideh.
If you plan to cook your meal indoors, place the skewers on a metal rack set over a baking sheet. Then set an oven rack 4 to 5 inches below the broiler element.
For grilling koobideh on a gas grill, be sure the grates are clean, then set the grill to 350°F. Also, to prevent the food from sticking, oil the grill grates before adding the chicken skewers.
Before cooking, brush the basting sauce onto one side of each chicken koobideh.
Cook on the first side for 3 to 4 minutes, then flip the skewers over and apply basting sauce to the other side. Then, cook the other side for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 163°F.
The food will continue to cook as it rests prior to serving.
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- 2 lbs boneless chicken breast (cut into 2 inch chunks)
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 medium red onion
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- ¼ cup fresh parsley
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves (optional)
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 2 teaspoon advieh spice blend (or Lebanese 7 Spice)
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- reserved water from red pepper and red onion
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon red shatta sauce or favorite chili paste
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- If using wood skewers, soak in water for 30 minutes to prevent burning.
- In a food processor, pulse red bell pepper and red onion until minced. Remove and drain in a sieve over a bowl to collect water for basting sauce.
- In a food processor, pulse the chicken until minced well. Add the pepper/onion mixture, garlic, parsley, cilantro, lemon zest, flour and remaining spices. Pulse until mixed well.
- Place chicken mixture in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Make the basting sauce. Add lemon juice, chili paste, tomato paste and salt to reserved red pepper and onion water. Stir to combine; set aside.
- Divide meat mixture evenly into 8-10 portions. Dip fingers into bowl of cold water, then one portion at a time, form meat around a 1-inch wide flat metal shish kebab skewer, molding and flattening meat to make each chicken koobideh kebab about 6-8 inches long (See Note 2). For a traditional look, gently press meat between your thumb and index finger once meat is on skewer (see photos). If not using skewers, shape meat into 8-inch long log shape. Set kabobs aside on greased wire rack set over a baking tray. Brush each koobideh kebab with basting sauce.
- Turn on oven broiler OR clean and preheat charcoal or gas grill to 350°F. Apply cooking oil to grill grates to prevent sticking. Place tray of skewers under broiler, or each kebab skewer on grates of grill. NOTE: Lay skewers perpendicular to the direction of grates to prevent ground meat mixture from falling off into the fire. Cook 3–4 minutes, then turn each skewer over and baste with remaining sauce. Continue cooking another 3-4 minutes.
*The information shown below is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.
Tender, tasty and great instructions. You have the BEST spice blends. Thanks for sharing chef. 🙂
Thanks so much Bill! Appreciate you coming back to let me know. Condiments and spices always make the meal.
Can't tell you how many times my family ask for these. FANTASTIC Kevin! Thanks for sharing another winner!
Thanks for making my day Leslie, glad the family enjoys these as much as I do!
Amazing flavor and the basting sauce was perfect. Having it all minced together instead of diced ingredients made it for me. Have made 3 times so had to come back and let you know.
Thanks for taking the time to come back and let me know Ingrid. These are so flavorful and tender when not over cooked and the basting sauce IS fantastic!