This simple and flavorful Tahini Chicken recipe makes a juicy, succulent meal that takes advantage of full Mediterranean flavors. It’s a delicious blend of spicy, savory, sweet, and zesty. Pair this grilled chicken with any of your favorite summertime sides!
This is one tahini chicken recipe that you won’t want to miss. It uses ingredients that you can find year round so it’s always seasonal, delicious, and easy to make!
My grilled chicken comes out moist, juicy, and tender every time. This is all thanks to a marinade of Mediterranean flavors: garlic and shallots, parsley and rosemary, and Greek yogurt brightened up with a splash of lemon and a dash of spicy red pepper flakes. The sesame tahini paste adds a nutty, savory flavor that really takes this dish to the next level.
Regardless of what type of protein, make sure to keep your marinating time under 24 hours. For chicken, if an acid like lemon juice is in the marinade I typically like to keep the marinade process to 4 hours because the meat can start to break down and have a mushy texture, but overnight is OK with this one.
If you have tahini leftover? Make some delicious Fudgy Brownies, Yogurt Sauce, or veggie dip.
Freshen up the meal with a side of Fasolakia or Spanakopita. Or choose from some of these delicious Greek appetizers or a Shirazi Salad as pictured here!
INGREDIENT NOTES AND SUBSTITUTIONS
- Chicken - This tahini chicken recipe calls for 2 lbs of boneless thighs. Use breasts instead for a lower overall fat content, but be sure to adjust the cooking time to compensate.
- Tahini Paste - This creamy paste is made of sesame seeds. While this makes it very nutty, it is also rather savory and earthy.
- Olive Oil - Tahini paste is naturally rather thick and has a strong, nutty flavor. Olive oil will help to thin it out, neutralize its taste, and form the base of the sauce.
- Garlic & Shallots - These aromatics give the marinade a sharp, pungent, and full flavor.
- Red Pepper Flakes - This spicy seasoning will give the marinade a bit of heat. Its flavor goes great with meat marinades, and its smokiness is particularly well suited for grilling.
- Parsley & Rosemary - With the heavier spices and flavors in the sauce, it needs a couple of herbs to help balance things out. These herbs are both fresh and peppery in flavor and will add a pleasant aroma.
- Lemon Juice & Zest - Acidity helps to tenderize and flavor the meat. You’ll likely need a couple of lemons to get enough zest.
- Plain Greek Yogurt - This ingredient will also help to tenderize the meat.
HOW TO MAKE TAHINI CHICKEN
- Mix the Marinade. Add all of the marinade ingredients into a bowl: the tahini, oil, vegetables, seasonings, herbs, and yogurt. Mix well, then transfer ¼ cup of the mixture to another bowl. Set the rest aside.
- Prep the Topping. In the ¼ cup of marinade that you separated, mix in 2 more tablespoons of Greek yogurt and 1 tablespoon of water. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Marinate the Meat. Pour the rest of the marinade into a large, gallon-size storage bag. Add the thighs, then massage the bag with both hands to thoroughly coat the meat. Place in the refrigerator for up to 4 hours to marinate.
- Grill the Tahini Chicken. Spray your grill with cooking spray and preheat to 400°F. Remove the thighs from the marinade, shake off the excess liquid, and grill for 2-3 minutes on each side or until cooked through. Discard the bagged marinade.
- Top and Serve. Drizzle the separated, refrigerated marinade overtop of the meat, and serve!
What is tahini made of?
Tahini is a thick, creamy sesame seed paste. Its scent and consistency is similar to peanut butter, but it has a much more neutral flavor.
It’s used as a dip for veggies, mixed into sauces and soups, and is a main ingredient in hummus and baba ghanoush.
How long should you marinate tahini chicken?
Marinate for at least a couple of hours to let it soak in the flavor of the marinade before grilling.
For this tahini chicken recipe, I recommend marinating for 4 hours. You could marinade overnight, but no longer than 24 hours: the meat won’t absorb any more flavor and will instead start to deteriorate.
Should you bake chicken thighs before grilling?
Some people prefer to bake prior to grilling to ensure that the meat is totally cooked through.
However, you can get properly cooked and perfectly moist grilled chicken without any pre-cooking. Just be careful not to overcook. Keep an eye on the internal temperature of the center of the thigh: once it reaches 165°F, take the thighs off the grill and let them rest.
What is the best cut of chicken for grilling?
I prefer making grilled chicken with boneless thighs. They’re incredibly flavorful and remain moist after grilling.
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Marinated Tahini Chicken
- 2 lbs chicken thighs boneless skinless
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ⅓ cup tahini paste
- 1 shallot finely chopped, (See Note 1)
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ¼ cup parsley finely chopped
- 2 tablespoon fresh rosemary finely chopped
- 3 tablespoon water
- 3 tablespoon lemon juice (See Note 2)
- 2 tablespoon lemon zest
- 2 tablespoon Greek yogurt plain
- 1 tablespoon water
- In a medium sized bowl combine the oil, tahini, shallot, garlic, salt, red pepper flakes, herbs, water and lemon juice and zest. Stir to mix well. Scoop out ¼ cup of marinade and set aside.
- To the reserved marinade, add 2 tablespoons of Greek yogurt and 1 tablespoon of water and mix. Cover and refrigerate until serving.
- In a large gallon sized ziplock bag add the chicken and pour tahini marinade over, seal and massage with hands to coat.
- Refrigerate max 4 hours.
- Preheat your grill to 400°F. Clean grill and coat with cooking spray. Shake excess marinade from chicken and grill and cook 2-4 minutes per side depending on thickness of chicken, covered. Discard marinade and bag.
- Serve with reserved marinade drizzled on top.
- Shallots vary in size, but you will need about ⅓ of a cup total.
- Typically it’s about the juice from half a medium sized lemon.
*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.
I didn't have a shallot or red onion so i used only the green part of a couple green onions... Yum! Also.... Thank you!
Thanks for letting me know Kathy!
I do t have a grill. Can this be cooked in the oven?
You could do it stove top with or without a grill pan or under the broiler Sue. Assuming you slice the breast in half into two thinner parts, it should take 6-8 minutes (3 minutes on the first side, then 3-5 more minutes on the second side) when broiling on high (500°F). The chicken's internal temperature should reach 165°F.
This was so tender and delightful, great flavor the Tahini adds this wonderful flavor to this dish.
Thanks, much appreciated Dave!
Hi I was wondering about the 4 hour MAX on marinating. Is overnight not good?
You'll be fine with over night. Most people do and have for years. I just don't like the chicken's texture after LONG periods of marinating, especially with an acid involved. Enjoy!
Kevin, can this tahini chicken recipe be totally cooked in the oven and still be delicious? Any suggestions? thanks, Betsy
Certainly Betsy! For average sized 6 oz boneless chicken thighs:
1. Bake @ 375°F for 20-25 minutes, depending on the thickness of the chicken piece.
2. Insert a cooking thermometer into the thickest part of the meat to ensure that the internal temperature reaches 163 degrees F.
3. Then, tent the chicken with a piece of foil and allow it to rest for 5 minutes before slicing or serving. During the rest time, the chicken will continue to cook, reaching a safe internal temperature of 165 degrees F.
Yummy, I will make this in the next day or so. It sounds so delicious and we just got chicken thighs, just need to take them off the bone.
I love how the tahini adds flavor and tenderizes. Enjoy Cathy!
Cant wait to make this soon for me can i use mushrooms and coconut yogurt i never had tahini chicken before perfect for my after office meals love your recipes as always brightens up my day everyday after work
One of my favorites, let me know how you like it Ramya!