This recipe for shish tawook is a divinely delicious Lebanese-inspired recipe that is a cinch to make. Tangy yogurt, bright lemon, zesty garlic, and a menagerie of warming spices come together to form a complex, balanced, and altogether dynamite marinade. It gets the chicken juicy and tender as it infuses it with flavor.
Shish tawook, also known as Lebanese shish taouk, is a recipe that I come back to over and over again. It is so incredibly easy to make and I almost always have the ingredients on hand.
Hot off the grill I love to smother them with my toum recipe, that creamy garlic sauce, and I’m in heaven!
The hardest part of this recipe for me is remembering to get it in the marinade the day before I plan on cooking it. If you have that issue too, don’t worry. As long as you can get your shish tawook marinating in the morning, it will be ready to skewer and grill by the evening.
This chicken shish kebab recipe is a fantastic way to add a little variety to your next barbecue. Also, if you are new to Lebanese or Middle Eastern cooking, this is a great place to start!
Table of Contents
- Chicken – Choose boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, depending on your preference. Make sure that the chicken marinates for at least 4 hours.
- Greek Yogurt – Adds a uniquely tangy flavor as it tenderizes the meat. If you need to use regular yogurt, that is acceptable for this recipe, as long as it is unflavored and unsweetened. Regular yogurt will be thinner with less of a tang, but it will still tenderize the chicken.
- Lemons – Balances out the deeper, warm flavors of the dish with a blast of bright citrus flavor.
- Tomato Paste – Adds a concentrated dose of sour, sweet, and umami flavor all at once.
- Olive Oil – Carries the flavor of the marinade while adding subtle richness.
- Garlic – Perks up the marinade with a sharp, pungent kick.
- Lebanese 7 Spice Blend – Make a whole batch of this warming, aromatic blend, or try this quick method for just the right amount. Simply combine 1 ½ teaspoons each of kosher salt and ground cinnamon with ½ a teaspoon of nutmeg, ¼ teaspoon of black pepper, and ⅛ teaspoon each of ground fenugreek, allspice, and ginger.
- Paprika – Brings a smoky sweet flavor and dazzling red color.
- Make the Marinade. Combine the yogurt, zest of one lemon, ¼ cup of lemon juice, tomato paste, olive oil, garlic, and other seasonings in a large bowl. Whisk to combine or puree with an immersion blender.
- Marinate the Chicken. Add the chicken to the bowl with the marinade, toss to coat, and cover. Place the bowl in the refrigerator to marinate overnight, or for at least 4 hours.
- Assemble the Skewers. Thread the marinated chicken onto metal or soaked wooden skewers.
- Prepare the Grill. Clean and lightly oil the grate of your outdoor grill, then preheat it to 375-400 degrees F. Alternatively, place a lightly oiled grill pan over medium-high heat.
- Grill the Skewers. Cook each skewer for about 4-5 minutes per side or golden brown and a little bit charred.
- Serve. Serve your chicken shish kebab with a fresh helping of warm Pita Bread, lettuce, and tomato with Toum Lebanese Garlic Sauce on the side.
Get Creative With Your Marinade
My homemade marinade for shish tawook is full of flavor! That said, you can feel free to switch it up a little and use your favorite ingredients. I love the idea of adding a bit of cayenne pepper to the mix to make these chicken skewers spicy.
Both of these dishes boast many of the same spices. However, shish tawook includes lemon and Greek yogurt in its lineup, giving it a much lighter, and balanced flavor profile.
Shawarma, on the other hand, will have more of an earthy, warm flavor profile with spices like cinnamon and turmeric leading the charge.
Basically, shish tawook is a type of shish kebab. Shish is a Turkish word meaning skewers while tawook (or tauok) translates to chicken.
Kebab is the word given to any pieces of meat and vegetables that are skewered and grilled. Depending on the region, you may also see it spelled kabob or even kabab. Shish kebabs can be made from any type of meat. Check out these recipes for Grilled Lamb Kabobs, Pork Shish Kabobs, and Ground Beef Kabobs for a few examples.
This chicken shish kebab recipe is as versatile as it is delicious. They make a great snack, appetizer, or light meal on their own and pair perfectly with all sorts of side dishes.
Here are a few recipe ideas to complement your Lebanese shish taouk:
– As an appetizer, try serving your kebabs with sliced vegetables, White Bean Hummus, and fresh Tabouli Salad.
– Switch up your flatbread and try Zaatar Bread (Manakish) or Barbari Bread (Persian Flatbread).
– Serve it with a rice dish like Lebanese Rice Pilaf, Persian Saffron Rice, or simple Basmati Rice.
– Enjoy with a salad like Lebanese Fattoush or this Moroccan Carrot Salad.
– Pair it with Green Beans, Briam Roasted Vegetables, Batata Harra (Lebanese Potatoes), or any of your favorite side dishes.
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Shish Tawook (Grilled Chicken Skewers)
- In a large bowl whisk together the yogurt, ¼ cup lemon juice, zest of 1 lemon, olive oil, tomato paste, garlic, all the seasoning and whisk to combine or use immersion blender to puree.
- Transfer chicken to the same bowl and toss with spatula, coating the chicken in the marinade. Cover, and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight.
- Thread the chicken pieces through soaked wooden skewers or metal ones.
- If using an outdoor grill, heat to Medium 375-400°F. Clean and lightly oil the grates. Otherwise heat a grill pan and spray with cooking spray if indoors. Grill 4-5 minutes per side until golden brown and slightly charred.
- Serve with warm pita, lettuce, tomato and toum (garlic sauce) on the side.
- You can use either boneless skinless chicken breast or chicken thigh meat. Marinate at least 4 hours.
- You will need ¼ cup lemon juice plus the zest of 1 lemon.
- I make my own Lebanese 7 Spice blend. Use 4 teaspoons from this mix and save remaining for later use OR use the following quick version for this recipe: 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, 1/8 teaspoon each ground allspice, fenugreek and ginger.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.