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Shish Tawook is a very popular skewered chicken dish in the Middle East. Think of perfectly tender and juicy chicken that’s been marinating in earthy spices, yogurt, lemon juice and garlic. That’s exactly what you get with my shish tawook recipe. And while the recipe is Middle Eastern, you’d be surprised how approachable the ingredients are.
Although my recipe is Lebanese based on how my parents taught me to make it, the origin of the name is from Turkey. Shish means skewers and tawook means chicken. The Ottoman (Turkish) Empire ruled Lebanon for a while, which explains the Turkish influence on Lebanese food!
How to make shish tawook
This recipe is all about the the marinade! I’ve played around with different options and this combination is by far my favorite!
Essentially the three most important ingredients in the marinade are yogurt, lemon juice and garlic (6 whole garlic cloves!). But I also add tomato paste to give it that rich red color, and some other spices including paprika, cinnamon, oregano and ginger. Mix it all together and you’ll get this orangey creamy color ready for you to coat the chicken with.
Add the large cubes of chicken breast to the marinade and make sure that everything is well coated. While the yogurt and lemon are crucial parts of the flavor of this dish, they also act as a tenderizer for the chicken. That’s what makes the chicken come out so juicy and tender. Let it marinate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Skewer the chicken right before you’re ready to cook it. I like adding chunks of white onions on each skewer to eat with the sandwich. I love how onions get sweeter when they’re grilled…the perfect vegetable with this shish tawook.
Traditionally, these chicken skewers are meant to be grilled outdoors. You can also use an indoor grill pan or regular pan if you don’t have a grill pan. Either way, you’d be surprised how quickly the shish tawook cooks, all thanks to the yogurt and lemon juice in the base that helped tenderize the chicken!
When it’s cooked, I love making sandwiches with lettuce, pickles and lots of homemade Lebanese garlic sauce. You’ll want to pile on that sauce – it’s dairy-free, rich in flavor and totally takes takes any shish tawook sandwich to another level! In my book, it’s mandatory to eat it with tawook.
Tips for making shish tawook
- Marinade the chicken for at least 4 hours, but preferably overnight in the fridge to allow the chicken to tenderize. Trust me, it’ll make the chicken more juicy and flavorful!
- Cover the chicken immediately with pita bread after grilling. The pita bread helps trap the vapors and moisture to make the chicken even more juicy! It’s often served this way as well.
- Use plain full fat yogurt, and not Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt is fine, but it’s best to use regular yogurt because the water content from the regular yogurt helps to keep the chicken moist.
- Soak the bamboo sticks for 30-45 minutes if you’re using. This will prevent them from burning and possibly getting burnt woodchips inside the shish tawook.
Frequently asked questions
Shish tawook are best served as soon as they are cooked so that they are wonderfully succulent. If you do have leftovers keep them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. You can reheat the skewers once, if you reheat it’s best to cover them with foil so that they don’t dry out. I like having the leftovers cold on top of a salad.
Marinating the chicken will not only add flavor, but it also helps to tenderize the chicken and help lock in the moisture when you grill them. Marinate them for at least 4 hours and all you have to is grill them when you are ready to serve.
It’s really hard to mess up this Lebanese Shish Tawook recipe. It comes out moist and flavorful, and makes a great addition to salads, rice, grain bowls or just plain pita bread with garlic sauce.
For more Lebanese recipes:
For more chicken recipes:
- Grilled Lemon Chicken
- Grilled Chicken Kabobs
- Butter Chicken
- Harissa Chicken
- Chicken Piccata
- Cilantro Chicken
If you’ve tried this healthy-ish feel good Shish Tawook recipe or any other recipe on FeelGoodFoodie, then don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave me a comment below! I would love to hear about your experience making it. And if you snapped some shots of it, share it with me on Instagram so I can repost on my stories!
This Shish Tawook recipe was originally published on July 10, 2018. I’ve updating the recipe with more tips, more step-by-step photos and a video tutorial. Here’s the original photo!
- 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast cut into large chunks
- ½ cup plain whole milk yogurt
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 6 garlic cloves crushed
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ¾ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon oregano
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- In a large bowl, add the ingredients for the marinade (yogurt, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, tomato paste, all the seasoning and salt/pepper) and whisk to combine.
- Place the chicken cubes in the same bowl and coat the chicken in the marinade. Cover, and let rest/marinate in the fridge for at least 4 hours.
- Thread the chicken on skewers right before grilling. Add one wedge of onions to each skewer, if desired.
- Grill on medium heat for 5-8 minutes per side.
- Serve with pita bread, lettuce and garlic sauce, if desired.