Moroccan Spiced Grilled Chicken Kebabs

Moroccan spiced grilled chicken kebabs

Whew! Last week was a busy one. I was on a deadline for a book, and as always, the last few weeks were a sprint to the finish. My neck still smarts from being glued to my computer, but it was nothing a few post-writing cocktails couldn’t fix. However I barely had time to shop or do much cooking while I had hammering out words.

I’m not really a fan of take-out food, nor do I like delivered food, which is curiously becoming as popular in Paris as it is elsewhere. It’s just not really my thing. The idea of a meal that is cooked, then packed in a closed foam box for 30+ minutes or so before arriving on my table, isn’t so appealing. (Although I did get a pepperoni pizza delivered in New York when I was in the thick of things, which I’ll admit was pretty tasty.)

Moroccan spiced grilled chicken kebabs

It felt good to send the book in and get back to doing some cooking again. Especially grilling, which is as easy as take-out, and there are no pots and pans to wash, always a plus – whether you’re on book deadline or not.

There was a lot of talk recently about the rise of popular websites that promote cooking using pre-made and/or bottled ingredients. Some people don’t have time, others are looking for convenience, and some don’t care. I certainly have fallen into the first two categories myself, although I haven’t found too many convenience products that are as good as what you can make yourself. These skewers are great because they can be prepared in a few minutes using a pre-blended spice mix (which isn’t cheating, but more of a “short cut”), and refrigerated until you’re ready to eat. Then you just fire up the grill (or grill pan), spear the chicken on the skewers, and in ten minutes, you’ve got a tasty, hot, fresh meal.

Moroccan spiced grilled chicken kebabs - ras el hanout

Ras el hanout is a Moroccan spice mix that gets its name from being the “top of the market” – a blend of spices that are the best of the spice shop. It can include coriander, allspice, turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger, among other spices. Blends like this are nice to have on hand in your pantry because much of the work is already done for you.

Different cultures have various names for skewered meats, from brochettes to satay. The catch-all word “kebabs” is the term that gets used the most in the United States for skewered meat and vegetables. Because they’re so global, you’re welcome to use whatever word, or kind of sauce, that you want. In this version, the spices are Moroccan, but the grilled morsels of chicken go well with condiments from other countries and cultures, such as harissa, chermoula, eggplant jam, tzatziki, toum or one of my favorites of all time, chunky feta-cucumber salad. Raw onions, tomatoes and shredded lettuce or cabbage also are possibilities for added crunch.

Flatbreads for Moroccan spiced grilled chicken kebabs

If you want to be ambitious or you want to make it a bigger meal, these skewers are perfect as a centerpiece for a Middle Eastern/North African feast with a selection of salads and dips; I’ve linked to recipes for some my favorites after the recipe. (After rounding up all those recipe links, can you tell how much I like Middle Eastern food?) Or you can use them to make sandwiches, as I did.

You can do so by brushing them lightly with a bit of olive oil and grilling flatbreads so they’re soft and warm, like I did (I was going to make my own, but was catching up on everything else I neglected over the last few weeks), and ate my hot-off-the-grill chicken wrapped up in it.

Moroccan spiced grilled chicken kebabs

Moroccan-Spiced Grilled Chicken Kebabs
Print Recipe
Serves four
While these skewers are prime for making sandwiches, they’re excellent served with seasoned rice and a side salad or sauce, as I did a few days later. For marinating the chicken, I used Greek whole milk yogurt and would advise using that. If that’s unavailable, use whole milk yogurt. Boneless chicken breasts or boneless leg of lamb will work for this recipe in place of the thighs. If using wooden skewers, soaking them in water for 30 minutes prior to threading them helps prevent them from burning, although these cook rather quickly and wasn’t an issue for me. Ras el hanout is sold in shops specializing in North African or Arabic ingredients. It’s available online at Amazon, Kalustyan’s, The Spanish Table, The Spice House, and World Market. You can mix and grind up your own ras el hangout, too.
6 cloves garlic, peeled
1 small onion, peeled
3/4 cup (180g) whole milk plain yogurt, preferably Greek-style
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
5 teaspoons ras el hanout
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika, sweet or smoked
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2- pounds (900g) boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of fat, cut into 1 1/4-inch (4cm) pieces
1. Finely mince the garlic. Grate the onion with the large holes of a grater. (Alternately, you can cut the garlic and onion into smaller pieces and finely chop them together in a mini-chopper.) Put onions and garlic in a large zip-top freezer bag. You may also put them in a medium bowl and marinade the chicken in the bowl.
2. Mix in the yogurt, lemon juice, ras el hanout, salt, black pepper, paprika, red pepper, and chicken. Before you close the bag, push most of the air out of it, then seal the bag. Massage the chicken pieces so that they are all covered. Refrigerate for at least an hour, or overnight.
3. To cook, thread the chicken pieces on 4 to 6 skewers. Light the grill until the heat until it’s very hot. Brush the grill with a bit of oil and grill the skewers on one side until they are seared with grill marks, about 4 or 5 minutes, then turn the skewers and grill until the chicken is cooked through. They’ll take about 8-9 minutes, total. If you don’t have a grill, you can make these in a lightly oiled grill pan on the stovetop.

Serve with pita or flatbread, rice, couscous, bulghur, or another grain. It also goes well with a sauce, such as eggplant jam, tzatziki, or chermoula. Another possibility is the Cucumber and Feta Salad.

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Eggplant Caviar

Baba Ganoush


Pickled Turnips

Flatbread (Chewswise)

Seeded flatbread (101 Cookbooks)

Garlic Herb Flatbread (Minimalist Baker)

Whole wheat flatbread (Joy the Baker)

Sprouted Wheat Flatbread (King Arthur)

Pickled Turnips


Fried Halloumi Cheese

White Bean Dip








  • Nadia
    May 24, 2016 1:51pm

    So excited to hear you have a new book coming out. When is it due and what is the theme? I am completely with you when it comes to take out and delivery. Nothing beats a real home cooked meal, way better than warmed up food tasting of cardboard.

  • Taste of France
    May 24, 2016 2:50pm

    I love your sealed bag method for marinating. My husband is crazy about kebabs, but I think his are way too dry. He sprinkles them with spices. I’ll have to get him to try this, which is to say I will do it and he will try eating it.

  • May 24, 2016 3:13pm

    Nice! Reminds me of Mourad Lahlou’s recipes. Yummy!

  • May 24, 2016 4:08pm

    Love ras al hanout and am always looking for more ways to use it. Delicious!

  • May 24, 2016 5:11pm

    So my kinda meal, David! Why do takeout when you can have these awesome kebabs in just minutes. Love Raas El Henout btw…all my favorite spices combined

  • May 24, 2016 5:25pm

    Recipe looks great!

    I’m with you David.
    I just don’t think that recipes with packaged foods is real cooking.
    Not to mention all the chemicals and additives that are going into a Home cooked??? meal.

    If you go from scratch you know what is in it. And it is so satisfying to see the smiles when it is eaten.

    So sad to hear Europe is going the fast food way :~(
    Never liked it even as a kid. And is it real food?

    Nice that a new book is coming out!

  • May 24, 2016 5:32pm

    Perfect recipe for where I am in life…they are pulling out my kitchen for a renovation and I’ve decided that moving my kitchen outdoors and grilling is what I’m going to do for the next month or so while the kitchen gets re-done!

  • May 24, 2016 5:33pm

    Can you please tell me where i can FIND THE RICE RECIPE. I am making this Friday night.

  • May 24, 2016 5:39pm

    Hi David, looks delish! Where do you buy ras-el-hanout in Paris? xx Julie

  • May 24, 2016 5:59pm
    David Lebovitz

    Julie: Try Sabah next to the Aligre market.

    Michelle: I used a spice mixture (which had onions and raisins in it) that someone brought me from Tel Aviv, along with these seasonings for rice. I wish I knew what was in it, but the packaging just said “Marrakesh” (I think…) and that’s it. If anyone knows how to make it, let us know!

    The company Pereg makes rice mixtures that I haven’t tried but I’m told are similar.

    • Michelle Pucci
      May 25, 2016 1:54pm

      Thanks I will let you know how the rice comes out …. Can’t wait for the book I absolutely love each and every recipe that you post. I anxiously wait in between your post.

      • Leigh
        June 7, 2016 3:06pm

        Would love to hear how you made your rice.

        • June 7, 2016 4:53pm
          David Lebovitz

          It’s just above ^^

          • Leigh
            June 17, 2016 3:11am

            I meant Michelle. Sorry. I made this will a roasted eggplant chutney. Delicious. Thanks!

  • May 24, 2016 6:04pm

    Well I wish you delivered. I would eat that tonite and maybe every night.
    Simply gorgeous!

  • May 24, 2016 7:08pm

    Love (marinated) kebabs…these look lovely. On rice would be perfect. A new cookbook…oh boy!

  • Kelly
    May 24, 2016 10:13pm


    It was great watching you create this recipe on Snapchat, so I was happy to see the full recipe just now! Thanks for the good grub suggestions!

  • Liza
    May 25, 2016 4:30am

    I used to make a similar dish but added red onion and I think lettuce. It was delicious. The ras el hangout sounds like a great addition.

  • Sarah
    May 25, 2016 4:43am

    I made this tonight with lamb, the feta cucumber salad and couscous with mint and hazelnuts. Totally wonderful – thank you

  • May 25, 2016 5:31am

    PS David, You might be interested in a recent 2-part tribute to Jane Grigson on the BBC. They mention The Fruit Book.
    Jane Grigson – A Tribute

  • May 25, 2016 11:23am

    This looks so delicious and I have some chicken breast in the freezer that needs this treatment.

    Would this work as well on a whole spatchcock chicken that is barbecued or cooked in the oven?

    Those flatbreads look amazing too and all of the recipes you’ve linked to are some of my favourite things. This whole banquet would be great to feed a crowd.

    Cannot wait to see what the new book is about – food or drink obviously, but you know what I mean :-)

    • May 25, 2016 2:43pm
      David Lebovitz

      I don’t know if the yogurt might burn during the longer cooking time it’d take to cook a whole chicken, rather than pieces like this. My advice would be to skip the yogurt and use a bit more olive oil (and reduce the red pepper flakes, which are tempered by the yogurt) if you want to spatchcock and grill a chicken with these spices.

  • Merry
    May 25, 2016 6:39pm

    This looks delicious! Is there an alternative to marinating in yogurt for a kosher version? Thanks very much!

    • May 25, 2016 6:42pm
      David Lebovitz

      Perhaps you could try a soy or rice milk yogurt, or another non-dairy one. But since I haven’t tried one, I can’t say for sure. If you do, let us know how it works out.

      • Hayley
        May 27, 2016 2:36am

        I grilled this just now after marinating for three hours using a coconut milk yogurt and it was fantastic! The chicken breast chunks were very moist. I will make this again over the weekend. Thanks, David!

  • Coral White
    May 25, 2016 7:33pm

    David, I am so glad to read you are publishing another cookery book. I have printed many of the recipes from your blog and tucked them inside “My Paris Kitchen”. It’s getting rather fat! I will be in Paris August 1st to 5th. I can hardly wait!

  • Janet M Macaulay
    May 26, 2016 2:37am

    Dear God. So good. Especially with the cucumber feta salad in the side. Especially if one makes it a tad too spicy, as I did. You have rocked dinnertime, David.

  • May 26, 2016 4:53am

    This I will be making, soon.

  • Sarah
    May 26, 2016 10:27pm

    Hi David, where do you get nice flatbreads in Paris?

    BTW, your polenta cake is currently baking in our oven and the scent of lemon and almond through apartment is almost as good as being in Italy.

  • May 27, 2016 1:07pm

    This looks so Indian and reminds me of the lovely kebabs I had at Lucknow. Thanks for sharing :)

  • David Hernandez
    May 28, 2016 11:30pm

    Hey David, thanks for the recipe! I love this kind of food. But I have a question, where is the salt in it?

    It’s added with the spices to the marinade. Thanks! – dl

  • Susan Litman
    May 31, 2016 7:03pm

    Merry–I’ve had excellent luck using coconut yogurt, believe it or not, which has very similar texture to Greek, and actually a not-very-coconut flavor, but a rather . . . bland enough flavor to fit in with a Moroccan or even Indian recipe. I would use it for this for sure (and likely will this weekend!) David, this recipe looks amazing. Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Shannon
    June 1, 2016 2:29am

    Yummy! A big hit with the whole family including the 9 and 10year old kiddos. They are already asking to eat leftovers tomorrow. The tzatziki on your blog paired nicely.

  • Kathryn Eudy
    June 10, 2016 12:37am

    Made this over the weekend along with the cucumber-feta salad and homemade pita. Delicious! I loved the way it perfumed the house while it was cooking. Thank you for the recipe!

  • Anne
    June 19, 2016 4:42pm

    I made this last weekend for my family. Everyone loved it! I live close to The Spice House and the Ras el hanout was easy to find. The tzatziki was a nice addition.


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