Yogurt Marinated Indian Spiced Grilled Chicken

Yogurt Marinated Indian Spiced Grilled Chicken

I am a huge fan of plain yogurt. I much prefer it to the oversweetened flavoured varieties with ingredient lists a mile long or the icky, fake sugar stuff. I buy the higher-fat variety, which has more flavour and is much less sour than the thin, blue-ish fat-free option. I like the natural yogurt flavour with just a spoonful of sugar mixed in. You can alternatively stir in some honey or maple syrup, your favourite jam, or try it with a bit of vanilla extract and then sweeten to taste with sugar.

Yogurt Marinated Indian Spiced Grilled Chicken

On the savoury side, yogurt adds a tart richness to curries and pureed soups. I use it regularly to make creamy dips and salad dressings. I particularly love the flavour balance it brings to spicy marinades.

In this recipe, the natural acid in the yogurt serves to tenderize the chicken. I use it in combination with sour cream for added richness. The fat adds lots of flavour on its own, but it also helps carry the flavours of the spices. The result is a delicious flavourful, juicy grilled chicken, perfect alongside grilled corn.

Yogurt Marinated Indian Spiced Grilled Chicken

Yogurt Marinated Indian Spiced Grilled Chicken

You can adjust the heat to your taste by adding more or less cayenne. It would also be delicious with some chopped cilantro stirred into the marinade.

  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 lbs bone-in chicken drumsticks or thighs (about 8 pieces)

1. Spread chicken pieces in a shallow baking dish. In a medium sized bowl, stir together yogurt, sour cream, garlic, lemon juice and spices. Pour yogurt mixture over chicken and stir to coat. Allow chicken to marinate at least 2 hours (up to 24 hours).

2. Preheat grill on high for 10 minutes. Reduce temperature to medium and grill chicken for 25 to 30 minutes, turning once, until juices run clear when chicken is pierced. Serves 4.


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28 Reviews

  1. Rose Mary

    August 16, 2010 10:08 pm - Reply

    will be trying this soon!

    • foodess

      August 16, 2010 10:04 pm - Reply


  2. Lima Alazzeh

    August 16, 2010 10:47 pm - Reply

    My mom uses this trick in Middle Eastern cooking too! We love our plain yogurt – we’ll eat it as a side to almost anything, especially mixed in with rice and some kind of stew. Your recipe sounds delicious and simple, can’t wait to try it at home. Wonderful blog Jenn. Very tantalizing. I should not have read this when hungry lol.

    • foodess

      August 16, 2010 10:04 pm - Reply

      Thanks Lima! They eat yogurt-rice in South Indian culture too. Adarsh loves it.

  3. foodess

    August 17, 2010 6:04 am - Reply

    Thanks Lima! They eat yogurt-rice in South Indian culture too. Adarsh loves it.

  4. foodess

    August 17, 2010 6:04 am - Reply


  5. Andrea

    August 17, 2010 11:12 am - Reply

    I like to make my own greek yogurt by buying two tubs of yogurt and straining it with cheesecloth. The result is super thick – kind of strong tasting by itself but perfect in smoothies and cheaper than commercial greek yogurt ($5 for two regular yogurt containers vs $6.50 for one greek yogurt container.)

    • foodess

      August 17, 2010 10:47 am - Reply

      Yum! Sounds delicious!

  6. Steven

    August 17, 2010 12:58 pm - Reply

    lord that looks so delicious, and i am starving right now…thanks for this recipe!

  7. Suzan

    August 17, 2010 3:48 pm - Reply

    That chicken is seriously delicious looking! Nice photos by the sea too! Can I be transported there now?

  8. Michelle

    August 17, 2010 5:53 pm - Reply

    Grilling on the beach… awesome way to enjoy this delicious chicken!

  9. foodess

    August 17, 2010 6:47 pm - Reply

    Yum! Sounds delicious!

  10. Anonymous

    August 17, 2010 6:48 pm - Reply


  11. Anonymous

    August 17, 2010 6:49 pm - Reply

    Thanks Lima! They use a lot of yogurt in Indian cooking too. Adarsh love yogurt-rice!

  12. Anonymous

    August 17, 2010 6:50 pm - Reply

    oooh smart thinking! I’ll have to try it.

  13. nicola

    August 18, 2010 5:57 pm - Reply

    I totally agree with you on the yogurt thing. I usually only buy plain yogurt and, while sometimes I do sweeten it with jam (bonne maman!!) often I just enjoy it plain :) I can’t wait to try making this recipe myself… no matter what you say, I still loved the chicken you made at Adarsh’s birthday BBQ!

  14. Joudie's mood food

    August 19, 2010 11:06 am - Reply

    Lucky you, you get to eat this on a beach, and cook it there too. This looks yummy! I literally just made a dish like this last night but unfortunately in my gloomy kitchen in london…. Still the taste was out of this world. All those spices make for a wonderful burst of flavour in your mouth. Yum! Great post and recipe!

  15. Anonymous

    August 19, 2010 6:13 pm - Reply

    Thanks Joudie! I’m sure it tasted just as good in your London kitchen as it did on the beach. Maybe better, without the occasional crunch of sand…

  16. Anonymous

    August 19, 2010 6:14 pm - Reply

    haha well I’m glad you liked it. Maybe charcoal-style chicken is the next big thing!

  17. Abraham Schacko

    August 30, 2010 10:51 am - Reply

    oh brilliant…… i love BBQ and summer….i just posted something similar and found yours….www.chackoskitchen.blogspot.com

  18. Eadonovan

    August 14, 2011 10:46 pm - Reply

    I made this tonight-put it together this morning and sat in fridge all day.  So delicious, so rich!  Next time I will add juice of one whole lemon and extra of all of the spices.  I made the recipe as written and used it with 3 pounds of bone-in chicken thighs.  There was plenty of marinade, could even stretch to 5 pounds.

    Will definitely make this again.  Already planning to use it on drumsticks for a picnic this week!

  19. Shammin

    January 7, 2012 2:44 am - Reply

    I was looking for a yoghurt marinade, found this last night and it looks so delicious that i’m marinating the chicken right now and keeping it overnight, so it can be ready for lunch tomorrow! Will let you know how it goes!

  20. Shammin

    January 8, 2012 3:04 am - Reply

    Well, the chicken turned out great and my husband and brother in law loved it! Although i’m a huge fan of yoghurty curries, I’m glad the yoghurt flavour wasn’t overpowering, as I’ve had yoghurt chicken in the past that was a bit too tangy.
    I’ll definitely be making this again!

    • Anonymous

      January 8, 2012 4:23 pm - Reply

      Great, glad you liked!!

  21. Sarah dB

    August 3, 2012 3:39 am - Reply

    This is a new favourite for our family!  Even my 2-year old devoured it.  There is so much flavor, but with the yoghurt the taste is mild and not overwhelming.  LOVE!

    • foodess

      August 3, 2012 12:41 pm - Reply

      Glad you liked it, Sarah! :-)

  22. ZAid Aly KHan

    November 26, 2012 7:17 am - Reply

    can’t we geet the video of this dish :'(

  23. Imern

    September 3, 2013 6:53 pm - Reply

    Love this recipe!!! Made it once and forgot to write down recipe and couldn’t remember the website…. Found after a long time will be making again this Friday! Added a bit bore yogurt and used curry powder as well…