Chicken Legs Marinated in Yogurt and Spices


Supremely tender, well-spiced chicken is charred on a grill to juicy perfection.

Chicken Legs Marinated in Yogurt and Spices
Photo: © Helene Dujardin
Active Time:
1 hrs
Total Time:
1 hrs

Here, rich dark-meat chicken is coated with a yogurt-based marinade flavored with garlic, ginger, cumin, and coriander. After marinating overnight, the chicken is very tender thanks to the acidic yogurt, and its flavor is reminiscent of the tandoori-style chicken you find in restaurants — albeit without the vivid red dye. (This mixture is also very good for marinating pork medallions and lamb leg or blade steaks.) Once scraped off, the chicken is brushed with oil, sprinkled with salt, and cooked over hot coals until lightly charred and juicy.

For those of you who have an instant-read thermometer, chicken thighs and drumsticks should register an internal temperature of at least 165°F at their thickest point (make sure the thermometer is not touching bone). Dark meat is very forgiving, so do not worry about going over that temperature (some of us prefer the texture of dark meat cooked to 175°F). If the chicken is looking perfectly charred but has not cooked through yet, move it to a cooler portion of the grill, close the lid, and finish cooking with indirect heat. (If you are using a kettle-style charcoal grill, position the lid so that the vents are above the chicken.)


  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons finely grated ginger

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt, plus more for seasoning

  • 2 cups plain low-fat yogurt

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing

  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin

  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander

  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • Pinch of cinnamon

  • 6 pounds chicken legs, cut into drumsticks and thighs


  1. In a large bowl, using a wooden spoon, mash the garlic and ginger with 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt to a coarse paste. Stir in the yogurt and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, then add the cumin, coriander, crushed red pepper, paprika, turmeric, pepper, and cinnamon.

  2. Remove the skin from the chicken thighs and using a sharp knife, make three to four deep slashes in the thighs and drumsticks on both sides. Add the chicken to the marinade, toss to coat, and refrigerate overnight.

  3. Light a grill. Remove the chicken from the marinade and scrape some of it off. Lightly brush the chicken with olive oil and season with salt. Grill over a medium-high fire, turning occasionally, until lightly charred and the juices run clear when the chicken is pierced with a knife, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer to a platter and serve.

Related Articles