Yogurt-Marinated Grilled Chicken


Yogurt is ideal to use in a marinade for both its flavor and its ability to tenderize meat. It tenderizes more slowly and gently than a citrus juice or vinegar marinade, so you can marinate meat overnight without it getting tough. The result is meat that is full of flavor from the garlic, cumin, and cayenne, and juicy — even if it's a little overcooked. This marinade also works well with skin-on boneless breasts or thighs; be sure to adjust the cooking time accordingly.

Active Time:
20 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 10 mins
4 servings


  • 1 cup full-fat plain Greek yogurt

  • 1 cup lightly packed cilantro, finely chopped

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

  • 3 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1 teaspoon cayenne

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • Kosher salt

  • Black pepper

  • 1 (3 1/2-pound) chicken, halved, breast and rib bones removed, leg bones left intact

  • Vegetable oil, for brushing grill


  1. In a large bowl, mix yogurt, cilantro, lemon juice, garlic, cayenne, cumin, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Transfer marinade to a large, resealable plastic bag. Add chicken halves and turn to coat. Seal bag and transfer to a baking dish. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight. Bring chicken to room temperature before grilling.

  2. Set up a gas grill for indirect grilling, then oil grate and heat to medium-high (400°F).

  3. Remove chicken from marinade, scraping off any excess; discard marinade. Season chicken with salt and pepper to taste.

  4. Set chicken skin-side up on grate over indirect heat. Close grill and cook, turning once, until chicken is browned and nearly cooked through, about 25 minutes. Use a spray bottle filled with water to stop flare-ups.

  5. Reduce grill heat to moderately low. Flip chicken and grill over direct heat, turning occasionally, until lightly charred and an instant-read thermometer inserted in inner thighs registers 160°F, about 15 minutes more. Transfer chicken to a carving board and let rest for 10 minutes before carving.

    Yogurt-Marinated Grilled Chicken
    © Marcus Nilsson

Suggested Pairing

Citrusy Californian Sauvignon Blanc matches the tanginess of the marinade here.

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