Last Updated on October 28, 2022 by Carne Diem
Method: Grill or Smoker
Chicken tikka is widely popular throughout the Indian subcontinent, and are one of our families favorite foods to cook up on the grill. The chicken receives just the right amount of sour tang from a brief marinade in lemon juice before being marinated in a spiced yogurt overnight. These flavorful marinated and grilled Indian chicken kebabs make for the perfect part of your Indian inspired meal. Chicken Tikka Skewers also serve as the basis for some of the best chicken tikka masala on the planet.
Can't get enough of meat on sticks? Be sure to try these South African Sosaties: Lamb and Apricot Kebabs, Grilled Souvlaki (Greek Chicken Skewers), Grilled Chicken Spiedini, and Korean Corn Dogs: Gamja Dog.
Making The Grilled Chicken Tikka Skewers
Prepare the marinade ingredients
To marinate the chicken you will first soak the chicken in an acidic salt and lemon juice mixture before marinating the chicken overnight in the flavorful yogurt based marinade.
Prepare your chicken breast by cutting them into roughly 1 inch cubes. Place the cubed chicken in a bowl.
Next you will coat the chicken in the lemon juice and salt. You can use either fresh squeezed lemon juice or lemon juice from concentrate for this step.
Add the lemon juice and salt to the bowl with the chicken and mix to combine well. This step adds the proper "tang" to the chicken. If left for a prolonged amount of time the acidity from the lemon juice will begin to chemically cook the outside of the chicken. This is the same process by which ceviche, etc. is cooked. It only needs to sit in the mixture for about 10 minutes, the perfect amount of time to prepare the rest of the marinade.
Prepare the marinade my combining the yogurt with the ginger and garlic, cilantro, and the spices. Fresh minced ginger and garlic works great as well, but we do like the small amount of oil added to the marinade by the ginger and garlic squeeze. It will taste great either way.
Add the yogurt marinade to the bowl with chicken and lemon mixture. The yogurt is alkaline and will help to slow/stop the enzymatic reaction of the lemon juice on the chicken. Remember all of the acid-base stuff from high school? This is it. Thanks Mr. Whipple!
Allow the chicken to marinate overnight before proceeding to the next step. It can marinade as long as 48 hours, but really is best if it can go at least 8 hours in the marinade.
Prepare the Chicken Tikka Skewers
After the chicken has completed its marinade it is time to prepare the chicken tikka skewers and get it on the grill. Carefully remove the chicken pieces from the marinade and place onto skewers. If you are using wooden skewers, soak them for a few minutes to try to prevent them from burning on the grill.
Grilling the Chicken Tikka Skewers
Prepare your grill or smoker and bring to a temperature of 450 degrees. You can these over direct or indirect heat. If you are uncertain which to use, chicken breast is prone to drying out, so we have found a higher temp, indirect cook works best for getting the chicken cooked slowly and evenly, while still giving a little char to the outside of the chicken.
Cook the chicken tikka skewers, flipping every 5 minutes. Rotate the skewers if any seem to be cooking more slowly or quickly. In general, the chicken will be cooked in about 15-20 minutes but check with an Instant Read Thermometer in the thickest pieces of chicken. FDA safe temp for chicken is 165 degrees, but with carryover temp the chicken can be pulled off at 160 degrees to retain maximum juiciness.
Cover the chicken with foil and let rest for about 5 minutes before serving.
Serve your Grilled Chicken Tikka Skewers as an appetizer with some of your favorite Indian dishes like Northern Indian Butter Chicken, samosas, and lentils. These chicken tikka skewers also make the perfect protein for homemade Chicken Tikka Masala.
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Chicken Tikka Skewers
- Meat skewers
- 3 Chicken Breasts
- 4 Tab Lemon Juice
- 2 tea Kosher Salt
- 2 5.3 ounce Containers Plain Yogurt
- 2 Tab Garlic Squeeze or Paste
- 1 Tab Ginger Squeeze or Paste
- 2 tea Cumin
- 2 tea Coriander Powder
- 2 tea Sweet Paprika
- 2 tea Black Pepper
- 1 tea Turmeric Powder
- ½ Bunch Cilantro
- 1 tea Salt
- Cube the chicken and place in a bowl. Add the lemon juice and the salt and stir to combine. Let set while you prepare the rest of marinade.
- In a sperate bowl combine the yogurt with the garlic, ginger, cilantro, and spices. Add to the bowl with the chicken and marinade 8-48 hours. At least overnight is best.
- Prepare your grill or smoker for indirect heat and bring to 450 degrees. Grill the chicken until you reach and internal temp of 160 degrees (carryover temp will take it to 165 degrees). Flip the chicken every 5 minutes and rotate the skewers as needed to ensure even cooking. This typically takes 15-20 minutes, but may take longer depending on cooking conditions.
- Remove the chicken and cover with foil. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.