Yogurt Marinated Greek Chicken! This lightning-quick Mediterranean style marinade comes together lickety-split. Just stir together some dried herbs & spices plucked straight off the shelf and combine with olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice, red wine vinegar & tangy Greek Yogurt. Pour over the top of some chicken in a large plastic bag, seal it all up, stash it in the fridge, and let those flavors go to work.
Flavors like garlic, oregano, basil, coriander, and parsley that marry oh-so well together to create the kind of taste that leaves you feeling transported to far away beaches with clear blue waters lapping at the shoreline.
Call it my version of a cheap vacation. My favorite way to travel – via FOOD. No suitcase or long TSA security lines required.
After just a few hours in the fridge, those plain-Jane chicken breasts will have gotten the full flavor treatment. Tender, yet super lean, chicken that gets grilled up in a flash. Making its way to your plate in 12 minutes flat. Just the perfect source of protein to perch on top of a fresh salad + enjoy as a well-rounded, totally satisfying meal.
Summer gets me in the mood for grilled meat, veggies, fruit, pizza, crostini…you name it. Just about everything tastes delicious when it comes fresh off the barbecue. Something about that roasted over an open flame thing makes for some unbeatably tasty food.
Plus I love any excuse to get outside. Even if that outside is a mere two steps outside of the sliding glass door. HEY. I’ll take it.
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We are so close to booking our wedding date and venue and getting that BIG detail pinned down for next year. Saving up money for a wedding means we are dining out a teensy bit less and playing “Chopped” in your own kitchen a lot more. Right now I’m reeeeeeally into using whatever we have on hand in the fridge. Which in the case of today’s recipe happens to be the ever-present food staples in our house – a Costco pack of chicken breasts + a tub of Greek yogurt + LOTS and lots of lemons in the fruit basket.
Resisting the temptation to go out to eat can be challenging. Especially since we live right down the street from a killer good kebab place that has some pretty unbeatable, fresh food at the ready. Just walking past the fragrant store front alone makes it downright impossible NOT to go inside and load up pita after pita with all the grilled meat (and all the toppings).
But what to do when you crave hot-off-the-fire Mediterranean chicken kebab take-OUT but know you should be eating IN instead?
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You roll up your sleeves and channel all the Tim Gunn vibes you can muster to “MAKE IT WORK”.
You quite literally fake it until you make it and hope that the final taste verdict is at least something relatively close to – MMM.
Luckily with a little guesswork and lots of taste research (aka years spent eating plate after plate from the aforementioned heavenly kebab place), I figured out a marinade that does a decent job of emulating all those yummy flavors and helps me get my take-out fix at home.
Which brings us to the marinade I’m going to share with you today!
One of the things that makes kebabs SO delicious and moist (I know, I know. Sometimes there’s just no way around the dreaded “m” word) is that the meat is marinated in yogurt. Which at first glance might seem like a bizarre thing to submerge raw meat in, until you consider that some of the best fried chicken is marinated in dairy bases. Namely, buttermilk with spices. And I am not one to argue with the food science // genius behind good old fried chicken.
As I learned from this Epicurious article…
The active bacteria (the GOOD-for-your-gut kind!) in yogurt + the lactic acid (present in dairy) help gently break down protein. Which tenderizes the chicken breast.
This is likely why yogurt is used as the base for many Middle Eastern and Indian recipes. And what makes buttermilk (another dairy product also containing lactic acid) so useful for tenderizing meat for Southern dishes (like fried chicken!).
With the help of some signature Mediterranean herbs & spices, a little lemon juice, red wine vinegar, and olive oil, that yogurt gets thinned out to just the right marinade consistency and works to tenderize the chicken into some totally grill-worthy, faux take-out style meat.
And this recipe makes enough to stock your fridge with several pounds of already grilled chicken for you to dig into all week long. It tastes great cold perched on top of salad greens, sliced and tucked into a pita pocket with crunchy slaw for a quick lunch, or reheated for hot meals served over rice and steamed veggies.
And that’s exactly what I’ve been doing since we got our grill back ON this week.
We used to grill every week, until the new fire codes went into place and our old barbecue was forced to go out with it. We finally got around to finding a compliant little grill that fits into the new regulations nicely, and have been firing it up every chance we get. Cannot even tell you just how STOKED I am on grilling being back in our lives.
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It helps that it is also an awesomely portable little addition to our car-camping ensemble and I’m really looking forward to at least a few nights out under the stars where we won’t be eating only foil packet dinners.
If you don’t have a grill, don’t worry – you can use this same marinade to make oven-baked chicken instead.
Just note that it does longer to cook in the oven than it does on the grill (45 min in the oven as compared to just 12 min on the grill). Oven-baked is the original way I made this chicken (during the bummed out and barbecue-less times) and fell in love with this marinade in the first place! The recipe card below has instructions for both methods.
There are few things more satisfying than weaseling your way into making take-out style food at home. It just feels good to (1) save a little moolah -and- (2) know that you’re digging into something entirely guilt-free made with healthy good-for-you ingredients. It’s a win-win. You get to stay on track with your goals while not depriving yourself of the tastes you crave most.
What are some of your favorite take-out meals to make at home?Print
Easy + healthy recipe for Yogurt Marinated Greek Chicken! This marinade is bursting with classic Mediterranean flavors like Greek yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, basil, coriander, parsley, olive oil, & red wine vinegar.
- 6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- extra virgin olive oil (for greasing)
- ¾ c Greek yogurt
- juice of 2 lemons
- 1 tbs red wine vinegar*
- 1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
- ¾ tbs dried oregano
- ½ tbs dried basil
- ½ tbs garlic powder
- ½ tbs dried parsley
- 1 tsp dried coriander
- 1 tsp salt
- ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
- MIX THE MARINADE: Stir together all marinade ingredients in a small bowl until well combined.
- MARINATE CHICKEN: Place chicken breasts in a large 1 gallon ziplock bag. Pour marinade over and make sure marinade gets coated evenly over chicken. Seal and put in fridge to marinate at least 4-6 hours.
- COOK CHICKEN: Take out the chicken from the fridge. If you have any chicken breasts that are much thicker in the center or on one side, pound lightly with a meat mallet or heavy bottomed jar. This will ensure slightly more even thickness and more even cooking. Do this while they are still in the bag for easy clean-up. To grill, preheat the barbecue and make sure the grates are clean. Grease the grates lightly with some olive oil. Use tongs to place the chicken breasts on the grill grates. Cook on one side for 5-6 minutes or until just browned. It should release easily from the grates. Turn over and cook for another 4-6 minutes. Check internal temperature using a meat thermometer. Flip and continue cooking as needed until internal temperature reads at least 165. Pull off grill and let chicken rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing.
*can swap for apple cider vinegar
Preheat the oven to 375 and line a sheet tray with foil. Grease lightly with more olive oil and lay out chicken breasts, spacing them out so they aren’t touching. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the internal temperature reads at least 165.
- Serving Size: 1 serving