Moroccan Spiced Grilled Chicken Breasts

I’ve recently been cooking my way through some of the older recipe on Simply Recipes and came across this gem—Moroccan spiced grilled chicken breasts. It’s a winner!

Boneless skinless chicken breasts are marinated in yogurt mixed with a Moroccan spice mix of cumin, paprika, and cinnamon, and then simply grilled. The yogurt helps tenderize the breasts and the marinade brings life to otherwise boring boneless skinless chicken.

What I love about this recipe is that with just the barest of preparation, you can have a delicious meal within minutes. The yogurt-based marinade is only mildly acidic, so you can leave the chicken in the marinade all day, while it gently tenderizes the meat while infusing it with the spices.

Just put the chicken in the marinade before leaving for work in the morning, come home, heat the grill, chicken is done in less than 10 minutes. Simple. Easy!

The recipe is one we adapted from a recipe in the Sacramento Bee years ago. To the original recipe we’ve added lemon juice to the yogurt and cinnamon to the spice blend.

Moroccan Spiced Grilled Chicken Breasts Recipe

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Marinating time: 2 hours
  • Yield: Serves 4


  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts


1 Mix the marinade ingredients (yogurt, lemon juice, cilantro, olive oil, garlic, cumin, paprika, cinnamon, salt, and pepper) together in a medium sized bowl. Add the chicken pieces to the bowl and thoroughly coat with the marinade. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator from 2 hours to overnight.

2 Heat your grill on high heat if you are using a gas grill, or prepare coals for direct heat if you are using charcoal. Allow for one side of the grill to be the "cool" side. If you do not have a grill you can use a cast-iron grill pan on your stove.

Grill the chicken breasts over direct high heat a couple of minutes on one side. Then turn them over and move them to the cool side of the grill. Cover and cook for a few minutes more, until the chicken is cooked through.

(The easiest way to test for doneness is with your fingertips. See The Finger Test to Check the Doneness of Meat. Or use a meat thermometer, remove the meat from the grill when the internal temperature of the chicken breast reaches 165°F.)

Take care not to overcook, as chicken breasts can easily dry out.

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Moroccan Spiced Grilled Chicken Breasts

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Showing 4 of 55 Comments

  • andreea

    This will be on our dinner list for next week. I love the fact it marinates during the day (while we’re at work) and then we get to cook it in 10min when we come home. Efficient and delicious:)

  • Luke

    That looks great! The same seasonings (minus the yogurt) makes for great seasoning for Moroccan style Lamb Burgers. Instead of adding the yogurt, you can take the it and set it in a strainer for an hour or two, add some mint and then use it as a topping.

  • Jo Bradley

    I have used yogurt as a marinade for chicken and lamb – it is so fantastic – everything is always so moist and juicy – I am sure to try this spice mixture – tonight in fact and will let you know how it goes. PS – I love your recipes.

  • jonathan

    If you can get it, try using a goat’s milk yogurt. You probably have the best chance of finding it at a Middle Eastern or Indian grocer. Like goat cheese, it adds a certain tanginess which works really well with other spices.

    And what’re the odds you’d pair this with *gasp* spinach ;-) ?

    Throw a big mound of couscous on the plate, and I’d be in heaven. Grilled, marinated chicken, garlicky sauteed spinach and couscous ranks among my Top 5 favorite meals.

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