Moroccan Spiced Grilled Chicken Breasts

What I love about this recipe (adapted from one found in the Sacramento Bee) is that with just the barest of preparation, you can have a tasty 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 and infuses it with the spiciness of cumin and paprika. 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.

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Moroccan Spiced Grilled Chicken Breasts Recipe

  • Yield: Serves 4.

Ingredients

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

Method

1 Mix the marinade ingredients (yogurt, cilantro, olive oil, garlic, paprika, cumin, 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 6 to 10 hours.

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. If you do not have a grill you can use a cast-iron grill pan on your stove. Grill the chicken breasts a few minutes on each side, until cooked through. Take care not to overcook, as chicken breasts can easily dry out.

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The recipe is adapted from one we found in the Sacramento Bee.

26 Comments

  1. 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:)

  2. 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.

  3. Warda

    I made it once, but added a pinch of saffron instead of the paprika, and used thighs instead of breast. Cause I am a thigh girl (but I’m not the girl at the farmer’s market the other day ;)

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. Audrey

    A bit of grated ginger would be nice too.

  7. farida

    What a great recipe! Elise, do you think I could bake the chicken in the oven instead of grilling? Thank you for the great recipe!

    Hi Farida, Sure, why not? You could bake it or broil it. ~Elise

  8. Lydia (The Perfect Pantry)

    This reminds me a bit of a tandoori marinade (without the red food coloring, of course) that I like to make. The yogurt really does tenderize the chicken. I wish I had a tandoori oven to cook in, but instead I wipe off the marinade and do it on the grill.

  9. Jon

    This recipe was quite a hit. Brilliant!

  10. Lindsey

    There was a recipe similar to this one in this month’s Bon Appetit. In that recipe some of the marinade was reserved for tossing some garbanzos in. Then the chicken and the garbanzos are all roasted together at 450 for like 20 minutes. I serve it over rice and its one of my favorite chicken dishes. Oh yeah, the paprika is smoked paprika. Elise, I tried that recipe specifically because of how much I love your smoked paprika roast chicken.

    I’ll definitely have to try marinating the chicken all day in the marinade instead of throwing everything together really quickly when I arrive home from work.

  11. Brenda

    I fixed this for dinner tonight with both chicken breasts and thighs. Both were delicious! Thanks for the great recipe.

  12. Sherihan

    Thx sooooo much Elise for this recipe, it turned out AMAZING,but instead of cilantro I added parsley (I totaly forgot that the recipe required cilantro) but neverthelese the flavor of the parsley, paprika and the yogurt was mind blowing in the chicken breasts.

  13. Marita

    I made these last night for dinner and they turned out great! The only mistake I made was forgetting to oil the barbecue, so a lot of the yummy coating stuck to the grill :-(

    But they were still delicious. Thanks for the great recipe!

  14. DONNA HAUSER

    I made this last night. It was delicious. The yogurt really does tenderize the meat. Very nice flavors. Will definitely make again.

  15. Sara

    So so so good! I made this the other night but i used parsley instead of cilantro and i baked the chicken. it was delicious and so easy.

    One question: I didn’t grill because I am curious how you get the coating to not fall off the chicken on the grill? As this marinade was rather thick, I wasn’t sure how to do that.

    I just removed the chicken from the marinade, some of the coating stayed on, some didn’t. When grilled, some of the coating stuck to the grill bars, but it really wasn’t a big issue. The long marinating time ensures that the chicken absorbs a lot of the marinade flavor. ~Elise

  16. Rosie

    Hi Elise, I was intrigued when I saw this in the Sac Bee a couple of weeks ago and was glad to see it on your site as well. I made this yesterday and it is a great way to make bone/skinless chicken breasts as they can dry out so easily. We made the recipe to the letter (the orginal Bee version) and it was oh, so tasty. This will be in my repertoire.

  17. janie

    Being a novice griller (and by this I mean I’ve never grilled) I decided to tackle what I first perceived to be a difficult recipe. However, I was pleasantly surprised at how fun-if not messy-the marinade was to make. I think I will puree the cilantro,ginger,garlic next time. Made chicken very moist, even two days later! However, it needs more of a kick. I’ll add some jalapeno or red chili to the marinade next time. I’ll be grilling more often ;)

  18. farines

    Can I substitute the paprika with any other spice? I’m finding hard to find here in my country, and I really want to make this chicken
    -thanks

  19. Lisa Goad

    Thanks so much for this recipe. I’ve never used yogurt as a marinade but it was great! I couldn’t believe how tender it made the chicken.

    Thanks for a great recipe!
    Lisa

  20. Greta

    This recipe was a huge hit in my house last night. I followed the recipe verbatim. It is replacing my chicken tikka recipe as a family favorite. I have found many wonderful recipes here. Thanks!

  21. Shalin

    I had this recipe bookmarked for a long time, and finally made it over the weekend. Came out very good! The chicken was so tender and it’s good to know that it’s a healthy and low-sodium marinade. I served it with corn on the cob and grilled zucchini.

    My only issue was that the chicken tenderloins I used stuck to the grill for some reason. Perhaps I need to use more grill spray or use bigger pieces of chicken.
    I will be adding this to my grill rotation.

  22. Anna Marie

    I think the next time I make this, I’m going to set aside some of the yogurt mixture before the chicken goes in to add as a sauce after the grilling. I was hoping for a little bit more intense flavor & I think that will do the trick!

  23. ljp

    I’m usually not a fan of cilantro, but this recipe is good. I broil the chicken. Next time I will try grilling.

  24. Cheryl

    I recently discovered your site and absolutely love it! I have tried a handful of your recipes so far and have never been disappointed. This recipe is the best Moroccan style chicken I have ever made. We have a local restaurant that specializes in Moroccan cuisine and I have been trying to recreate their chicken kebabs at home. This recipe was exactly what I was looking for. I didn’t have cilantro on hand, so I used the ground coriander as suggested. I also used plain Greek yogurt which was a bit thicker than regular yogurt. I paired it with couscous that I tossed with olive oil, feta cheese, sauteed red onion and kalmata olives. So yummy!

  25. Kristen Kennedy

    This was so simple and so delicious! I highly recommend using cilantro, and the best part about this meal for me – I didn’t need to scrape the marinade off the chicken before grilling. It didn’t burn at all, only added a nice roasted flavour to the garlic and other ingredients. Bravo!

  26. Nicole

    I made this dish tonight with chicken tenderloins since they were on sale. By accident, I marinated the breasts in french vanilla yogurt (I grabbed the wrong container from the fridge!) I am pleased to report that this dish even tastes good when using the wrong yogurt!

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