Grilled Moroccan Chicken

Skinless boneless chicken breasts marinated in yogurt with garlic, cumin, and paprika, then grilled.

  • 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 tablespoon extra virgin 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 Marinate the chicken: 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 Grill the chicken: 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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  • Sherihan

    One of my all time favorite recipes. Always make it to impress and always a success!


  • Bell

    I will try this tonight. I just don’t what to put in the couscous? Any idea guys? Thanks in advance.

  • Maria

    I’ve made this lots of times and LOVE it. However, do you think it would work with bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs? Drumsticks? Should I remove he skin? Thanks! Love your blog, love this recipe.

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Maria, I haven’t tried it with skin-on chicken, but if you do, please let us know how it turns out! I think the recipe should work fine with thighs or legs, boneless or bone-in. Because they’re dark meat, you’ll have to cook them longer. Grill them on high direct heat for the first few minutes on both sides, then lower the heat or move to a cooler part of the grill, cover and finish cooking.

  • Maren

    I’ve never tried a yogurt marinade before, but I’ll be trying a lot more after making this recipe! It kept the meat so moist and delicious. I love the spice combination, too. Thanks for this recipe, I can’t wait to make it again!

  • Deb Berg

    Terrific flavor. I grilled 3/4″ breasts for 11 minutes, flipping several times. Next time, I will save some of the marinade for dipping.

  • Andy Ireland

    Thanks for the great recipe! Grilled this tonight in a thunderstorm, so I’m not sure it browned as well as it might have–but the marinade was still really, really good! I served it with a multi-vegetable couscous with some of the same seasonings (plus mint), and it was a wonderful dinner. Thanks again, Elise; we will definitely make this all summer long!


  • Prabhat

    Thank you Elise… I am a chicken lover and this Moroccan spice is indeed a winner. Loved it :)

  • Jim Gauntt

    Great idea to revisit past recipes Elise. Had not seen this one and look forward to the tastes (of course we always ramp up the spices and this time I made a very complex Tandoori style mix. Will also crank up the Big Green Egg and hit this hard at really high temp for that grilled Eastern look and taste – will make sure to report back

  • Deb

    P.S. We served with a green salad and fried potatoes (olive oil) with One-Spice on them, steamed fresh sugar snap peas from the garden, and toasted homemade bread. It was a great Welcome Home for my husband after he was away this week.

  • Bobi

    Hi Elise, we made this chicken the night before last, cut the cumin by half teaspoon, and cooked the breast on the grill a bit longer than suggested.
    It was a delicious surprise! Just so flavorful and moist and OMGosh, good. Served with a green salad and wild rice. Thanks so much for this one, it is a keeper!

  • Deb

    Hi Elise, I found your recipe yesterday and it’s marinating as I write today! I was going to grill as suggested….but we’re having a rainy wet week. So my plans changed, and I browned the chicken just a bit in the frying pan and now it’s in the crockpot. I know it won’t have that delicious grilled taste, but we’ll see how it does switching the cooking method. I hope the family likes it! Thanks for the recipe.

    • Elise Bauer

      Let us know how it works out that way Deb!

      • Deb

        Elise, the recipe is a keeper for sure! Everyone loved it…even in the crockpot–so easy. Very moist and delicious! We used cilantro from our garden, and the flavor was just great. Now, I’ll definitely try it on the grill next time and see if that’s even better! Thanks again!

  • Lisa @ Panning The Globe

    This will be on our dinner table soon! So simple, but I love the combo of flavors. I do an even more simple version of yogurt-marinated chicken and I love how tender it gets from the yogurt – I’m excited to try your version, with the Moroccan twist.

  • pamela

    Hi and thank you for this delicious recipe

  • Laura @ Laura's Culinary Adventures

    Delicious! What great spices!

  • Michelle/Mickle in NZ

    Elise – this was delicious. I made it using skinned and boned thighs and baked it in the oven (its almost winter here). The meat was incredibly tender. Thank you for re-sharing this great and easy recipe.

    Michelle in Wellington, New Zealand

  • Martha

    This looks delish! Hoping to try this for lunch this weekend. What do you suggest I serve with this?

    Thank you so very much!

    • Dawn

      Coucous or rice, a little spiced yoghurt on the side (using the marinade recipe) and a nice green salad with a citrus-based dressing. How about that? :)

      • martha

        Thank you so much Dawn! Cant wait to try this! :)

        • Dawn

          You are very welcome, Martha. I think that Elise’s Strawberry Quinoa salad would be nice with the moroccan spices in this grilled chicken too – I like to double the dressing in the quinoa recipe, and add some extra fruit (like more strawberries, orange segments or diced mango), but that is only because my husband has a problem with dryish foods. For the same reason, even with the quinoa, I would still make the spiced yoghurt to give a tasty dipping sauce/dressing. :)

  • Nell

    I have ground chicken thawing, but perhaps no yogurt, but have feta cheese…blended with milk, add the spices, that should work! and made into meatballs…maybe some lemon too….almost like Chicken tawook…..thanks for the nudge to be creative.

  • sana

    Hi Elise! i love your website..its the first place i look for recipes!! If i were to broil or bake this what would be the temperature and time?

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Sana, it all depends on how large your chicken breasts are to begin with, and if you are taking them straight out of the fridge or allowing them to come closer to room temp before cooking. If I were baking, I would start at 350°F and cook for 20 minutes, adding time as needed.

  • Vita

    Wonderful! And this has inspired me to make yogurt-baked chicken as my go-to (as a wintertime alternative to marinating and grilling). I coat skinless boneless chicken thighs in yogurt (goat yogurt b/c I do not tolerate cow dairy) mixed w/ various herbs and spices, and bake at 350 for 1 hour in my toaster oven. My current obsession is .5 tsp turmeric, 1 tsp Montreal Steak Seasoning, .5 tsp cumin, 1 tsp hot paprika, minced fresh or garlic powder in .5-.75 cup yogurt for 1.5 lbs chicken (measurements are guesses–I just pour stuff in). This method is also awesome for keeping chicken breasts super moist. Thanks for the inspiration, Elise!

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • ljp

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

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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

  • 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 ;)

  • 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.

  • 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


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

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • Brenda

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

  • 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.

  • Jon

    This recipe was quite a hit. Brilliant!

  • 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.

  • Audrey

    A bit of grated ginger would be nice too.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.