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Amp up tonight’s chicken dinner with this quick-to-make yogurt and lime marinade for chicken. Mix it up in minutes with plain Greek yogurt (or whole milk yogurt), grated onion and garlic, ground spices, and plenty of fresh lime juice and zest. This tangy yogurt marinade is an excellent way to season and tenderize any of your favorite chicken cuts, like chicken thighs, breasts, or drumsticks before they are baked or grilled
This yogurt-marinated chicken is inspired by tandoori-style chicken, using thick plain yogurt and aromatic seasonings.
When you’re searching for chicken dishes for dinner, using a marinade (like lemon and herb chicken breast marinade or soy sauce chicken thigh marinade) is an excellent way to season and tenderize any of your favorite chicken cuts, like chicken thighs or drumsticks.
Why you’ll love it:
- Yogurt: Use any type of plain, unsweetened yogurt that you enjoy or have in your fridge. I love the thick, creamy texture of Greek yogurt because it coats the chicken perfectly.
- Lime: Fresh lime juice adds edgy acidity to the marinade, and grated lime zest a distinctive piney-fresh aroma. You can swap it out for lemon if you like.
- Onion: Grated fresh onion is key to this marinade. Typical in Indian, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cooking, the juices from the onion quickly penetrate into the chicken. Although it won’t be as flavorful, 1 teaspoon of onion powder can be substituted.
- Garlic: Rather than chopping garlic, crushing or grating fresh garlic quickly releases all of its pungent fragrance and flavor.
- Spices: For a warm spicy flavor, I mix in ground cumin, and cayenne pepper for a touch of heat. You can add 1-2 teaspoons of additional spices to really amplify the seasoning. Try paprika, smoked paprika, za’atar, coriander, turmeric or curry powder.
Serving ideas and prep tips
- Refrigerate the marinated chicken about 2 hours (and up to 24 hours) before grilling, baking or cooking on the stovetop.
- Add cubes of cooked yogurt-marinated chicken to curry-spiced cauliflower naan bread for a fun one-dish meal.
- Slice the chicken and serve in warm pita with spiced cucumber salad, creamy coconut rice and sliced cherry tomatoes.
Quick Yogurt-Lime Marinade for Chicken
- 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken, about 4 medium breasts or 6 thighs
- ¾ cup unsweetened plain yogurt, any variety (Greek, whole milk, or low fat)
- ½ cup grated onion, about ½ an onion
- Grated zest of 1 lime
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 2 garlic cloves, grated or crushed in a garlic press
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Add the chicken to a bowl or large baking dish.
- Combine all the marinade ingredients in a large bowl, whisking until smooth.
- Pour the marinade over the chicken. Turn the chicken pieces over with a fork so that the marinade coats them evenly. Cover with plastic wrap. Alternatively, add the chicken to a zip-top freezer bag along with the marinade, and squish the bag with your hands to distribute. Refrigerate 2 hours or up to 24 hours.
- When you're ready to cook, remove the chicken pieces from the marinade, shaking off and discarding any excess.
- Cook the chicken according to your preference:
- Preheat a grill to medium-high heat for direct grilling. Oil the grill racks (the yogurt tends to stick to the grates). Grill on a medium-hot grill about 5 minutes per side, until the chicken is cooked through.
- Preheat the oven to broil, with the oven rack six inches from the heat source. Arrange the chicken on a rack set on top of a foil or parchment-lined sheet pan. Broil the chicken about 5-6 minutes per side, until the chicken is browned and cooked through.
- Heat 1-2 tablespoons oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Sear until golden brown, 3-4 minutes on each side. Lower the heat to medium, cover the pan and cook until the pieces are cooked through.
Karen’s Notes and Tips
- Use an instant-read thermometer to check for doneness. The chicken is done when it reaches 160-165F.
Nutrition facts are calculated by third-party software. If you have specific dietary needs, please refer to your favorite calculator.