Easy Yogurt Marinated Chicken is a summer BBQ favorite. Grilled chicken thighs are coated in yogurt, sharp red onion, garlic, and a savory spice blend. It’s juicy, tender, and simply delicious!
These baked boneless chicken thighs are also a family favorite!
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Do not let summer pass by without yogurt marinated chicken! The tangy, earthy flavors in the one hour marinade hit just right, it’s ready in a snap, and an instant crowd pleaser.
Marinating chicken in yogurt makes the most tender chicken thighs that are fall apart delicious. Pair it with grilled vegetables or grilled zucchini for the perfect weeknight meal, summer cookout, or anything in between.
Ingredients for Yogurt Chicken Marinade
Yogurt marinated chicken is made with healthy kitchen staples you mostly likely have most, if not all, on hand.
- Chicken: Boneless skinless chicken thighs, around 2 pounds. You can also use boneless skinless chicken breasts.
- Yogurt: Plain yogurt or Greek yogurt make a good chicken marinade. A full-fat yogurt will yield a less watery marinade.
- Red onion: Adding minced red onion to Greek yogurt chicken marinade soaks the mild spicy taste into the meat.
- Garlic: Grated fresh garlic brings out the best flavor!
- Seasonings: Ground cumin, dried basil, salt and black pepper are the perfect combination for this Middle Eastern chicken marinade.
How to Make Yogurt Marinated Chicken
Here is a quick overview how to make juicy yogurt marinated chicken thighs. Full recipe card is located below.
- Make yogurt marinade for chicken: Add yogurt, red onion, garlic, cumin, dried basil, salt and pepper to a large bowl and whisk well to combine.
- Coat chicken: Add chicken thighs to the bowl and use tongs to gently toss until chicken is well covered. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in the fridge. Marinating chicken in yogurt takes as little as 1 hour and up to 24 hours.
- Grill chicken: Preheat outdoor grill on medium-high heat and rub grill grates with an oiled paper towel. Brush off any bigger pieces of red onion along with some marinade from the chicken. Place chicken on the grill, close the lid and cook chicken thighs for 10-12 minutes and chicken breasts for 8-10 minutes. Turn half way through.
Don’t overcook: Your chicken is done when an internal read thermometer inserted into the center reads 165 degrees F. You can also cut in with a knife, juices should run clear and no longer pink.
Rest and serve: Remove chicken and place on a large dish or platter, cover with tinfoil and rest for 5 minutes. Serve yogurt marinated chicken with your choice of side, over leafy greens, or cool and refrigerate for meal prep.
Variations of Yogurt Marinated Chicken
You can never have too many chicken recipes, especially with so many variations! From cooking method to spices, here are a few ways to have fun with yogurt marinated chicken.
- If using chicken breasts: Pound chicken breasts using a meat mallet or rolling pin, or cut thick cutlets in half lengthwise. This allows quick and even cooking.
- Bone-in and skin-on chicken: You’ll want to grill at a lower temperature for a longer period of time. Heat your grill to medium heat and grill covered for 30 minutes, about 15 minutes per side.
- Use a grill pan or cast iron skillet: Great for many grilling recipes if you do not have a grill. Heat the cast iron grill pan or skillet over medium-high heat and cook for the same amount of time or a bit longer.
- Bake or air fry the chicken: Make yogurt marinated chicken thighs year round. Bake chicken thighs in the oven at 425 F for 16-18 minutes. Or set the air fryer to 375 F, air fry for 8 minutes, flip and air fry for an additional 4-7 minutes. Make sure the internal temperature reaches 165 F.
- Fresh herbs: Added in the marinade or as a garnish. Try fresh oregano, parsley, thyme, rosemary, dill, or mint. You can also squeeze fresh lemon juice on top for a burst of bright flavor.
- Spices: Use what you have on hand to switch up the marinade ingredients. Smoked paprika, ground cinnamon, onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder, turmeric, red pepper flakes, and cayenne pepper are great options for yogurt chicken marinade.
Tips for Best Results
Here are some top tips from my grill to yours for the best yogurt marinated chicken.
- Clean and oil grill well: To prevent sticking make sure your grill is nice and clean before starting. And I recommend oiling your grill a bit more than usual when using yogurt marinade for chicken.
- Grills vary: Cook times will vary based on things like type of grill, grill temperature, size of chicken, and outdoor temperature.
- Check meat with thermometer: This will give you the most accurate reading without cutting into the chicken. Insert thermometer in the center of the thickest part and be sure it reads 165 F.
- Remove most marinade before grilling: The chicken will stick to the grill and burn if there is too much marinade left on. Brush some marinade off so you have a thin even layer of yogurt.
- Don’t marinate chicken too long or not enough: Marinate anywhere between 1 hour and 24 hours for the best results. This allows enough time to tenderize your meat and let the flavors soak in. Marinating any more than 24 hours will result in mushy meat because fibers will continue to break down.
- Let chicken rest: This helps keep all the juices in for the most tender, juicy grilled chicken thighs.
What to Serve Yogurt Marinated Chicken with?
Keep clean up simple and skewer your favorite veggies on the grill too! I love zucchini, onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, and tomatoes.
How to Store
Store: Place leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days.
Freeze: For cooked chicken leftovers, store in an airtight container and keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.
If you would like to freeze marinated chicken you do not need to marinate it in the fridge first. Marinate in a Ziploc bag, let air out and lay flat in the freezer. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and cook as per recipe.
Yogurt marinade will start tenderize meat in as little as an hour but you can marinate for up to 24 hours. The longer it marinates the more flavorful it will be but be sure not to go over 24 hours or the chicken can turn mushy.
Yogurt adds flavor and slowly tenderizes chicken for the juiciest, moist chicken. The lactic acid contained in yogurt gently tenderizes the chicken slower than a vinegar-based or citrus marinade.
You can freeze chicken marinated in yogurt before or after cooking for up to 3 months.
When freezing before, place chicken and yogurt marinade in a freezer safe bag, let air out, and lay flat in the freezer. If freezing after, let chicken completely cool and freeze in an air-tight container.
Thaw overnight in the fridge and cook as per recipe.
Yes. The yogurt marinade holds all the flavor but if too thick the chicken will likely stick and burn when grilled. Make sure each piece of chicken has an even thin layer of yogurt marinade.
You can use any plain yogurt such as 1%, 2%, 3.5% etc. or nonfat yogurt. I do like to use full fat yogurt so the marinade isn’t too runny.
More Chicken Recipes to Try
- Greek chicken marinade
- 5 best chicken marinades
- Cilantro lime chicken
- Grilled chicken thighs
- Cajun chicken
Yogurt Marinated Chicken
- In a large bowl, add yogurt, red onion, garlic, cumin, dried basil, salt and pepper. Whisk well.
- Add chicken thighs and using tongs toss gently to coat chicken in marinade. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and marinate in the fridge anywhere from 1 hour up to 24 hours.
- Preheat grill on medium-high (450-500 degrees F) and rub with oiled paper towel. Brush big pieces of red onion and some marinade from the chicken and place on the grill. Close the lid and grill chicken thighs for 10-12 minutes or chicken breasts for 8-10 minutes turning once. Do not overcook.
- Remove chicken from the grill, cover with foil and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve with a side of grain and salad, use in salads or perfect for a meal prep.
- Store: Refrigerate cooked chicken leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
- Freeze marinated chicken: Marinate in a Ziploc container, let out air and lay flat in the freezer. No need to marinate in the fridge first. When ready to cook, thaw in the fridge overnight and cook as per recipe.