Yogurt Marinated Grilled Chicken – Zenwise Yogurt Marinated Grilled Chicken – Zenwise
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Yogurt Marinated Grilled Chicken

Grilling season is fully in swing, so how about we share with you our Yogurt-marinated grilled chicken recipe?

Whole-milk, Greek Yogurt is the key to extra deliciousness in this recipe!  While a citrus or vinegar-based marinade can make chicken tough and rubbery if you marinate it too long, the lactic acid in yogurt slowly tenderizes the meat, making it extra juicy and flavorful. Which means you can prepare everything the night before without sacrificing quality.

The yogurt marinade is seasoned with garlic, cilantro, cumin, and cayenne pepper then cooked over indirect heat [or in your oven—we included directions for that too.]


Why We Love These Ingredients

When it comes to yogurt, go Greek. Compared to ordinary yogurt, Greek Yogurt is higher in protein and lower in carbs. And let’s not forget that it’s a natural source of gut-friendly probiotics! 

Yogurt also contains magnesium and phosphorus which support your skeleton and promote bone formation. Plus, the high protein content in Greek Yogurt promotes muscle protein synthesis and recovery.

Cilantro, also known as coriander, brings both taste and wellness to your plate! It is a natural detoxifier that binds to arsenic, aluminum, lead, mercury and other toxic metals, eliminating them from the body so they don’t accumulate in tissues.

Cilantro also contains an antimicrobial compound called dodecenal, which protects against salmonella and other food-borne pathogens.

Cayenne’s array of health benefits is due to an  active compound called capsaicin. Research shows that this miracle healing compound can reduce joint pain, ease migraines, prevent blood clots, boost metabolism, and reduce appetite.

Last but not least, cayenne stimulates digestive enzymes. So, it helps break down foods for easier, pain free digestion and better nutrient absorption.


Pro Tips to Get You Started

When chopping cilantro, use the entire plant! Both the stems and leaves impart some great flavor.

How long should you let the chicken marinate? With yogurt-based marinades, the longer the better. The short answer is at least 2 hours. But the beauty of the yogurt-based marinate is that you can toss everything together the day before and let the chicken soak overnight. Talk about making things easy!

Notice that the cooking times are approximate, since different chicken pieces cook faster than others. Use an instant read thermometer to test for doneness (160 in center of thickest portion) rather than guessing or cutting into the chicken.


Here’s how to set up your grill for indirect heat:

  1. Light each burner on your grill. Close the lid and let the grill preheat.
  2. When you’re ready to cook, turn off one burner and set the other burners to medium low.
  3. Cook over the turned off burner—this is your indirect heat zone.

Keep a spray bottle of water handy for any flare ups that can burn your chicken. 

No grill? No problem! Here’s an oven-baked version:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  • Place chicken on the baking sheet then bake in preheated oven until 165 in center (approx. 25-30 minutes).
  • Broil near the end if desired for a little more browning and flavor.


Yogurt-Marinated Grilled Chicken

Active Time: 30 mins

Total Time: 5 hrs 10 mins 

4 servings



  • 1 cup full-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup lightly packed cilantro, finely chopped
  • 2 TBSP fresh lemon juice
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne [or more according to taste]
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp kosher salt, plus more to season
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more to season
  • Chicken pieces [thighs, breast, legs]
  • Oil, for brushing grill



  1. In a large bowl, mix yogurt, cilantro, lemon juice, garlic, cayenne, cumin, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Transfer marinade to a large, resealable plastic bag. Add chicken pieces and turn to coat. Seal bag and transfer to a baking dish. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.  Bring chicken to room temperature before grilling.

  2. Set up a gas grill for indirect grilling, then oil grate and heat to medium-high (400°F).

  3. Remove chicken from marinade, scraping off any excess, discard marinade. Season chicken with salt and pepper to taste. Set chicken skin-side up on grate over indirect heat. Close grill and cook, turning once, until chicken is browned and nearly cooked through, about 25 minutes.

  4. Reduce grill heat to moderately low. Flip chicken and grill over direct heat, turning occasionally, until lightly charred and an instant-read thermometer inserted in inner thighs registers 160°F, about 15 minutes more.

  5. Transfer chicken to cutting board. Let rest for 10 minutes before carving to allow juices to redistribute.



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