Yogurt-Marinated Grilled Chicken for Your Inner Manly Man

I think I have a problem. I may be morphing into some weird version of a stereotypical manly man. I’ve always had tendencies, but this is getting ridiculous. Stay with me.

I hate doing my nails. I’ve perfected the art of tuning people out, as necessary. If you offer me a beer, I’ll take Guinness over Mich Ultra any day. And if you don’t have Guinness, a little bourbon or some brandy neat will do just fine.

I don’t own a hairdryer. I don’t really like Madonna. And given the choice, I’d pick Shark Week over a What Not to Wear marathon. Every time. (Though I realize this comparison is a bit of a stretch: both species can be pretty ruthless.)

So the aforementioned evidence, plus my burgeoning—borderline unhealthy—relationship with my grill has elicited slight concern. (Take away my tongs and I may throw you into a headlock.) I figure while I deal with these Y chromosome traits, I might as well enjoy some grilled chicken. And as part of my new Sunday summer night grilling series, the chicken this week did not disappoint. It was extraordinary.

I should also mention that I spent some time on Saturday with said chicken, breaking it down into legs, thighs, wings and breasts. After letting it hang out in a spiced yogurt marinade overnight, it charred to juicy perfection on the grill. While you could certainly buy the bone-in pieces, the inner guy in me was looking for a task to conquer.

It was worth it. This chicken was like nothing I’ve tasted in a very, very long time. Said in a bad Barry White impersonation: baby, you’ll love this chicken. So go ahead, make the chicken. And maybe smash a beer can over your head. No, you are probably too smart for a cheap party trick like that. But on the off chance that you aren’t, come over: we can bond over beer and flame-grilled chicken.

Yogurt Marinated Spiced Grilled Chicken
Adapted from David Lebovitz

1 cup low fat Greek yogurt
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp red chili flakes
1/4-1/2 tsp ground ginger (depends on your preference)
5 cardamom pods, seeds ground and pod shells discarded
Ground pepper (about 10 turns with the peppermill)
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
Juice of 1 lime
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp saffron threads
1 whole chicken*, cut into 8 pieces (2 thigh, 2 wings, 2 legs and 2 breasts)

Combine the first 14 ingredients (all ingredients up to the saffron threads) in a large bowl. Heat 1 tbsp of water in the microwave for about 15-20 seconds and add saffron to water; let saffron sit for a few minutes and then add to yogurt spice mixture.

Meanwhile, break down a whole chicken into 8 pieces, discarding the backbone (or saving it for chicken stock). (Alternatively you could just buy a total of 8 chicken pieces, e.g. breasts, thighs, etc. Cook's choice: see note below.) Add chicken to yogurt marinade and chill in the fridge overnight.

Cook chicken on a medium-hot grill until done. (Internal temp should be 165 degrees.)

Yields 2 each of thighs, breasts, legs and wings

-* You could easily buy already cut up chicken pieces; Lebovitz used 4 thighs and 4 legs. Regardless, buy skin-on chicken if you can. It keeps the chicken unbelievably moist on the grill: even the breast pieces.

-The leftovers of this have been insane: I've been feeding myself spiced chicken all week. Sometimes, multiple times per day.

-I'm thinking this would be perfect with a deep Lagrein rosé or the Mulderbosch Cabernet Sauvignon rosé from South Africa that's chilling in my fridge. (This may be the only redeeming feminine note of my post.)


  1. This chicken looks fantastic! The yogurt and that variety of spices must make a fabulous dish

  2. Bless you for these words because you took them right out of my head. Bon Appetit has an article called "Mom Gets Her Grill On" that irritates the crap out of me because it makes it look like women can't grill and we should be impressed that this woman gave it a try. Grrrrrr

    Anyhow, this woman makes her husband's yogurt-marinated grilled chicken, which is a lot like what you have here except they just lump in all your spices as garam masala.

    Yours looks outstanding. I'll be over for a beer later (but don't expect me to smash a beer can, I prefer bottles).

  3. Ha! I'm glad to know that I'm the only one who has some gender-barrier breaking habits! This chicken looks fabulous!

  4. This post reminds me of a way to prepare chicken called "beer can chicken." You drink 1/2 a can of beer, stick the remaining beer and can up the backside of a chicken and let it grill for an hour or so. It is a weird practice I've seen once but really hope to never see again, even if the chicken meat was extremely moist.

  5. I've never used a marinade that had yogurt in it. I would think it makes it extra tender. It really sounds delicious!
    I don't own a hairdryer either. I don't think I've heard of someone else who doesn't either!

  6. I wish I could reach thro my computer for a taste..awesome clicks..:P
    Tasty Appetite

  7. Shut up! You had me at Guinness! And being in lust with your grill is not a bad thing. At least you keep it to just Sundays (or do you?). I'm stepping out most evenings in 100+ heat...that makes me a grill slatern, I suppose, but I use my mother's excuse of not wanting to heat up the kitchen...anything to get a beer in my hand. Yogurt marinades rock. I have a few but yours sounds worthy of a try. Thanks!

  8. does anyone like madonna? :)
    i'm with ya on most of those characteristics, though i hadn't realized how manly that made me seem...
    tasty chicken, for any gender!

  9. Thank god I'm not the only one with male tendencies ... or, for that matter, the only one that isn't really keen on Madonna. ;)

  10. I've been kind of obsessed with using greek yogurt in everything i make recently. This will nicely fuel that obsession! Great meeting you yesterday at Techmunch!

  11. HA! hair stylists give me the stink eye whenever I tell them I don't have a blow dryer! I also take less time to get ready in the AM than my boyfriend. So happy to keep up with your blog.

  12. I've heard about marinating chicken in yogurt but I keep forgetting to do it! Bookmarking this now. I am a girly-girl but I have my man tendencies too (obsession with chicken wings, the NBA) and I don't own a hair dryer too ;)

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  14. OK, Shark Week trumps What Not To Wear any day! And a majorly yummy chicken dish trumps salad just as often. This looks delish-love the idea of warm spicy spices on summer chicken. And yogurt marinades are the best-Thanks for the inspiration Emily!

  15. My inner manly man would be beyond thrilled with this chicken. Could not look and sounds more delicious.