This Chicken Tikka Kebab is marinated with authentic Indian spices and then grilled to perfection with colorful veggies. It is juicy tender, bursting with flavor and perfect for summer gatherings!
I wanted a chicken tikka kebab with chunks of juicy chicken with a little char, all thoroughly seasoned and paired with browned, tender yet firm vegetables.
What is chicken tikka kebab? It typically consists of boneless breasts or thighs that have been cubed and marinated in a combination of spices and yogurt, similar to the tandoori chicken recipe.
The Hindi word tikka means "small chunks" and the kebab or kebob, refers to a type of dish consisting of pieces of meat, vegetables, or even fruits skewered and cooked over an open flame or grill.
The word "kebab" originated from the Middle East and has since spread to various cuisines and cultures around the world. The specific ingredients and seasonings can vary depending on the region, resulting in a wide range of flavors and styles.
It is usually marinated for at least a few hours, allowing the spices' flavors to permeate the meat and result in a juicier, more flavorful kabob.
Once the chicken has been marinated, it is threaded onto skewers with vegetables such as bell peppers and onions. The vegetables not only add flavor and color, but they also help to keep the chicken moist as it cooks.
They are then grilled over an open flame in a traditional tandoor or grill, until the chicken is cooked, like the grilled chicken thighs, and the vegetables are slightly charred. This gives the kabobs a beautiful smoky flavor that is simply irresistible.
Chicken tikka kebab is often served with a side of mint chutney or yogurt sauce and is enjoyed as an appetizer, main course or made into wraps with naan bread.
What is the difference between a kebob and a tikka? Chicken tikka is a specific Indian dish where boneless chicken is marinated in a yogurt-based mixture, seasoned with spices, and cooked in a tandoor oven, resulting in a smoky flavor.
Chicken kebabs, on the other hand, refer to a broader range of grilled or skewered chicken dishes found in various cuisines. They can be cooked on a grill or in an oven, using different marinades and seasonings, offering a wider flavor profile than chicken tikka's specific taste.
Why this recipe works?
I use a two-step marinade process to achieve a well-rounded flavor and to keep the lean breast from drying out over the hot flames. Combining authentic spices with yogurt adds depth of flavor, and moisture and helps further tenderize the protein.
Scroll down to the recipe card below for full information on ingredients and amounts.
- Chicken breasts - I like to use boneless, skinless chicken breasts for this chicken tikka kebab recipe because they can be cut into even-sized chunks. Boneless skinless thighs will make a great substitute and produce juicier meat like in air fryer teriyaki chicken.
- Lemon juice - This helps to tenderize the meat and adds a nice brightness to the kabobs.
- Cayenne - Adjust based on your spice level.
- Salt - Salt penetrates the meat to season thoroughly and swells up the meat allowing it to retain the juices.
- Ginger and Garlic - Like in Indian butter shrimp, freshly grated ginger and garlic add authentic flavor to the chicken tikka kebab recipe.
- Spices - A combination of traditional spices such as cayenne, garam masala, coriander, and cumin powder.
- Kasoori methi - It is dried fenugreek leaves that add authentic flavors like in butter chickpeas, but feel free to skip it.
- Yogurt - It makes it extra juicy and won’t dry out on the grill like the tandoori chicken recipe.
- Oil - To keep them from sticking and also for blooming the spices resulting in a more intense flavor.
Pro tip: Use Kashmiri chili powder instead of cayenne for a gorgeous red color.
How to make?
You can find full printable recipe below, but here is a quick overview of the procedure along with step-by-step photos.
1 & 2. Cut boneless, skinless breasts into 1-inch chunks and toss with lemon juice, cayenne pepper and salt. Let marinade for 15 minutes.
3. Mix yogurt, oil, salt, and all remaining spices together and then toss with the marinated chicken. Stir in chopped vegetables before cooking.
Tip: How long to marinade? If you leave it in there longer, up to 8 hours, the flavors will soak into the chicken and veggies more. So, if you have the time, marinating for longer is recommended for the best flavor.
5. Thread the meat alternating with the veggies into a skewer.
Pro tip: Cooking the chicken and vegetables together on the same skewer enhances the flavor of both.
💡Did you know? You can use any leftover wooden chopsticks instead of skewers. Sharpen the tapering end with a pencil sharpener and transform them into a handy skewer in a pinch.
6. Grill the chicken tikka kebabs over medium heat, until fully cooked and golden brown, about 10-15 minutes, turning the skewers every couple minutes to allow for even cooking.
Storage and Reheating instructions
Chicken tikka kababs keep wonderfully in the fridge. Store them in an airtight container or wrap them tightly with foil or plastic wrap.
To freeze, remove them from the skewers and place them in a freezer-safe bag or container.
When ready to eat, reheat them in a preheated 350°F oven or warm through for about 10-15 minutes. You can also remove the chicken from the skewers and heat it in a skillet over medium-high heat until warm.
- Skewers - You will need 12-inch metal skewers for this chicken tikka kebab recipe.
- Don’t skip the marinate time. The key to juicy chicken is marinating it for at least half an hour or at least a few hours if you have time.
- Soak wooden skewers. If you use wooden skewers, soak them in water for at least 20 minutes, to prevent them from the chance of them burning on the grill.
- Switch out the veggies. If you’re not a fan of peppers, then you can skip them or use other types like mushrooms or even parboiled potatoes!
If you’re using an outdoor grill, you want to heat the grill to 350-400°F. Be sure to flip them every few minutes. The chicken is cooked when the internal temperature reaches 160-165°F.
The safest way is to remove the food from the skewer first. Hold the top of the kabab in your left hand with the other end on the plate, positioned at a slight angle on your plate. Then slide off the veggies and meat with your fork, few pieces at a time.
Chicken tikka kebab consists of marinated, grilled or baked chicken pieces, with a smoky, mildly spicy flavor and a charred texture, while chicken tikka masala is a curry dish with chicken cooked in a spiced tomato-based sauce with a creamy, tangy taste with a saucier consistency.
Prepare the chicken as instructed but skip the skewering. Preheat the air fryer to 360 degrees or 180 degrees celcious. Arrange the chicken pieces in airfryer and cook for about 7 minutes. Flip and cook for
5 to 8 more minutes, then serve.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Prepare a baking tray lined with parchment paper or foil and place a rack on top. Place the skewers on the rack, then bake for 15-20 minutes until chicken is well cooked.
Turn on your oven's broiler and broil for 2 to 4 minutes to get a burnt char.
More Chicken Recipes
Chicken Tikka Kebab
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ small onion, cut into 2 inch cubes, layers seperated
- 1 cup 2 inch cubes bell peppers (I used a mix of red and green)
- Cut chicken breast into 1-inch cubes and add into a bowl.
- Add all ingredients from first marinade and toss to combine. Let sit for 10 to 15 minutes.
- In the meantime time, combine all ingredients from the second marinade in a seperate small bowl, until well combined. Tip: I like to cut my veggies during this time.
- After 15 minutes, add the second marinade and mix to througly coated. Let marinade for about 30 minutes or up to 8 hours (in the refrigerator).
- Toss the cut veggies before cooking.
- Preheat the grill to medium heat, and grease the grill with vegetable oil.
- When ready to grill, thread the chicken onto the skewers, with the vegetables in between the chicken kabobs.
- Grill the chicken kabobs until fully cooked and golden brown, about 10-15 minutes, turning the skewers every couple minutes to allow for even cooking.
- Remove the chicken from the grill and serve with yogurt sauce or make into wraps.
Nutritional information, based on third-party calculations, should be seen as estimates, not guarantees, as various factors like product types, brands, processing methods, and more can alter the nutritional content in recipes.
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