It’s still astonishing to me just how much flavor you can squeeze out of one lemon. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.) This marinade looks too easy but, while ease is never a bad thing in my books, it really delivers on taste too. I like to make up these skewers and stash them in the freezer. The marinade does its work both while the chicken freezes and again when it thaws, and having the meat already skewered makes life for future me so much easier.–Claire Tansey

Six lemon and garlic chicken kebabs piled on an oval platter.

Lemon and Garlic Chicken Kebabs

5 / 2 votes
Not only are these lemon and garlic chicken kebabs a cinch to make, they're even easier to serve. The ever-enticing aromas of lemon, garlic, oregano, and grilled chicken will lure everyone to the table so you don't have to.
David Leite
Servings4 servings
Calories217 kcal
Prep Time25 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time45 minutes


  • 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs or breasts
  • Extra-virgin olive oil


  • Use a vegetable peeler to remove the lemon zest in long pieces, and drop them into a large freezer bag or container. Add the lemon juice, garlic, oregano, and salt and stir to mix.

    ☞ TESTER TIP: Want to amp up that oregano flavor? Crush the dried leaves with your fingers before adding them to the bag.

  • Cut the chicken into 1 1/2-inch (4-cm) cubes and add to the marinade. Gently massage or toss the chicken pieces to evenly coat. Close up the bag or container and marinate at room temperature for 20 minutes, or for up to 2 hours in the fridge.
  • If using wooden skewers, soak them in water while the chicken marinates.
  • Preheat the grill to high.
  • Thread 5 cubes of chicken on each metal or presoaked wooden skewer, nestling them quite close to each other.
  • Oil the grill very well, then add the skewers. Grill with the lid closed for 2 minutes, then flip the skewers, close the lid again and grill 2 minutes more.
  • Reduce the heat to medium low and continue to grill until cooked through and springy to the touch, 6 to 12 minutes.
  • Remove the skewers from the grill and drizzle with olive oil. Devour immediately.


Can I make these Lemon and Garlic Chicken Kebabs ahead of time?

Yes, you can! If you’d like to have an easy meal in the freezer, you can assemble the chicken skewers, add them to the marinade, and freeze them directly in the container or resealable plastic bag, ready to be grilled. Note that if using a plastic bag, you’ll want to use wooden skewers and trim the ends after assembling so you don’t puncture the bag.

Adapted From

Dinner, Uncomplicated

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Serving: 1 portionCalories: 217 kcalCarbohydrates: 4 gProtein: 33 gFat: 7 gSaturated Fat: 2 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 162 mgSodium: 443 mgPotassium: 482 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 1 gVitamin A: 56 IUVitamin C: 21 mgCalcium: 34 mgIron: 2 mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2020 Claire Tansey. Photo © 2020 Suech and Beck. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

You had me at kebab. There is something gratifyingly carnivorous about breaking down meat, piercing it with a sharp object, and cooking it over an open flame. My inner cavewoman was happy, while at the same time my more refined palate was equally as delighted.

This recipe for lemon and garlic chicken kebabs had a beautiful balance of flavors. The earthiness of the oregano blooms as it is grilled. The bright lemon shines through in every bite. I actually grabbed an extra lemon, halved it and threw it on the grill with my chicken. Then, I served my skewers over a bed of mixed greens. I drizzled the plate with olive oil, a squeeze of charred lemon, salt, and pepper. I even shaved some parmesan over the top. It made for a gorgeous, healthy, delectable twist on grilled chicken salad using these little flavor bombs on a kebab. This one is a keeper!

Select a Tester

I loved the flavor combination of lemon and garlic chicken kebabs! I am not a seasoned griller, but the directions were very clear and guided me through the process. This grilling recipe gave me confidence! I used a thermometer once I thought the chicken was “springy” at 7 minutes and ended up adding another 2 minutes to the cook time. I noticed the chicken pieces in the middle of the skewer took longer to cook compared to the outermost pieces, so I recommend testing the middle chicken pieces when deciding whether the chicken skewer is fully cooked. I added the chicken to a Greek salad I made as a side, and that was the best decision I made. The chicken needed a little extra flavor and dressing to round it out.

I have a go-to souvlaki recipe that takes 2 days from start to finish, which is both indescribably delicious and inconvenient. This recipe for lemon and garlic chicken kebabs is the closest thing I’ve come across that delivers on taste but cuts down on the waiting. This isn’t described as souvlaki but, for us, it came very close.

I used a combination of thighs and one breast (it was just what I happened to have at the time). The thighs were definitely more flavorsome but that’s the beauty of thighs, right?

Marinate the chicken chunks and when you’re ready to eat, line them up on the pre-soaked skewers and get grilling. I used Mexican oregano (because I had some) and it added even more citrus flavor. I let the chicken marinate for 3 hours, soaking the skewers for 10 minutes before threading and grilling. Served with warm pitas, tzatziki, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and a lot of feta cheese, these were a big hit.

We really enjoyed the Mediterranean flavors that this very simple marinade brought to the lemon and garlic chicken kebabs. I only marinated the chicken for 20 minutes and found that the chicken had perfectly incorporated flavors from the oregano, garlic, and lemon. Be sure to crush the dried oregano between your fingers to release the oil left in the leaves and bring out more flavor.

I like to “massage” the pieces while they are resting in the marinade and rotate the bag. Grilling the kebabs needs to be done carefully – not enough cooking and the chicken will be underdone, too much and the chicken will be tough and dry. It’s a fine line especially since the pieces on the skewers may be slightly larger or smaller, or they may be getting more or less heat from different areas of the grill. All of that said, the timing should be adapted to your grill and if in any doubt about the doneness of the chicken, you can use an instant-read thermometer to be sure your chicken is cooked to a temperature of 165 degrees.

The photo shows metal skewers but the instructions indicate wooden skewers, so I believe either will work. I chose to use metal skewers for this type of grilling since the metal will generate more heat to the inside of the chicken pieces. A very good, and good for you dish, which can be made in 45 minutes or less.

This recipe for lemon and garlic chicken kebabs is the type I like to make in the summer, minimal ingredients, easy to make, quick to cook, and flavorful. The recipe can be increased to feed a crowd or for leftovers.

I skewered chicken tenders (had in the freezer), marinated, and brushed with olive oil just before grilling and did not add the oil after cooking. Next time I’ll double the recipe and freeze half as suggested. I liked this recipe very much, and leftovers were just as good added to an orzo and tomato salad the next day.

WOW – this simple recipe really packs a flavor punch – I’ll keep it in my back pocket since I always have all these ingredients on hand. Threading the chicken on the skewers and marinating directly is a brilliant tip and it’s helpful to know they freeze well in the marinade too.

The flavor of these lemon and garlic chicken kebabs was so good and the chicken was so tender, paired with some rice and a Greek salad, it was a fabulous summer meal that would work well on a weeknight but also for guests.

A quick chicken dish full of flavor? Count me in for these lemon and garlic chicken kebabs. I made this for an impromptu dinner when family showed up unexpectedly. I used 2 lbs of chicken breast cut into 2-inch cubes since that’s what I had in the fridge.

The marinade is quick to make up and uses ingredients readily available in most kitchens. I marinated the pieces for 2 hours before grilling them up. The marinade smelled wonderful. We heated the grill to high and grilled the skewers for 2 minutes per side before lowering the heat and finishing them off for another 6 minutes. Along with a quick Greek salad, and some sausages for the kiddies this was a great dinner and, on the table, quickly. We got 4 servings of chicken.

These lemon and garlic chicken kebabs are flavorful, easy to make, and there’s a good chance you have all of the ingredients on hand! The chicken thigh cubes were tender and well-seasoned, even after only a 20 minute marinade. I’m looking forward to making these again and letting them marinate for a little longer to really bump up the flavor.

I put the cubed chicken in a freezer bag with the marinade and refrigerated them for about 1-1/2 hours. I took the bag out of the refrigerator to warm up for about half an hour, and then threaded the chicken on skewers just before cooking.

I served the lemon and garlic chicken kebabs with steamed rice, steamed corn, and mashed kabocha. The chicken was very good – tender, moist, and with a pronounced lemon flavor. And the recipe couldn’t be simpler.

The final result was very good and the lemon and garlic chicken kebabs were moist which I love! I cleaned the chicken thighs removing all fatty pieces and washing them thoroughly, then cut them in cubes. Preparing the marinade was very easy, next time I’ll use a square container since my bag was leaking and difficult to rub the marinade into the chicken.

I’m giving this recipe a TC because it delivers what it advertised and was quick and easy to bring together. I struggled a little because there was no wow factor with these lemon and garlic chicken kebabs, which is typically what pushes recipes into the TC category for me. But a solid dish that delivers excellent flavors, is straightforward and not fussy gets me there. Plus, it’s a dish that can be enhanced in many ways by adding some veggies or other treats to the skewers.

I’d let the chicken cook longer on high heat to get that Maillard reaction really going. I used boneless chicken breasts, next time I will definitely go with thighs for greater moisture. Served with grilled broccoli and grilled green beans.

About David Leite

David Leite has received three James Beard Awards for his writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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