Shish tawook, chicken taouk, or Lebanese marinated chicken kebabs or aka heaven on a stick. Bite-size pieces of both (boneless and skinless) chicken thighs and thin-cut chicken breasts marinated in fresh squeezed lemon juice, lots of garlic and a plethora of spices. Threaded onto wooden skewers and grilled, chicken tawook can be dunked into garlic dip or placed in warm pita bread and top with tomatoes, cucumber and onion for a sandwich or on top of a veggie-loaded salad.
Lebanese cuisine is at the tippy-top of my favorites.
Not only because it tends to be healthful, but also you’ll find robust spices, lots of lemon and there’s usually tons of garlic involved. Which translates to delicious flavor injected into the recipes and the food. And let’s be real there’s that garlic sauce!!!
In this tawook recipe, bite-size pieces of both (boneless and skinless) chicken thighs and thin-cut chicken breasts marinate in fresh squeezed lemon juice, lots of garlic and a plethora of spices. After marinating, the chicken is then threaded onto wooden skewers and grilled.
The smell coming off of your grill is spectacular. I swear I could feel my neighbors peeking at me from out of there windows and from around the corner on their back decks. My guess is that they’re probably wondering “why in the heck is she taking pictures while grilling?”… but I’m also pretty sure the mouth-watering smell brought them out in the first place.
To Make Shish Tawook You Will Need:
- 10 to 12 wooden skewers
- boneless, skinless chicken thighs and thin-cut chicken breasts
- kosher salt
- cardamom (ground)
- sumac (ground)
- dried oregano
- cinnamon (ground)
- white pepper
- clove (ground)
- grated nutmeg
- fresh garlic cloves
- a large lemon
- extra light olive oil
- minced parsley, for serving
- Lebanese garlic sauce (toum)
First thing to do is soak your skewers, if using wooden bamboo ones. Metal skewers, obviously wont need it… but bamboo do. Soak for at the very least 45 minutes to 1 hour. Water soaked skewers are less likely to catch fire on the grill.
Place 1 pound of each boneless and skinless chicken thighs and thin-cut breasts into a large bowl. I like to use thin cut chicken breast because when it’s cut into bite-size pieces it’s the same thickness as the thighs.
Measure and add 1 teaspoon kosher salt.
1 teaspoon ground cardamom.
Then a 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano and paprika.
And a 1/2 teaspoon ground sumac berries, 1/4 teaspoon of both ground cinnamon and white pepper.
Grate in 4 medium cloves of garlic. Garlic that has been grated, is the best way to get garlic into a dressing or marinade. Whereas mincing garlic leaves you with larger pieces of garlic that could potentially burn up or fall off the chicken, grated garlic sort of melts into the dressing or marinade and sticks to the meat better.
Squeeze the juice from 1 large and juicy lemon. It almost doesn’t fit in my juicer.
Lastly, add in 2 tablespoons extra light olive oil. Any high-heat safe oil will work.
Use tongs to toss and combine.
Cover and marinate on the counter top for 20-30 minutes.
Drain the wooden skewers, and thread! I alternate thigh and breast meat so that each skewer gets a little of each. Plus my OCD brain won’t allow it any other way.
Preheat your grill to medium-high. Once it’s hot, place the chicken on the grill, I reduce the heat to medium and cook, rotating the skewers until fully cooked. Which is anywhere between 5-8 minutes. A hot grill will cook these quickly and give you good grill marks, just remember to turn it to medium to avoid over cooking or burning. And watch those skewers! There’s still a chance they will catch fire even if they’ve been soaked, so don’t venture too far from the grill.
As you can see, the ends of some of my skewers still caught fire and some just blackened. It happens.
However, the chicken is perfect. Which is the most important part amiright?It’s moist, flavorful and so darn easy! You now have a few choices on how to serve this; you can either slide the grilled chicken off of the skewers (once cooled, of course) and dunk into garlic dip and eat, or place the chicken pieces on warm pita bread and top with tomatoes, cucumber and onion for a sandwich. OR top a veggie-loaded salad with it… which is what I tend to do most often.
Shish tawook, I heart you.
Check back tomorrow where I’ll be sharing with you how to make Lebanese garlic sauce (aka toum)! You DO NOT want to miss this!
Try this shish tawook in my Chicken Tawook Salad!
Enjoy! And if you give this Shish Tawook recipe a try, let me know! Snap a photo and tag me on twitter or instagram!
Shish Tawook (Lebanese Marinated Chicken Skewers)
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into large pieces
- 1 pound boneless skinless, thin-cut chicken breasts, , cut into large pieces
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 3/4 teaspoon ground sumac
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon ground clove
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 4 cloves garlic, grated
- 1 large lemon, juiced
- 2 tablespoons extra light olive oil, or other light flavorless oil
- 10 to 12 wooden skewers, soaked for at least 1 or more hours in water
- minced parsley, for serving
- In a large bowl toss chicken with salt, cardamom, sumac, oregano, paprika, cinnamon, white pepper, ground clove and nutmeg. Grate in the garlic and squeeze in the juice from a large and juicy lemon. Lastly, pour the oil.
- Toss to combine, cover and marinate on the counter for 20-30 minutes.
- Meanwhile preheat your grill to medium-high heat (about 500°).
- Once the chicken has marinated, thread onto the soaked skewers. Alternating between thigh and breast meat so each skewer has a little of both.
- Place the skewers on the hot grill grates, immediately turn the heat down to medium and close the cover. Cook for only a few minutes before using tongs and turning the kebabs. Once the chicken is fully cooked (after about 5 to 8 minutes) remove from the grill.
- Slide chicken off of the skewers and serve as is, in pita with tomato, cucumber and onion as a sandwich or on top of a salad. Either way, be sure to serve it with garlic sauce.
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THANK YOU in advance for your support!
I will so be trying this later this week!!! Shopping for spices today:)
Thanks Laurie, I couldn’t imagine my life without you! More seriously, you have become a part of our lives through your recipes…. and I’m feeling very grateful to have come across your blog!
Oh E! You are too kind! I’m so glad you keep coming back and that you are enjoying the recipes! Your comments always make my day! 🙂 <3
I do not have a grill. Can I make these in the oven? If so, please tell me how to do so. Thank you!
I would thread onto metal skewers (instead of wood) and broil for about 7 to 8 minutes or until fully cooked. Watch carefully and turn half way through. Alternatively, you could heat a skillet and work in batches browning and cooking the chicken. Also, a cast iron skillet would be great too!
I love the flavors of Lebanese cuisine, too. Like J’Marinde I don’t have a grill. I think I’ll drain the meat from the marinade and brown it on the stove top.
Good idea! Let me know how it turns out for you!
I am going to be all about the skewers this summer! These look so good.
I tried it yesterday and it was SO delicious!!! So yumyum! Thank you for your recipes – your blog is my absolute favourite!
Thank you so much Inoue! I’m so happy to hear you loved the recipe!
I tried these last night for dinner and was SO excited to taste them, as I don’t think I’ve ever cooked something with THAT many spices! Followed your recipe precisely (minus the wooden skewers, I used metal), but for some reason I could not taste much flavour on the meat.
We had them with a side of oven roasted potatoes and dipped in your lebanese garlic sauce. All I could taste was the garlic sauce, which was very very garlicky (as a suggestion, you may wish to lower the quantities on that recipe, as I am not entirely sure keeping garlic + oil in the refrigerator for as long as you are suggesting is a good idea). Overall we were very pleased with the garlic sauce, but….. I was disappointed in the meat:( I used fresh good quality spices, but still could not taste much on the meat. Why do you think that was? I may have been tasting some of the garlic sauce before sitting down for dinner. Maybe that’s what biased my taste buds?
Any suggestions or thoughts?
Hi E! I’m baffled as to why you couldn’t taste much flavor on the meat. It could’ve been that your taste buds were blinded by the garlic sauce. That’s the only logical explanation I can think of because a little of that stuff goes a looooong way! And a 1 to 2 month refrigerated shelf life is accurate, longer if freezing. 🙂
Also, I just wanted to tell you that I did (or so I thought) reply from the app I use on my phone but it (obviously) never sent. My apologies! Thanks for tweeting me and bringing it to my attention.
Have a great day!
Loved the chicken. Only Penzeys had the Sumac berries ground and Cardamom- expect to pay $9 for a small jar of this wonderful stuff. I have to admit – not a fan of that garlic sauce mentioned. Not sure if it was roasted first if it could have been more pleasant. I definitely prefer the Food and Wine cucumber and yogurt sauce in a warmed pita with veggies. Again, chicken 10 stars. Thanks for enticing me to branch out into new flavors/ seasonings.