Authentic Turkish Chicken Kebab (Tavuk Siş)

Basic turkish chicken kabobs

The Spruce

 

Ratings (103)
  • Total: 27 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins
  • Cook: 12 mins
  • Yield: 6 to 8 kebabs (6 to 8 servings)
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
394 Calories
23g Fat
10g Carbs
35g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
×
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 to 8 kebabs (6 to 8 servings)
Amount per serving
Calories 394
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 23g 30%
Saturated Fat 6g 28%
Cholesterol 107mg 36%
Sodium 113mg 5%
Total Carbohydrate 10g 4%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Protein 35g
Calcium 75mg 6%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Kebabs originated in Turkey, so you can't get much more authentic than these Turkish chicken kebabs, or tavuk şiş (tah-VOOK’ SHEESH’).

There are many versions of traditional chicken kebabs and this one features a simple marinade made from plain yogurt or milk, onion, garlic, and spices that transforms plain white or dark meat chicken into succulent, flavorful kebabs that don’t need much else. 

You can adjust the ingredients to your taste and add hot red pepper in place of sweet paprika to spice things up. You also can add vegetables like cherry tomatoes if you wish. 

Ingredients

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or 4 to 5 boneless, skinless thighs)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt (or milk)
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Garnish: oregano, sumac, and paprika

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Turkish Chicken Kebab
    The Spruce 
  2. Heat a grill to medium.

  3. Wash the chicken in very cold water for several minutes.

    Turkish Chicken Kebab
    The Spruce 
  4. Blot the meat dry on paper towels.

    Turkish Chicken Kebab
     The Spruce
  5. Cut the meat into bite-sized cubes about the size of large dice.

    Turkish Chicken Kebab
     The Spruce
  6. Using the finest grater possible, make a pulp from the onion and garlic cloves.

    Turkish Chicken Kebab
     The Spruce
  7. Pour this pulp and juice into a very fine mesh strainer, and using a wooden spoon, press out the juice into a separate bowl.

    Turkish Chicken Kebab
     The Spruce
  8. Discard the onion and garlic pulp.

    Turkish Chicken Kebab
     The Spruce
  9. In a glass or ceramic bowl, combine the onion/garlic juice, yogurt or milk, oil, tomato paste, black pepper, paprika, and salt.

    Turkish Chicken Kebab
     The Spruce
  10. Add the cubed chicken and toss to coat.

    Turkish Chicken Kebab
    The Spruce 
  11. Cover the bowl and refrigerate it for at least 4 hours, or overnight for the best results.

    Turkish Chicken Kebab
     The Spruce
  12. If using bamboo skewers, soak them in water for a few hours so they don't ignite on the grill. 

    Turkish Chicken Kebab
     The Spruce
  13. Remove the pieces from the marinade and thread them onto small metal or bamboo kebab skewers. The chunks of chicken can touch each other, but don’t put them too close together to ensure they cook through. Discard any remaining marinade.

    Turkish Chicken Kebab
     The Spruce
  14. Sprinkle the kebabs with salt and put them on the grill. Grill them evenly on all sides, about 12 minutes total. You can sprinkle Turkish spices like oregano, sumac, and paprika over the hot kebabs to add extra flavor.

    Turkish Chicken Kebab
     The Spruce
  15. Turkish Chicken Kebab
     The Spruce

The Origins of Kebabs

The method of cooking meats on a skewer over an open fire originated on the steppes of central Asia. In Turkey, it’s said the descendants of Ghengiz Khan himself skewered their daily catch on their swords and cooked it over an open flame. This concept was refined over time and was brought to the world with the westward migration of Turkic peoples.

In comparison to some modern kebabs, authentic Turkish shish kebabs are actually very plain. The key to great authentic Turkish kebab is in the quality of the meat and the flavor imparted by the marinade. 

Most kebabs, with the exception of certain combination dishes like patlıcanlı kebabı (pot-LUH’-john-LUH’ keh-BOB’-uh) made with eggplant, are simply marinated meat—they usually don’t include vegetables on the same skewer. While the meat and chicken are skewered and grilled, vegetables like tomatoes and hot green peppers are put directly on the grill and served with the kebab as a garnish.

In a typically hospitable Turkish way, chicken kebabs are often served alongside grilled beef and lamb to offer an alternative for diners.