Grilled Chicken Tikka

Grilled Chicken Tikka

My former boss, private chef Emily Su, calls this 5-minute chicken because you could marinate it for as little as 5 minutes. They used to make it for quick staff meals at Chez Panisse, and she taught me how to prepare it for her private clients back in California. It’s been a favorite ever since, and it’s always the first thing I grill each Spring. If you want a little more heat, feel free to add 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper to the marinade.

Cook: 20-30 minutes

Prep: 5 minutes

Serves: 6


  • 2 lbs organic chicken
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder or sweet paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic, grated or minced
  • Juice of 1 lemon (about 3 tablespoons)
  • 2/3 cup whole Greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 Bunch cilantro, to garnish


  1. If your chicken is skin-on, remove skin and season chicken with sea salt. In large bowl, whisk together all remaining ingredients except for the cilantro. Add chicken to bowl and toss well to coat (this is usually easiest with tongs). Cover and marinate in the fridge for at least 15 minutes, and up to 3 hours.
  2. Bring chicken to room temperature while you preheat your grill. (If you're doing a quick marinade, skip the fridge all together). Oil the grill and cook chicken over medium heat for roughly 7-12 minutes per side. This will largely depend on what kind of chicken you’re using (see notes and tips below). If you notice chicken is charring quickly, lower heat a bit. You want color here, but not too much.
  3. Serve chicken with lots of cilantro to garnish.


Using skinless chicken lets the yogurt marinade really absorb into the meat. You can use boneless or bone-in thighs, breasts or even drumsticks here. Bone-in meats will take substantially longer to cook, and I’d recommend using an instaread thermometer to make sure you’re at 165 degrees.

Make Ahead

This holds really well for up to 4 days, and can be reheated in the oven or eaten right out of the fridge. I love it cold, sliced over a big arugula salad!

Tools & Tips

Don’t skimp on the oil in this recipe, as it keeps the chicken from sticking to the grates. If you try to flip the chicken and it’s stuck, give it another minute and try again. It generally releases when ready to flip.

Bringing meats to room temperature helps them to cook more evenly.

Double Up

Double or triple this recipe for a crowd. For larger groups, I opt for bone-less thighs, as they cook quickly and don’t dry out. Plan on 2-3 per person.