Grilled chicken shashlik with zhoug sauce is our ultimate cookout food. Super juicy, tender chicken thighs prepared with the best marinade ever. Mayo, grated onions, and a blend of middle eastern spices. It’s so bomb!
Don’t you just love taking a classic recipe and giving it new spin? That’s what happened when I made my tried and true shashlik marinade, and decided to include a shawarma spice blend from one of my favorite Middle Eastern inspired cookbooks, Soframiz. I made the spice blend a while ago and it was sitting in my pantry, begging to be used. And let me tell you, this brought the grilled chicken to life!
My husband kept commenting on how good it smelled while he was grilling the skewers. And the zesty herb zhoug is so vibrant, it’s a match made in heaven. Zhoug is a spicy Yemenite herb sauce. My new favorite condiment for any grilled meat. Thank you Ana and Maura for your awesome cookbook, it has inspired my cooking in so many ways!
The Secret is in the Marinade
The secret to making the juiciest, most flavorful grilled chicken shashlik is definitely in the marinade. Grated onions and mayo are the two main ingredients. Yep. So easy you wouldn’t expect it. 😉 Most importantly, the fat content in the mayo transforms the surface area into an epic brown crust when introduced to the grill, and who doesn’t love that? Serve this chicken with a generous drizzle of the zhoug sauce. Thanks to the herbs, hot peppers, and olive oil, it is both bright and herby while being creamy and spicy. It’s amazing! And so easy to make. Just put everything in the blender, pulse it a few times, and its done!
For our daughter’s 3rd birthday, we made this shashlik with the zhoug and paired it with buttery rice, grilled vegetables, and several different salads and side dishes. It was one of the best meals ever!
Grilled Chicken Shashlik with Zhoug Sauce
- metal or wooden skewers
Shawarma Spice Blend
- 1/4 cup freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp freshly ground white pepper
- 1 tbsp ground coriander
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 1/4 cup ground allspice
- 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tbsp ground nutmeg
Zhoug – Spicy Herb Sauce
- 2 Hungarian wax peppers, coarsely chopped
- 1 1/2 cups fresh cilantro leaves, washed and drained
- 1 1/2 cups fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, washed and drained
- 2 cloves peeled garlic
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 tsp sherry vinegar
- 3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1 large sweet onion, grated or blended to a pulp
- 1/4 cup mayo
- 1 tbsp shawarma spice blend (from above)
- 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt, to taste
Prepare the Zhoug
- Combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend until very smooth. It can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Prepare the Chicken Shashlik
- If you are using wooden skewers, soak them for at least 30 minutes.
- Once you make the shawarma spice blend, set aside 1 tablespoon for the marinade and store the rest in a glass jar.
- Trim the extra fat from the chicken thighs, cut each one into thirds, and put them into a large bowl. Combine with the grated onion, mayo, 1 1/2 tsp salt, and 1 tablespoon of the shawarma spice. Marinade the chicken for at least 4 hours.
- Thread the chicken onto the skewers, trying not to squeeze the pieces too close together.
- If you are using a charcoal grill, wait until the fire dies down a bit and the bricks turn white. Then place the chicken skewers on the grill, turning them every five minutes until internal temp reaches 165 F. It will take about 25-35 minutes.
- Season the shashlik with a sprinkle of salt to taste and serve it with rice or pita bread, a fresh salad, and little bowls of zhoug sauce on the side. Enjoy!