Joojeh Kabob, also spelled Jujeh Kabab, is the Persian version of the chicken kabob and one of Iran’s most delicious and popular dishes. A flavorful chicken marinade with saffron, turmeric, Greek yogurt, and lemon creates juicy, tender chicken loaded with flavor.

5 joojeh kabobs on a blue serving platter.
Photo Credits: Mariam Hamdy

Joojeh Kabob is a popular grilled dish from Iran, where chicken is infused with a flavorful and aromatic marinade until it’s golden in color, tender, and juicy. Saffron, one of the world’s most prized spices, lends a delicate floral note, while the grill adds a perfectly smoky, charred flavor. 

If you have eaten at a Persian restaurant or have a Persian friend, you likely need no introduction to this beloved chicken kabob. It’s often on the menu along with other classics like Fesenjan, a pomegranate and walnut chicken stew, and Barbari Flatbread

I wasn't fond of lamb as a child, so I would always choose Joojeh Kabob to tuck into during trips to Iranian restaurants or family gatherings. While my tastes have since matured and I now love lamb, I still find myself piling my plate with these tender morsels of chicken whenever I get the chance. Kids and adults will both love this chicken kabob recipe!

Table of Contents
  1. Ingredients for this Chicken Kabob Recipe
  2. How to Make Joojeh Kabob
  3. Joojeh Kabob Variations
  4. Leftovers and Storage
  5. How to Serve Joojeh Kabob
  6. You'll Also Like: More Kabob Recipes
  7. Joojeh Kabob (Persian Saffron and Yogurt Chicken Kabobs) Recipe
Ingredients for Joojeh kabob including chicken, saffron, onion, garlic, lemon juice, greek yogurt, olive oil, tomato paste, turmeric, salt, pepper and parsley.


Ingredients for this Chicken Kabob Recipe

After many years of cooking this dish I have landed at the following ingredients to create the perfect Joojeh Kabob at home.

  • Chicken: Traditionally, Joojeh Kabob is made with young chicken (also known as poussin) on the bone. This recipe calls for skinless, boneless chicken breast because they are easier to source and you get more meat per mouthful. 
  • Tomato purée: Used as a tenderizer in the marinade. It also complements saffron to enhance the spice further.
  • Greek yogurt: Also used in the marinade to tenderize the chicken. 
  • Extra virgin olive oil: high-quality extra virgin olive oil, like our Koroneiki Organic Greek EVOO enriches the marinade.
  • Turmeric: Adds a lovely earthy flavor to the chicken kabobs.
  • Saffron: Gives Jujeh its unique flavor and gorgeous golden hue. See our essential guide, What Is Saffron?, for tips on buying, blooming, and using one of the world’s most prized spices.
  • Lemon: Give a burst of citrus flavor to the chicken kabobs.
  • Salt and pepper: Seasons the chicken, enhancing the other flavors.
  • Yellow onion and garlic: The fresh aromatics added to the marinade for a depth of flavor.
  • Fresh parsley: Used to garnish the kabobs, giving them a fresh flavor.
chicken from the joojeh kabobs on a pita garnished with tomato and parsley.

How to Make Joojeh Kabob

The key to perfect Joojeh Kabob is the time you leave the chicken to marinate. I always let it marinate overnight for chicken that's perfectly tenderized and balanced in flavor.

If you can cook the kabobs over charcoal you will create an authentic Persian experience. The recipe below, however, accommodates cooking the chicken in your kitchen over a griddle or outside on a gas grill, which most households have, and still boasts an equally delicious flavor.

  • Bloom the saffron. Use either a pestle and mortar or a spice grinder to grind 1 pinch of saffron until all of the strands become a fine powder. (If you use a pestle and mortar, have patience.) Stir ¼ teaspoon of the ground saffron with 3 tablespoons of water. Allow to bloom for 10 minutes. 
  • Make the marinade. To a large bowl, add one thinly sliced onion, 1 large minced or crushed garlic clove, ⅓ cup Greek yogurt, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon tomato puree, ½ teaspoon turmeric, and the bloomed saffron water. Squeeze in the juice from one lemon and stir to combine. 
  • Add the chicken. Place the chicken into the bowl with the marinade and season with a large pinch of salt and pepper. Use your hands to massage the marinade into the chicken. 
  • Leave to marinate. Cover with plastic wrap and leave in the fridge overnight for the flavors to develop. 
  • Skewer the chicken: The next day, remove chicken from the fridge, shake off any excess marinade and thread the chicken pieces onto the soaked skewers. (Discard the marinade and onions.) 
  • Grill. Lightly oil and heat a gas grill or griddle to medium-high heat. Grill, turning until the chicken is cooked through, about 10-12 minutes in total. The internal temperature should register 165°F.
  • Serve. Place the cooked Joojeh Kabobs on a serving dish and sprinkle with finely chopped fresh parsley. Enjoy!
a piece of chicken from a joojeh kabob being picked up from a plate with a fork.


Joojeh Kabob Variations

You can tweak the spices in this chicken kabob recipe to your liking. Feel free to experiment with different flavor combinations for the marinade. Here are some ideas:  

  • Make it spicy: Add a fresh chili or a spoonful of chili sauce to the marinade.
  • Make it slightly smoky: A big pinch of Aleppo pepper adds a warming smokey flavor and mild kick.
  • Add another wonder spice: Cardamom! A little ground cardamom adds a deliciously perfumed dimension to the kabobs.


Leftovers and Storage

Keep leftover joojeh kabob in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. To reheat, arrange the chicken on a large baking sheet. Heat in the oven at 350°F until warmed through. 

chicken from the joojeh kabobs on a plate with a tomato cucumber salad and a fork.


How to Serve Joojeh Kabob

For a full meal, serve these chicken kabobs with a side of Persian Rice with Potato Tahdig and Persian Shirazi Salad

Alternatively serve as part of a mezze-style offering with Pita Bread, Tabouli Salad (Tabbouleh), Baba Ganoush, and Tzatziki. Sauces such as Traditional Toum Garlic Sauce and Tahini Sauce complement these kabobs, particularly when wrapped in lavash bread stuffed full of fresh herbs like mint, tarragon, basil, and cilantro.

You'll Also Like: More Kabob Recipes

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Joojeh Kabob (Persian Saffron and Yogurt Chicken Kabobs)

photo of author mersedeh prewer.Mersedeh Prewer
6 joojeh kabobs on a serving platter.
These traditional Persian chicken kebabs are juicy, tender, and packed with flavor. This recipe is simple, you just need to plan ahead: Marinate the chicken overnight for the best flavor.
Prep – 15 minutes
Cook – 15 minutes
Marinating Time 1 day
Total – 30 minutes
Cuisine:
Persian
Serves – 6
Course:
Entree, Entree/Poultry

Equipment

  • Wooden skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes

Ingredients
  

  • 2 ¼ pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 1 pinch saffron threads (about 10 threads) or ¼ teaspoon of ground saffron
  • 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed or minced
  • Juice from 1 large lemon
  • cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon tomato purée
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • Finely chopped parsley, for garnish

Instructions
 

  • Bloom the saffron. Use either a pestle and mortar or a spice grinder to grind the saffron until all of the strands become a fine powder. (If you use a pestle and mortar, have patience.) Stir ¼ teaspoon of the ground saffron with 3 tablespoons of water. Allow to bloom for 10 minutes.
  • Make the marinade. To a large bowl, add the sliced onion, garlic, lemon juice, yogurt, olive oil, tomato puree, turmeric, and the bloomed saffron water. Stir to combine.
  • Add the chicken. Place the chicken into the bowl with the marinade and season with a large pinch of salt and pepper. Massage the marinade into the chicken until everything is combined and evenly distributed.
  • Leave to marinate. Cover with plastic wrap and leave in the fridge overnight for the flavors to develop.
  • Skewer the chicken. The next day, remove chicken from the fridge, shake off any excess marinade and thread the chicken pieces onto the soaked skewers. (Discard the marinade and onions.)
  • Grill. Lightly oil and heat a gas grill or griddle to medium-high heat. Add the kabobs and cook, uncovered, until the chicken is cooked through, about 10-12 minutes in total. The internal temperature should register 165°F.
  • Serve. Place the cooked Joojeh Kabobs on a serving dish and sprinkle with finely chopped fresh parsley. Enjoy!

Video

Notes

  • Leftovers can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. To reheat, arrange the chicken on a large baking sheet. Heat in the oven at 350F until warmed through.
  • Visit our shop to browse quality Mediterranean ingredients including olive oils, honey, jams, and spices.

Nutrition

Calories: 251.7kcalCarbohydrates: 2.6gProtein: 37.5gFat: 9.2gSaturated Fat: 1.6gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1.2gMonounsaturated Fat: 4.7gTrans Fat: 0.02gCholesterol: 109.4mgSodium: 203mgPotassium: 689.9mgFiber: 0.4gSugar: 1.3gVitamin A: 65.5IUVitamin C: 3.9mgCalcium: 26.8mgIron: 0.8mg
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Mersedeh Prewer is a Persian-British recipe developer born, raised and currently living in the United Kingdom. She is passionate about all cuisines but her writing primarily focuses on Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine. She is a recipe contributor to both The Kitchn and Simply Recipes.
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Comments

  1. Hi There my partner is from Tehran, she said they don't use tomato puree in the chicken kebab marinade. Which part of Iran is the recipe from?

    Thanks

    John

    1. Hi, John. This recipe was written by one of our amazing authors, Mersedeh. You can read about her here. This is the way her family prepared this dish growing up. As you're likely aware, each family tends to put their own twists on beloved recipes. The added tomato puree in this version is just one of those twists.

  2. 5 stars
    Very tasty! I don't normally use turmeric or saffron but this combination was excellent. Ours was cooked on skewers in the oven at 400F. Next time we will use the gas barbecue.

  3. 5 stars
    Another simple and great chicken recipe! Served at a small dinner party and everyone enjoyed! Even someone that stated he did not eat raw onions, as the taste is too strong. He enjoyed the marinade! (Shared the onions after he enjoyed his chicken 😉 )
    The girlfriends took the recipe home!
    Thx, Suzy!!!

  4. My daughter has a milk allergy, do you think there's an alternative to using Greek yogurt that might be an acceptable substitute?