This grilled chicken recipe is one of the most popular here on the site, and for good reason! Juicy grilled chicken thighs, covered in a bold Mediterranean marinade and served with an herby Greek yogurt sauce that will have you coming back for more! Get my secrets for how to grill chicken thighs perfectly, plus a few great sides and salads to serve along for the perfect summer barbecue!
When it comes to cookouts, this Mediterranean grilled chicken recipe has been a fan favorite for the past few years. In fact, it's one of the top chicken recipes!
You can't go wrong with chicken thighs on the grill. They are tender and juicy--hard to mess up, really. But, covered in lots of garlic, warm Mediterranean spices, citrus, and olive oil, these marinated grilled thighs are next level delicious.
I love serving this grilled chicken with a side of thick and creamy Greek yogurt sauce with a good dose of fresh dill. The sauce is a must-try, unless you're not a dill person, then you can totally do a tzatziki instead. Add a salad or through some vegetables on the grill to complete this perfect Mediterranean chicken dinner!
How long does it take to grill chicken thighs?
In this recipe, I'm using boneless chicken thighs, which will take about 7 to 10 minutes cooked over medium-high heat. Bone-in chicken thighs will take anywhere from 15 to 25 minutes, depending on how large they are. Chicken is fully ready to serve when its internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.
Should you marinate chicken thighs for grilling?
Now, should you marinate chicken thighs before cooking on the grill. Yes! Although it's not a requirement, marinating the chicken for 2 to 4 hours or so will give you delicious, boldly flavored grilled chicken. But if you don't have the time, even 30 minutes or so will make a difference. You can also marinate the chicken in the fridge overnight, just don't add citrus until the last couple hours of marinating time.
The chicken marinade
A simple combination of warm spices, fresh garlic, onions, and citrus make up the marinade for this Mediterranean grilled chicken recipe. Here is what you need for the marinade:
- 10 garlic cloves. Yes, the garlic here is a key ingredient! And I would recommend using fresh garlic cloves that you mince yourself rather than the already minced stuff which doesn't have the same big flavor.
- Spices: paprika, allspice, nutmeg, cardamom, a foursome of warm and bold Eastern Mediterranean flavors.
- Red onion: You'll need one red onion, halved and thinly sliced.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Good olive oil will help blend the different flavors and help them adhere to the chicken thighs.
- Lemon juice. Lemon juice provides flavor and acidity, but it also helps tenderize the chicken.
How to make grilled chicken thighs?
Chicken thighs on the grill is one of the easiest summer meals! Here is how to make this grilled chicken recipe (I'm showing you the steps with photos here, but the print-friendly recipe with the ingredient measurements is just below):
- Season the chicken. Start with 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs and be sure to pat them dry on both sides with a paper towel. Mince 10 garlic clovers and mix them with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, ½ teaspoon of paprika, ½ teaspoon allspice, ½ teaspoon nutmeg ¼ teaspoon cardamom, and a good dash of kosher salt and black pepper. Rub the chicken thighs with the seasoning mixture.
- Marinate. Grab a large dish with sides (it needs to hold the chicken thighs and the marinade). Slice 1 red onion and arrange the sliced onions in the bottom of the dish. Add juice of 2 lemons and about 2 to 3 more tablespoons of olive oil. Mix to combine. Arrange the chicken on top of the onions, and toss to make sure the chicken is coated in the liquid. If you have the time, cover and refrigerate for about 2 to 4 hours or overnight (if you do marinate the chicken overnight, remember to only add the lemon juice the next day about a couple hours before grilling). Otherwise, you can set the chicken aside at room temperature for 30 minutes or so while you heat up your grill and prepare your dill Greek yogurt sauce (if using).
- Heat an outdoor grill over medium-high heat and carefully oil the grates.
- Grill! Using a pair of tongs, arrange the chicken thighs on the grill and cook (discard the onions). Close the grill cover and cook for about one 5 minutes or until you see some good char marks, then turn the chicken over and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes. (I like to remove the chicken from the heat when its internal temperature reaches about 160 degrees, to make sure it doesn't dry out).
- Allow the grilled chicken to rest. As the chicken rests, its internal temperature should continue to rise to 165 degrees (you can use a piece of foil to tent over).
The dill Greek yogurt sauce
For some of us, it's essential to have a little something to dip or drizzle over grilled chicken. The cool dill Greek yogurt sauce compliments the bold flavors in the grilled chicken. To make it, you'll mix together just over 1 cup of some creamy Greek yogurt with a little bit of minced garlic, fresh dill, lemon juice, and a dash of kosher salt, if needed. The Greek yogurt sauce can be made one night ahead; just keep it in the fridge in a tightly covered container, and give it a stir before serving.
Grilling bone-in thighs
If you would rather grill bone-in chicken thighs, you can still follow the same recipe, just budget about 10 to 15 more minutes for the chicken to cook properly. Like I mentioned earlier, bone-in chicken will take anywhere from 15 to 25 minutes to cook through (and again, use your thermometer to be sure it's ready).
Can I make this grilled chicken recipe with boneless chicken breasts?
Chicken breasts are more tricky to grill without drying out. In general, boneless chicken breasts will take about 9 minutes to cook on the grill, flipping over once mid-way through. For me, I like to take them off the heat when their internal temperature reaches about 155 degrees F, that way they don't get too dry. I do allow them to rest before serving (with a large piece of foil tented on top) until their temperature rises to 165 degrees F.
What to serve with this Mediterranean grilled chicken!
There are many great sides and salads that compliment this grilled chicken recipe. You can throw some vegetable kebabs or on the grill, or some zucchini to make grilled zucchini boats! Add a hearty salad like piyaz (Turkish white bean salad) or balela. I'm also a big fan of this simple lettuce salad with anything grilled.
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Mediterranean Grilled Chicken Thighs
For the Dill Greek Yogurt Sauce:
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 cup fresh dill, stems removed, chopped
- 1 ¼ cup Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon Extra virgin olive oil
- ½ lemon or lime, juiced
- Pinch cayenne pepper, optional
- Koshre salt, if needed
- Make the dill Greek yogurt sauce. Combine the minced garlic, fresh dill, yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice and cayenne pepper in a food processor. Run the food processor until all the ingredients are well blended and a smooth thick sauce or dip develops. Test and add salt if needed. Transfer to a small bowl or container, cover and refrigerate.
- Make the seasoning and season the chicken. In a small bowl, mix together the minced garlic, spices and 3 tablespoon olive oil. Pat the chicken thighs dry and rub each with the garlic-spice mixture.
- Make the marinade and add the chicken. In a large dish with sides (to hold the marinade), add the onions, lemon juice, and the remaining olive oil. Place the chicken on top of the onions and toss for a bit so the chicken is coated in the olive oil and lemon juice.
- Marinate the chicken. If you have the time, cover and refrigerate the chicken for 2-4 hours. If not
- Heat a gas grill to medium-high. Place the chicken thighs on the grill. Cover for 5 minutes, then turn the chicken over and grill for another 3 to 5 minutes covered.
- Rest. Allow the grilled chicken about 5 minutes to rest before serving. Chicken is ready with its internal temperature, taken at the thickest part, should be 165 degrees.
- Serve with a side of the dill Greek yogurt dip you prepared earlier! And check out my side and salad suggestions!)
- Browse Our Shop for quality Mediterranean ingredients including olive oils and spices to use in this recipe.
- If you have the time, do marinade the chicken! For best flavor, marinate in the fridge for 2 to 4 hours (you can try overnight, just add the lemon juice only 1 to 2 hours before cooking the chicken).
- You can make the dill Greek yogurt sauce one night ahead. Store it in the fridge in a tightly closed mason jar or a covered glass bowl. Give it a quick stir before serving.
- Can you use chicken breast instead in this recipe? Yes, you can make this grilled chicken recipe with boneless skinless chicken breasts. Chicken breast will tend to dry out more quickly, so to be sure that doesn't happen, remove the chicken breasts from the heat when their internal temperature reaches 155 degrees F. Allow the chicken breasts to rest, covered, for about 5 to 10 minutes (the temperature will continue to rise, but the juices of the chicken will redistribute. This makes for juicier grilled chicken breasts).
*This post first appeared on The Mediterranean Dish in 2015 and has been updated with new information for readers' benefit.