Best Homemade Doner Kebab with Chicken (Tavuk Döner)
It's easier than you think to make delicious, meltingly tender chicken döner kebab at home! This recipe gives you the option to cook the doner kebabs on the grill or in the oven. I like using metal skewers here, but you can use bamboo skewers for the grill (be sure to soak them in water for an hour before using). The secret to juicy, flavor chicken doner is in the yogurt marinade, loaded with garlic, citrus, and a few spices. If you have time, let the chicken sit in the marinade for 3 hours up to overnight. But even 30 minutes at room temperature will make a big difference in the flavor of your Turkish kebabs! Cook them on the grill or in the oven - I share tips for both methods!
Make the marinade: In a large mixing bowl, add the yogurt, tomato paste, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, and spices. Mix well to combine.
Season the chicken: Pat the chicken dry and season well with kosher salt and black pepper on each side.
Marinate: Add the chicken to the marinade and toss to make sure each piece is well-coated with the marinade. If you have the time, I highly recommend you cover and refrigerate the chicken for 3 hours or up to overnight. Otherwise, allow the chicken to sit in the marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes or so while you prepare the fixings/sides and heat up the grill (or your oven). (You’ll get better results of you let the chicken marinate longer).
Skewer the chicken: Divide the chicken thighs into two piles. Using a set of 2 to 3 metal skewers at a time, thread the first pile chicken thighs through, and push them snug against each other. (It helps to prop the skewers on the edges of a pan or a bowl. And if your chicken thighs are too large, you can fold them each in half and thread them through). Repeat with another set of 2 to 3 skewers to thread the second pile of chicken on.
To cook on the grill: Heat the grill to 400 degrees F (for my grill, this would me medium-high heat). Arrange the kebabs on grates and close the grill. Cook for about 10 to 15 minutes on one side until nicely charred, then turn over and cook for another 10 to 15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and no longer pink in the middle (a total of 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken thighs).
To cook in the oven: Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Using a large pan with edges or walls, arrange the kebabs on top of the pan such that the metal skewers are resting on the edges (or walls of the pan) with some room between the chicken and the bottom of the pan. Put the pan on the middle rack of your heated oven. Roast for about 30 to 35 minutes until the surface is golden brown and charred in some parts. Remove the pan from the oven and carefully turn the skewers over, brush the top of chicken with the pan juices and return the pan to the oven for another 20 minutes (longer if you have larger pieces). You’ll cook the kebabs in the oven for anywhere between 50 minutes to 1 hour or until the chicken is cooked through and no longer pink in the middle.
Rest: Remove the chicken off the heat and allow it to rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
Carve or shave the chicken off the skewers: Prop the skewers upright on a slight angle. Using a sharp knife (held in your dominant hand), slice the meat thinly from top to bottom or however you’re able to do it safely.
Serve in pita wraps or plates. For more traditional doner kebabs, use a loaf of pita bread to wrap some of the chicken in, adding your sauce and sliced vegetables (or one of the salads listed above). Alternatively, you can serve kebab plates by arranging the chicken next to (or over) a bed of Middle Eastern rice with your salad and sauce to the side.
What cut of chicken to use for these kebabs? Boneless skinless chicken thighs give you the juiciest, most flavorful results here.
How long to cook chicken thighs? I like to pull the chicken kebabs off the heat when its internal temperature is around 160 degrees F, keeping in mind that the chicken will continue to cook even as you take it off the heat and allow it to rest for a few minutes. The chicken’s internal temperature should be 165 degrees F when you serve it.
Leftovers and storage: Leftover chicken doner will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Reheat on a large baking sheet in a 350 degrees F heated oven until warmed through.
Note that the nutritional information is for the chicken doner kebabs only, and does not take into account any fixings.