Grilled Za’atar Chicken Thighs & Tomatoes with Garlic Yogurt Sauce

My husband made this full-flavored grilled chicken for my birthday dinner. One of our favorite grilled chicken marinades is yogurt-based. It truly results in the most juicy and flavorful meat. Because yogurt is more gentle than vinegar or lemon juice used in other marinades, the marinating time can be extended without altering the texture of the meat. Making the marinade a day in advance is perfect when activities are planned for the day of the meal and there is little time to spend in the kitchen.

Much of my birthday celebration was focused on food- no surprise. 🙂 My first surprise was a very special breakfast pastry delivery from Dominique Ansel in NYC. (I am a huge fan!) So beautiful, I had to take a few photos.

If that wasn’t enough, we enjoyed the beautiful weather by going out to lunch at a favorite outdoor spot. Lovely.

We ate this grilled chicken over rice for dinner. This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. The original recipe suggests serving it with pita and cucumber-tomato salad. I loved it with grilled tomatoes. We also had warm naan on the side.

My daughter and I made Strawberry Crumb Cake for our celebratory dessert. We ate it warm with vanilla ice cream. ❤

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 6 garlic cloves, finely grated, pressed, or minced
  • 2 lemons, zested
  • 1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt (I used Greek yogurt)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus more sprigs for garnish
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the tomatoes and for serving
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons za’atar, plus more for serving
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or marjoram, plus more sprigs for garnish
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 to 2 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (I used 8)
  • 8 to 10 Campari tomatoes
  • pita, rice, or naan, for serving, as desired
  1. In a large bowl or container, stir together 5 of the grated garlic cloves, half the lemon zest, 1/3 cup yogurt, the cilantro, oil, za’atar, oregano or marjoram, salt and black pepper. Add chicken and toss until well coated. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
  2. When ready to cook, light the grill to medium (or heat your broiler with the rack 3 inches from the heat source).
  3. Remove chicken from bowl, shaking off any excess marinade, and grill or broil on one side until charred in spots, 5 to 8 minutes. Flip the chicken and grill or broil for another 5 to 8 minutes, until just cooked through. Using an instant-read thermometer, the meat should have an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
  4. Brush the Campari tomatoes with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Thread onto skewers. Grill until heated through, slightly charred, and soft.
  5. While the chicken and tomatoes are cooking, place remaining 2/3 cup yogurt in a small bowl. Stir in the reserve grated garlic clove and lemon zest, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. Cut one zested lemon in half and set aside for serving (save the other zested lemon for another use).
  7. To serve, place chicken on a serving platter and drizzle with olive oil and a large squeeze of the zested lemon. (We served it over Basmati rice and drizzled it with the juices accumulated after removing the chicken from the grill.)
  8. Top with cilantro and oregano or marjoram sprigs and serve with yogurt sauce.

About Josette@thebrookcook

I live in Stony Brook, New York on Long Island. I love garlic and baking. My hobby (and love) is to try new recipes. My favorite recipe resources include The New York Times, Food and Wine, Bon Appetit, and Martha Stewart Living. Enjoy!

7 responses to “Grilled Za’atar Chicken Thighs & Tomatoes with Garlic Yogurt Sauce

  1. Happy Birthday! I love yogurt marinades also, and it is right now my default method – I can just start in the morning and not worry about it until dinner time – and you cannot go wrong with za’atar

    your husband is definitely a keeper! 😉

  2. jessicanadelson

    I’m famous!

  3. Cybele Renault

    Love reading this!! Happy Birthday, Josette – sounds like a wonderful celebration ❤

  4. That seasoning grabs my attention every time. 🌿🍃

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