Shish Tawook

Shish Tawook

These are served in every restaurant in the Middle East. You can easily make them at home and make them taste just as good, if not better. Don’t substitute sour cream for the yogurt, as the yogurt is a meat tenderizer.
The secret to delicious shish work is in the saffron. Two of the main ingredients in the marinade are yogurt and freshly squeezed lemon juice. They serve not only to provide great flavor but, also to tenderize the chicken as it marinates. I typically use plain whole milk yogurt but, this recipe is very flexible. You can substitute low-fat plain yogurt or plain Greek yogurt, with little to no change in overall flavor.
I tend to buy the Tawook spice mix from Lebanon when I am visiting or at my local Middle-Eastern grocer. The mixes are delicious and make things much easier on me. However, I have included the list and quantity of each individual spice that is in the spice mix. Keep in mind, tawook spice mix is very versatile. Some people may not add the ground ginger or garlic-like I have below or even the paprika. I have also seen recipes that call for ground clove along with the nutmeg. So, feel free to edit according to your personal preference. The spices and the tomato paste give the chicken its iconic orange color.



Shish Tawook is a very popular skewered chicken dish in the Middle East. Think of perfectly tender and juicy chicken that’s been marinating in earthy spices, yogurt, lemon juice and garlic.


  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • ¾ cup plain yogurt
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves – cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 2 onions, cut into large chunks
  • 1 large green bell pepper, cut into large chunks
  • 1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


  • Step 1

Whisk together the lemon juice, vegetable oil, plain yogurt, garlic, tomato paste, salt, oregano, pepper, allspice, cinnamon, and cardamom in a large bowl; add the chicken and toss to coat. Transfer the chicken mixture into a large plastic bag; refrigerate at least 4 hours.

  • Step 2

Preheat an outdoor grill for medium-high heat and lightly oil grate. Thread the chicken, onions, and pepper onto metal skewers. Cook on preheated grill until the chicken is golden and no longer pink in the center, about 5 minutes each side. Sprinkle the parsley over the skewers.

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