Grilled Turmeric Chicken Thighs are a long-standing favourite on our dinner rotation. This dish is a good allrounder that ticks a lot of boxes because it's super tasty, nutritious and simple to put together. It's also something I often batch cook because it freezes well. These tender and juicy grilled chicken thighs served with soft fried onions in a creamy lemony and turmeric sauce are super tasty and healthy too. Serve them with rice or warm flatbread and a crunchy lettuce-based side salad.
Key ingredients and alternatives
Sauce / marinade
The chicken thighs are marinated in the sauce before they are grilled so they can absorb the flavour of the lemon and turmeric. This mixture is simmered and reduced a little while the thighs are on the grill to form a creamy and citrusy turmeric sauce.
- Greek yogurt - you can use full fat or low fat depending on your preference.
- Ground turmeric - gives the sauce an earthy flavour and vibrant yellow colour.
- Lemon juice - adds citrusy freshness.
- Honey - neutralises the tanginess of the lemon.
- Olive oil - also neutralises the tangy citrusy flavour and adds richness.
- Sea salt
- Chicken thighs - I recommend using boneless chicken thighs if possible. They are quicker to grill and easier to eat with the turmeric sauce and rice or flatbread. You can make this dish with bone-in thighs but note that the grilling time will be longer. Chicken breast is another alternative. I find it's not as juicy and succulent as thigh meat but it will work fine. Just cut each breast into smaller pieces and adjust the grilling time accordingly.
- White onions - these are thinly sliced and fried in olive oil until soft and mixed with the yogurt, turmeric, and lemon sauce.
- Olive oil - for gently frying the onions on a low heat. You could also use butter or another type of neutral-tasting oil.
How to make Turmeric Chicken Thighs
1. Marinate the chicken
Mix the marinade ingredients in a large bowl and add the chicken thighs. Cover the bowl and place it in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight if possible.
2. Fry the onions
Turn on your grill and place a large frying pan (ideally one that has a lid) on a medium heat and add the olive oil. When the oil is hot add the thinly sliced onion, reduce the heat and fry for 20 minutes until the onion is soft.
3. Grill the chicken
Place the chicken thighs on the grill pan and place it at the top of the grill and cook them for a few minutes on each side. You should turn them over when they start to brown.
4. Simmer the sauce
When the onions are soft add the marinade mixture, increase the heat and simmer for 5 minutes until the sauce has reduced slightly. Add the grilled chicken thighs and serve with rice and flatbread.
Tools and equipment
Turmeric chicken thighs are a speedy and simple dish that require minimal cooking equipment. Here are 3 key items:
- Medium-sized bowl - for marinating the chicken thighs.
- Large frying pan with a lid - for frying the onions. Choose a pan that is large enough to hold the onions that has a lid if possible as it will enable the onions to quickly soften.
- Tongs - for turning the chicken pieces when they are on the grill.
3 Tips For Perfect Turmeric Chicken Thighs
- Marinate the chicken thighs for at least 2 hours - do not skip this step. The yogurt tenderises the chicken and the meat will also absorb the yummy flavours of the sauce. If you have time to marinate overnight, that's even better.
- Cook the onions until they are soft - make sure the onions are soft before you add the sauce as it will be much harder to soften them after this point.
- Serve the turmeric chicken thighs and sauce with rice or flatbread - the turmeric chicken thighs are yummy with either option. If serving with rice add a little turmeric to the water while it is cooking for turmeric-infused rice. A crunchy lettuce-based side-salad is also highly recommended.
Leftovers can be stored in the fridge, in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Reheat them on the stove or in the microwave.
Yes, this is a perfect dish for batch cooking. You can freeze them with the sauce and fried onions for up to 3 months. Just portion them out in storage containers or freezer bags and place them in the freezer when cool. Remove them from the freezer 24 hours before you plan to heat them and defrost them slowly in the fridge. Reheat on the stove or in the microwave.
Yes, it's very good for you it's a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. There is also some evidence that is has anti-cancer properties and can protect the brain from Alzheimer's disease. Definitely an ingredient to add to your regular meal rotation.
More 30 minute dinner recipes:
- Middle Eastern Lamb Mince Flatbread
- Baked Furikake Salmon
- Speedy & Spicy Sesame Chicken
- Easy Lamb Kofta Wraps with yogurt sauce
- Panko Chicken (perfectly crispy)
Marinade / sauce
- 4 lemons (juice) ½ cup
- 2 cups (400 g) Greek yogurt
- 6 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp honey
- 4 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 8 boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 4 onions thinly sliced
- Rice or flatbread
- Mix the marinade/sauce ingredients in a large bowl and add the chicken thighs. Leave them to marinate for at least two hours or overnight if possible.
- Turn on the grill and place a large frying pan on a medium heat and add the olive oil.
- When the oil is hot add the sliced onion and fry it with the lid on for 20 minutes while you prepare the rest of the dish.
- Take the chicken thighs out of the marinade and place them on the grill pan and grill for a few minutes on each side until they start to brown. Remove them from the grill and set them aside. (note 1)
- When the onions are soft add the marinade/sauce, increase the heat and simmer for a few minutes until it reduces a little.
- Add the grilled chicken to the sauce and onions and serve immediately with rice or flatbread.