Chicken thighs marinated in lemon, tahini paste, garlic, and herbs are grilled and served over couscous with a chili yogurt tahini sauce. Simple, quick, crave-worthy.
Tahini Marinated Grilled Chicken with Couscous
I am having a love affair with tahini lately. I'm enamored with how versatile it's subtle nutty flavor is. I mean, how many ingredients can you think of that are equally at home in a chocolate tart as they are spooned over grilled chicken?
Tahini is just so supportive of other flavors while contributing a nutty uniqueness to everything from chocolate to veggies to chicken.
Why it's Important to Use Good Quality Tahini
Tahini is, essentially, sesame seed paste. Or, perhaps we should say, sesame butter. It's smooth, creamy, and nutty, but milder and more savory than most nut butters. Good tahini is like peanut butter - so good you want to eat it by the spoonful.
Low quality tahini is bitter. Sometimes to the point that it tastes like there is vinegar in it. It also lacks luxurious creaminess, feeling chalky and grainy in your mouth.
So what kind of tahini do you buy? My two favorite brands are Pepperwood Tahini and Soom Tahini, neither of which are available in my local market, so thank the tahini gods for the internet. Both contain nothing but ground sesame seeds and are luxuriously creamy and delicious.
If you're feeling a bit more industrious, you can also make your own tahini. This is article from the Kitchn that will show you how.
Tahini Chicken is One of My Favorite Weeknight Recipes
Put the chicken in the marinade in the morning and leave it in the refrigerator to get happy in all that tahini-lemon-garlic-and-herb yumminess. Then throw it on the grill or pop it in the oven that evening, letting it cook while you whip up the sauce and couscous.
What should you serve with Tahini Chicken?
My favorite things to serve with Tahini Chicken are this simple Cucumber and Tomato Salad and Garlic Naan.
Cucumber and Tomato Salad is seriously the best accompaniment to creamy, savory, slightly spicy tahini chicken. Dressed in a mild rice vinegar dressing, with a hint of fresh mint, the salad offers a cool counterpoint that cuts through the richness of the chicken and the sauce.
The salad takes about 10 minutes to make. It's best to let the salad sit for about 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld, so whip it up before you put the chicken on the grill and you'll be good to go.
And, while a plate full of tahini chicken, couscous, and cucumber tomato salad is a feast to rival anything, soaking up the creamy yogurt sauce with a tender piece of naan is hard to pass up. Aside from being available at your local Indian restaurant, naan is generally available in most major markets.
You can also make naan from scratch - a process that sounds super ambitious, but is surprisingly simple and sooooo good when topped with melted garlic butter with flecks of chopped fresh parsley.
And, if you'd rather serve this dish with rice instead of couscous, this recipe for Indian Style Rice is a delicious compliment to the flavors in tahini chicken.
Consider Making Enough Tahini Chicken for Leftovers
Every time I make this chicken, I make enough to ensure ample leftovers, which then become the basis for at least one more meal later that week. Here are 4 great recipes that will put any leftover Tahini chicken you have to great use:
- Thai Chicken Noodle Soup
- Chicken Lettuce Wraps
- 20-Minute Garlic Chipotle Pasta with Chicken
- Chicken Nachos with Chimichurri Sauce (Use tahini chicken instead of the Chili marinated chicken called for in the recipe.)
If you give this recipe a try, let me know! Scroll down to rate this recipe, leave a comment, or take a picture and tag it @alittleandalot on Instagram.
Tahini Marinated Grilled Chicken
Chicken thighs marinated in lemon, tahini paste, garlic, and herbs are grilled and served over couscous with a chili yogurt tahini sauce. This is one of my all-time favorite weeknight meals, especially in the summer.
- ¼ cup + 2 tablespoon (89ml) extra virgin olive oil
- ¾ cup (195g) pure ground sesame tahini paste (*See note)
- 2 shallots, minced
- 3 teaspoon minced garlic
- 3 tsp salt
- 1 ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¾ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
- ½ cup (13g) fresh parsley, chopped
- 2 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 tablespoon honey
- 6 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 3 tablespoon lemon zest
- 2 - 3 lbs (32 - 48oz) boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1 tablespoon (½ oz) butter
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ cups (226g) dried couscous
- ½ cup (142g) plain, unsweetened yogurt, preferably Greek yogurt
- ¾ teaspoon chili garlic sauce
- Make the marinade: Add the olive oil, tahini, shallot, garlic, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, rosemary, parsley, soy sauce, honey, lemon juice, and lemon zest in a bowl and stir to combine.
- Put the chicken in a shallow baking dish or bowl. Pour all except ½ cup of the marinade over the chicken. Turn the chicken in the marinade to coat each piece completely. Cover the chicken and the reserved ½ cup of marinade and put in the refrigerator. Let chicken marinate for at least 8 hours, and as long as 24.
- To Grill the Chicken: Heat an indoor or outdoor grill or stovetop grill pan. Remove the chicken from the marinade, brushing off excess marinade as you do, and cook the chicken on the grill until no pink remains on the inside and the chicken registers 165 degrees on a kitchen thermometer. Alternatively, cut a pice of chicken in half and if there is no pink inside, the chicken is done.
- To Bake the Chicken: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Remove the chicken from the marinade, brushing off excess marinade as you do, and place in a 9x13 inch baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes, the chicken registers 165 degrees on a kitchen thermometer. Alternatively, cut a pice of chicken in half and if there is no pink inside, the chicken is done.
- While the chicken is cooking, prepare the couscous: Add 1 ½ cups of water to a saucepan. Add the butter and ½ teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Remove pan from heat and stir in couscous. Cover and let sit for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve.
- Make the sauce: Remove the reserved marinade from the refrigerator and pour it into a bowl. Add the yogurt and chili garlic sauce and stir to combine. Taste and add more lemon juice, salt, honey, chili garlic sauce, if desired.
- To serve: pile some couscous on a plate, top with a piece or two of chicken and a spoonful of sauce.
My favorite brands of Tahini are Pepperwood Organic Tahini and Soom Tahini. Both are made from 100% ground sesame seeds and have great flavor.
Indoor Grilling Tools
If you prefer to grill your chicken rather than bake it but can't (or don't want to) use an outdoor grill, indoor grilling is a great solution. You can either use an elecrric grill or a cast iron grill pan. See the links below to the ones I have in my kitchen.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1025Total Fat: 60gSaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 45gCholesterol: 286mgSodium: 2757mgCarbohydrates: 57gFiber: 7gSugar: 9gProtein: 73g
This recipe is marinating in my fridge right now, but a taste of the marinade tells me this is going to be a knockout! Thanks Rebecca!
I love this marinade too! How was the chicken?
We all loved it! My son’s friends happened to be at our house when the meal was ready, so they joined us for dinner and one of them used the words “so many layers of flavor” in his full-mouthed compliment! There were no leftovers for subsequent recipes, but I am ok with that because this will be a recipe I make again and again. So good!!
I am SO happy to hear that your family - and your son's friends - enjoyed this recipe! Thank you so much for taking the time to let me know! xoxo