Chicken Koobideh is a delectable and traditional Middle Eastern dish that has gained popularity across the globe for its flavorful, tender, and juicy characteristics. This dish is essentially a type of kebab made from ground chicken, mixed with a variety of spices, onions, and garlic, which are then expertly molded onto skewers and grilled over an open flame to perfection. The blend of spices is what sets Chicken Koobideh apart, typically including salt, pepper, sumac, and sometimes saffron, lending it a unique flavor that is both aromatic and deeply satisfying.

Chicken Koobideh

Originating from the rich culinary traditions of Iran, Chicken Koobideh represents a beloved part of Persian cuisine. It is a testament to the simplicity and elegance of preparing ground meat, transformed into a gourmet experience through the use of traditional spices and cooking techniques. The dish is often served with basmati rice, a slice of lemon, and a side of grilled tomatoes, enhancing its flavors and making it a well-rounded meal.

What makes Chicken Koobideh particularly appealing is its versatility. It can be adapted to suit various dietary preferences and spice tolerances, making it a favorite among families and food enthusiasts alike. Whether enjoyed at a festive gathering or a simple family dinner, Chicken Koobideh brings a taste of Middle Eastern hospitality and warmth to the table.

Prep time20 minutes (plus 1 hour for marinating if time allows)
Cook time10-15 minutes
Total time1 hour 35 minutes
CourseMain course
Servings4 servings
CuisineIranian/Middle Eastern

Kitchen Tools for Chicken Koobideh

  • Mixing Bowl
  • Meat Grinder or Food Processor
  • Skewers (preferably metal for reusability)
  • Grill or Broiler
  • Knife
  • Cutting Board
  • Measuring Cups and Spoons
  • Tongs
Chicken Koobideh

Ingredients for Chicken Koobideh

  • 1 lb (450g) ground chicken (a mix of thigh and breast for juiciness)
  • 1 large onion, grated and juice squeezed out
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon sumac (optional, for a tangy flavor)
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads, dissolved in 2 tablespoons hot water (optional, for color and aroma)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or melted butter, for brushing

How to make Chicken Koobideh?

Marinating the Chicken

Chicken Koobideh
  • Combine Ingredients: In a large mixing bowl, add the ground chicken, grated and squeezed onion, minced garlic, finely chopped parsley, salt, pepper, turmeric, and sumac. If using, pour in the saffron-infused water. This step is crucial for imbuing the meat with the rich flavors characteristic of Chicken Koobideh.
  • Mix Well: Use your hands or a spoon to thoroughly mix the ingredients until they are well combined. The goal is to ensure that the spices and seasonings are evenly distributed throughout the chicken mixture.
  • Marinate: For the best flavor development, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Allow the chicken mixture to marinate for at least 1 hour, though if you’re pressed for time, you can skip to the next step immediately.

Shaping and Cooking

Chicken Koobideh
  • Preheat Grill or Broiler: Get your grill or broiler ready by preheating it. A high temperature is essential for achieving the perfect sear and char on the kebabs.
  • Shape the Kebabs: Wet your hands with water to prevent sticking. Divide the chicken mixture into equal portions, shaping each around a skewer to form kebabs about 1/2 inch thick. Ensure they are firmly attached to the skewers but not too compact, as this could affect cooking times.
  • Cook: Place the skewers on the grill or under the broiler. Cook them for 10-15 minutes, turning occasionally to ensure they cook evenly on all sides. The chicken should be fully cooked through and have a nice char on the outside. Halfway through cooking, brush the kebabs with olive oil or melted butter to add richness and promote browning.


  • Rest and Serve: Once cooked, let the Chicken Koobideh rest for a couple of minutes before serving. This allows the juices to redistribute, ensuring each bite is moist and flavorful.

What To Serve With Chicken Koobideh?

Saffron Infused Basmati Rice

A fragrant and colorful side, saffron-infused basmati rice not only adds a visually appealing element to the plate but also a subtle, aromatic flavor that pairs beautifully with the spices in Chicken Koobideh. The golden hues of the rice come from a pinch of saffron threads, making it a luxurious addition to your meal.

Shirazi Salad

This refreshing Persian salad, made with cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, and dressed with olive oil, lemon juice, and mint, offers a crisp and refreshing counterpoint to the savory kebabs. The acidity and freshness of the salad cut through the richness, balancing each bite.

Grilled Vegetables with Sumac

Grilled vegetables such as bell peppers, zucchini, and eggplant, sprinkled with sumac, provide a smoky and slightly tangy accompaniment that complements the grilled flavor of the Chicken Koobideh. Sumac not only adds a hint of lemony tartness but also enhances the visual appeal of the vegetables.

Mast-o-Khiar (Yogurt and Cucumber Dip)

A cool and creamy dip made from yogurt, diced cucumbers, and garnished with dried mint or dill, Mast-o-Khiar is the perfect accompaniment to Chicken Koobideh. Its coolness offers a delightful contrast to the warmth of the kebabs, and its creamy texture pairs well with both the chicken and the rice.

Fresh Herb Platter

A platter of fresh herbs, such as mint, cilantro, basil, and tarragon, alongside radishes and walnuts, can be served as a refreshing side. Guests can enjoy these herbs by adding them to their plate, creating a burst of fresh flavor that enhances the overall meal.

Lavash or Sangak Bread

Offering traditional Persian breads like Lavash or Sangak allows guests to wrap pieces of Chicken Koobideh along with rice and salad, creating delicious bites that incorporate all elements of the meal.

Torshi (Pickled Vegetables)

A small serving of Torshi, which consists of various vegetables pickled in vinegar and spices, adds a piquant and tangy element to the meal. Its acidity and crunch provide a wonderful contrast to the tender and flavorful Chicken Koobideh.

Chicken Koobideh

How to store leftover Chicken Koobideh?

  • Cool Quickly: Allow the leftover Chicken Koobideh to cool to room temperature within two hours of cooking to prevent bacterial growth.
  • Refrigerate Promptly: Once cooled, wrap the Chicken Koobideh skewers tightly in aluminum foil or place them in an airtight container. This helps to retain moisture and flavor.
  • Refrigeration: Store the wrapped or containerized Chicken Koobideh in the refrigerator. It’s best consumed within 2-3 days for optimal taste and safety.
  • Freezing Option: For longer storage, Chicken Koobideh can be frozen. Remove the meat from the skewers, place it in a freezer-safe bag or container, and freeze. Properly stored, it can last for up to 2 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.
  • Reheating: Reheat leftovers thoroughly to an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) before serving. This can be done in a microwave, oven, or on a skillet to ensure it is heated evenly and safely.

Health Benefits of Chicken Koobideh

  • Protein-Rich: As it’s made from chicken, Koobideh is a great source of high-quality protein, essential for muscle repair and growth, as well as for maintaining muscle mass.
  • Low in Fat: When made with chicken breast, Koobideh can be relatively low in fat, making it a healthier option for those looking to manage their fat intake.
  • Rich in Vitamins and Minerals: Chicken provides important vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins, which are crucial for energy production and maintaining healthy skin and eyes. Depending on the spices and herbs used, it can also provide a variety of antioxidants.
  • Iron Source: Chicken is a good source of heme iron, which is easier for the body to absorb compared to non-heme iron found in plant foods. This is important for preventing anemia and boosting energy levels.
  • Versatile in Diet: Chicken Koobideh can fit into various dietary patterns, including low-carb and ketogenic diets, when served without high-carb sides.
  • Mood Enhancer: The tryptophan in chicken helps your body to produce serotonin, which can improve your mood and promote better sleep patterns.
  • Immune Support: Ingredients like garlic and onions not only add flavor but also offer immune-boosting properties, making Chicken Koobideh a dish that can help support your body’s defense mechanisms.

Variations and Substitutions

Meat Variations

  • Beef or Lamb: Traditionally, Koobideh can also be made with beef or lamb for a richer flavor. These meats offer a different texture and fat content, providing a succulent alternative to chicken.
  • Vegetarian Option: For a vegetarian twist, consider using a mixture of ground mushrooms and lentils as a meat substitute. Season as you would the traditional recipe to maintain the characteristic flavors.

Flavor Adjustments

  • Spice Variations: Adjust the spice blend to suit your palate. Add paprika for a smoky flavor, cayenne pepper for heat, or cumin for a warm, earthy note. Each spice offers a unique way to customize the dish.
  • Herb Infusions: Incorporate different herbs such as dill, cilantro, or rosemary for a fresh flavor profile. Herbs can significantly alter the taste, giving each batch of Koobideh a new character.

Dietary Considerations

  • Low-Sodium Options: Reduce the salt content and compensate with lemon zest or vinegar to brighten the flavors without increasing sodium intake.
  • Gluten-Free Adaptation: Ensure that all spices and seasonings used are gluten-free. Chicken Koobideh is naturally gluten-free, but cross-contamination or certain spice blends can introduce gluten.

Cooking Methods

  • Oven-Baked Koobideh: Not everyone has access to a grill. Koobideh can be baked in the oven on a high heat setting, using a broiler pan to mimic the charred exterior that grilling provides.
  • Pan-Fry Method: If outdoor grilling or oven broiling isn’t an option, pan-frying the skewers on a stovetop can also yield delicious results. Use a non-stick pan to minimize oil usage and achieve a good sear.

Serving Suggestions

  • Wrap It Up: Serve the Koobideh in a flatbread wrap with fresh vegetables and a dollop of yogurt or tahini sauce for a Middle Eastern-inspired sandwich.
  • Low-Carb Serving: For those following a low-carb diet, replace traditional rice with cauliflower rice or serve alongside a hearty salad to keep the meal balanced and satisfying.

Allergy-Friendly Substitutions

  • For Allium Allergies: If onions and garlic must be avoided, use asafoetida powder as a substitute. It provides a similar flavor profile without the allergens.
  • Dairy-Free Accompaniments: Use dairy-free yogurt alternatives for making sauces or dips to serve with the Koobideh, ensuring that the meal remains inclusive for those with dairy sensitivities.
Chicken Koobideh

Tips and Tricks

Selecting the Right Meat

Opt for a mix of chicken thigh and breast. The thigh offers juiciness and flavor due to its higher fat content, while the breast keeps the mixture from becoming too fatty. This balance is crucial for tender, flavorful kebabs.

Achieving the Perfect Grind

If grinding your own chicken, partially freeze the meat before grinding. This helps in achieving a smoother consistency without overworking the meat, which can lead to tough kebabs.

Onion Preparation

Grate the onion finely and squeeze out as much juice as possible. The onion juice can make the mixture too wet, causing the kebabs to fall off the skewers during cooking. The remaining pulp adds flavor and binds the meat.

Binding the Mixture

Avoid adding eggs or breadcrumbs if striving for authenticity. The key to a good bind is thoroughly mixing the meat with the seasonings and onion. Kneading the mixture for a few minutes can help the proteins in the chicken act as a natural binder.

Flavor Infusion

Don’t rush the marination process. Allowing the chicken mixture to rest in the refrigerator for at least an hour or overnight will enable the flavors to meld together, resulting in a more flavorful kebab.

Skewering Like a Pro

Wet your hands with water or oil before shaping the meat around the skewers. This prevents sticking and helps in forming smooth, even kebabs. Make sure the meat is evenly distributed to cook uniformly.

Cooking Technique

Whether grilling or broiling, high heat is essential. It sears the meat quickly, locking in juices and creating a slightly charred exterior while keeping the inside moist and tender.

Turning the Kebabs

Use tongs to gently turn the skewers. Turning them too frequently can cause them to fall apart. Wait until they release easily from the grill or pan, indicating a good sear has formed.

Serving Immediately

Chicken Koobideh is best enjoyed hot, straight off the grill or broiler. The flavors and textures are at their peak, and the meat remains juicy and tender.

Experiment with Spices

While traditional spices include salt, pepper, turmeric, and sometimes sumac or saffron, feel free to experiment with other spices to customize the flavor to your liking. Each batch can be a new culinary adventure.

Rest Before Serving

Letting the kebabs rest for a few minutes after cooking allows the juices to redistribute, ensuring that every bite is succulent.

Practice Makes Perfect

Making Chicken Koobideh is as much an art as it is a science. Don’t be discouraged if your first attempt isn’t perfect. Practice will make you more familiar with the texture and behavior of the mixture.

Chicken Koobideh

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Frequently Asked Questions – FAQ’s

Chicken Koobideh is distinct for its unique blend of spices, including turmeric, sumac, and sometimes saffron, which give it a vibrant flavor profile. Unlike chunky kebabs, Koobideh is made from ground chicken, creating a texture that’s tender and juicy when cooked. Its preparation on skewers over an open flame imparts a smoky taste that’s emblematic of traditional Persian cuisine.

Yes, Chicken Koobideh can be successfully made in an oven, especially using the broiler setting. To mimic the charred exterior that grilling provides, place the skewers close to the broiler element and turn them occasionally to ensure even cooking and browning on all sides. The high heat from the broiler simulates the direct flame of a grill.

Chicken Koobideh can be part of a healthy diet due to its high protein content and potential for being low in fat, especially if made with chicken breast. The inclusion of spices and herbs adds flavor without extra calories, making it a nutritious option when served with sides like grilled vegetables or salads. However, moderation is key, as with all dishes, especially when considering portion sizes and accompaniments.

Ensuring your Chicken Koobideh mixture is not too wet and adequately chilled can help prevent it from falling apart. Squeezing the grated onion to remove excess juice and letting the mixture rest in the refrigerator to firm up are crucial steps. Additionally, packing the meat tightly around the skewers and avoiding turning the kebabs too soon on the grill can help maintain their shape during cooking.

Traditional sides include basmati rice, often flavored with saffron, a fresh herb platter (Sabzi Khordan), grilled tomatoes, and Shirazi salad—a refreshing mix of cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, and a lime or lemon juice dressing. Mast-o-Khiar, a yogurt and cucumber dip, is also a common accompaniment that adds a creamy, cooling element to balance the spices of the kebabs.


Chicken Koobideh stands as a testament to the rich culinary heritage of the Middle East, particularly Persian cuisine. Its simple yet flavorful combination of ground chicken and spices, grilled to perfection, offers a delicious and satisfying meal. This dish not only brings people together but also offers a gateway to exploring diverse cultures through food. The versatility of Chicken Koobideh, with its various adaptations for dietary preferences and cooking methods, ensures that it can be enjoyed by everyone.

Whether served at a family dinner or a festive gathering, it remains a beloved choice that promises a delightful culinary experience. By following the tips and embracing the variations, anyone can master this dish, adding their personal touch to a timeless classic. Chicken Koobideh continues to be a symbol of tradition, flavor, and the joy of shared meals.

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