When it’s hot outside, no meal is more refreshing than a batch of grilled chicken kebabs with tzatziki sauce. The cucumber based sauce coupled with the charred chicken is bright and refreshing and won’t weigh you down in the summer heat.
We’ve rated this recipe as MODERATE difficulty due to the number of components required to complete the dish.
When you look at the ingredients list, it may appear to be complex, but really this is a pretty simple recipe that comes together quickly and cooks quite easily with a just a couple of pointers.
Making Your Tzatziki Sauce
First, the tzatziki sauce can be made entirely at home. Just put it together, throw it into an airtight container and pack it in your ice chest. If it’s properly refrigerated, it’ll hold up well for 2-3 days.
Salting the shredded cucumber is important. The salt helps draw some of the water out of the cucumber so that your sauce doesn’t get too watery.
After you leave it in the sink for about ten minutes you can press it into the colander to squeeze some of the water out. After that, place it onto some paper towels and squeeze again. You’d be surprised at how much water comes out.
Cooking Your Chicken Kebabs
In making your kebabs, it’s important to cut the chicken to the proper size. You want to cook them very hot so that you get the little charred bits on the surface. When cooking that hot, if the chicken pieces are too big they’ll burn on the outside before the inside is fully cooked. If they’re too small, they’ll overcook and end up dry and tough.
One-inch cubes are just about perfect.
Make sure that you have a quality instant-read thermometer (the most important tool in your toolbox) so that you can keep a close eye on the temperature as it cooks. Remember, you’re aiming for 165 degrees for dark meat chicken.
Getting a Campfire Grill Hot
One challenge that we’ve found with some campground grills is that the charcoal sits too far below the grill grate to get it hot enough for a good sear. We solved this problem by putting our charcoal into a perforated steam table pan and putting the pan on a Lodge 4-in-1 Dutch Oven Tool. The pan gave good airflow to keep the charcoal lit and burning hot, and the dutch oven tool raised it much closer to the grill grate.
With the pan, it takes considerably less charcoal to cook properly.
Channel-lock pliers were the perfect tool for pulling the pan in and out of the fire-pit.
Also, be careful to let your grill grate preheat. The one we were using in the picture was very heavy duty and took about 10 minutes to get hot. If you put the meat on it when it’s too cool it’ll stick. It is also helpful to rub a little oil on the grate before you throw your kebabs on.
If it does stick a little, just use a metal spatula to gently pry it loose.
Using the Right Skewers
You might notice in the picture that we’re using cheap skewers. We had forgotten our good ones at home and ended up having to buy these cheap ones at a small local store.
You want better skewers than the ones shown. The skewers we bought were too thin and made it difficult to flip over the kebab without the meat spinning and flopping around. A wider, flat skewer will make your life a lot better.
Also, don’t forget to bring your barbecue gloves. It’s not so easy to flip kebabs on the grill with a set of tongs.
Putting it all Together
Lastly, you can heat up your pita breads by wrapping them in foil and putting them near the fire while cooking your kebabs. Just be careful you don’t leave them directly over the fire or they’ll burn. You just want to get them hot.
If you prefer, you can heat them individually over the coals to get them more toasty, but we found that unnecessary.
Explore more grill grate and camp stove recipes.
Once everything is all cooked, put together a serving platter and let everyone make their own chicken kebabs with tzatziki.
Campfire Chicken Kebabs with Tzatziki
- 1 12 oz. Cucumber - peeled, seeded, and shredded
- 1 tsp. Morton's Kosher Salt
- 1 cup Full fat Greek yogurt
- 2 tbs. Extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tbs. Fresh mint - minced
- 2 cloves Garlic - minced
- 1 tsp. Lemon juice
- 1 1/2 lb. Boneless skinless chicken thighs - cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1/4 cup Full fat Greek yogurt
- 2 tbs. Extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tbs. Lemon juice
- 2 cloves Garlic - minced
- 1 tsp. Dried oregano
- Morton's Kosher Salt and black pepper
- Pita bread
- 1 lb. Cherry tomatoes - halved
- Romaine lettuce
- 1/4 cup Red onion - thinly sliced
Before You Leave Home – Tzatziki Sauce
- Peel cucumber, remove seeds (a spoon works great for this), and shred with a cheese grater.
- Lightly salt shredded cucumber and let sit for about ten minutes in a colander in your sink.
- Wrap cucumber in paper towels and squeeze out as much liquid as possible.
- Whisk all other ingredients together in a bowl, then all in shredded cucumber and mix further.
- Place in an airtight container and put it in the fridge until you're ready to leave on your trip. It should hold up well for a couple of days.
At the Campsite
- Cut chicken things into 1 inch cubes.
- Mix together the yogurt, oil, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, and a pinch of salt and black pepper.
- Add your cubed chicken thighs, stir to coat well, then let sit for 15-20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare your grill or firepit for cooking as hot as possible. It is helpful to have your wood or charcoal as close to the grill grate as possible.
- Slice your red onions, cut cherry tomatoes in half, and shred your romaine lettuce.
- Wrap your pita in tin foil and place close enough to the fire to heat, but not so close they burn. Alternatively, you can toast each pita on the grill grate prior to serving.
- Thread your chicken thighs onto your skewers.
- Grill over the hottest part of the fire, turning often to prevent burning until the internal temperature of the thickest piece of chicken reaches 160 degrees.
- Serve with warm pita bread, shredded romaine lettuce, halved cherry tomatoes, tzatziki, feta crumbles, and thinly sliced red onions.