Joojeh kabab is a classic Persian chicken kebob recipe that's packed with so much flavor. Chicken pieces are smothered in a delicious marinade and have such delicious flavor thanks to saffron and lemon.
Have you tried any Persian recipes recently? If you haven't, start with some classic dishes such as zereshk polo, ghormhe sabzi and a nice creamy fesenjan (Persian pomegranate and walnut stew). This delicious Persian chicken kebab called Joojeh Kabab or Jujeh Kabob is another favorite flavored with saffron and traditionally grilled on charcoal.
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What is joojeh kabob?
Joojeh kabob is a traditional chicken kabob from Iran, flavored with saffron and usually gilled on charcoal grill. Iranians love joojeh kabob on weekends or holidays, and there is always that one person in the family who knows how to make the best joojeh.
Joojeh kabab comes in two forms: bone-in and boneless. The bone-in jujeh kabob is usually made with wings and drumettes whereas boneless chicken kebab is made with chicken breast or boneless chicken thighs. This chicken kebab marinade would work perfectly for both forms.
Classic Persian chicken kabob is made on a charcoal grill using metal skewers but I have tried different methods such as stove top and oven and it has worked just as fine.
Persian chicken kabob marinade
The most important part of this Persian grilled saffron chicken is the marinade. Chicken pieces are marinated in a saffron and yogurt based mixture and it's best to let them marinate overnight. The chicken absorbs the flavors of saffron and lemon perfectly and becomes extra juicy and flavorful.
Ingredients and substitutions
- Chicken: Joojeh means young chicken, and this Persian kebab would taste the best if made with young and organic chicken.
- Bloomed saffron: Don't use saffron threads directly in the marinade. Learn how to bloom saffron for maximum flavor, color and aroma. My favorite saffron to use is this one (affiliate).
- Yogurt: You can use either non fat or whole milk yogurt. My preference is whole milk. Yogurt makes the chicken very tender.
- Lemon: It adds some brightness to the marinade.
- Onion: Sliced or grated onion would work perfectly.
- Olive oil: Try to find the best quality extra virgin olive oil you can find.
How to make joojeh kabob at home
- Start by making the marinade. Mix the yogurt, sliced onion, oil, lemon juice, salt and bloomed saffron in a large bowl. Add the chicken to the yogurt mixture and make sure all the pieces are well coated with the marinade.
- Cover and refrigerate the chicken for at least 3 hours up to overnight. This will help the chicken get all the flavor it needs. Before you start cooking the chicken, place the bowl on the counter for 15 minutes so the chicken comes to room temperature. This will help with even cooking.
- Preheat the grill to medium high and thread the chicken pieces on skewers. Grill for about 5 minutes on each side until they are cooked and juicy.
Traditionally, this Persian grilled chicken is served with saffron Persian rice smothered with butter, grilled tomatoes and peppers and some salad shirazi and mast o khiar (Persian yogurt and cucumber).
You can also serve it simply with some green salad, pita or lavash bread as well. I love joojeh kabab with bread and lots and lots of grilled tomatoes, and maybe sometimes a little bit of sumac.
Frequently asked questions
Yes, to make joojeh kabab in the oven, preheat the oven to 400ºF. Thread the chicken pieces on skewers and place them on a baking sheet. Cook in the oven for about 20 to 25 minutes, flipping them halfway through until the kabobs are fully cooked.
Yes, heat two tablespoons olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Cook the chicken for about 8 minutes and flip them halfway through. Don't overcrowd the pan and don't stir the chicken too much.
You can either use plain dairy free yogurt for this recipe or leave out the yogurt completely. If leaving out the yogurt then increase the amount of olive oil to ½ cup.
The longer, the better. It's best to marinate the chicken between 3 and 24 hours.
Leftovers and reheating
Store the leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to two days. To reheat, place them in a pan and heat over medium heat or place the chicken pieces on a baking sheet, cover and heat in the oven at 250°F for fifteen to twenty minutes.
You can serve the leftovers with rice or potatoes. I also enjoy having them with some salad such as fattoush or couscous salad.
More Chicken Recipes
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Joojeh Kabab (Persian Saffron Chicken Kebab)
- 2 lb boneless skinless chicken breast cut into 1.5 inch cubes
- 1 cup Greek yogurt
- 1 large onion thinly sliced
- ⅓ cup olive oil extra virgin
- 1 lemon juice of
- ¼ cup bloomed saffron See notes
- 1 teaspoon salt
- In a large bowl mix yogurt, sliced onion, oil, lemon juice and saffron and salt.
- Place the chicken in the marinade and stir well so all pieces are covered with marinade.
- Cover the bowl and refrigerate and let the chicken marinate for at least three hours up to twenty four hours.
- Once ready to cook, place the bowl in room temperature for 15 minutes.
- Preheat the grill to medium high. Thread the chicken pieces onto skewers and place them on a baking sheet.
- Once the grill is hot, grill the chicken kabobs for 5 minutes on each side until golden and fully cooked on the inside.
- I used chicken breast but you can also use boneless skinless chicken thighs or even a combination of both.
- Stove top instructions: Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Put some of the marinated chicken in the pan and let them cook on one side before turning them to cook on the other side, about 3-4 minutes on each side. Do not over crowd the pan and don't stir the chicken too much. Repeat with the remaining marinated chicken.
- Oven instructions: Preheat the oven to 400°F. Thread the marinated chicken into skewers and place them on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Cook the chicken in the oven for about 20 to 25 minutes until the chicken pieces are fully cooked. Turn the broiler on and broil the chicken kebabs until they're golden brown, about 3-4 minutes, turn half way so both sides are golden brown.
- Classic joojeh kabab is not spicy, but if you like your chicken kebab to be spicy, add ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper to the marinade.
- There are two types of chicken kabob marinades used to make joojeh kabab: with and without yogurt. Both are very delicious and make chicken very tender and juicy. If you prefer to make the marinade without yogurt, increase the amount of olive oil to ½ cup.
- You can marinate the chicken for up to 24 hours. The longer they marinate, the more tender and juicy they will be.
- Store the leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to two days. To reheat, place them in a pan and heat over medium heat or place the chicken pieces on a baking sheet, cover and heat in the oven at 250°F for 15-20 minutes.
I’m having to eat a low/ no fat diet and so I made this without the oil using fat free Greek yogurt. I’m sure it would have been better with some fat, but I was pleasantly surprised at how good it turned out. I’ll keep making it this was until I get my pesky gallbladder out
And once it’s out I’ll try with oil and 2% yogurt !
Thank you so much for sharing your recipes! Our son-in-law is American-Persian and loves Persian food (as we do as well). When he was growing up his mother cooked primarily Persian food and being able to make the dishes that he enjoys so much has meant a lot to me. Your beautiful pictures help me to know how the dish should look.Many thanks!
Hi Eileen! Thank you for the kind comment! I hope you enjoy all our Persian recipes!
Well, I have been married to a Persian husband over thirty years and hsve been cooking traditional Persian foods for this long as well. I decided to try this recipe and he was blown away! Today is Christmas with the storm and cold (-10) and this is what he wants to eat|! I have made this recipe six times since I found it and it is just so delicious. Thank you so mush!
Hi Susan! Happy to know you all enjoyed this dish!