Spicy Yogurt Marinated Chicken

Chicken is a wonderful meat. Lean, flavorful, yet mild enough to take in whatever marinade you throw at it – or in this case, submerge it in. The premise behind marinating meat with yogurt goes far beyond taste though. If you’ve never really understood the chemistry behind marinades, I highly recommend a short article from Fine Cooking which explains the difference between acidic marinades (those with fruit juice, wine or vinegar), enzymatic marinades (relying on fruit enzymes) and dairy-based marinades (using buttermilk or yogurt). Of all three types, only dairy marinades reliably tenderize meat without the risk of toughening or disintegrating. Though this recipe uses chicken tenders, the marinade works equally well with any cut of chicken, from bone-in breasts to a whole roaster. For maximum impact, allow the chicken to steep as long as possible, even overnight. We’ve enjoyed these strips two ways. Plain they’re delicious, but for one of the BEST salads I’ve had in forever, plate warm chicken on top of mixed spring greens, sprinkle with shredded cheese (I used a smidgen of smoked Gouda) and drizzle with your favorite salt-free dressing. A FANTASTIC low sodium meal!! Recipe courtesy of Stonyfield.

Yields 4 servings.

SODIUM CONTENT: 148 mg per serving


1 c. Stonyfield Organic Fat Free Plain Yogurt
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 T. lime juice
1 T. honey or agave nectar
1 T. olive oil
1 t. paprika
3/4 t. ground cumin
1/4 t. cayenne
1/4 t. ground cinnamon
1 1/2 lbs. chicken tenders


Measure all of the ingredients EXCEPT chicken into a large mixing bowl and stir well to combine. Add the chicken and coat thoroughly. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 12 hours.

Once ready to cook, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment or aluminum foil and arrange chicken tenders in a single layer. Bake chicken until golden brown, about 12-15 minutes. Serve immediately.

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8 Responses to Spicy Yogurt Marinated Chicken

  1. Looks wonderful, as always!
    Enzymatic? Sounds… science-like. I had to copy and paste to even get the spelling right. Sadly. 🙂

  2. Christy says:

    LOL!! I was *just* over in your neck of the woods. Simultaneous posting! Or commenting! Whatever! Sounds like the name of a band. As for the enzymatic marinades, just a fancy way of saying you’re tenderizing meat w/ fruit or fruit juice.. like pineapple juice or papaya, etc. Tasty but watch out! That meat can completely fall apart. Nothing grosser than mushy meat! I ate some pudding-like hot dogs at a bar one time.. and still haven’t properly recovered.

  3. Pudding hot dogs?! *cough, cough, wheeze*
    Any meat I cook is tough, chewy and dry. Yet undercooked. It’s a talent.
    Also, I didn’t forget about the post – I promise – it was up on yesterday’s – very early on – I hope you get a few votes out of it, anyway! 🙂

  4. Christy says:

    Oh I know. Those puddin dogs were one of the worst things I’ve ever seen or heard of, let alone eaten. Even being drunk at the time couldn’t make up for it. I would take overcooked/undercooked any time.

    Thanks so much for posting that! I saw in the comments at least one person voted, so THANK YOU THANK YOU!

  5. i never knew why i was supposed to marinate my chicken in buttermilk before breading it but thanks to you i’m schooled! i don’t always have time for that step but i have noticed a difference. stonyfield should hire you in their test kitchen. i’m just saying…

  6. Christy says:

    You’re so welcome!! And it works well for all sorts of meat, though I’m doubtful you’ll be cooking much more than chicken (bawk-bawwk!)


    Too funny you mention Stonyfield! They were hiring recently for a media person – I swear Nat, something I was tailor made to do — Drawing the public to my beloved, tooting the Stonyfield horn, etc. But Manchester’s just too far to make commuting there and back a daily practicality. Esp. given present gas prices. Till they start paying me, I’ll just have to sing their praises for free. 😉

  7. Shambo says:

    Chisty, great minds think alike. I have some leftover buttermilk from making fried chicken this week, so this chicken recipe is a perfect way to use it up before it spoils. I’ll substitute the buttermilk for the yogurt. I love the Indian inspired flavors, and it looks pretty easy too. Always a plus.

  8. Christy says:

    WOnderful idea!! Let me know how it tastes with the buttermilk. I bet it’ll be absolutely delicious. BOY all this food talk is making me hungry – and I’m STILL full from dinner — LOL

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