grilled sumac chicken

Grilled Sumac Chicken Skewers with Charred Onion

These grilled sumac chicken skewers with charred onion are inspired by the fragrant spices of the Middle-East.

You cannot beat chicken cooked on a charcoal grill. You just can’t! There’s something about the alchemy of the coals interacting to with the meat to create crispy chicken edges and that unmistakable chargrilled flavor. Even better when the chicken is coated in a fragrant marinade of exotic spices. In this case – cinnamon, allspice and sumac. Sumac is one of my very favorite “underrated” spices, subtle and mild with a lemony flavor. It’s not found at all grocery stores, but easily available online. I also recommend picking up flat metal skewers – this shape seems to prevent the meat from spinning, and of course the metal is reusable and will never burn!

You will need to configure your grill two zone cooking (I use a PK grill and the shape makes it perfect for a hot and cool zone). It sounds complicated, but it’s actually super easy. If the recipe instructions are not clear, you can check more detailed instructions here.

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grilled sumac chicken

Grilled Sumac Chicken Skewers with Charred Onion

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  • Author: Jess Pryles
  • Total Time: 3 hours 20 minutes
  • Yield: serves 4



34 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs
½ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons sumac
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground allspice
4 cloves garlic, crushed
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 red onion


  1. Cube the chicken thighs and place into a resealable bag. 
  2. Add the oil, sumac, salt, cumin, cinnamon, allspice, garlic, and vinegar to the bag. Seal the bag then massage the mix to coat all the pieces. Place into the refrigerator and marinade for 2-3 hours. 
  3. Preheat your grill for two zone cooking, with a full chimney of charcoal placed to one side of the grill, creating a hot and cool zone.
  4. Peel the onion, then slice in half across the middle. Cut each half 6 times to create onion wedges.
  5. Thred the chicken pieces onto skewers two at a time, alternating with a wedge of onion. (Pro tip: metal skewers work best since they do not burn!)
  6. Cook the chicken skewers over the direct coals for 2-3 minutes, then flip and cook a further 2-3 minutes on the other side. The chicken should have nice color and char, but not be burnt.
  7. To finish safely cooking the chicken thoroughly, move the skewers to the indirect side of the grill, and close the lid. Cook until the chicken reads 165f on a meat thermometer (about 10-15 minutes). 
  • Prep Time: 3 hours
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Method: Grilling

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