Tavuk Sis Turkish Chicken Kebab Recipe

Tavuk Sis is our favourite authentic grilled chicken kebab recipe from Turkey.

Our homemade Tavuk Sis recipe is quick and easy to make, ready to serve in under an hour! It’s the perfect grilled chicken recipe to serve during the summer barbecue season.

Traditional marinated kebabs originated in in the Ottoman Empire but regional recipes are now popular throughout Azerbaijan, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Irq, Israel and Lebanon.

Our simple take on Tavuk Sis features flavourful and healthy ingredients like roasted red peppers, garlic, spicy peppers, olive oil, mint, paprika, cayenne pepper, honey, tomato paste, lemon juice and chicken thighs.

Serve Turkish Chicken Kebabs with reserved spicy marinade, creamy yogurt, rice and fries. Or stuff in a pita and enjoy as a sandwich!

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Save our Tavuk Sis Turkish Chicken Kebab recipe to Pinterest!

What Is Tavuk Sis?

Tavuk Sis, also known as Tavuk Şiş and Shish Taouk, is a traditional marinated chicken kebab attributed to Ottoman cuisine that later became part of Middle Eastern cuisine.

The method of cooking meat on a skewer over an open fire originated in central Asia. In Turkey, it’s said the descendants of the famous leader Genghis Khan skewered the spoils of the daily hunt on their swords and cooked it over an open fire. This concept was refined over time and was brought to the world with the westward migration of the Turkic peoples.

Tavuk comes from old Turkic and means chicken, while sis means skewer. A similar dish in Persian cuisine is the traditional Jujeh Kabab and Kafta Kebab from Afghanistan.

You can find regional versions of a Tavuk Sis served at restaurants and home kitchens throughout Azerbaijan, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, and Israel.

In comparison to some modern kebab recipes, authentic Turkish Tavuk Sis are relatively mild in flavour. The key to making the best traditional Turkish kebab is in the quality of the meat used and the flavour imparted by the homemade marinade. 

The dish is eaten either as a sandwich or on a platter with vegetables, sometimes with rice or fries.

The Turkish cuisine version is generally served with rice, yogurt, and grilled vegetables. The Syrian and Lebanese version iteration is usually served with toum creamy garlic sauce, hummus and tabbouleh. In Israeli cuisine it is served with a sumac-flavoured tahini, fried onions, pita and grilled hot chili peppers along with a fresh salad and pickles.

Traditional Tavuk Sis Turkish Chicken Kebab recipe ingredients.
Traditional Tavuk Sis Turkish Chicken Kebab recipe ingredients.

Travel to the Turkey By Making Tavuk Sis at Home

I love traveling to the Middle East.

As a professional food and travel journalist, I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy amazing meals in the Middle East, from authentic markets to award winning restaurants.

For over ten years, I’ve been on the hunt for the best Tavuk Sis recipe via adventures that had me zig-zagging across Morocco, TurkeyEgyptJordanIsrael and Dubai.

I spent 2 weeks traveling in Turkey, tasting my way through Goreme, BodrumEphesus and Istanbul. My fondest feast during my culinary tour of Turkey was a tasty culinary walking tour of Istanbul where I tasted authentic Tavuk Sis for the first time.

I watched local cooks in the kitchen preparing the Turkish delicacy. The preparation starts with dicing the meat into equally-sized pieces, which are then tossed in a flavourful marinade of lemon juice, garlic, paprika, and spicy pepper. The marinated meat is then threaded onto skewers and grilled until caramelized on the outside but juicy and tender on the inside.

While grilling, cooks turned the meat often and brushed the kebabs with the leftover marinade, so it retains moisture and to prevent burning.

Once back home from a Turkish holiday you’ll have a newfound appreciation for the flavours of the Ottoman Empire and can impress friends and family by making our easy Tavuk Sis recipe!

Our easy Tavuk Sis recipe features a flavourful homemade chicken marinade.
Our easy Tavuk Sis recipe features a flavourful homemade chicken marinade.

Where To Eat Traditional Tavuk Sis

If you live in a large city in Canada or America you’ll likely have access to a local Middle Eastern or Turkish restaurant that serves homemade Tavuk Sis.

Haven’t traveled to Turkey before? It may be helpful to first sample Turkish Chicken Kebabs at a local restaurant to better understand how the dish is served. You’ll get an idea for the ideal spicy heat level of the marinade, how much chicken to thread onto each skewer and the perfect side dishes to serve at the table.

In Toronto, popular Middle Eastern restaurants that may serve Tavuk Sis include ParallelByblosTabuleFat PashaMaha’sMasrawy KitchenParamount Fine FoodsAnatoliaBaransMeat PointSofra Istanbul and Pizza Pide.

Join Dobbernationloves founder Andrew Dobson in the kitchen by signing up for a fun virtual cooking class! Classes begin with a cocktail that you can sip while preparing 2-3 recipes that are curated around a unique culinary theme. Check out our current Cooking Class Schedule!

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Toss sliced chicken thighs in Tavuk Sis marinade.
Toss sliced chicken thighs in Tavuk Sis marinade.

My Family Loves Tavuk Sis Turkish Chicken Kebab

I love cooking Turkish Kebabs for my family.

I first made traditional Tavuk Sis on a hot summer evening at our family cottage in Muskoka. We had plenty of fresh mint to pluck from our backyard herb garden.

I knew my family would love these healthy kebabs because they enjoy barbecued meat, easy chicken recipes, and flavourful marinades with a bit of heat.

The dish really is versatile. You can simply serve the skewers off the barbecue and eat them with your hands, or serve on a plate with fresh salad and dips.

For a more substantial meal remove the chicken pieces from the skewer and add them to a pita with hummus, tahini, shredded lettuce, sliced tomatoes and pickles.

Slide marinated Turkish Chicken Kebabs onto wooden skewers.
Slide marinated Turkish Chicken Kebabs onto wooden skewers.

Health Benefits

Our authentic Tavuk Sis recipe is packed full of healthy ingredients!

Olive Oil is ranked as one of the healthiest fats and is a staple in the Mediterranean diet. It contains vitamins E and K and plenty of beneficial fatty acids and antioxidants.

Bell Peppers are an incredible source of vitamins C and A, which support your skin and immune system. They also provide beneficial carotenoid compounds such as beta-carotene, which has been shown to reduce the risk of certain cancers.

It is only recently that scientists have begun to identify the components responsible for garlic’s myriad health benefits. Rich in phytochemicals and potassium, garlic helps boost your immune system, fight cancer and protect your heart.

Mint is antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, and can have a calming effect on the digestive system. It is also a good source of folate, which supports blood health. 

Paprika is rich in vitamin A, capsaicin, and carotenoid antioxidants. These substances may help prevent inflammation and improve your cholesterol, eye health and blood sugar levels.

Rich in a group of phytochemicals called carotenoids, tomatoes may help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, and provide protection against cancer. Tomatoes are also a good source of immune-boosting vitamin C.

A rich source of phytochemicals and vitamin C, lemons help boost your immune system and neutralize free radicals that cause disease and skin aging. Lemons also protect against heart disease and help improve blood flow to the brain.

Chicken is high in protein and provides B vitamins such as niacin, which helps your body access the energy in foods.   

Grill Tavuk Sis Chicken Kebabs on a barbecue.
Grill Tavuk Sis Chicken Kebabs on a barbecue.

Tavuk Sis Recipe Cooking Tips

This delicious Turkish Chicken Kebab recipe is quick and easy to make at home. We’ve included a few tips and tricks:

  • You can easily prepare our spicy Tavuk Sis marinade with a food processor.
  • Reserve some of the marinade before tossing it with raw chicken to serve in a small bowl at the table.
  • We’ve used fresh mint in this recipe but you can get creative by using a mixture of other herbs and spices like parsley, saffron and sumac.
  • The dish is not particularly spicy as we removed the seeds from the jalapeno peppers. If you like fiery heat feel free to add the seeds to the marinade or a few dashes of your favourite hot sauce.
  • We only suggest using chicken thighs in this recipe as they are a fattier so retain more moisture and have a lot more flavour. If you make this dish with chicken breasts prepare for the meat to dry out quickly on the grill.
 Tavuk Sis is finished cooking once the kebabs are browned and crispy on the outside.
Tavuk Sis is finished cooking once the kebabs are browned and crispy on the outside.

What To Serve With Turkish Chicken Kebabs

There’s nothing more comforting than noshing through several skewers of Turkish Chicken Kebabs hot off the grill.

Tavuk Şiş in Turkey is typically served with rice, yogurt and grilled vegetables. You can also serve the skewers with French fries or stuffed in a pita as a sandwich.

If you’re hosting a Turkish-themed dinner party you might want to serve Tavuk Sis with these other popular dishes:

Serve Tavuk Sis with reserved sauce and your favourite rice or flatbread.
Serve Tavuk Sis with reserved sauce and your favourite rice or flatbread.

You May Also Enjoy These Chicken Recipes…

Now you're an expert on how to make the best homemade Tavuk Turkish Chicken Kebab recipe!
Now you’re an expert on how to make the best homemade Tavuk Turkish Chicken Kebab recipe!

How To Make Tavuk Sis Turkish Chicken Kebab

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5 from 1 vote

Tavuk Sis Turkish Chicken Kebab Recipe

How to make traditional Tavuk Sis. Our easy Turkish Chicken Kebab recipe is grilled on the barbecue and served with a spicy pepper sauce.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time25 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Turkish
Keyword: Tavuk Sis
Servings: 4
Calories: 582kcal

Equipment

  • Food processor
  • measuring spoons
  • measuring cups
  • French knife
  • mixing bowl
  • Wooden skewers
  • Barbecue

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup Roasted Red Pepper drained and patted dry
  • 6 Garlic Cloves smashed
  • 2 Jalapeno Peppers stemmed, seeded, chopped
  • 1/4 cup Olive Oil
  • 2 tbsp Dried Mint
  • 1 tbsp Paprika
  • 1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 tbsp Honey
  • 1 tbsp Tomato Paste
  • Kosher Salt
  • 2 tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 2 lb Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs cut into 1 inch strips
  • 3 tbsp Fresh Mint chopped

Instructions

  • In a food processor, combine the roasted red peppers, garlic, peppers, oil, dried mint, paprika, cayenne, honey, tomato paste and 2 teaspoons of salt. Process until smooth.
  • Measure 3 tablespoons of the puree into a small bowl, then stir in the lemon juice. Cover and refrigerate.
  • Transfer the remaining puree to a medium sized bowl, add the chicken and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  • Prepare the barbecue, by turning the elements to high and leaving to warm for 7-10 minutes. Clean the grate and remove the reserved puree from the fridge.
  • While the grill heats, thread the chicken along 8 kebab skewers. Turn all barbecue burners to medium-high heat. Place the skewers on the grill and cook uncovered for 2-3 minutes, until evenly charged on both sides, 10 to 12 minutes total.
  • Transfer to a serving platter. Stir the fresh mint into the reserved puree and serve with the hot kebabs.

Nutrition

Calories: 582kcal | Carbohydrates: 9.9g | Protein: 66.8g | Fat: 29.9g | Saturated Fat: 6.6g | Cholesterol: 202mg | Sodium: 442mg | Potassium: 737mg | Fiber: 1.7g | Sugar: 6.5g | Calcium: 58mg | Iron: 4mg

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