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Chicken Tikka Kebabs – a make-ahead friendly bbq dish!

These chicken tikka kebabs are not only low-calorie and light, but they are also a great prep-ahead dish as an easy, family and social get-together dish. The tikka masala-spiced yoghurt marinade tenderises the chicken and improves the flavour. The longer it marinades, the more flavour develops, so plan ahead if you are after more intense flavours.

How are the kebabs cooked?

The chicken is threaded onto skewers, together with capsicum pepper, pineapple and onion pieces. At this stage, they can be returned to the marinade, covered and chilled for later, or cooked straight away.

These kebabs turn out the best on a gas or coal BBQ on medium-high heat. Otherwise flashing them under the grill and turning frequently will still give you that nice char and smoky flavour. Make sure to grill them on a rack over a tray so to collect excess marinade and cooking juices.

Both methods only need 20 minutes of attention and turning, plus brushing with the leftover marinade from time to time. Don’t brush the marinade during the final 5 minutes of cooking as the marinade needs to cook out any raw chicken juices that have collected during the marinading time.

Using a griddle pan will give you slightly different results. As the kebabs cook, the marinade will collect in the pan and will end up frying to a crisp, resulting in a bitter smell and lots of scrubbing when washing up. If you do want to use the griddle pan, I would recommend cooking the kebabs on medium heat and greasing the griddle often. It will take a bit longer to cook due to the reduced heat.

a aerial view of three chicken tikka kebabs resting on a platter with yoghurt dipping sauce and salad
How to eat chicken tikka kebabs

These healthy kebabs go well with steamed basmati rice and gluten-free naans, together with an assortment of Indian chutneys, a tikka masala-infused yoghurt dipping sauce and plenty of salad and sliced cucumbers and tomatoes.

Any leftover chicken tikka kebabs can be disassembled and wrapped in gluten-free flour tortillas with some salad and yoghurt sauce.

several gluten-free flour tortillas on a plate

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What I love about these kebabs is that you can prepare the marinade in the morning, thread them onto the skewers and prepare all the sides in the afternoon, then relax and enjoy watching the kebabs cook into authentic tikka chicken kebabs that you see in Indian restaurants.

an adobe photo of chicken tikka kebabs and a bowl of tikka masala paste
Three chicken tikka kebabs on a plate surrounded by yoghurt dipping sauce and lemons on a bed of rice

Chicken Tikka Kebabs

by Sandra, Fun Without Gluten
These chicken kebabs are not only low-calorie and light, but they are also a great prep-ahead dish as an easy, family and friend’s get-together dish. 
The tikka masala yoghurt marinade tenderises and flavours the chicken, plus gives a nice finish once they are grilled for 20 minutes together with the peppers, onions and pineapple.
A yoghurt-tikka masala sauce is served with the kebabs, as well plenty of sides from either rice, naans or tortillas, salad, refreshing cucumber and tomato slices.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Marinating Time 1 hour
Total Time 2 hours
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 14 large kebabs


  • Food processor, or
  • Thermomix
  • 14 metal skewers, or
  • 14 pre-soaked wooden sticks (soak the sticks in water for at least 20 minutes before cooking).
  • outdoor BBQ - gas or coal, or
  • electric indoor grill


HOMEMADE TIKKA MASALA PASTE (250 ml - enough for this recipe)

  • 2 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 3 whole dried red chillis
  • 3 tbsp fresh coriander leaves
  • 7 garlic cloves
  • 7 cm ginger piece, peeled
  • 110 ml olive oil or coconut oil
  • 25 ml water
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • tsp salt
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 35 ml tomato puree


  • 1 kg chicken thigh fillets, deboned and skin removed, cut into 5 cm pieces
  • 250 ml store-bought or homemade tikka paste ( (less 2 teaspoons reserved for the yoghurt dipping sauce*)
  • 200 ml natural yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil or coconut oil
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 3 long chillis, red or green/or both, chopped finely (optional)
  • 1 fresh green chilli, chopped finely
  • 2 tbsp fresh coriander leaves, shredded
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp freshly, cracked black pepper


  • 100 ml natural yoghurt
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • 2 tsp store-bought or homemade tikka paste *
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • salt and white pepper, to taste



  • 4 red capsicum peppers/bell peppers (or a mix of colours), cut into 5cm pieces
  • 1 medium tin of pineapple pieces, in 5cm chunks, or
  • ½ fresh pineapple, cut in 5cm chunks
  • 3 red onions, cut into 5cm pieces


  • 3 tbsp fresh coriander leaves
  • 2 spring onions, chopped


  • 1 lemon, cut in wedges
  • 8 cherry tomatoes, halved garnished with fried onions or fresh red onions
  • ½ cucumber slice sprinkled with some garam masala seasoning or white pepper
  • 4 servings steamed basmati rice
  • an assortment of Indian chutneys



    Food processor method

    • Dry roast the seeds and whole chilli in a medium-hot pan for a few minutes, or until they release their aroma.
    • Grind the mixture into a fine powder using either a food processor or a coffee grinder.
    • Add the coriander leaves, garlic and ginger. Pulse the mixture into a fine paste.
    • Switch to a low speed and add the olive oil gradually.
    • Add the water, lemon juice, turmeric powder, salt, onion powder and tomato puree. Pulse several times.

    Stove-top method

    • Transfer the mixture to a heavy-bottom pan, partially cover and cook for 40 minutes on the second lowest setting, stirring occasionally to prevent the paste from sticking to the bottom. Add more oil if it appears too dry.
    • Remove the cover towards the final 10 minutes of cooking and stir occasionally.
    • Once the paste appears thick and has a vibrant sheen to it, remove it from the heat, allow it to cool down and store it in a sterilised jar or use it immediately for your chosen dish.

    Thermomix method

    • Heat the Thermomix empty for 3 minutes/Varoma/Speed 1. Lid On.
    • Add the seeds and whole chilli. Select 1 ½ minutes/Varoma/ Speed 1. Lid Off.
    • Grind the seeds. Select 1 minute/Speed 8. Lid On.
    • Add the coriander leaves, garlic, ginger and oil. Select 1 minute/Speed 10. Lid On.
    • Add the remaining ingredients. Select 10 seconds/Speed 7. Lid On.
    • Scrap down the paste from the sides of the Thermomix.
    • Cook for *40 minutes/80°C/Speed 2. Lid On. Stop and scrape the bottom of the Thermomix occasionally, to prevent burning or sticking. *If the paste has a deep colour and a vibrant sheen where the oil has lifted out from the paste, it is ready.


    • In a small bowl, combine all the yoghurt dipping sauce ingredients. Cover and set aside. This can be made the day before and kept chilled for several days.


      Marinating the chicken

      • Combine all the chicken tikka marinade ingredients together in a medium glass or ceramic bowl. Mix well and cover.
      • Chill and marinate for one hour or overnight, if possible to develop more flavour.

      Assembling the chicken tikka kebabs

      • If using wooden sticks, soak them in some water at least 20 minutes before cooking.
      • Start skewering the chicken pieces onto metal skewers or pre-soaked wooden sticks in between the capsicums, onions and pineapple pieces.
      • Once all of the chicken and vegetables have been skewered, pour any excess marinade over the skewers then either cover and chill to cook later (or the next day) or start cooking them straight away.

      Cooking the chicken tikka kebabs

      • Either cook the skewers under a grill/broiler, over a BBQ/grill or on a griddle pan over the stove. Brush the cooking surface lightly with oil. Cook on medium-high heat.
      • Brush the kebabs often with the tikka masala marinade and turn them over on all sides to cook evenly. This should take 20 minutes. Before removing the kebabs from the heat, test one piece of chicken to check if it is cooked through.


      • Serve warm with basmati rice, naan or tortillas, a bowl of the yoghurt dipping sauce and fresh salad, cucumber, tomato slices and lemon wedges.


      • Keeps for 3 days chilled
      • Suitable to freeze
      If you fancy wrapping your disassembled chicken tikka kebab in a tortilla, go to my recipe for gluten-free flour tortillas which explain how to make them from scratch.
      If you are following a low carb diet, then a sturdy lettuce leaf such as iceberg lettuce will wrap the disassembled chicken tikka kebab nice and snug.
      Keyword gluten-free indian, gluten-free tikka masala
      Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
      Please mention @fun_without_gluten or tag #funwithoutgluten!

      Chicken breast meat is a good alternative to chicken thighs. Reduce the cooking time from 20 minutes to 15 minutes.


      Scatter some toasted almonds and small lentils on the rice and drizzle the yoghurt sauce over the chicken tikka kebabs

      A dinner plate with two chicken tikka kebabs on top of rice
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