Kefir Marinated Chicken

PrimalIf you think kefir is only a refreshingly tart yogurt drink brimming with healthy probiotics, then you’re missing out on another reason it’s great to have kefir in the kitchen.

Kefir is a fantastic marinade for chicken. The acidic nature of kefir makes it the perfect tenderizer, especially for chicken breasts.  Kefir also has a way of really soaking the flavors of a marinade into meat. This recipe uses lemon and dill, but any blend of herbs or spices can be whisked into a kefir marinade.

Kefir marinated chicken is tender, succulent and deeply flavorful. If there’s still some kefir left in the bottle, then use it to whisk together a tangy, creamy kefir dressing (recipe below). Leftover chicken tossed into a salad with kefir dressing is a delicious lunch the next day.

Time in the Kitchen: 3-8 hours to marinate, plus 35 minutes to cook

Servings: 4



  • 1 cup plain kefir (240 ml)
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup chopped dill (80 ml)
  • Zest of half a lemon
  • 2 pounds chicken (breasts, thighs, drumsticks or a combination), with or without skin (900g)


Whisk together kefir, garlic, dill, and lemon zest.

Place the chicken in the kefir marinade, making sure each piece is coated.

Marinate at least 3 hours, but preferably overnight.

Remove the chicken from the marinade and shake most of the marinade off. Lightly coat the chicken with oil, then season the chicken with salt and pepper.

Grill the chicken over medium-high heat or roast it in an oven.

Grilling chicken: Pound the thickest part of the chicken breast down to a thickness that is even with the rest of the breast. If the entire breast is ¼ to ½-inch thick grill the breast for about 4 to 6 minutes a side. Drumsticks and thighs can take longer to grill, about 30 minutes, and can be turned more frequently.

Roasting chicken: Preheat oven to 400 ºF/204 ºC. Arrange the chicken pieces on a baking sheet. Bake 20 to 30 minutes. Start checking the breasts after 20 minutes, as they will cook faster.

Cook all chicken to a temperature of 165 °F/74 ºC.

Kefir Dressing


Either whisk ingredients together, or blend in a blender.

kefir chicken 2

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8 thoughts on “Kefir Marinated Chicken”

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  1. This is brilliant! I used to make milk kefir but due to the very quick fermentation, especially if you are trying to keep the production small, I could note bare the caring, straining and eating every 24 hours, even more so if you use more expensive milks like goat’s where you do not want to waste it. In this case the idea of using it as a marinade instead of a beverage adds value to a longer, thus more thick and sour fermentation and can help with the quick turnaround of home made milk kefir, which had just gotten me to kombucha because of the two weeks cycle which is much easier to handle than the daily one. As much as milk kefir is available commercially some of the yeasts and bacteria in the real one cannot be found in the store bought ones because of salubrity norms and such, at which point you can forget about raw milk or alternate milk based offerings unless it’s from a farmer or someone going against the system in place as far as I am aware.

    On another note I am sure that commercial kefir still has great nutritional value, I have a half bottle of store bought one with a best before date of May 2015 that I keep in the fridge as an experiment and it still smells wonderful after 3 years being opened, this sure if one extraordinary probiotic nature’s gift to keep milk safe to consume… and so much more nutritious.

  2. Sounds delicious, but does that mean you throw out (waste) the marinade once you’ve finished with it? Things like kefir are a bit too expensive here in Australia to use like that.

    1. Yes, you do throw it out. Anything you use to marinate raw meat or poultry can’t be reused.(as for a sauce) unless it’s heated to a high enough temperature to kill the bacteria. I doubt if kefir can be heated without ruining it. It would probably either curdle or become watery.

  3. Looks good, but I wouldn’t run out to buy kefir if I didn’t have it; yogurt works just as well.