Grilled Chicken with Sumac, Honey & Lemon

Sumac is a popular spice in the Middle East, which does not get enough attention in the US. Ground sumac is a deep red powder that comes from the red, ripe berries of the sumac bush (related to poison ivy, but definitely not poisonous). It has a very pleasant tart berry flavor, but without the acidity of a fresh lemon. When combined with honey in this recipe, the sumac-spiced chicken has a great balance of sweet and sour.


  • 3 large or 4 medium boneless and skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon ground sumac
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • a few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 fresh lemon
  • 3 tablespoons honey (orange blossom is a good choice)
  • 1 tablespoon water


  • Cube chicken into pieces, about 1 to 2 inches square.
  • In a stainless mixing bowl, blend together the olive oil, sumac and salt to form a marinade. Strip the leaves from the thyme and add to the marinade. Add the chicken pieces, toss to coat, and let rest in refrigerator for about an hour (stirring occasionally).
  • Pre-heat grill to medium high (400 to 425 degrees F).
  • Skewer the chicken pieces on either metal or bamboo skewers. Cut lemon in half, and brush each half lightly with olive oil.
  • Cook chicken on grill, turning a few times until done (10 minutes or so.)  Grill the lemon halves for a few minutes until nice grill marks form.
  • While the chicken is cooking, combine the honey and water in a small bowl and stir to blend.
  • When done, remove the chicken kabobs from the grill and arrange on a serving platter. Brush each kabob lightly with the honey glaze, making sure to cover all sides. Then squeeze the grilled lemon over the kabobs and serve immediately.
  • Serve with red quinoa, brown rice or cous cous.

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