Yogurt-Marinated Chicken With Habañero Salsa

Recipe by Aarón Sánchez
Dish type
Main Dish
Ready in
2 hours


  • 2 cups plain yogurt, preferably full-fat, divided
  • 1-1/2 cups lightly packed cilantro leaves, divided
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp lemon zest
  • 2-1/2 tbsp. kosher salt, divided
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 4 pounds chicken leg quarters (about 6 thighs and 6 drumsticks)
  • 2 large semi-ripe mangos, peeled and chopped
  • 1 to 2 habanero peppers, seeds and membranes removed, minced
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • Vegetable oil for grilling


Prep Time
25 minutes
Cook Time
At least 1-1/2 hours
Ready in
2 hours
  1. Combine 1-3/4 cups yogurt with 1 cup cilantro, olive oil, lemon juice and zest, 2 teaspoons salt, and pepper. Locate the ball joint between the chicken’s thigh and drumstick and cut through to separate them. Place the chicken in a large zip-top bag, add the marinade, and ensure that the chicken is completely coated. Squeeze out any excess air and marinate at room temperature for 1 hour, or in the refrigerator overnight.
  2. Before you cook the chicken, let it come to room temperature for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Meanwhile, make the salsa: Stir together the mangos, habañero, red onion, 1/4 cup yogurt, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest; chop the remaining 1/2 cup cilantro and add that to the bowl. Reserve half and pulse the other half in a food processor until it’s roughly puréed but not smooth or homogeneous. Combine and set aside.
  3. Heat the grill to medium-high, leaving one area with indirect heat by either leaving one burner off (for a gas grill) or keeping it free of coals (for a charcoal grill). Keep the lid closed for at least 5 minutes, giving the grate a chance to get very hot. Clean and oil it well.
  4. Scrape the excess marinade off the chicken and brush the skin with a little vegetable oil. Add the pieces, skin side down, and cover with the lid after 30 seconds. Check back on the pieces after 4 minutes; they’re ready to be flipped when the skin releases easily from the grates. If they resist, cook for another 1 to 2 minutes before trying again. Flip the pieces, cover, and cook for another 4 or 5 minutes, until the internal temperature at the thickest part of the thighs is 160F. If the skin is deeply browned before they reach temperature, move them to indirect heat, cover, and continue cooking. Serve immediately or at room temperature with the salsa on the side.