Cultural Variations: Grilled Chicken Around the World

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Grilled chicken is enjoyed around the globe, but tastes and preparation methods vary widely between regions and cultures. From signature marinades to must-have sides, grilled chicken takes on the unique flavors of local cuisines.

Let’s explore cultural variations and taste the diversity of worldwide grilled chicken recipes that put distinctive regional twists on this universally loved backyard staple and restaurant menu mainstay.

North America

With its rich culinary melting pot, North America offers an abundance of unique grilled chicken recipes.


American grilled chicken embraces all flavors, including:

  • BBQ chicken – Sauced with tomato-molasses barbecue sauce and served with classic sides like coleslaw, cornbread and baked beans.
  • Jerk chicken – Marinated in spicy Jamaican jerk seasoning featuring allspice, garlic, Scotch bonnets.
  • Chicken fajitas – Seared chicken seasoned with lime, garlic, cumin, chili powder. Served with grilled peppers and onions.
  • Chicken skewers – Marinated cubed chicken alternating with vegetables on skewers. Greek flavors like lemon, oregano, and olive oil are popular.


South-of-the-border Mexican grilled chicken includes:

  • Pollo asado – Chicken marinated in citrus, garlic, chipotle, and Mexican oregano then grilled over mesquite wood.
  • Pibil chicken – Chicken marinated in bitter orange, achiote seasoning, and wrapped in banana leaves for grilling.
  • Carne asada – Spicy marinated chicken breast or thigh meat grilled over charcoal. Often served tacos and burritos.


Two iconic grilled chicken dishes in Cuban cuisine are:

  • Pollo a la parilla – Split chicken marinated in mojo criollo of garlic, onion, citrus, cumin. Grilled over charcoal.
  • Pollo asado – Chicken marinated in sour orange juice and garlic before grilling.

Central and South America

The flavors of Latin America lead to delicious grilled chicken.


In Peruvian cuisine, popular grilled chicken dishes are:

  • Pollo a la brasa – Chicken marinated in garlic, cumin, ají pepper then rotisserie grilled. Typically served with french fries and salad.
  • Anticucho de pollo – Chicken hearts and other organ meats skewered and grilled over hot coals.


Brazilian churrasco grilling involves splits chickens basted with garlicky vinaigrette as they roast slowly over charcoal.


Chicken takes on robust flavor from the traditional Argentinian mixed grill called parrillada:

  • Pollo – Split chicken basted in chimichurri garlic-herb sauce while grilling.
  • Pinchos de pollo – Chicken cubes threaded onto skewers, often alternating with vegetables.


Time-honored traditions shape grilled chicken in this region.


Greek-style grilled chicken features:

  • Kotopoulo – Chicken marinated in olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, garlic then grilled.
  • Souvlaki – Boneless chicken chunks grilled on skewers alternating with onions, mushrooms, peppers.


Spanish grilled chicken includes:

  • Pollo a la parrilla – Marinated in garlic, Spanish smoked paprika, and olive oil before grilling.
  • Pinchitos morunos – Chicken skewers highly seasoned with cumin, garlic, chili, cilantro.


Italian grilled chicken recipes embrace flavors like:

  • Pollo al mattone – “Brick chicken” pressed with a heavy pan while grilling to crisp the skin.
  • Pollo alla diavola – “Devil’s chicken” coated in spicy chili pepper paste before grilling.

Middle East

Grilled chicken plays a central role in Middle Eastern cuisines.


Popular Lebanese grilled chicken dishes include:

  • Shish taouk – Chicken marinated in olive oil, lemon, garlic, sumac then skewered and grilled.
  • Farouj meshwi – Whole chicken split and flattened before an intense marinade and grilling process.


Two top grilled chicken meals in Turkey are:

  • Tavuk şiş – Chicken breast cubes skewered and grilled over charcoal after long marinade.
  • Tavuk kanat şiş – Marinated chicken wings grilled on skewers for crisp, charred skin.


Israeli grilled chicken features:

  • Jerusalem mixed grill – Chicken livers wrapped in chicken breast grilled on skewers over mangal grill.
  • Shawarma – Thin slices of chicken stacked and roasted vertically on a rotisserie.


Grilling remains integral to African cooking, producing flavorful chicken.

South Africa

South African spicy peri-peri chicken is iconic:

  • Piri-piri chicken – Chicken marinated in chili, garlic, lemon, paprika then grilled over open fire.
  • Sosaties – Curried chicken skewers with apricots, onions, peppers.


Ethiopian grilled chicken features:

  • Doro tibs – Chicken cubes marinated in garlic, ginger, chili then grilled with onion, jalapeno.
  • Doro wat – Spicy chicken stew with hard boiled eggs often cooked tandoor style.


Popular Moroccan grilled chicken includes:

  • Djaj mechwi – Chicken rubbed with ras el hanout spice mix and olive oil before grilling.
  • Gallia – Marinated chicken livers grilled on skewers and served in hearty stews.


From India to Japan, grilling remains key in Asian cooking.


Tandoori chicken is essential in Indian cuisine:

  • Tandoori murgh – Chicken legs and thighs marinated in tandoori spices and yogurt then grilled in a tandoor oven.
  • Tikka – Boneless chicken pieces like breast cubes skewered and grilled in the tandoor.


Classic Korean grilled chicken dishes:

  • Dak-kkochi – Chicken brushed with spicy gochujang chili paste before grilling.
  • Dak galbi – Boneless chicken pieces marinated and grilled on skewers with vegetables.


In Japanese cuisine, popular grilled chicken includes:

  • Yakitori – Chicken skewers grilled over binchotan charcoal. Often marinated in soy sauce and sake.
  • Tebasaki – Marinated chicken wings and drumettes grilled on skewers until crispy.

Australia and New Zealand

Grilling remains integral to Oceanic cuisine and culture.


Aussie grilled chicken recipes include:

  • Lemon myrtle chicken – Marinated in indigenous herb with olive oil before grilling. Served with roasted sweet potatoes.
  • Chicken souvlaki – Skewered chicken alternating with peppers, mushrooms, zucchini.

New Zealand

Kiwi grilled chicken range from:

  • Rotisserie chicken – Chicken coated in crushed garlic before rotisserie grilling for deep flavor.
  • Soy ginger chicken – Marinated in soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, honey and lime before grilling.

This global tour reveals the incredible diversity of grilled chicken worldwide. While preparation varies, juicy, smoky, char-grilled chicken remains universally craved.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Peruvian grilled chicken marinated in?

The classic Peruvian pollo a la brasa is marinated in garlic, ají pepper, cumin, oregano, vinegar, oil, and salt before rotisserie grilling for ultimate flavor.

How is Jamaican jerk chicken grilled?

Jerk chicken is first marinated for hours in a wet jerk spice rub with scotch bonnets. It is then grilled over pimento wood, which gives it a distinct smoky flavor.

What makes Brazilian churrasco chicken unique?

For churrasco, whole chickens are split open and slowly grilled over hot coals while being basted in a garlicky vinaigrette, resulting in super juicy and flavorful meat.

What is in piri piri grilled chicken?

The piri piri chili marinade boasts garlic, lemon juice, hot chilies, paprika, cumin, and oil. This infuses the chicken with spicy, tangy African flavor.

How is chicken cooked tandoori style?

Tandoori chicken gets its signature flavor from an overnight yogurt marinade spiced with garam masala, chili, turmeric, cumin, ginger. It is grilled in the super hot tandoor clay oven.

With limitless marinades and global inspiration, grilled chicken never has to get boring. Apply worldwide flavors to create culturally rich and delicious chicken.

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About the Author: Staff Reporter