How to Grill Kabobs and Skewers

Cooking Kabobs on the Grill

July 19, 2021
Grilled Skewers

How do you cook kabobs on the grill? How do you grill skewers without burning them? See our tricks and tips on the kabob-making process—whether you’re skewering up meat or vegetables—plus, a few great kabob recipes!

Using Skewers

Most skewers are made out of wood or metal. If you’re using bamboo, soak them before cooking so they don’t burn —

  • Soak wooden or bamboo skewers in room-temperature water for 30 minutes before using them so they won’t burn during cooking. 
  • If you prefer metal skewers, which have a long life, use square or twisted types, which will hold the food better than round ones.
  • To keep food from slipping off during cooking and turning, use two parallel skewers rather than a single skewer.
  • If you’re using a wooden skewer, as you thread the food move the pieces close together, with no space showing. If the skewer is metal, you can leave small spaces between the pieces for even cooking.
  • Before you start grilling, break the skewers to room temperature.
  • If you are marinading the meats, this must be done in advance before you put the meats on the skewers.

Best Meats or Veggies for Kabobs

Beef, chicken, shrimp, and pork all work well with skewers. 

  • For beef, we recommend the tri-tip cut of beef. (Ask the grocer.)
  • For chicken, we prefer boneless chicken thighs which are juicier and fuller-flavored. 
  • When selecting vegetables, we recommend softer veggies like zucchini, mushrooms and peppers so they’ll be ready when the meat is cooked.
  • For kabobs, cut beef and chicken into 1 ½-inch cubes to keep them juicy
  • If you’re combining proteins, such as beef and shrimp, do not cook them on the same skewer. They’ll have different cooking times; you’ll need to combine them later when serving. 

Setting up the Grill

To keep wood skewers from burning (and metal skewers from getting dangerously hot), we recommend that you lay down foil strips (double-thick) on the grill that will protect their ends. 

  • Set up the grill for direct and indirect heat. Then oil the grill and wait until the oil smokes.
  • Pat the kebabs dry. Season them with salt and pepper. Lay skewers on the direct-heat side of the grill with the skewer ends overlapping the foil.
  • Space them out to let them cook evenly. Don’t move them until the bottoms look slightly charred and they release easily from the grill. Then turn the kebabs as necessary to sear all sides.
  • Once the kabobs are seared, the meat may need a little extra cooking. Move to the indirect-heat side of the grill and cover.
  • Beef takes 8 to 10 minutes (to medium-rare); chicken takes 10 to 12 minutes.
  • Let the kebabs rest for a few minutes on the plate after removing them from the grill.

Popular Kabob Recipes

1. Grilled Pork Kabobs

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2. Chicken Satay

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Photo credit: Sam Jones/Quinn Brein

3. Grilled Salmon Kabobs

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Photo credit: Vankad/shutterstock

4. Beef Kabobs

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Photo credit: Sam Jones/Quinn Brein

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