How to Grill Kabobs and Skewers (Plus, Great Kabob Recipes!)

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Your Guide to Cooking Kabobs on the Grill

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Kabobs are a great way to cook meat; when grilled on skewers, the meat cooks more evenly and tastes juicier. What’s the best way to cook kabobs on the grill? What are the best meats for kabobs? How do you use kabob skewers? See our tips—plus our five favorite kabob recipes.

Tips on Using Skewers

A kabob is simply skewered meat grilled over fire. You can add vegetables or even make an all-veggie kabob, but the original kabob is grilled meat. By using the skewer, you can grill meat without touching the grill or any surface, which helps the meat cook evenly and quickly, and it tastes moister and juicier.

Most skewers are made out of wood or metal, and sometimes wood or bamboo.

  • 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 the skewer is metal, leave a small amount of space between each ingredient (1/4-inch) to cook food more evenly; don’t crowd your skewers. If you’re using a wooden skewer, as you thread the food, move the pieces close together with no space showing.
  • 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.

The Best Meats and Veggies for Kabobs

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

  • Many think that the best meat for a kabob is beef. For beef, we recommend sirloin (from top to tip). Tenderloin is also a great choice.
  • For chicken, we prefer boneless chicken thighs, which are juicier and fuller-flavored. 
  • When selecting vegetables, we recommend softer veggies like peppers, onions, squash, and mushrooms so they’ll be ready when the meat is cooked.
  • For kabobs, cut beef and chicken into 1 1/2-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 must combine them later when serving. 

Setting up the Grill for Skewers

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 on the plate for a few minutes after removing them from the grill.

5 Popular Kabob Recipes

1. Grilled Pork Kabobs

Fire up the barbecue for Grilled Pork Kabobs—a welcome change from the ubiquitous burgers and hot dogs. Prepare in an herbal marinade in advance for juicy, tender, flavorful skewers that can be served with a simple salad, fresh crusty bread, and perhaps baked steak fries.

Grilled Pork Kabobs

2. Chicken Satay

Chicken Satay
Photo credit: Sam Jones/Quinn Brein

3. Grilled Salmon Kabobs

This recipe for Grilled Salmon Kabobs is our go-to fish dish for a healthy, easy summer meal. It is full of flavor from the simple marinade. 

Grilled Salmon Kabobs
Photo credit: Vankad/shutterstock

4. Beef Kabobs

This is one of our favorite steak recipes! These Beef Kabobs soak in an easy, homemade marinade that adds flavor and zest. These can’t-beat kabobs are easy to grill and delicious to eat.

Beef Kabobs 
Photo credit: Sam Jones/Quinn Brein

5. Swordfish Kabobs

Swordfish is a firm-fleshed fish, so it’s a great choice for grilling! The fish cooks quickly, so you’ll have a healthy, juicy, delicious meal in no time.

Swordfish Kabobs

Bonus Recipe: Souvlaki Sandwich

Here’s one more recipe: A Souvlaki sandwich! The word souvlaki in Greek means “small skewer.” Our Souvlaki Sandwich can be made with chicken or beef, but we highly recommend using lamb grilled on skewers. Have the butcher cut up a lamb steak if you can’t find stew meat.

Souvlaki Sandwich
Photo Credit: Becky Luigart-Stayner

Do you enjoy cooking kabobs? What are your tips and tricks? We want to hear from you!

About The Author

Catherine Boeckmann

Catherine Boeckmann loves nature, stargazing, and gardening so it’s not surprising that she and The Old Farmer’s Almanac found each other. She leads digital content for the Almanac website, and is also a certified master gardener in the state of Indiana. Read More from Catherine Boeckmann

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