Skewers Grilling Tips Tricks & How To | The Old Farmer's Almanac

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

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Cooking Kabobs on the Grill

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Kabobs are a great way to cook meat; when grilled on skewers, 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 skewers? See our tips—plus 5 kabob recipes.

Tips on Using Skewers

A kabob is simply skewered meat grilled over fire. You can also add vegetables or even make an all-veggie kabob, but the original kabob is grilled meat. By using the skewer, you are able to grill meat without it touching the grill or any surface, which helps the meat to 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.

Best Meats or 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’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.

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.


2. Chicken Satay

chicken_satay.jpgPhoto 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. 

salmon_kabobs.jpgPhoto 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.jpgPhoto 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.

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.

Photo Credit: Becky Luigart-Stayner

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