Call them kabobs or call them skewers—either way, they're a smart way to grill.
They can be made from almost anything: protein like chicken, beef, or seafood, a variety of vegetables and fruit, or a combination of bite-size bits. They're perfect for feeding a crowd, because you can easily customize them to suit different diets, and they're so simple to serve—no slicing or plating; you just pick up sticks and go. You can do all the prep ahead of time (cutting meats and veggies, skewering, even cooking), giving you more time to hang out with your friends and family, and less time in the kitchen. With no need for forks and knives, kabobs are great hand-held food for gatherings when you want to mingle and graze at the same time.
We'll share a few tips and tricks to ensure skewer success, plus favorite recipes to try.
Top Tips to Make the Best Kabobs
Choose the right cut: Though kabobs are quick and easy to make, not every cut of beef is ideal for grilling. Choose tender cuts, like sirloin, sirloin tip, or tenderloin, and save tough cuts like chuck for stewing.
Soak your sticks: If you're using bamboo or wooden skewers, make sure to soak them in water for at least 30 minutes before grilling. The wood will absorb the moisture and keep the skewers from burning up (and potentially losing your meat through the grates).
Avoid the spin: If you're using metal skewers, use flat skewers; your food will be less likely to twist and spin while grilling. You can also skewer food onto two parallel thin, round skewers to guarantee your food stays in place and is easy to turn over.
Size matters: When preparing your skewers, make sure ingredients are cut the same size. Not only will this make for better looking skewers, but also everything will cook at the same rate—no overcooked or undercooked protein or veggies. Try to cut each piece larger than the space between your grill grates, so nothing falls into the fire.
Flavor boosters: Marinating your steak, chicken, or fish before cooking not only adds flavor but will help keep the kabobs moist and tender on the grill. To add additional flavor to your kabobs, use a woody herb, like rosemary, as the skewer for tender vegetables. Or, toss a combination of fresh herbs on the grill next to what you're grilling for an herbal-smoky flavor (just make sure to soak the herbs in water first so they smoke rather than burn). Check out our top-rated marinade recipes.
Rained out: Sometimes the weather isn't great for grilling, but that doesn't mean you can't have kabobs for dinner. You can easily make kabobs in the oven. Instead of grilling, you'll be roasting. Follow your recipe, including soaking skewers, and place the skewers on a parchment- or foil-lined baking sheet. Roast them in a 375 degree F (190 degree C) oven and add a few additional minutes to the cooking time.
10 Kabobs with Ka-Boom
Here are just a few of our our favorite kabob recipes—there's something here for every palate. For more ideas, browse our complete collection of grilled skewers and kabob recipes.
1. Beef Satay
Beef Satay is a Thai appetizer skewer that always disappears first. Tender cubes of sirloin are marinated in an aromatic mix of ginger, garlic, onion, brown sugar, fish sauce, soy, coriander, cumin, and turmeric. Serve it with a Peanut Dipping Sauce, and stand back while the crowd goes wild. Watch the video to learn how to make this flavorful dish.
This Greek-inspired chicken kabob recipe includes an easy cucumber yogurt sauce called tzatziki. Reviewers recommend squeezing the moisture out of the cucumbers so the sauce doesn't get too watery.
Tender cubes of boneless pork loin are marinated in garlic and soy sauce, and then glazed as they grill with homemade teriyaki sauce.
Shrimp is marinated in a garlic and herb paste, then skewered for a tasty shrimp kabob. The key to this dish is using the largest shrimp available so they can stay on the grill for a long time without overcooking. If this has your mouth watering, you'll love our top-rated grilled shrimp recipes.
Not all kabobs need to feature meat. This skewer is perfect for vegetarians, and features marinated tofu and vegetables. Make sure to buy extra firm tofu and drain it well before skewering; otherwise, it will fall off the sticks.
With 2,000+ rave reviews, this is one of our most popular kabob recipes. And it's so incredibly simple. Chicken cubes are marinated in ranch dressing, Worcestershire sauce, rosemary, and lemon juice, then quickly grilled for a super-quick dish. Reviewer SusanD112 says, "My husband and I would give them 10 stars if we could."
Chef John says, "Here, 'tandoori' refers to the yogurt-based, aromatically spiced marinade that can be used on grilled, broiled, or baked meat. You can adjust the spices to your own personal preferences. Serve with flatbread or rice and cilantro chutney." And you know Chef John always has good advice. Watch the video to see how he makes this dish.
Shrimp aren't the only seafood that can be skewered. Try other varieties, like these scallops, marinated in a mojito-inspired dressing. Follow Soup Loving Nicole's advice and double the marinade, but only let them sit for a few hours – otherwise, you'll end up with ceviche.
Chunks of salmon are glazed with homemade teriyaki sauce and grilled for a quick appetizer or main dish. Reviewer Jill says, "I tested this recipe last night and it was a hit! I'll definately be serving this at our Luau party next week. It's a fairly mild marinade that doesn't overwhelm the salmon."
Lemongrass adds a citrusy, minty flavor to the meatballs in this simple, money-saving recipe made with ground beef. If you can't find lemongrass in the produce section of your market, feel free to substitute chives and green onions. Reviewer Marcie did, and she said it was great.