Fantastic Kebab Recipes Turning You Into a Grill Master

Grilled kebabs have earned a pretty rotten reputation. Because they often combine disparate ingredients with different cooking times you can end up with some foods that are nearly raw and others that are completely dried out. Instead of trying to create the most colorful kebab, these seven recipes stick with one ingredient, or a few that have the same cook time. This method ensures you end up with perfectly cooked meats, fish, veggies, and even fruit. It’s time to welcome kebabs back to their rightful place at the grill.

1. Salmon Yakitori

salmon skewers

Salmon skewers | iStock.com

Health professionals have been urging Americans for years to start eating more fish for a serving of omega-3s, but some folks tend to shy away from the fillets. If you’re taking fish oil supplements as a way to skimp on seafood, you should rethink your strategy. Harvard Medical School reported that while studies have linked fish consumption to reduced risk of heart disease, studies on supplements haven’t been nearly as encouraging.

Give your fish-fearing palate a delicious surprise with Saveur’s sweet and salty salmon kebabs. The bold soy glaze stands up to the flavor of the salmon, making it much more approachable. One taste will have you chowing down on more fish in no time.

Ingredients:

  • 7 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 7 tablespoons mirin
  • 7 tablespoons sake
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 pound boneless, skin-on Salmon, cut into 1-inch cubes

Directions: Combine soy sauce, mirin, sake, and sugar in a large bowl, and mix to combine. Add salmon, toss to coat, and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight. Put 10 to 12 wooden skewers in a baking dish, cover with water, and let sit overnight.

The next day, heat a grill to medium high. Drain skewers. Thread salmon onto skewers, and transfer to a plate. Grill skewers, turning occasionally until salmon is browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a platter, and serve.

2. Steakhouse Kebabs

steak skewers

Steak kebabs on the grill | iStock.com

When you want the steakhouse experience without the stuffy tablecloth, these kebabs from Serious Eats are the perfect meal. Opting for skewered steak instead of one giant cut means dinner will be ready faster. Adding vegetables also helps stretch the beef, so you can feed more mouths for less money. To complete the experience, serve these skewers alongside a wedge salad with blue cheese dressing.

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1½ pounds beef sirloin tips, cut into 1½-inch cubes
  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, cleaned, and halved
  • 1 large red onion, cut into 1½-inch cubes, about 3 layers each

Directions: Whisk together oil, Worcestershire, soy sauce, lemon juice, mustard, garlic, brown sugar, and black pepper in a small bowl. Transfer beef and mushrooms to a large zip-top bag, add marinade, and seal, pressing out as much air as possible. Refrigerate 1 to 5 hours.

Thread onto skewers, alternating beef with mushrooms and onions.

Preheat grill to medium-high heat. If using charcoal, build a single-level fire. Allow to heat at least 5 minutes. Grill skewers until beef is seared, and center registers 125 to 130 degrees Fahrenheit on an instant-read thermometer, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a platter, and let rest 5 minutes. Serve.

3. Sambal Chicken Skewers

glazed chicken kebabs

Chicken skewers with a spicy glaze | iStock.com

Heat seekers will love Bon Appétit’s spicy chicken skewers. A glaze made with chile paste, Sriracha, brown sugar, and ginger deliver tons of flavor and also helps the meat pick up a delicious char over the flames. Don’t be tempted to try this recipe with breast meat, because it will dry out. Thighs are your best bet for juicy, flavorful chicken.

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • ½ cup unseasoned rice vinegar
  • ⅓ cup hot chile paste
  • ¼ cup fish sauce
  • ¼ cup Sriracha
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated ginger
  • 1½ pounds skinless, bonesless chicken thighs, cut into 1½- to 2-inch pieces

Directions: Soak eight wooden skewers in water for at least 1 hour.

Prepare grill for medium-high heat. Whisk brown sugar, vinegar, chile paste, fish sauce, Sriracha, and ginger in a large bowl to combine. Add chicken, and toss to coat. Thread four to five pieces of chicken onto each skewer.

Transfer marinade to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until reduced by half, 7 to 10 minutes.

Grill chicken skewers, turning and basting with reduced marinade, until cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Serve.

4. Grilled Pork Skewers with Peanut-Basil Sauce

Chicken kebabs with yogurt marinade

Thai-inspired pork skewers | iStock.com

A creamy sauce gives these pork skewers from The New York Times a huge flavor boost. The clever recipe uses a blend of coconut milk, basil, and peanut butter as a marinade and a sauce, which gets dinner on the table in record time. Just purée the marinade ingredients in a blender, set some aside, and toss the rest with the cubed pork. Thread the meat onto skewers, grill, and serve with the reserved sauce.

If you happen to have leftover sauce, you can use it in a ton of different ways. Drizzle it onto some simply cooked chicken or fish. You can also turn it into a salad dressing by thinning it out with a bit more lime juice and a splash of water.

Ingredients:

  • 20 to 30 basil leaves
  • ½ cup chunky peanut butter
  • ¾ cup coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce, plus more
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 1 inch-long piece of ginger, peeled
  • ½ teaspoon red chile flakes
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound boneless pork shoulder or loin

To serve

  • Lime wedges

Directions: In a blender, purée all skewer ingredients except pork until smooth. Taste, and adjust seasoning. Set aside ½ cup sauce for serving.

Slice pork into 1-inch cubes, and toss with remaining marinade to coat. Thread onto skewers, leaving some space between meat.

Heat a grill to high. Cook pork until brown on all over, turning once, 5 to 8 minutes total. Serve with reserved sauce and lime wedges.

5. Lamb Skewers with Salsa Verde

salsa verde

Salsa verde in a jar | iStock.com

If you’re sick of constantly pairing lamb with yogurt sauce, these flavorful skewers from chef Seamus Mullen, which he shared with Food & Wine, are a great way to change things up. If you can only find bone-in meat lamb, just ask your butcher to remove it for you. It’ll make the cutting process much easier.

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup packed mint leaves
  • ¼ cup packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • ¼ cup snipped chives
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flake
  • Salt
  • ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1½ teaspoons smoked sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1½ pounds leg of lamb, cut into 1-inch pieces

Directions: In a food processor, combine mint, parsley, chives, lemon juice, sherry vinegar, pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt. Process until finely chopped. Add olive oil, and process until smooth.

Transfer half of salsa verde to small bowl. Add remaining salsa verde to a large bowl, and add paprika and cumin. Add lamb, and turn to coat. Thread onto eight skewers, and refrigerate 2 to 24 hours.

Light a grill to high heat. Grill lamb skewers, turning occasionally, until charred in spots, about 6 minutes for medium doneness. Serve with reserved salsa verde.

6. Halloumi and Vegetable Skewers

halloumi and vegetable kebabs

Skewers with halloumi cheese and vegetables | iStock.com

Halloumi might be the perfect cheese for grill fanatics. It has a firm texture that gets a nice char over the grates without melting into a greasy mess. The Meatwave takes inspiration from the cheese’s Greek origins to combine it with some veggies and marinate everything with a zesty combination of lemon juice, red wine vinegar, oregano, and mint. Send the skewers to the grill until the veggies get tender, then dig in. This is one vegetarian dish you’ll happily work into your repertoire.

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh mint
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound halloumi cheese, cut into ¾-inch cubes
  • 2 medium zucchini, cut into ½-inch rounds
  • 2 medium red onions, peeled, and cut into ¾-inch cubes
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes

To serve

  • Tzatziki
  • Pita
  • Lemon wedges

Direction: Whisk oil, lemon juice, vinegar, garlic, oregano, and mint to combine. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add cheese and vegetables. Toss to combine.

Thread cheese, zucchini, onion, and tomatoes onto skewers, alternating.

Light one chimney full of charcoal. Once covered with ash, pour into an even layer. Set grate in place, cover, and let heat 5 minutes. Clean and oil grate. Grill skewers over direct heat until cheese browns and zucchini softens a bit, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Remove skewers from gill. Squeeze lemon wedges over skewers and serve with pita and tzatziki.

7. Grilled Fruit Skewers with Island Spices and Dark Rum

fruit skewers

Fruit skewers for dessert | iStock.com

Dessert can often be intimidating, particularly for an outdoor feast. It’s nice to have a little something sweet, but baking can be a complete nightmare. Fine Cooking’s rum-soaked fruit skewers are perfect for a cookout, because they’re easy and impressive. Simply cut the fruit, slide onto skewers, and dust with spices. Douse them with an easy rum glaze, then grill for a few minutes.

Feel free to substitute other fruits if you prefer. Watermelon and peach wedges work nicely with this same preparation. No matter what produce you decide to use, be sure to serve the skewers with a scoop of ice cream.

Ingredients:

  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground ginger
  • Pinch ground nutmeg
  • Pinch ground cloves
  • ½ cup dark rum
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • ½ tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons pineapple juice
  • Juice of ½ lime
  • 1 medium pineapple, peeled, and cored
  • 6 ounces ripe, but firm strawberries, hulled
  • 3 ripe, but firm mangoes, pitted, and peeled
  • 3 kiwis, peeled
  • ½ cup powdered sugar

Directions: Combine cinnamon, allspice, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves in a small bowl. In a separate small bowl, combine rum, brown sugar, honey, pineapple juice, and lime juice. Set aside.

Preheat grill to high. Cut pineapple, kiwi, and mango into 1- to 1½-inch cubes. Leave strawberries whole. Thread fruit onto skewers, alternating colors. Sprinkle spices over kebabs. Just before grilling, baste with half of rum marinade, and dust with powdered sugar. Grill until fruit begins to show marks. Turn, and grill until fruit softens, and second side browns. Drizzle with remaining marinade. Serve.

Follow Christine on Twitter @christineskopec

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