Shish Kabob Recipes

These shish kabob recipes are an easy, interactive and highly customizable fun finger food favorite. Rustic or elegant, spicy, sweet or savory, make these little bobbies however you shish... er, wish! :D

Shish Kabob Recipes

To get started, there are a few very simple rules that need to be considered, but before I do so, let me tell you a little more about the origins of the name, historical migration, cultural variations and overtones that this lovely skewered meat dish has carried along through centuries of grillin' goodness.

Actually, let's just go over how to create and cook your very own shish kabob recipe!

However, if you are a true student of the art, diverse culture and history of food, like myself, here is an excellent cache of information on Shish Kabobs from Wikipedia.

OK, back to those few simple 'rules' on creating those perfectly custom shish kabob recipes for you, successfully. We'll start with the hardware:

The Skewer: Wood + Fire = Burning! Who knew?

Simply put, you can use any type of bbq skewer you like, whether it be bamboo skewers ranging from 4" to 12" skewers or the steel bbq skewers that usually have the ring at one end. If you do choose to use the disposable and inexpensive bamboo bbq skewers, be sure to soak them in water for an hour or so before assembling each kabob. This helps them to not burn when on the grill.

Tip: Add aromatics like lemon juice/zest, chopped garlic, herbs and spices to your soaking liquid to help infuse flavor into the center of the meat and veggies!


If you're feelin' really fancy and have permitted access to a large rosemary bush, the stronger, and slightly thicker limbs of rosemary make fantastic skewers. Cut a dozen 12" sections, strip off their green foliage up to about 2 inches from one end. With a knife, carefully sharpen the bare end into a point. By now the rosemary skewer should look like an arrow, pointy at one end and with rosemary "feathers" at the other.

Then just thread on your favorite meats and veggies, and voila! Functional, decorative and flavorful!!

The Ingredients: Shape, Size, Style and . . . Relative Densities.

To illustrate, here are a few example of what not to do:
  • Pair up large slices of zucchini with small white prawns and whole asparagus spears.

    Their difference in size with cause uneven cooking on the grill. You want all pieces to be close to the same shape and size (see pic above), so they each get contact with the grill and cook evenly. Also, non uniform shapes can make the kabob awkward to handle while cooking and eating.

  • Mix teriyaki steak chunks, marinated artichoke hearts and cubes of d'anjou pear!

    Ok, I've worked in a few fine dining restaurants that could feasibly pull that ensemble off, but unless you're a practiced gourmand (in which case you probably wouldn't be here anyways!), just stick to the basics for starters, and then branch out to more creative shish kabob recipes. Also, for extra tips on style and flavor variations, see my page on cultural food flavor profiles.

  • Have raw red new potatoes, chicken breast pieces, red onion and cherry tomatoes on the same skewer.

    Yes, all these things would taste very good together, but their relative densities would cause problems when cooking. Ideally, you want all your ingredients to have the same approximate cooking time. So, if I threw the aforementioned kabob on the grill, by the time the potato was cooked (if ever!), the chicken would be quite dark and dry as a bone, the onion burnt and the tomato would have long fallen off in desperation!

    What you could have done is parboiled the potatoes till almost completely cooked, cooled them, and then added them to the same stick. Get the idea?

  • Using any cut of beef at a lower grade than, say, choice top sirloin.

    Remember as we plan out your shish kabob recipe, we're going for relative short cooking times and ease of eating. Well, if you throw (and don't think I don't understand the inherent temptation in this) a chunk of that pre-cubed stew beef you find in the butcher's counter onto your skewer, your guests, unless avid Goodyear fans, won't appreciate the perfectly seasoned and prepared road rubber. Just Don't Do It! Choice top sirlon too expensive? Consider your options then...

    In the world of other meats, as far as chicken, fish, seafood and pork goes, use whatever cut you like as long as they are cut uniformly and marinated for optimal deliciousness.

  • Oh, but a caveat on fish.

    Stick to firm fleshed fish that won't breakdown on the grill and just fall off the skewer. Examples of these dense fleshed fishes are swordfish, sturgeon, mahi mahi, Tombo or Ahi tuna, shark, marlin. You can also get away with using halibut, striped bass, red snapper and grouper. Sail clear of everything else, even the golden pink delicacy that is wild Pacific salmon.

The Grill: Whether coal or gas, keep it hot and fast!

Now the fun part, the best of shish kabob recipes aren't complete without fire! I'll keep this part short and sweet. All you have to do is have a hot, clean grill, lightly oiled for nonstick action. Grill them on all four sides (they have four sides, right? ;)) quickly and evenly, and get them off the grill. If you used the right ingredients, cut properly, the skewers shouldn't take more than a couple minutes per side.

Tip: If you're using a sweet marinade or bbq sauce, save it little for the end of the cook time when you can brush it on the shish kabob without it burning.

Also, I like to align my kabobs parallel with the grill grates so they are cradled in and rotate easily, but if you like cross hatch marks on your grilled foods, by all means do it however you're comfortable.

Okay, I think that about covers it! Now that you've been trained in the masterful art of creating shish kabob recipes, get out there, invite the friends over, and skewer up a tasty good time!

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