10 Kebab Recipes For Summer BBQs
Ah, summer. The days are longer, the sun is shining, and fresh, Skagit Valley grown fruits and veggies are finally in season. If you feel like you’ve been cooped up inside all winter and spring, doing some outdoor cooking on the grill might be the perfect solution to get you in a sunnier state of mind.
While burgers and brats are always a good BBQ idea, kebabs, when they’re done correctly, are a fun and delicious alternative for a weeknight meal. Kebabs are something that can be easily customized with a variety of different meats and veggies and are easy to prep to feed a crowd.
And if you don’t have a great experience with cooking kebabs, don’t give up! You probably just haven’t found the right technique or tricks yet. But if you want to give it another shot, or try it for the first time, we’ve rounded up some helpful tips along with some kebab recipes to try out next time you get the grill fired up.
Tips for Grilling Kebabs
We’ve gathered this list of kebab-grilling tips that will give you the confidence you need to make some really good kebabs that are moist and flavorful, rather than dry and soggy.
- How to Grill the Perfect Kebab from Food and Wine
- DIY Kebab Party from Food and Wine
- Beginner’s Guide to Kebabs from Bon Appetit
- How to Grill Better Kebabs from Fine Cooking
Soy-Basted Chicken Kebabs with Sesame-Citrus Sprinkle
Sweet, spicy, with a touch of sesame and citrus, these kebabs are crispy and saucy without getting soggy. The chicken thighs are added to the skewers in a threaded fashion, allowing for the meat to retain it’s moisture.
The addition of sesame seeds on top adds a subtle crunch to round out the recipe.
For the Sesame-Citrus Sprinkle
- 2 tablespoons toasted white and/or black sesame seeds
- 1 tablespoon thinly sliced chives
- 1 teaspoon Aleppo-style pepper or other mild red pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- Kosher salt
For the Chicken
- 1/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
- 1/3 cup mirin (sweet Japanese rice wine)
- 1/3 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
- 1 1/4 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs
- Vegetable oil (for grill)
- Kosher salt
- Mix sesame seeds, chives, Aleppo-style pepper, and lemon zest in a small bowl to combine; season with salt.
- Combine brown sugar, mirin, soy sauce, and vinegar in a small saucepan. Transfer ¼ cup mixture to a large resealable plastic bag. Working one at a time, slice chicken thighs in half lengthwise. Add to a bag with marinade and massage marinade into the chicken. Chill at least 2 hours or up to 12 hours.
- Meanwhile, bring remaining marinade to a simmer over medium-high heat and cook until reduced by half and slightly thickened (just shy of syrupy), 8–10 minutes. Remove glaze from heat.
- Prepare a grill for medium-high, indirect heat (for a charcoal grill, bank coals on one side of grill; for a gas grill, leave one or two burners off). Oil grates. Thread chicken onto 6–8 skewers, folding and piling onto itself to form a compact shape. Season lightly with salt and grill over direct heat, turning every minute or so until browned and beginning to char in spots, about 4 minutes.
- Move to the cooler side of the grill and continue to grill, basting lightly with glaze and turning every 30 seconds or so, until cooked through and coated with a glaze, about 5 minutes longer.
- Serve chicken topped with the sesame-citrus sprinkle.
West African Chicken Kebabs
These West African-inspired chicken kebabs are a flavorful, crispy take on grilled kebabs.
The chicken is crusted in peanuts, ginger, garlic, paprika, and a bouillon cube, resulting in a crunchy bite that’s rich and flavorful.
- 1 cup roasted peanuts
- 1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 chicken bouillon cube
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
- 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast, sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- Kosher salt Pepper
- 16 wooden skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes
- In a food processor, pulse the peanuts until finely chopped. Add the ginger, garlic, bouillon cube, paprika, onion powder and cayenne and pulse until a coarse and crumbly mixture forms. Spread the peanut mixture on a large plate.
- Rub the chicken all over with 2 tablespoons of the oil and season with salt and pepper. Thread the chicken onto the skewers and press into the peanut mixture to coat both sides. Arrange the skewers on a plate. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- In a grill pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. Cook half of the chicken over moderate heat, turning carefully, until deep golden and the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Repeat with the remaining oil and chicken. Serve hot.
Grilled Steak Kebab Pitas with Ginger & Garlic Dressing
With a simple marinade of ginger, jalapeño hot sauce, vinegar, garlic, and salt and pepper, these kebabs are super simple with a Mediterranean flair.
Serve them alongside shredded lettuce and pita bread and you have yourself a grilled gyro of sorts!
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil; more for brushing
- 1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
- 1 tablespoon green Tabasco or another jalapeño hot sauce
- 2 teaspoon cider vinegar
- 1 small to medium clove garlic, finely grated or minced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1-1/2 to 1-3/4 lb. 1-inch-thick boneless beef strip steaks (2 to 3 steaks), trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 6 to 8 bamboo skewers (at least 8 inches long), soaked in water for at least 20 minutes
- 1 large red bell pepper, cored and cut into 1-1/4- to 1-1/2- inch squares
- 6 to 8 pieces of pita bread, preferably pocketless
- 2 cups shredded lettuce, preferably a crisp variety like iceberg or romaine
- In a 1-cup liquid measuring cup, whisk the 1/2 cup oil with the ginger, Tabasco, vinegar, garlic, 1/4 tsp. kosher salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper.
- Thread four cubes of meat onto each skewer, inserting a red pepper square between the cubes. (You may not need all the skewers.) Brush the kebabs with oil and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.
- Just before grilling, lightly oil the grill grates. Set the kebabs on the grill and cook, with the lid closed, turning every 2 min., 4 to 6 min. total for medium rare. Warm the pitas on the grill.
- To serve, slide each kebab off its skewer into a pita. Top each with some of the lettuce. Whisk the dressing to recombine and drizzle over the meat and vegetables.
Lemon and Dill Salmon Kebabs
Lemon, dill, and salmon pair so well together that they’re almost on the same level as PB&J. This is the perfect PNW-style dinner that comes together in only a half-hour.
Serve it with some herby potato salad and a bunch of leafy greens.
- 16 ounces thick (center cut) wild salmon fillet, skinned and cut into 2-inch pieces
- 1/2 large green bell pepper, cut into 1- to 1 1/2-inch chunks
- 1/2 large red or yellow bell pepper, cut into 1- to 1 1/2-inch chunks
For the Marinade
- 2 lemons, juiced
- 4 tablespoons white wine
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon (about 2 cloves) garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon dried dill
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika or smoked paprika
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 8-10 bamboo skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes
- Fresh dill and lemon wedges, for garnish
- In a small bowl, whisk together all marinade ingredients. Toss with salmon pieces and let sit for 15-30 minutes.
- Preheat the grill to medium-high. Toss bell pepper chunks with a little olive oil, and assemble the kebabs on the soaked skewers, alternating between salmon and bell pepper pieces.
- Gently place the kebabs on the hot grill and grill for about 4 minutes on each side.
- Garnish with fresh dill and lemon wedges.
Japanese Chicken Kebabs (Yakitori)
How drool-worthy are these perfectly tender chicken kebabs?!
A simple marinade of tamari, sake, sugar, honey, and ginger, results in moist, saucy chicken bites that are delicious served alone or on top of a bed of rice of cabbage salad.
- 1/3 cup tamari
- 1/4 cup sake
- 3 tablespoons mirin
- 2 tablespoons coconut or dark brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
- 1-1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-1/2-inch pieces (about 36)
- 12 medium scallions, white and light green parts cut crosswise into 1-1/2-inch pieces (36 pieces) and dark green parts thinly sliced
- 36 small shiitake mushrooms, stemmed
- Vegetable oil, as needed
- 12 12-inch skewers (soaked in water for 30 minutes if wooden)
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
- Combine the tamari, sake, mirin, sugar, honey, and ginger in a 1-quart saucepan; bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and cool completely.
- In a medium bowl, toss the chicken with the marinade. Cover and let sit for 30 minutes.
- Prepare a medium (350°F to 375°F) gas or charcoal grill fire for direct grilling.
- Remove the chicken from the marinade. Return the marinade to the saucepan, bring to a boil, and then turn the heat down to low and simmer until slightly thickened, 5 to 7 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and set aside.
- Alternately thread 3 pieces of chicken, 3 shiitake, and 3 pieces of scallion onto each skewer, leaving a little space between pieces. Oil the grill grate. Grill the skewers until grill marks form, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Turn, baste the cooked side with the sauce, and continue to grill, turning and basting, until the chicken is cooked through and the mushrooms are tender, 5 to 6 minutes more. Serve drizzled with the remaining sauce and sprinkled with the sesame seeds and sliced scallions.
Scallop Skewers with Herb Oil
Here’s a simple, but fancy, skewer recipe that results in perfectly broiled scallops.
You won’t need a grill for this recipe, and they’re ready when the center of the scallops turn opaque and the bell peppers will begin to slightly char.
- 1 tablespoon minced flat-leaf parsley
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh chervil (French parsley)
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh chives
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
- 20 large sea scallops, side muscles removed
- 1 large red bell pepper, seeded, cut into 1-inch squares
- Combine first 5 ingredients in a small bowl. Whisk in oil; season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Preheat broiler. Finely grind fennel seeds in spice mill, or place in a small resealable plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin or the bottom of a heavy skillet. Place scallops in a medium bowl. Drizzle 2 Tbsp. herb oil over; toss to coat.
- Alternating scallops and bell pepper squares, thread 5 of each onto each skewer. Place skewers on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle both sides of kebabs with ground fennel and season with salt and pepper.
- Broil skewers until scallops are just opaque in the center and bell peppers begin to char, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer skewers to a platter. Drizzle with remaining herb oil.
Tofu Ratatouille Kebabs
Just because you aren’t a meat-eater doesn’t mean you can enjoy fresh-grilled kebabs.
This ratatouille-inspired kebab recipe utilizes a variety of veggies and tofu, but feel free to replace anything with your favorite plant-based meat of choice.
- 1 14- to 16- ounce package extra-firm water-packed tofu, drained
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper, divided
- 16 cherry or grape tomatoes
- 1 small eggplant (about 6 ounces), cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 medium zucchini, cut into 16 slices
- 1 medium yellow bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 small red onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- Pat tofu dry; cut into 1-inch cubes. Mix 1 tablespoon oil, lemon zest and juice, oregano and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Stir in the tofu; marinate, stirring occasionally, for at least 10 minutes and up to 1 day.
- Preheat grill to medium.
- Meanwhile, toss tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, bell pepper and onion with the remaining 3 tablespoons oil and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper in a large bowl. Thread the vegetables and the tofu alternately onto eight 10- to 12-inch skewers. Add tomato paste to the marinade in the bowl and whisk to combine. Brush the tops of the skewers with about half of the marinade mixture.
- Oil the grill rack. Grill the skewers, marinade-side up, until the vegetables and tofu are starting to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Turn them over, brush with the remaining marinade and continue grilling until the vegetables are lightly charred, 3 to 5 minutes more.
Dijon Dill Kebabs
Though these are chicken kebabs, the flavors and spices used would also pair well with salmon, if you prefer fish.
- 4 chicken breasts, cut into 1″ cubes (you could substitute 2 1/2 pounds salmon, halibut, or shrimp)
- 3 small zucchini, cut into 1″ rounds
- 6 small Roma tomatoes, halved
- 1 bell pepper (any color), seeded and cut into strips
- 1/2 red onion, cut into 1″ chunks
- 1/3 cup Dijon mustard
- 1/3 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 teaspoon pepper
- Preheat grill to medium heat. Thread the chicken, zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, and onions onto separate skewers, place on a baking sheet, and set aside.
- Puree the mustard, lemon juice, olive oil, dill, salt and pepper in a blender or food processor until smooth, and brush the chicken and vegetables on both sides with the sauce.
- Grill the kebabs over medium heat until nicely browned and cooked through – the onions will probably take the longest, about 8 minutes per side, followed by the chicken at 5 to 6 minutes per side, then the peppers, then the zucchini, then the tomatoes.
- Brush the kebabs with additional sauce during cooking, taking care to give each side of each skewer a final hit on the heat before serving, so the sauce has a chance to cook onto the food. Serve hot.
Grilled Fruit Kebabs
And if you want to skip meat kebabs all together, grilled fruit is a delicious, healthy dessert to enjoy after your outdoor dinner.
Or, pair it with spicy chicken and a flavorful slaw.
- 1 pound fresh ripe peaches and/or plums, pitted and cut into quarters
- 1 small pineapple (2-3 lbs.), peeled, cored, and cut into 2-inch cubes
- 1/2 cup ginger ale
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons orange juice
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme, stems removed
- Pinch of salt
- Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
- 6 metal or bamboo skewers (soak bamboo skewers in water before using)
- Prepare and preheat the grill.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the ginger ale, honey, orange juice, oil, brown sugar, allspice, thyme leaves, salt, and cayenne pepper, if using.
- Thread the fruit onto the skewers and place them on a rimmed sheet pan. Brush the fruit with some of the marinade.
- When the grill is hot, put the skewers on and grill on each side for 3-4 minutes, glazing the fruit with more marinade every couple of minutes.
Spicy Pineapple Chicken Kebabs
Sweet pineapple juice and spicy chicken complement each other well in these kebabs from Welcome to the Table.
The marinade itself not only makes the chicken more flavorful but the combination of pineapple and coconut milk tenderizes the chicken too.
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1/2 cup pineapple juice
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons Sriracha sauce
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 large red bell peppers
- 1 small pineapple, peeled and cored
- 4 medium boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- In a medium bowl, mix the coconut milk, pineapple juice, lime juice, honey, Sriracha sauce, and soy sauce. Reserve.
- Cut the pepper and pineapple into 1 1/2-inch chunks and add to the marinade. Slice each chicken breast into thirds lengthwise and widthwise into 9 similar-sized pieces. Place in the marinade and toss to coat, then refrigerate, covered, for at least 3 hours and up to 24 hours.
- Heat the grill and thread the chicken, peppers and pineapple onto 6 skewers, alternating the ingredients. Put the leftover marinade in a small pot and bring it to a vigorous boil, and cook until a meat or kitchen thermometer reads 165°F and sauce has reduced and thickened. Keep warm until ready to serve.
- When the grill is hot, use tongs to dip a wad of paper towel into a tablespoon of vegetable oil and swab the hot grill with it. Place the skewers on the grill and cook for about 5 minutes per side, moving the skewers to a cooler part of the grill if the pineapple and chicken show signs of burning. Serve the skewers drizzled with the sauce.