Grilling Shish Kabobs: Recipes and Cooking Tips

Perfect for Cookouts

Grilled kabobs with vegetables

Kabobs are a fun way to combine different foods for healthy, delicious and colorful grilled meals full of variety. Having all ingredients prepped and ready is the key. 

Follow these tips to learn how to grill kabobs:

  • If using wooden skewers, soak in water for thirty minutes before threading the food on. Wooden skewers are best if you are cooking for a big crowd as they can just be tossed. Metal ones should be clean and lightly oiled or sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Make sure all items are cut into pieces about the same size. Cherry tomatoes are great for grilled kabobs and make a good size guide for other foods as well.
  • One of the best grilling tips is to be sure to leave some space between food pieces, especially meats. Nothing is worse than pulling chicken off a skewer to see that the middle isn't cooked! It's a health risk too!
  • All foods on a skewer should require approximately the same cooking time. Don't put raw meat and veggies on the same skewer as kabobs on the grillthere is no way to time them well unless you are cooking the highest quality steak to only medium or medium rare. Shrimp and vegetables are good partners.
  • If you put chicken or pork tenderloin and veggies on skewers together, have the chicken or pork cooked so that it just finishes and gets flavor on the grill. Chicken kabob on the grill will be dry if overcooked. 
  • Vegetables should be somewhat soft and cook quickly. Zucchini, summer squash, red onion wedges, cherry tomatoes, eggplant (salt 30 minutes and rinse to remove bitterness), small to medium sized mushrooms, and bell peppers are great choices!
  • Some recipes actually involve grilling cheese, so don't be afraid to try some cheese on your kabobs! Halloumi, a Greek cheese that has a styrofoam-like squeak to it when eaten raw, stands up great to being grilled for a few minutes over medium to low heat. Add it to skewers with soft veggies only; meat takes too long to cook.

  • While grilling, brush shish kabobs with seasoned oils or marinades for flavor. The following are cooking tips to get the best flavor in a shish kabob or to help you create your own recipes:
    • McCormick GrillMates marinades, mixed up according to package directions, are great brushed on kabobs. Try Greek, Caribbean, Zest Herb, and Garlic-Wine for chicken, shrimp and vegetables; Montreal Steak, Chipotle and Southwestern are good with beef.
    • For a Sicilian flavor note, combine 1 teaspoon each sea salt, freshly ground pepper and oregano leaves with 1/2 cup lemon juice, 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, and 3 cloves finely minced garlic. Brush on kabobs while cooking or use as a marinade for chicken, pork and seafood.
    • If you are watching salt, combine 1 Tablespoon Mrs. Dash or other salt-free flavor mix with 1/3 cup vegetable or olive oil and let sit for 30 minutes for oil to absorb flavors and then brush over grilling kabobs. 
    • Combine 1 tablespoon dried rosemary leaves, 2 cloves minced garlic, 1/2 cup olive oil, and sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste; let sit overnight in the fridge and then use to baste chicken, vegetables, lamb or pork on skewers.
    • Try combinations of your favorite seasonings and create your own grilled recipes.
    • Cook over no more than medium heat. 
    • Let kabobs, especially metal skewered ones, cool at least five minutes before serving.

Now that you know how to grill kabobs, you can have a fabulous backyard cookout with your family and friends.


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