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Planning a barbecue party or any sort of summery, outdoor get-together is fun, but it can be time-consuming to perfectly execute everything on the menu.
Serving a variety of appetizers and other casual finger food options can be an easy and no-fuss strategy, if you make recipes that require minimal prep work with easygoing cooking responsibilities.
And if you’re planning to only prep this kind of food for a party, it’s extremely easy when you go the route of skewering everything!
Kebabs can serve as stand-alone meals, and they also make the perfect finger food for BBQ parties – they’re easy and fun to eat, and they create minimal mess for everyone involved.
And here’s a bright bonus: when skewered with lean meats and fresh veggies, they are a very healthy offering to serve that you can easily adapt to different diets!
Preparation is simple, since you either skewer something exactly the way it came prepped from the store, or the only slicing required would be to cube the meat or cut larger veggies in even portions.
Seasoning is also a no-brainer – dashes of freshly cracked salt and pepper will do the trick along with a perfectly charred kiss from your grill, but there are other flavor-packed options to apply like marinades, dry rubs, glazes, and sauces served on the side.
Ready to plan your next low-key, casual party? Read on for our favorite homemade kebabs and other skewered recipes, plus we’ll share a few pieces of advice you don’t want to miss!
Spice up Your Barbecues with 11 Kebab and Skewer Recipes
Chicken is always a relatively safe and mild choice of meat for an appetizer, and it stands up well to a variety of seasoning options.
This is a great option if you are trying to please a crowd! Plus, it’s usually an inexpensive choice if you are sticking to a strict budget.
1. Chicken Gyros
If you’re craving the fresh flavors of gyros this summer season, make our recipe for chicken gyros!
Chicken Gyros with Tomato Salad and Feta – Get the Recipe Now
Poultry thighs are marinated in a mixture of lemon juice, white wine, garlic, and fresh herbs, then skewered and charred to perfection on the grill.
A freshly made tzatziki is the ultimate sauce to serve here!
2. Chicken Yakitori
With chicken yakitori, you can transform simple tenderloins into something truly special, savory, and delicious.
Chicken Yakitori – Get the Recipe Now
We let the tenderloins soak in an easy marinade made by whisking together soy sauce, honey, ginger, garlic, and red pepper flakes.
But you can choose to leave out the red pepper flakes if you don’t want dinner to be too spicy.
After grilling the tenderloins until it’s cooked through – but still juicy and succulent – you can enjoy them plain and simple, or serve them with steamed white or brown rice and a beautiful pile of your favorite stir-fried vegetables.
3. Sambal Chicken
Hot and sticky, sweet and salty, spicy and charred, our sambal chicken recipe will be a favorite among your guests who have no fear of big and bold punches of flavor.
Sambal Chicken Skewers – Get the Recipe Now
By basting the threaded chicken thighs in a sauce made of coconut sugar, apple cider vinegar, red curry paste, soy sauce, sriracha, and ginger, you can create a perfectly browned crust on the outside.
Serve with a big salad of fresh greens for the ultimate healthy base.
This recipe can be adapted from grill to stove – a welcome idea when you need to bring the heat during the cold and dreary winter months.
4. Spicy Peanut Chicken Satay
If you love handheld food, you must try our recipe for chicken satay with cucumber salad and peanut dipping sauce!
Spicy Peanut Chicken Satay – Get the Recipe Now
The meat is marinated in a creamy and dreamy coconut curry marinade. We serve ours alongside a sweet and salty peanut dipping sauce and cool, refreshing cucumber salad.
5. Sweet and Tangy Honey Lime Chicken
Our sweet and tangy honey lime chicken skewers belong on your grill ASAP!
Sweet and Tangy Honey Lime Chicken Skewers – Get the Recipe Now
This is a perfect recipe when you need an easy idea for the grill with a short and uncomplicated ingredient list – this one only has 9 ingredients!
Marinate cubes of boneless, skinless chicken breast for at least four hours in a simple marinade made by whisking together minced garlic, honey, lime juice and zest, cilantro, oil, and red pepper flakes.
Throw the sticks on a hot grill, and enjoy as soon as the chicken is lightly charred on the outside and cooked through on the inside.
There are no burgers here!
We craft cool kebabs by using meaty chunks of flavorful beef cuts like flank and sirloin.
Grilled until perfectly they’re charred on the outside and juicy and tender on the inside, you’ll convince every BBQ burger traditionalist to drop the sesame buns and grab a skewer.
6. Citrus Marinated Beef
Keep the flavors simple, fresh, and bold with this recipe for beef and vegetable kebabs.
Citrus Marinated Beef Kebabs – Get the Recipe Now
We marinate flank or sirloin in a zesty combo of orange, lime, soy sauce, and cumin.
7. Steak and Potatoes
When you’re in the mood for classic comfort food, but want to update it to light and sunny summer standards, we have the best idea for you:
Our grilled steak and potato kebabs!
Steak and Potato Kebabs – Get the Recipe Now
We alternate marinated sirloin cubes with small new potatoes for a fun take on a meat-and-potatoes meal.
Par-cooking the potatoes on the stovetop or in the microwave will help you cut your grill time to yield perfectly melt-in-your-mouth spuds alongside the meat.
Fish and other types of seafood can be featured on the menu for both casual parties and more formal occasions, depending on how you choose to dress up and present the skewers to guests.
You’ll want to pay close attention to cooking this type of protein – the delicate flesh cooks very quickly, taking your skewers from succulent and juicy to tough and dry if you’re not alert!
8. Brazilian Espetinho de Peixe
Espetinhos are simple skewers made by Brazilian street vendors that are usually made up mostly of one type of protein.
Brazilian Espetinho de Peixe (Fish Kebabs) – Get the Recipe Now
In this version, instead of using meat, we create a more gourmet version by piercing halibut pieces marinated in a citrus and herb mixture with crunchy red bell peppers and earthy button mushrooms.
No halibut? You could use other varieties of fish like sea bass, dogfish, hake, or tilapia.
Lamb, although pricier than other options, makes for a very tasty – and supremely unforgettable – skewer that no one will be able to stop talking about, well after the final bite.
If you know your guests love the subtly gamey taste and tender texture of lamb, you’ll be confident serving the following recipes.
9. Grilled Balsamic Lamb
Our tasty balsamic marinade really brings the lamb to another level of flavor paradise in this tasty recipe.
Grilled Balsamic Lamb Kebabs – Get the Recipe Now
We make it nearly a complete meal by alternating the pieces of lamb with some fresh veggies such as red bell pepper, zucchini, plum tomatoes, onion wedges, and whole mushrooms. Add some warm flatbread, and dinner’s served.
10. Moroccan Lamb
These Moroccan lamb kebabs rely on a flavorful marinade to impart so much flavor into the meat.
Moroccan Lamb Kebabs – Get the Recipe Now
And you’ll only need to marinate the lamb for 2 to 4 hours – far quicker than an overnight process!
We serve the tender meat with a yogurt sauce made with garlic, lemon, mint, and spices that will have you licking your fingers, down to the last little morsel.
Mixed Meat Recipes
Can’t decide between chicken, beef, or seafood? Wish you could have it all?
You can – just serve up a finger food feast with multiple meat options!
The main rule to follow is that you keep all the proteins of the same type together, to encourage even cooking and practice safe standards to meet the minimum internal temperature for different proteins.
You can review the minimum internal temperatures for various meat products on the USDA website. And be sure to use a meat thermometer for the most accurate reading – there should be no guesswork here!
You’ll then be able to pull delicate seafood or beef off first if you need to, since these will generally cook faster than chicken.
11. Grilled Steak, Chicken, and Shrimp Fajitas
There’s no need for a sizzling cast iron pan this time around – we’re grilling our fajitas on a stick!
Grilled Steak, Chicken, and Shrimp Fajitas – Get the Recipe Now
And we’re serving them up in a fun new way this summer with grilled steak, shrimp, and chicken.
We divide the same flavor-packed marinade to flavor each protein before threading on skewers and cooking them on the grill with bell peppers and onions.
A Quick Word on Skewers
To start, you will need to buy a pack of long skewers designed for high-heat applications. These can be found at most grocery stores in a range of materials.
If you are concerned by the price, and wish to be able to immediately dispose of them for easy cleanup, wood or bamboo skewers are the best options.
Weber Disposable Bamboo Skewers, 25 Pieces, available from BBQ Guys
You’ll like the sturdiness of this 25-piece set of disposable bamboo skewers from Weber, available now from BBQ Guys.
Before putting any food on wood or bamboo sticks, make sure to soak the sticks in water by completely immersing them for one to two hours. This helps you avoid burning them later on during the cooking process.
Would you rather invest in a high-quality set so you’ll be able to reuse your skewers for multiple barbecues, you summer party animal? Consider purchasing metal skewers.
Sur La Table Stainless Steel Flat Skewers, 4 Pieces, available from Sur La Table
Stainless steel will be the easiest to use, clean, and maintain. Buy this set of 4 stainless steel flat skewers from Sur La Table to cook with season after season. Or better yet, pick up a few sets!
Before you choose any set to purchase, you should also take a quick look at the tips.
If they’re too pointed and sharp, pass on them in favor of some that are a little blunter – this is particularly important if you know you’ll have a lot of energetic kids attending the party and running around everywhere!
Skewer All Summer Long
With these 11 fun ideas for grilled kebabs and skewers, you can enjoy fresh and vibrant grilled delights throughout the entire summer.
Whether you’re pleasing a big crowd of kids and adults, or hosting a more intimate outdoor affair, all of these recipes are easy to prep, cook, and customize.
Do you have a favorite skewered recipe you like to cook on the grill? We’d love to add on to our list! Leave a comment below with your best and tastiest suggestions. Our mouths are already watering!
Keep the grill hot, please – we have so much more to cook! Since we already have the main course figured out with these kebabs, review our entire collection of barbecue recipes to find some unique and tasty sides. Let’s start with these light and fresh offerings:
- Balsamic Grilled Baby Artichokes
- Cilantro Lime Grilled Corn
- Grilled Veggie Salad with Tahini Dressing
Photos by Fanny Slater, Meghan Yager, Shanna Mallon, Felicia Lim, and Mike Quinn, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Product photos via BBQ Guys and Sur La Table. Originally published on August 11, 2014. Last updated on May 20, 2023.
About Nikki Cervone
Nikki Cervone is an ACS Certified Cheese Professional and cheesemonger living in Pittsburgh. Nikki holds an AAS in baking/pastry from Westmoreland County Community College, a BA in Communications from Duquesne University, and an MLA in Gastronomy from Boston University. When she's not nibbling on her favorite cheeses or testing a batch of cupcakes, Nikki enjoys a healthy dose of yoga, wine, hiking, singing in the shower, and chocolate. Lots of chocolate.