Spice up Your Barbecues with 11 Kebab and Skewer Recipes

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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.

Vertical image of a collection of meats on sticks images, with a label in the center.

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!

Chicken 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!

Horizontal image of a garnished chicken gyro and a tomato cucumber salad in a white bowl on a wooden cutting board with fresh herbs.
Photo credit: Fanny Slater

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.

You can serve them as they are, but we love going the extra mile by tucking the tender pieces of meat into pitas with feta, pickled beets and turnips, and a homemade crunchy cucumber tomato salad.

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.

Vertical image of a square black and gold plate of grilled marinated Japanese-style chicken on bamboo skewers, on a red cloth with a glass of beer and bowls of snack foods in the background, on a wooden table.
Photo credit: Meghan Yager

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.

Vertical image of sambal chicken sticks over a bed of salad greens on a white plate.
Photo credit: Shanna Mallon

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!

Vertical image of chicken satay on a white plate next to a bowl of cucumber salad and a bowl of peanut butter dipping sauce.
Photo credit: Felicia Lim

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!

Two honey and lime marinated chicken skewers on a bed of white rice, beside a small pile of salad greens on a white plate.
Photo credit: Meghan Yager

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.

Beef Recipes

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.

Or two.

6. Citrus Marinated Beef

Keep the flavors simple, fresh, and bold with this recipe for beef and vegetable kebabs.

Vertical top-down image of cubes grilled meat and slices of vegetables on sticks over a bed of brown rice on a black plate.
Photo credit: Meghan Yager

Citrus Marinated Beef Kebabs – Get the Recipe Now

We marinate flank or sirloin in a zesty combo of orange, lime, soy sauce, and cumin.

Skewered with a medley of colorful vegetables – zucchini, bell peppers, onions, and tomatoes bring vibrancy – each serving is packed to the max!

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!

Vertical image of four skewers of meat and potato pieces on a rectangular black plate.
Photo credit: Meghan Yager

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/Seafood Recipes

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.

Vertical image of two halibut kebabs over a plate of cooked grains, with a black platter and lime wedges in the background.
Photo Credit: Meghan Yager

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 Recipes

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.

Horizontal image of grilled balsamic lamb and vegetable sticks on the grill.
Photo credit: Mike Quinn

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.

Vertical top-down image of a platter of grilled meat skewers drizzled with a yogurt sauce on top of parchment paper next to a white dish with more yogurt sauce.
Photo credit: Meghan Yager

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!

Vertical oblique overhead closely cropped image of a cream-colored ceramic serving platter with a brown rim piled with grilled steak, chicken, shrimp, green and red bell peppers, and onions, sprinkled with green chopped herbs, on a gray surface with small white dishes of cilantro, shredded lettuce, and shredded yellow cheese, on a folded and gathered white cloth on top of a gray surface.
Photo credit: Meghan Yager

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.

You pick the garnishes! If you need a few suggestions, we like to go for all the crowd-pleasing favorites like grated cheddar cheese, salsa, sour cream, and shredded lettuce.

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.

Image of Weber's bamboo disposable grill sticks.

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.

Image of Sur La Table's metal grill sticks.

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.

Horizontal image of a collection of meats on sticks images, with a label in the center.

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:

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.

29 thoughts on “Spice up Your Barbecues with 11 Kebab and Skewer Recipes”

  1. I never thought to use meatballs or even sausage on a skewer, that’s creative and I think those skewers would be excellent for appetizers. I usually make skewers as the main course for a bbq, shrimp are my favorite. Next time I am going to try your tip to marinate them, it’s something I never thought to do but always wanted them to have a bit more flavor–especially because I think grilling does a great job sealing in spices. One thing I usually do with my shrimp beforehand is cook them for about a minute or two before putting them on the grill, no real reason why I just like the way they turn out. One other suggestion is to add zucchini to a vegetable skewer, the zucchini really picks up the grilled flavor and if you don’t eat them all is surprisingly good as a lettuce replacement on a sandwich or cut up in a salad the next day.

  2. I remember my uncle using this method but with toothpicks and no barbecue, on each toothpick was cheese chiclet slices and pieces of sausages, i might say it was one of the creative ideas i ever saw. The veggie kabobs look tantalizing and easy to make, a definite must try.

  3. Kabobs are a weakness of mine, I can not eat only two. I would like to try the Kabobs with the just the peanut sauce. This definitely a yummy appetizer.

  4. I love kabobs, and you gave me some new ideas to try. I haven’t typically done all vegetable kabobs, but as an alternative to a veggie plate they sound good. I also love shrimp, so combining it with the Ginger and Soy dressing sounds delicious. We’ve had a rainy weekend where I’m at, but hopefully there will still be some opportunities to grill before the season is completely over.

    • I tried the ginger and soy combination tonight and it was fantastic. Everyone in the house loved it! I will definitely make it again. I loved the short marinade time. I can come home, whip it up, and get it on the grill in no time. I highly suggest it!

  5. These are very simple yet delicious kabob recipes. What I love in kabob after you have dressed them up, is the smell of it when grilled – which makes everyone thrill. It is best prepared during friends outing or family swimming. Then I would want to try the shrimp and tofu next time with more spices!

  6. I was interested in doing a bit of cooking today and I saw this article and decided to give it a shot. It was great! Really easy to do and totally worth the time it took to make. And forextraspecialstuff is totally right about the zucchini. I added a little bit of some extra zucchini that I had lying around and it was great.

  7. I absolutely love kabobs! This post has given me a lot of good ideas. I rarely use shrimp or tofu with mine. I think kabobs are a great way to save on money and add a lot of variety into meals. You use less meat but get the same flavors by marinating. You can add so many different types of veggies onto the skewer. I’m going to be making some this weekend for a birthday party 🙂

  8. The Hawaiian themed meatball kebabs sounds good. I don’t have a grill and have never made kebabs before. Can they be made in the oven?

  9. Fruit kabobs are also something new to try, for someone who might appreciate the zest and zing of fresh fruits with a twist on it. Makes for an interesting appetizer at outdoor BBQ’s and such, and not many people have tried them, so it does bring with it its own uniqueness.

  10. I wish we were currently in the summer season now. Kabobs are undoubtedly delicious to eat and having different takes on making them can have it tasting even more interesting. The ideas in this article are all fantastic. I want to fast forward the next 7-8 months now and kick off a kabob BBQ craze.

  11. What I love about skewers is that they can be prepared so many different ways. There are practically endless options between meat choices, vegetable, and sauces or marinades. Not to mention any combination of all of those options. I love to keep a pack of wooden skewers around so that I have the option anytime to whip up a delicious grilled dinner.

  12. In my opinion, sausages are better on kabobs than beef steak because they release more flavor into the surrounding veggies, and they tend to cook faster, so that you don’t end up with raw meat and charred veggies.

  13. Some interesting ideas, the vegetable skewers are a great one. I might try cooker this in advance for an afternoon snack. I wouldn’t use sausage as I usually keep my sausages whole until mixing them in with the dish to contain all the flavor .

  14. My mom was always a pro at making kebobs — she would marinate the meat a day in advance, and every single one of her kebob would have an aesthetically pleasing mix of veggies and meat. Usually : bell pepper, onion, mushroom, meat, bell pepper, onion, mushroom, meat, rince and repeat! Sometimes she even had fruits on there — pineapple mostly, but mango cubes, too!

    Never thought about having a meatball on the stick. Italian sausages were a big hit, though! And actually, she even skewered chicken hearts.

    I’ll have to try the meatballs. We never buy any store bought meatball, but maybe the texture of store bought is necessary for it to work well? Our homemade meatballs might be too friable.

  15. I like the idea of the the thai peanut sauce, that is a great idea for BBQ chicken. Perhaps it would be best to do these skewers just by themselves as part of a meal, they sound very tasty!

    We usually cook small strips of steak with vegetables for our skewers, with red bell peppers and sweetcorn!

  16. Making kebabs can be a wonderful way to change things up a bit. I like making fruit kebabs as well. The veggie ones we tried when we had a vegetarian guest over for a family barbeque. We covered a small rack with foil and placed it on the grill (to avoid any meat touching her food) then grilled a nice assortment of vegetables for her. She enjoyed it.

    Shrimp is probably my preference for non-vegetarian skewers, because shrimp cooks quickly where some meats need to cook longer than some vegetables do. Sometimes, I par cook meat before adding it to the skewers to grill.

  17. Chicken & steak seem to be everyone’s mainstays. I should look into grilling tofu. That’s actually something I’ve never done. I imagine it would give decent texture as well as taste. I’ve done a full veggie kabob but those are the last one’s always left on the plate. Not an issue for me though I love them.

  18. I’m not a big fan of kebabs. My husband, and I grill a lot he’ll ask if I’d like to make some for the grill. I always reply with a no. I have had them in the past, but I just don’t care for them guess it’s just me.

    • I just came across the photo again, and they looked so good, they made me want some.

      What is it exactly that you don’t like about them, Karma? Is it something specific?

      I enjoy them quite a bit, as long as I use things that cook evenly. Sometimes, that’s tricky. Is that part of the issue for you as well?

  19. This is a great variety of recipes that I’d love to try. I’ve already got the skewers, now all I need to do is get the rest of the ingredients. I love the idea of the Hawaiian Themed, the veggie, and the shrimp, although I know I’d probably make the others, as well.

  20. Mmm, veggie kebabs. I know they’re not always popular, but I love grilled veggies and I wish more people would make these for parties. The Hawaiian-themed kebab sounds delicious as well, though I’d have to substitute the meatballs for something else – mushrooms perhaps, since I like pineapple and mushrooms together?

  21. Kebab (we call it shashlik here) are very popular here, and we make them every summer. However, we mostly only do the traditional pork/chicken shashliks, so I appreciate the various suggestions made in this post. I will definitely try them sometime!

  22. There ain’t a BBQ without Kabobs at my house. I mean, they’re so easy to make and you can get pretty creative with the ingredients you’re going to use. I mostly use chicken, but pork works for me as well. They’re delicious!

  23. Thank you for sharing these ideas. I’ve always enjoyed kabobs. Don’t usually have meat on mine, but I suppose if it’s cooked right it’d be safe. I like doing them in the oven when i don’t wanna get out a barbeque 😛

  24. Thanks a bunch for these Kabob tips. I’m learning so much about cooking through you Lynne. These tips are great, I loved the chicken and shrimp recipes, was wowed by the tofu kabobs, and I hadn’t even though about such an easy preparation for the veggies before. I can’t wait to try all of your cooking tips out on my next BBQ.

  25. These are some great ideas, especially for the barbecue. We do a lot of that in my country because we have long hot summers and are always looking for the easiest ways of preparing meals. Outdoors is always easiest and best.

  26. Kabobs are delicious and they’re a big hit whenever I have a bbq part at my house. I love that you can pretty much add any type of vegetable or meat on it and it would still taste delicious. Combined with some rosemary and condiments a kabob tastes delicious.

  27. I am currently in the process of assessing and changing our diet to a healthier one and this looks like a recipe that would be perfect to incorporate into our menu. It looks like a quick and healthy meal and it’s fun that you can actually mix and match ingredients depending on what you like more.


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