Spice Up Your BBQs With a Variety of Kabobs

Planning a party or any sort of get-together is fun but time consuming usually with the menu portion taking up a large amount of time.

Meat and vegetable kabobs on the grill

Appetizers can be easy and no-fuss if you make the right kind, and if you’re only serving appetizers at a party, they can be extremely easy when you go the route of skewering everything.

Kabobs can be stand-alone meals, but with the right ingredients, they make the perfect appetizer: easy to eat and no mess for the host or hostess. Moreover, they are an extremely healthy form of grilling.

Plus, preparation is simple since you either skewer something exactly the way it came from the store, or the only cutting required would be to cube everything.

To start with, you will need to buy a pack of skewers, which can be found at any grocery store. They’re usually cheap. Get the bamboo kind if you are concerned about splinters. Plus, these tend to be sturdier.

You can easily tell if you’re getting decent quality sticks if you look closely at the sticks through the clear packaging. If the sticks are smooth (as opposed to splintering), they’re more than likely a good enough choice for your party.

Additionally, look at the ends of the skewers. If they’re too pointed, pass on them in favor of some that are a little more blunt (especially important if you’ve got kids coming over).

Before putting anything on the stick, make sure to soak your sticks in water. Completely immerse them in the water for an hour or two. This helps you avoid burning later on during the cooking process.

Now, read on for some easy recipes and appetizer ideas.

Shrimp

Shrimp can be used for a more formal occasion depending on how you dress up and present the skewers to guests. You will need de-veined shrimp (go for frozen, which is usually pre-cooked and pre-prepped for you), sea salt, pepper, chopped cilantro, Ken’s Asian Sesame with Ginger and Soy Dressing (can be found at any grocery store for less than $4) and orange slices.

With your shrimp thawed (if you bought frozen), place in a ziplock bag with the dressing, chopped cilantro and a couple pinches of salt and pepper. Let marinade for about 25 minutes.

After the marinade, place three shrimps to a skewer and top with an orange slice which complements the salad dressing flavors.

Then place on the grill for about three minutes on each side, or until the shrimp is no longer opaque. This is why buying the frozen route can save you time because they are already pre-cooked, so the purpose of the grill would be to warm them and add the grill marks.

Total time for this appetizer dish should not be more than 45 minutes.

Chicken

Chicken is always a relatively safe choice of meat for an appetizer. Plus, it’s cheap and usually on sale. Try using chicken in our recipe for flavor-packed spicy chicken satay that you can make very easily!

If you love handheld food, you must try our recipe for chicken satay with cucumber salad and peanut dipping sauce! We share this spicy recipe: https://foodal.com/recipes/poultry/chicken-satay/
Photo by Felicia Lim.

Spicy Peanut Chicken Satay – Get the Recipe Now
The chicken is marinated in a creamy coconut curry marinade. We serve ours alongside a peanut dipping sauce and cool and refreshing cucumber salad.

Lamb

Lamb, although a bit pricey, makes for a very tasty, and very special skewer. Make it nearly a complete meal along with some fresh veggies such as red bell pepper, zucchini, plum tomatoes, onion wedges, and whole mushrooms. A prefect meal for those on the Keto Diet, you can pare this with a rice dish for complete healthy meal.

Oblique view of a stack of lamb and veggie kabobs stacked on a wooden cutting board.
Photo by Mike Quinn.

Grilled Balsamic Lamb Kabobs – Get the Recipe Now
Our tasty balsamic marinade really tops off the the lamb in this tasty recipe.

Healthy Tofu

Tofu, while some say is tasteless, can be made to be a tasty, healthy replacement for meat (because of the protein). If you are serving a health-conscious crowd or just want to be healthy, tofu makes a great appetizer food to skewer.

What you will need is Kikkoman’s teriyaki sauce, a package of tofu and cucumbers.

Take the tofu out of the package and allow to drain. Try to remove as much excess water as you can because the more watery it is, the more difficult it will be to skewer. Once the water is drained, cube the tofu in one- or two-inch squares. Then fry them up in peanut sauce along with the cubed cucumber.

Once both items are cooked and warm enough, add the teriyaki sauce, allow to warm and then skewer tofu, cucumber, tofu, cucumber. Brush with more sauce if necessary. If you don’t like teriyaki sauce, any flavor that you like will work with tofu. Also try plain soy sauce or peanut sauce (from above recipe).

This should take about 30 minutes to do.

Veggies

Rather than set out the same old vegetable platter as an appetizer for guests to nibble on, try a warmed-up version on a skewer.

Onion and Bell Pepper Kabobs on a grill

You will need broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, extra virgin olive oil and ranch dressing. Back at home, wash all vegetables. Then, place them all on a baking sheet, sprinkle sea salt and pepper over the veggies along with some extra virgin olive oil. Place this tray in the oven at 350°F and bake for about 15 or 20 minutes. You’re basically cooking the vegetables and allowing the outside to crisp up. The sea salt adds a little bit of flavor.

Once out of the oven, place one of each kind of vegetable on a skewer. Serve with warm ranch dressing.
This should not take more than 30 minutes.

Hawaiian Themed

For this recipe, you will need meatballs (I like the frozen, pre-made ones from Albertsons – traditional flavor), cubed pineapples, cherries and Mr. Spice Sweet & Sour Sauce (or any sweet and sour sauce; this one is salt and gluten-free).

The meatballs take about 30 minutes to cook. Then everything can be thrown in a crock pot: meatballs, pineapples, cherries and sauce to marinade and warm everything together. About 20 minutes of this is usually sufficient.

Then, skewer one meatball, two pineapple cubes and place a cherry at the top of the stick.
Total cooking time is just under an hour.

Spicy

For guests that want a little more meat with their appetizer, try this spicier take on the appetizer. You will need apron steak, green and red bell peppers and green enchilada sauce.

Sear the apron steak on a skillet. Then slice into strips that can be skewered. Add your sliced bell peppers and enchilada sauce and allow ingredients to warm for a couple minutes. Then skewer your meat and a couple pieces of bell pepper to a stick. Brush on more sauce if necessary.

Total cooking time is about 40 minutes.

Sausage

Italian sausage is great because the flavor is already packed into the meat, so not much else needs to go into this appetizer.

You will need Italian sausage, cherry tomatoes and mozzarella cheese. To cook the sausage, I usually boil first for about 15 minutes. Then I place on the skillet or grill to add marks and crisp up the outside. If you cook it on the skillet or grill first, you’ll end up burning the outside because it takes too long to cook all the way through before the outer portion starts to burn. While the sausage is cooking, slice up the mozzarella into cubes and wash the tomatoes.

When the sausage is done, slice into relatively thick disks. Then skewer a piece of sausage, cheese and then a tomato.

Total cooking time is about 40 minutes.

Photos by Felicia Lim and Mike Quinn, © Foodal / Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details.

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About Lynne Jaques

Lynne is a stay-at-home mother of two boys. As a former US military officer and the spouse of an active duty US military member, Lynne enjoys traveling the world (although not the moving part!) and finding new cuisine and methods of preparing food. She also has the habit of using parenthesis way too much!

29 thoughts on “Spice Up Your BBQs With a Variety of Kabobs”

  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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