When was the first time you had a grilled shish-kebab?
For me, the first one I really remember is one I had on the streets of London, when I traveled there with my choir in high school.
I am sure I had them before that at some point. But my mom and I lived in an apartment that didn’t allow us to grill outdoors, so skewers were never high on the list on our dinnertime menu each week.
Back in London, my friends and I were wandering around with an hour to kill for lunch. We prioritized shopping, of course, and ended up with just enough time to grab some food and inhale it on the street as we hustled back to the bus.
The smell of the kebabs was what drew us in at first, and once we got a look at them, we were sold.
Rich and spicy chunks of meat threaded onto wooden sticks, juicy and dripping with flavor on a streetside grill. It was one of the most magical meals I had while I was in London.
Do You Spell It Kabob or Kebab?
I’ve always spelled it kabob personally, but this is kind of a North American thing versus the British kebab.
Honestly, it doesn’t matter how you spell it, and both spellings mean the same thing. It is a dish made with savory chunks of tender meat, fish, and/or vegetables threaded on a skewer, usually grilled over a flame for a simple outdoor meal.
To learn about all the different styles of kebabs, and variety of ingredients you can use, review our entire roundup of kebab and skewer recipes.
One of the essential steps to making the perfect kebabs is the marinade. Marinating the meat imparts a ton of flavor, while also tenderizing the meat so every bite melts in your mouth.
They are fantastic for a weeknight dinner, but they work equally well if you happen to be entertaining (you know, one day in the future when we can gather safely again…).
My grill is always humming along during the summer because our oven makes the house way too hot. I just so happen to be pregnant this summer, so it’s even hotter for me this year.
I’m pretty sure my husband thinks it currently feels like an icebox in our home, but he hides it really well for my sake. He’s a keeper, I know.
Yes, you need to make time for the marinade to soak into the meat. However, the active time of pulling together this recipe amounts to barely anything.
You likely already have most of the ingredients for this recipe on hand. All you’ll need to do is pick up some citrus if it’s not already at your disposal.
I absolutely love using citrus in recipes during the summer. Whether it is lemon, lime, or orange, or a combination of these, the citrus flavor lifts up any recipe.
Really, I can’t recall the last time I grilled meat without letting it sit in a marinade first. It is such a simple way to add flavor, and it really makes a big difference.Print
Citrus marinated beef kebabs are the ideal summer meal for grilling season. The meat is juicy and tender after sitting in a flavorful marinade.
- 1 pound beef steak, such as flank or sirloin
- 3/4 cup orange juice
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- 1/4 cup Bragg’s Liquid Aminos or soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- Zest of one lime
- Zest of one orange
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 bell peppers, any color, cut into 1.5-inch chunks
- 2 medium zucchini, sliced into ½-inch-thick rounds
- 1 medium mild onion, cut into 1.5-inch chunks
- 1 cup grape tomatoes
- Bamboo skewers
- Sesame seeds, for garnish
- Cut beef into 1 1/2-inch cubes. Place beef into a gallon size zip-top bag.
- Add orange juice, lime juice, Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (or soy sauce), cumin, garlic, lime zest, orange zest, salt, and pepper to the bag. Squeeze the bag lightly with your hands to make sure the beef is well coated with the marinade.
- Add vegetables to the bag, seal it, and shake to coat. Place the bag in a large mixing bowl to catch any leaks. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or up to overnight.
- At least one hour before you plan to cook the kebabs, place the bamboo skewers into a baking dish large enough so they can lay flat. Cover with water and let soak.
- Preheat the grill.
- Thread beef and vegetables onto skewers, alternating pieces in any pattern you like.
- Place kebabs on the hot grill and cook for 7 to 8 minutes or until beef is done to your preference, flipping halfway through. Remove from the grill and serve immediately, sprinkled with sesame seeds.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 8 minutes
- Category: Kebabs
- Method: Grilling
- Cuisine: Beef
Keywords: beef, kebab, lime, orange, grilling
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Chop Meat and Veggies, Juice and Zest Citrus, and Measure Out Remaining Ingredients
Cut the steak, bell peppers, zucchini, and onion into 1 1/2-inch pieces. A sharp chef’s knife and a sturdy cutting board will be a major help for this! Make sure the pieces are all about the same size to ensure even cooking. Set aside.
Zest a lime and an orange.
Juice the same lime, and any additional ones needed, until you have 1/4 cup juice in total.
Juice the same orange, and any additional ones needed, until you have 3/4 cup juice in total.
Measure out all of the remaining ingredients as listed on the ingredients list.
Step 2 – Marinate Meat and Vegetables
Add the beef to a large gallon-sized zip-top bag. To the same bag, add the orange juice, lime juice, Bragg’s Liquid Aminos or soy sauce, cumin, garlic, lime zest, orange zest, salt, and pepper (freshly cracked, please and thank you!).
If you have leftover orange juice, save it for a recipe like our strawberry mint orange juice!
Seal, and squish the bag around with your hands to make sure the meat is coated well.
Add the vegetables, seal again, and shake the bag to coat everything.
Place the bag in a large mixing bowl (just in case it leaks) and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, up to overnight.
Step 3 – Assemble
When you are one hour away from cooking, add the bamboo skewers to a shallow baking dish. Cover with water and let them soak.
Preheat the grill.
Thread the beef and vegetables onto the skewers, alternating in any pattern you would like to create. Discard any remaining marinade.
Step 4 – Grill
Grill the kebabs on the preheated grill, cooking for 7 to 8 minutes, and flipping the skewers halfway through. You can cook them for more or less time, depending on your desired level of doneness for the steak.
The time noted above is for medium-rare.
Remove from the grill and serve immediately. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, if desired. I usually serve brown rice as a side dish.
What Is the Best Meat to Use for Kebabs?
Personally, I really like to use sirloin or flank steak for these zesty citrus marinated kebabs. Not only are they good, quality cuts of meat, they also lend themselves really well to any marinade you want to use.
You can also use beef tenderloin, but I find that cut to be a bit expensive for this particular treatment. I’d rather eat the whole filet instead of cutting it up.
Be sure to avoid chuck steak because it is way too tough and chewy for making kebabs.
Want even more skewer recipes to make at home? Try these next:
Would you serve these kebabs as a main dish on a weeknight, or for a crowd at a party? Tell us in the comments below, and be sure to rate the recipe once you try it.
Photos by Meghan Yager, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on September 12, 2011. Last updated August 15, 2020.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Meghan Yager
Meghan Yager is a food addict turned food and travel writer with a love for creating uncomplicated, gourmet recipes and devouring anything the world serves up. As the author of the food and travel blog Cake 'n Knife, Meghan focuses on unique foodie experiences from around the world to right at home in your own kitchen.