How to Build the Best Kebabs and Skewers for Grilling

Staff Writer
Advice for creating customized meals-on-a-stick for a crowd


When hosting friends or family over for dinner, nothing is more crowd-pleasing than having a chance to customize your meal, and kebabs are just the thing. Read our tips below see our advice on how to host a create-your-own kebab party — then let us know what your favorite kebab combination is below! 


1. Meat

Begin by choosing your protein: Lean beef, like sirloin or tenderloin, works great, as does pork tenderloin. Or opt for chicken or turkey thigh and breast meat, firm-fleshed fish like salmon, tuna, or halibut, or peeled and deveined shrimp.


2. Veggies and Seasoning

When choosing veggies, great options include cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, chopped or pearl onions, chopped bell peppers, and cubed squash. Season skewers simply, with olive oil, salt, and pepper, or add depth of flavor with herbs, pesto, tapenade, teriyaki sauce, barbecue sauce, or jerk sauce. You can marinate the loaded skewers in your chosen sauce (up to two hours for meat and up to 30 minutes for seafood) or just brush the sauce onto the kebabs before and during the grilling process.


3. Assembly

To assemble your kebabs, start by soaking eight-inch wooden skewers in water for at least 20 minutes — this prevents the possibility of the wood catching fire. (You can also use stainless steel skewers, which guarantee a good hold on your loaded kebab, and are reusable.)

Tip: The protein you’re using will help determine what size any accompanying vegetable chunks should be. With quick-cooking shrimp and scallops, veggies need to be in small pieces so that everything’s finished cooking at the same time. Since chicken and pork take more time to cook, use larger pieces of produce.


4. Cooking your Kebabs

Cook your skewers on a medium-hot grill or grill pan. It should be hot enough for the food to caramelize, but not so hot that the outsides char before the interior cooks. Finish the kebabs with a light brushing of sauce just before serving.