Tips to Make Great Skewer Kebabs

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Recently we enjoyed a long reunion weekend in Gatlinburg, Tennessee with my extended family. The home-style cooking and family-style meal service at many of the restaurants we visited made wise meal choices and portion control a challenge. At several meals, I selected a skewer entrée, which caught my son's attention. After the second time ordering them, he asked what my sudden interest was with "food on a stick." Sounds like a typical teenage question doesn't it. I informed him it was a great way for me to control my entrée portion size while also getting some grilled vegetables. Kebabs have become very common in Western countries. On American menus, they may simply be called skewers or shish kebab, which is skewer of grilled meat. Kebabs are prepared in most Middle Eastern countries but are not always prepared on a skewer or consist of cubed meat and vegetables. There are several different spellings commonly used as well.

You can select a variety of skewers and the type you pick does make a difference. Flat stainless steel skewers hold food well but transfer heat and cold differently than a wooden skewer. Recipes may suggest one over the other based on whether the foods will be cooked or chilled, are more solid or prone to spin. Skewer kebabs can be prepared hot with lean cuts of beef, pork, chicken, fish, seafood, or tofu and vegetables. They can also be prepared cold with a variety of raw fruits, vegetables or cheeses for a "no cooking necessary" meal option or as a edible decorative centerpiece for a party. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you prepare skewer kebabs this summer.

  • When making cooked skewer kebabs be sure to select foods with common cooking times. Mixing a fast cooking prawn with a large piece of slower cooking chicken could make it a challenge for both to receive the cooking time needed to produce a great tasting finished product. It is also best to use different size vegetables and fruit pieces depending on what they will be paired with on the skewer. When using faster cooking items like tofu or seafood, cut vegetables smaller so they cook quicker. When pairing with longer cooking meats like pork or chicken, use larger chunk vegetable sizes so they will not be overcooked. Allow a little space between each item as you prepare skewers to assist with even cooking time.

  • When using metal skewers apply a light coating of cooking oil or cooking spray before threading foods to ensure they will come off with ease. When planning to grill using wooden skewers, soak them in cold water at least twenty minutes before you plan to thread and cook. Moisture prevents the wood from catching fire and scorching your food. You may also want to use a light coating of oil or cooking spray on wooden skewers depending on the type of wood skewer you select. Regardless of the type of skewer, cook over medium or medium-high heat to be sure the interior of your food is cooked appropriately while fully caramelizing the exterior without overly searing or charring.

  • Marinades are frequently used to enhance seasoning or assist with meat tenderization. For tougher cuts of meat like lamb, allow several hours to marinate before skewing so the marinade can fully penetration and tenderize the meat. Softer meats like seafood require only a short thirty minutes to season since they typically don't need to be tenderized. For meats that do not need tenderizing, consider brushing the sauce on lightly during cooking to reduce the calories contributed by the marinade. You can lightly brush kebabs with sauce again before serving to give them a fresh sheen. Skipping this last step and making sauce available allows people to use as much or as little as they like which also helps keep sauce calorie contribution down.

  • When making raw fruit, vegetable or cheese skewers, the size of the chunk should depend on how soft the food item. To be sure a banana stays on the skewer it may need to be a larger size than a chunk of pineapple. Remember that some fruits begin to change color once peeled and cut. Dip fruits like pears, apples, or bananas in lemon juice before threading on the skewer to prevent browning. You can experiment with colors, tastes, and textures when combining raw fruits and vegetables with other items such as natural cheeses, sun dried tomatoes, angel food cake or marshmallows. While fruits dipped in chocolate and dipping sauces served on the side can enhance cold skewer presentation and taste, use them sparingly to keep the calories and fat they contribute to a minimum.
Here are some healthy skewer kebob recipes to try at your next family cookout or group gathering.

Grilled Shrimp Skewers

Mushroom and Eggplant Skewers

Caprese Skewers

Mango Chicken Skewers

Chef Meg Approved Fruit Kebabs with Coconut Yogurt

Quick Cantaloupe Skewers

Do you make skewer kebobs? What are some of your favorite creations?

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We love kebabs too - and we've noticed them locally at many of our Asian restaurants, particularly skewered meats on the bamboo served with dipping sauces (not so much with vegetables). My son loves those!! Report
I love a good kebab ! I like mine with chunks of beef, pinneapple, wedges of red onion and green peppers. Report
We did shrimp kabobs and chicken kabobs on hte grill the other night, and everyone thought it was great fun. Next time, I plan to put all the ingredients on the table, and folks can build their own kabob. Report
I use boneless chicken breast or thigh, bell peppers, onions, lean steak...whatever I have on hand. Yummy!!! Report
I do a teriyaki turkey kabob.with ground turkey and teriyaki sauce. you put the meat mixture around the wood skewer. after cooking you can put it on a hotdog bun. Report
Some good tips. Never really paid much attention to the cooking times before. Just threw on veges and meat. I'm gonna try the shrimp recipe. I haven't tried seafood like this before so I'm hoping it's yummy. Report
Easy method of cooking for two!
Pris Report
Instead of doing the skewers, we cut up the flank steak, chicken, shrimp, peppers, onions, tomatoes, whatever, marinate it in no fat Wishbone Italian dressing and use one of those pans with the little holes designed for the grill. No worries about the cooking times, just put the meat in first and when it's half cooked, throw in the vegetables. Yum! Report
My dad has a fantastic teriyaki chicken that he does on skewers on the grill... unfortunately I have no idea what goes into it! Report
My family loves to mix meat, veggies, and fruit on our kebobs; served over brown rice, they're the perfect summer meal! Report
We cook kabobs a lot during the summer. Easy to fix and the kitchen doesn't get too hot. On the 4th, we grilled beef kabobs. I used a marinade from one of my cookbooks, and alternated the beef with grape tomatoes, small bell peppers, and zucchini. Absolutely delicious. I haven't tried shrimp kabobs, but want to. Of course, I have to wait for the oil to disappear before I buy any local shrimp. Report
Here's one I have taken to a couple of events recently that went over really well. Alternate chunks of pineapple (canned in juice, not syrup), chunks of bananas, and ham cubes (I used Hormel lower sodium) on a skewer. Mix sugar free peach or apricot preserves with a bit of the juice from the pineapple to make a sauce and brush it over the kebabs. Report
Shrimps peeled and marinated in a little fish sauce and chili paste are my favourite when grilled as kebabs! Report
I just bought 2 sets of skewers, and was wondering what all to try! The wondering is over! Thanks! Report
The mushroom eggplant skewers sound divine! Report
Skewer kabobs are the easiest way to cook veggies while camping. We do it all the time. . . Report
Kabobs are DH favorites,using peppers,mushrooms, onions ,zucchini and I make my own marinade. I like to make fruit kabobs to serve at family gatherings. Easy to make and transport too if necessary. Report
I make them with fresh mushrooms, green bell peppers, chicken cubes, pineapple wrapped with pea pods, tomato. I neve rmarinate, but pour Lite Italian dressing in a pasta bowl, roll each kebab in it, transfer to hot grill.
Another one is cubed pork tenderloin, fresh mushrooms, tomatoes, quartered Vidalia onions, bell pepper, halved baby redskin potatoes. Same dressing, same method of coating with dressing. I serve on brown rice or serve with spring salad, fruit salad and home canned pickles, zuchinni relish and chow chow. Report
Anything shish kabob esque sounds great to me! I love those decorative bowls of fruit skewers too. They are absolutely beautiful. Report
I love doing kebabs on the grill. I make a lime-chili marinade that's great on shrimp or chicken, or sometimes I'll buy already prepared and marinated skewers of beef at the market. In addition, I'll make skewers of veggies to go along with the meat, and just brush on some Italian dressing. They are so tasty and easy to make! Report
I kabobed lamb last night and yes I marinaded it for about 2 hours before skewering. It was AWESOME. Added a fresh cucumber salad I got from SparkRecipes...all ingredients came from my garden.... Report
Skewers are simply fun to make, look at, and eat! Report
Yum! Last week I made a kebob recipe from Wegmans...chicken breast, red onion, green with Wegmans brown sugar BBQ sauce...they were GREAT! Report
Great idea and great recipes. Thanks! Report