Chicken Shish Kebab Recipe On the Smoker Grills

Here is our tried and tested Chicken Shish Kebab recipe. It’s an absolute show-stopper of any BBQ experience. It’s also delicious and easy to make with a no fuss marinade.

The word ‘shish,’ of course means skewer or spear in Turkish, and that’s how we are going to cook our chicken – authentically on a charcoal bbq grill with skewers. Spears are optional!

Completely delicious.

Serves 4-6 people.

Chicken Shish Kebab Recipe
Grlled Chicken Shish Kebab Recipe

Ingredients for Chicken Shish Kebab (US Kabob)

  • 200 ml natural yoghurt 
  • 6 boneless chicken thighs or 4 medium sized chicken breasts (thigh meat will be juicier and cost less, but it’s up to you)
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp sweet smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp of Extra Hot Chilli Powder (more or less depending on your chilli tolerance!)

Ingredients for the Tzatziki

  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 4 tbsp natural yoghurt
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 handful of fresh mint finely chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

To Serve

  • 1 red onion cut into half moon shapes
  • 1/2 an iceberg lettuce chopped into strips
  • 1/4 of red (or white) cabbage roughly chopped for crunch
  • 1 carrot chopped into strips or batons
  • A selection of breads – pitta bread and flatbread are the most authentic
  • Houmous (optional)
  • Chilli Sauce (optional) – we like Sriracha
  • Fresh chopped lemons to serve

How to Prepare White Cabbage for Chicken Shish Kebabs

To make your white (or red) cabbage taste more like a kebab takeaway it’s a good idea to marinate it for 30 minutes in the fridge before serving. Simply place the sliced white cabbage in a ziplock bag along with a good squeeze of fresh lemon juice, a little salt to taste, and a good glug of olive oil.

Shake up the sliced cabbage in the bag and leave it in the fridge for around half an hour.

Optional – add a little pinch of sugar according to taste.

Chicken Shish Kebab Step 1 – Marinate Your Chicken

Put all your spices, finely chopped garlic, and olive oil in to your yoghurt. 

Now zest and juice your lemon into the yoghurt using a grater and lemon squeezer (for ease and avoiding wasting any juice). 

Cut your chicken thighs (or breasts if using) into cube shapes. If there are any bits of sinew or skin remove them as you go.

Add your cubes of chicken to the yoghurt and stir it all around to make sure your chicken is well covered in the marinade.

Now cover it and place it in the fridge for at least two hours, but preferably overnight.

Shish Kebab Step 2 – Barbecuing the Kebabs

Get your barbecue on around 30minutes before you want to cook your chicken kebabs. The best way to light your bbq is by using a chimney starter which will concentrate the heat into the coals straight away, and keep it there.

You may wish to read our article ‘How to Light a BBQ,’ for this.

Now place your marinated chicken pieces onto your skewers – around 4 cubes to each skewer. Depending on the size of your cubes and skewers you should have around 4-6 kebabs altogether.

Cook your kebabs directly on the grills of your barbecue for around 18-20 minutes, turning them around halfway through.

If you are concerned about them drying out brush them with a little olive oil or lemon juice. 

Your chicken should go a lovely colour and caramelise and char nicely on the outside, especially where the thickest bits of the marinade are.

Use a digital meat thermometer to test the internal temperature of your chicken – it should read 165F or 74C if the chicken is properly cooked.

The marinade should keep the chicken moist in the middle, but make sure you don’t overcook them, or let them become too dry.

Chicken Shish Kebab Recipe Step 3 – Make Your Tzatziki

About 10 minutes into your cooking you can start to prepare your tzatziki, veg and breads for serving. 

Start by making your tzatziki. Chop your cucumber and mint finely and add to the yoghurt.

Zest your lemon into the yoghurt, and then season to taste with freshly ground salt and pepper. You may want to add in a little bit of chopped fresh garlic, but it is optional.

Step 4 – Finish up and Serve

We are nearly ready to serve now.

Here is a lovely garnish for our chicken shish kebabs.

Chop your cabbage, lettuce and carrot into strips, and your red onion into half moon shapes.

Now add a splash of lemon juice and olive oil and season with freshly ground pepper and salt. We like to add a little splash of honey for an edge of sweetness, but again this optional.

Warm up some pitta breads (depending on the number of your guests of course) on the barbecue while your kebabs are just finishing off cooking. 

Serve your kebabs on the skewers on a warm plate, and bring all your ingredients to the table.

Let your guests fill their pitta bread with the salad garnish, tzatziki and chicken themselves.

Have a little chilli sauce to hand if it suits your guests, and serve your kebabs with some chopped fresh lemons to squeeze over your food.

FAQ’s About Chicken Shish Kebabs (Kabobs)

How do you Tenderise Chicken for Kebabs?

One of the most effective ways to tenderise chicken for kebabs is to marinate it first. Yoghurt, lemon juice or Olive Oil are common choices and help to ensure a tender, juicy result for chicken kebabs.

How Do you Keep Chicken Kabobs from Drying Out on the Grill?

There are a few ways to keep chicken kabobs from drying out on the grill. These include:

  • Marinade the chicken first for maximum flavour and moisture
  • Brush the chicken kabobs with butter, oil, or a little honey
  • Spritz them with an apple cider vinegar, chicken broth (stock) mix
  • Consider searing them first at high heat and moving them to indirect heat to seal in moisture and avoid overcooking

Are Chicken Breasts or Thighs Better for Kabobs?

Whether chicken breasts or thighs are better for kabobs (kebabs) really comes down to personal preference. Both cuts of chicken have advantages and disadvantages. Chicken thighs are cheaper and moister because of them coming with skin and bone (boneless is possible too), however many people prefer breasts precisely because they usually come without bone or skin.

Chicken breasts are a little more expensive but they are a plumper white meat cut which of course can be cut into smaller pieces which are perfect for kabobs. While chicken breasts dry out out more easily than chicken thighs this can easily be avoided by using a marinade or brushing them with butter and oil.

What is a Chicken Shish Kebab made of?

A chicken shish (sometimes spelt sheesh) kebab is traditionally made of spiced and seasoned chicken and vegetable pieces which are placed on a skewer and grilled over hot coals. The dish originated in Turkey where soldiers often grilled meat on their swords (shish means sword or skewer in Turkish) over their open fires.

What Does a Shish Kebab Have in it?

Typically a shish kebab contains pieces of meat and vegetables which have been skewered and are then grilled. Popular meat choices for shish kebab would be chicken, beef, or lamb which are skewered along with vegetables such as peppers or onions, however shish kekabs can also be made up of just meat.

How Long to Grill Chicken Kabobs?

Chicken kabobs don’t take long to grill because they use smaller cuts of chicken. Over high heat you can grill chicken kabobs in around 5-7 minutes per side. The internal temperature of the chicken should be 165F or 74C to be safe to eat.

What Temperature to Grill Chicken Kabobs?

Chicken kabobs should be grilled over high heat in a short amount of time. Aim for at least 375F (191C) and move the chicken around regularly to avoid overcooking.

Chicken Kabob Seasoning

Chicken kabobs are best marinated in yoghurt, lemon juice or olive oil and seasoned with garlic, salt, pepper and herbs such as parsley, mint, or cilantro (coriander).

Related Recipes

If you enjoyed this article you might like to read our ‘Smoked Chicken Wings Recipes.’

Or our ‘BBQ Recipes for Chicken,’ article.

For another fantastic recipe for chicken shish kebab on the smoker try here:

https://www.thespruceeats.com/basic-turkish-chicken-kebab-3274263

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