How to Grill Shish Kebabs on Wood Sticks

by Meg Jernigan

Shish kebab, from the Turkish words for meat cooked on skewers, is a festive party dish, an appetizer or an alternative to throwing a steak or a piece of chicken on the grill. The meat may be marinated ahead of time, or simply seasoned while it’s cooking. A sauce on the side may be the only seasoning you need to add to particularly flavorful cuts of meat or seafood. Usually prepared with pieces of fruit or vegetable, shish kebab provides almost limitless opportunities for creativity.

Soak the wooden skewers in warm water for at least 30 minutes.

Light the barbecue while the skewers soak. Light the charcoal and, when it’s covered in ash, spread it evenly around the grill. If you have a gas grill, preheat the grill.

Thread alternating pieces of meat or seafood and vegetables or fruit on the soaked skewers. If you prefer tender vegetables, parboil them for a few minutes before threading them on the skewer. Beef with cherry tomatoes, mushroom caps and summer squash is a classic combination. Shrimp and pineapple chunks go well together, as do chicken and thin slices of corn on the cob.

Place the skewers over the coals for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until the meat is cooked through. Turn the kebabs every few minutes to ensure even cooking. You should cook beef, pork and seafood to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Chicken is fully cooked at 165 F.


  • Marinate the meat overnight in a closed plastic bag in the refrigerator. Use a bottled marinade or make your own. Cut the meat and vegetables in uniform sizes so they cook evenly. Lean meat should cook over a lower temperature for a longer period. Fish, fatty meats and seafood cook more quickly at a higher temperatures. Brush the grill with vegetable oil after it’s hot to help keep the kebabs from sticking. If you’re entertaining a group, prepare the meats and vegetables ahead of time and allow your guests to assemble their own kebabs.

Photo Credits

  • Laine Girard/Demand Media

About the Author

Meg Jernigan has been writing for more than 30 years. She specializes in travel, cooking and interior decorating. Her offline credits include copy editing full-length books and creating marketing copy for nonprofit organizations. Jernigan attended George Washington University, majoring in speech and drama.