Traditional Shish Kebabs

Traditional Shish Kebabs
Traditional Shish Kebabs. Brian Hagiwara/Getty Images
  • 25 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins,
  • Cook: 10 mins
  • Yield: Serves 4 to 6
Ratings (8)

Traditional shish kebab is made with lamb, grilled hot and fast on skewers. The key to any shish kebab recipe is to marinate the meat long enough to get the flavor into the lamb. It's easy to begin the meat marinating the night before or in the morning so you can quickly grill the shish kebabs for a no-fuss dinner.

This is truly a classic dish that is worth making. The grilled vegetables are already included on the skewers, so all you need to add is rice or pita. Couscous or tabbouleh are also common sides for shish kebab.

Use flat metal skewers so the meat doesn't twist on the skewer. This is a problem with round skewers, making it hard to get each side equally grilled. If you have only bamboo skewers available, be sure to soak them in water for an hour before you put the meat and vegetables on the skewers. Otherwise, they may burn and break off inside your lamb cubes.

While it's traditional to alternate meat and veggies on the skewer, as they have different cooking times you can get everything cooked to perfection if you make up skewers of each and grill till done.

What You'll Need

  • For the Shish Kebabs:
  • 2 to 2 1/2  pounds lamb (trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1-inch cubes)
  • 3 medium bell peppers (various colors, cut into 1-inch pieces)
  • 1 large onion (red, cut into 1-inch pieces)
  • For the Marinade:
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons salt (sea)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ginger (grated)
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • Garnish: lemon and lime wedges

How to Make It

  1. Trim the lamb of all excess fat and cut it into 1-inch cubes. Cut the bell peppers and onions into 1-inch pieces.
  2. In a small plastic or glass bowl, combine the marinade ingredients (olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt, cumin, grated ginger, and black pepper).
  3. In a resealable container (a large zip-top bag works best), place the lamb pieces with the marinade. Massage them to mix and seal bag. Refrigerate the meat in the marinade for 2 to 24 hours. The longer you marinate the meat, the more flavor it will gain. The USDA notes that lamb cubes can be safely marinated for up to two days.
  1. Preheat the grill for high heat. Thread lamb, onion, and pepper pieces onto skewers, intermixing the pieces. Place the kebabs on the hot grill and cook for about 8 to 10 minutes, uncovered. Starting at the 2-minute mark, turn the skewers to cook another side of the cubes. Do this every 2 minutes until all four sides of the cubes have been grilled. Cook longer if lamb chunks are larger than 1-inch.
  2. Once cooked to your desired doneness, remove the kebabs from the grill.
  3. Serve on or off of the skewers, with lemon and lime slices.

For food safety, discard the marinade that has been in contact with the raw meat. If you wish to use it as a sauce or to baste the kebabs, you must use a saucepan over medium-high heat to bring it to a boil and simmer for several minutes to kill any bacteria.

Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
Calories 684
Total Fat 50 g
Saturated Fat 18 g
Unsaturated Fat 25 g
Cholesterol 187 mg
Sodium 931 mg
Carbohydrates 5 g
Dietary Fiber 1 g
Protein 50 g
(The nutrition information on our recipes is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. Individual results may vary.)