The Genius Hack For Making Chicken Kabobs Quickly And Easily

Chicken kabobs, also sometimes spelled kebabs, are a speedy meal option that produces a smoky, satisfying dinner. One of the most time-consuming steps for many cooks, however, is not mixing up a marinade or standing over the grill. It's actually slicing proteins like poultry into neat squares and meticulously loading the cubes one by one onto skewers.

Thankfully, there's an easy workaround. Lay whole chicken breasts side-by-side on a cutting board, then pierce them using multiple skewers. Then, make quick cuts along the length of the skewers to make instant medallions that are already secured in place. You can marinate the chicken ahead of puncturing, or follow this step by marinating kabobs in a shallow tray or ziplock bag, taking care not to pierce the plastic.


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Best of all — you can apply it to other kabob-friendly ingredients. The same approach will work with blocks of tofu, as well as planks of bell pepper, zucchini or summer squash, and other narrow, de-boned proteins like chicken thighs, beef sirloin, and pork chops. Eggplant's bulbous shape may require a more hands-on tactic, but it doesn't hurt to try.

Additional tips for successful skewering

The skewering technique is straightforward, but you can get even better results by properly lining up your chicken breasts before puncturing. You'll notice the cutlets taper at the ends and are thicker at the tops. Alternate their placement on your cutting board — so if a rounded top is first, make sure the next chicken breast has its tapered edge pointed up. This encourages the poultry to cook at the same rate.

Another tip is to envision where your skewers will go before you puncture the ingredients. Similar to portioning cookie dough, you can make short, guiding cuts to ensure you get similarly sized portions with the help of a ruler. Or, eyeball the portions, but we suggest starting by marking the rough middle point before cutting them into halves or quarters. Lay the bamboo sticks on top of the protein to get an even clearer picture of the final product.

Speaking of even cooking, this brings us to the endless debate around stacking proteins alongside vegetables versus cooking each ingredient on its own. You can try nestling quick-cooking vegetables or par-cooked produce between the cutlets before puncturing if you're all about the mingled flavors, but you're better off grilling designated kabobs to ensure nothing burns or undercooks — like in these Chinese lamb skewers. There's no use drying out your beef because an onion refuses to soften. Plus, guests get to assemble a plate of the cooked bites they actually like.

Avoiding common kabob pitfalls

Before you get cooking, check your sticks one last time to make sure the meat cubes are close together but not tightly packed. This will make it easier to cook them through and help avoid any underdone spots (use a meat thermometer to help you decide when to pull your meal off the flames). If you notice some of the food is wiggly or loosely attached to its wooden holders, try adding a second skewer to those kabobs. This ensures a stronger grip and combats any challenges you might have when rotating your food.

Another concern among cooks is that the kabobs will hit the hot grates and refuse to unstick. To help encourage clean separation, clean the grates with half a potato, an onion, or a grill brush with some light oil. Prepare the marinated meats, as well, by lightly coating the proteins and vegetables with cooking spray before they go over the flames. For an even gentler cook, place the sticks on top of a sheet of aluminum foil for easy removal — and to protect them against over-charring.

And cooks using wooden sticks should make sure to soak kabob skewers like Alton Brown so that the bamboo withstands the heat of the grill without catching on fire and disintegrating. Better yet, consider buying metal skewers, as the material will absorb and distribute the grill's warmth, helping heat the inside of your proteins evenly, too.