Classic British Shish Kebabs: Perfect For Your Summer BBQ

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Shish kebabs, those succulent cubes of marinated meat skewered and cooked to perfection, are a summertime staple across the globe. While the origins can be traced back to Central Asia, the UK has embraced this culinary tradition and added its own unique twist. This guide delves into everything you need to know to create mouthwatering shish kebabs at home, perfect for a backyard barbecue or a casual gathering.


Turkish chicken shish kebab
Turkish chicken shish kebab

1 kg boneless lamb leg, cut into 1-inch cubes (you can substitute chicken breasts or thighs for a lighter option)

  • 1 red onion, cut into wedges
  • 1 green bell pepper, cut into chunks
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into chunks
  • 200g cherry tomatoes
  • For the marinade:
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

  • Instructions:

    1. Marinate the Meat: In a large bowl, whisk together the yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice, cumin, paprika, garlic powder, oregano, salt, and pepper. Add the lamb cubes and toss to coat evenly. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or ideally overnight, for maximum flavor.
    2. Prepare the Skewers: Soak wooden skewers in water for at least 30 minutes to prevent burning on the grill.
    3. Assemble the Kebabs: Thread the marinated lamb cubes, red onion wedges, bell pepper chunks, and cherry tomatoes onto the skewers, alternating ingredients for a visually appealing presentation.
    4. Preheat the Grill: Prepare your grill for medium-high heat. You can use a charcoal grill, gas grill, or even a grill pan on your stovetop.
    5. Grill the Kebabs: Once the grill is hot, place the kebabs on the grates and cook for 10-12 minutes per side, turning occasionally, until the lamb is cooked through and the vegetables are tender-crisp.
    6. Rest and Serve: Remove the kebabs from the grill and let them rest for a few minutes before serving. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, resulting in a more flavorful experience.

    Nutrition Facts (per serving, based on lamb kebabs):

    Calories: 450

  • Protein: 30g
  • Fat: 25g
  • Carbohydrates: 20g
  • Sodium: 500mg (depending on added salt)

  • Tips:

    For a vegetarian option, you can marinate cubes of portobello mushrooms, zucchini, and halloumi cheese and grill them as kebabs.

  • If you don’t have wooden skewers, you can use metal skewers. Just make sure to preheat them on the grill for a few minutes before adding the kebabs.
  • Brush the kebabs with leftover marinade while grilling for added flavor and moisture.
  • Serve your shish kebabs with a side of fluffy pita bread, tzatziki sauce, couscous salad, or a simple green salad.

  • Conclusion

    Shish kebabs are a fuss-free and delicious way to enjoy grilled meats and vegetables. With a simple marinade and a bit of grilling time, you can create a restaurant-worthy dish in your own backyard. So fire up the grill, gather your friends and family, and enjoy the flavors of this international classic with a UK twist.


    1. Can I use different cuts of meat for shish kebabs?

    Absolutely! While lamb is a traditional choice, you can experiment with chicken, beef, or even fish. Just make sure to adjust the marinating time based on the thickness of the meat.

    2. What if I don’t have time to marinate the meat overnight?

    No worries! Marinating for even 30 minutes will still infuse some flavor into the meat. However, for the most tender and flavorful results, overnight marinating is recommended.

    3. How can I tell if the lamb is cooked through?

    The best way to check for doneness is to use a meat thermometer. The internal temperature of the lamb should reach 160°F (71°C) for safe consumption.

    4. What are some good dipping sauces for shish kebabs?

    Tzatziki sauce, a cool yogurt-based sauce with cucumber and dill, is a classic accompaniment. You can also try other options like hummus, chimichurri sauce, or a simple lemon-herb vinaigrette.