Up Your Grill Game With Skewers: Recipe and Tips for Boosting Your Backyard Barbecue

grilling skewers
Authentic Asheville

Cooking over fire is one of the best ways to not only make a delicious meal, but to also spend time outside—whether alone or with family or roommates. Rather than simply slapping a few burgers or hot dogs on the flames, why not up your grilling game with the introduction of skewers? Here’s a few tips for using skewers right and making memorable kebabs.

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Consider Your Options

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Authentic Asheville

You can find skewers at most grocery stores, home improvement stores, and online. Most people opt for stainless steel skewers, bamboo or wood, although you can get a little more creative and use rosemary.

Stainless steel

One of the big benefits of using stainless steel skewers is that they are reusable and durable. Many are long enough and have a handle that allows you to flip whatever you’re cooking without having to open the grill or get close to the flame.

Wood and bamboo

If you’re new to cooking with skewers, wood and bamboo might be a logical first choice. They’re cheap and they often come in a huge pack so you can experiment with little risk. And cleanup is easy; when you’re done, throw them out.


Using rosemary as a skewer will add an additional layer of complexity to your dish, but will elevate your skewer game from average to outstanding. Plus, it’s a cool twist on the same old, same old. To make skewers out of rosemary, however, you’re going to need sprigs that have a hardy wooden base, not the flimsy, delicate ones you often find in the herb section of the grocery store. Either grow your own or find a local farmer or friend who can supply a few. The extra effort is worth it. You’ll reap both the aromatic benefits of rosemary on the grill as well as the taste hints in whatever you have speared.

Grilled Chicken Skewers Recipe

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Authentic Asheville

This is a great first recipe for the skewer newbie because it’s easy to prepare and requires minimal skill. It also tastes great and will satisfy just about anybody, regardless of experience behind a grill.


  • 1 pound of chicken tenders
  • ½ cup of oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Zest of 1 lemon, finely grated or chopped
  • 2 Tbl fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 12 skewers (depends on the length of your skewers)

Directions | Prep time: 10 minutes | Serves 3-4

  • Combine all of the ingredients into a bowl
  • Toss to coat evenly on the chicken
  • Cover and put it in the fridge to marinate for at least an hour (up to overnight)
  • When you’re ready to grill the chicken, skewer them.
  • Cook skewers on medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes on each side

If you want to grill zucchini and pineapple as pictured, simply toss them in olive oil (season the zucchini with salt and pepper to taste), and then place on the grill at the same time as the chicken. Remove when the chicken is done.

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Additional tips

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Authentic Asheville

Always soak wood or bamboo skewers in water for at least 30 minutes so that they don’t catch on fire.

Use multiple skewers. Though it’s common to see food that’s been skewered like a lollipop, consider using multiple skewers and piercing larger pieces of food in several different places. In many cases, it will make it easier to flip and also reduce the chances of your food falling off of the skewer.

Many recipes call for oil. If for some reason it doesn’t, coat the grill so your food does not stick. Doing this before you light the grill anyway, to prevent flare-ups.

Keep some tongs handy. Though using skewers often means you can get away with holding a beer in one hand and turning your kebabs with the other, it’s not a bad idea to keep a few tools nearby in case you need a little extra reach—or need to get closer to the flame.

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