People around the world have been cooking food on swords and sticks over open fires for at least centuries. Skewering meat (or seafood, or veggies) holds ingredients in an even, rigid line, making them quick and easy to grill, and frankly, more fun to eat.
Throughout the Middle East and India, small pieces of marinated lamb or chicken, or seasoned ground meat are often threaded onto thin metal swords for kebabs, while in Southeast Asia, skewered foods make up a popular category of street foods, including the hugely popular satay. In Western China, a potent layer of aromatic spices coats skewered and grilled strips of lamb, and along Mexico’s Pacific coast, beachside hawkers sell the day’s fresh catch—marinated then grilled on a stick—to hungry beachgoers. Check out these, and the rest of our favorite kebab and skewer recipes below.
Serve these spiced lamb skewers with warm flatbreads, charred tomatoes, and cooling labneh. Simon Bajada
A spiced yogurt marinade works wonders with boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Get chef Meherwan Irani’s recipe for Grilled Chicken Tikka Kebabs. Thomas Payne
Charred bell peppers and onions help balance out the richness of the paneer in these colorful vegetarian skewers. Get the recipe for Paneer Tikka Kebabs. Thomas Payne
While not traditional, fresh mint is a natural partner for lamb and plays well with the spices in these skewers. Get the recipe for Lamb Seekh Kebabs. Thomas Payne
Whole mackerel is threaded onto skewers and grilled for chef Esther Sanchez’s pescado embarazado. Get the recipe here. Matt Taylor-Gross
The staple meats of Western China, lamb and mutton can be found folded into everything from pilafs to buns to noodles. Of course, they’re also the focal point of the region’s iconic kebabs. Seasoned with freshly ground cumin (zira in Farsi and zīrán in Chinese), which was probably introduced to Xinjiang from Persia, the kebabs get an extra kick from minced garlic cloves and ground chile powder. Get the recipe here. Matt Taylor-Gross
These Philippine Barbecue Chicken Skewers from chef Lean Cohen of Pig and Khao balance sweet, salty, and tart flavors. Matt Taylor-Gross
Chef and food writer Farideh Sadeghin learned to make these simple grilled kebabs from her father, who likes to serve them with rice and shirazi salad. Farideh Sadeghin