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The Shish Kabob: Dinner on a Stick

May 19, 2022


If pop culture has taught us anything, it’s that you can put any kind of food on a stick.

If pop culture has taught us anything, it’s that you can put any kind of food on a stick.

But where did it all start? Who did it first? We present to you, the shish kebab.

The term “shish kebab” comes from the Turkish words “sis,” meaning “skewer” or “sword,” and “kebap”, meaning “roast meat.” Shish kebabs were first used by nomadic tribes in the Middle East, especially in the region that is now Turkey. These tribes often had to use various types of meat, or whatever was available for survival. For that reason, they used marinades and seasonings not only to tenderize the meat, but to cover the natural (sometimes gamey) flavors of the meat.

Shish kebabs eventually made their way around the Middle East and Mediterranean Rim to Greece via the Turks, where the skewered dish took on a new trait: vegetables! The Greeks enjoyed using lamb, tomatoes, peppers, onions and various spices – making it an entire meal right on the stick. The shish kebab that was once cooked for desert survival had now become a savory dish.

You say “kebab,” I say “kabob”

You’ve probably seen recipes for both kebabs and kabobs. So, which is correct? Actually, both. Each term is linked to a specific geographic region. While the ‘kebab’ version is typically used in areas that are Arabic speaking, such as Lebanon and Syria, ‘kebob’ is more typically used in countries such as Iran and Armenia. The truth is, they’re used interchangeably quite often, and there’s no right or wrong way to put the “bob” in shish kabob.

Mediterranean-Inspired Turkey Kabobs

This recipe combines fresh mint, basil and garlic with Greek yogurt for a flavorful and zesty marinade.

Turkey Kabobs

  • Hands-On Time

    20 minutes
  • Total Time

    90 minutes
  • Serves

  • 3/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 3 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 (24-ounce) package JENNIE-O® Savory Roast Turkey Breast Tenderloin, cut into 10.5 to 2 inch pieces
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 6 shallots, cut in half


Process yogurt, basil, mint, olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic in food processor or blender, until smooth.

Pour yogurt mixture over turkey pieces and stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour or overnight.

Remove turkey from marinade, discarding excess marinade. Thread turkey pieces, tomatoes and shallots onto metal skewers.

Prepare grill for medium heat. Cook skewers on grill, 12 to 15 minutes, turning skewers a quarter turn every 3 minutes.*

*Always cook turkey until well done, 165 F as measured by meat thermometer.

Chinese-Inspired Szechuan Pork Kabobs

The robust flavors of HOUSE OF TSANG® Szechuan sauce give these kabobs a Chinese-inspired flavor.

Szechuan Pork Kabobs

  • Total Time

    30 Minutes
  • 1 lb HORMEL® Pork Tenderloin, cubed
  • 1/2 cup HOUSE OF TSANG® Szechuan Spicy Stir-Fry Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 2 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon light brown syrup
  • Garnish: sliced green onion, toasted sesame seeds


In large bowl, combine pork and ingredients, tossing to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.

Remove from refrigerator and discard marinade.

Thread pork pieces onto metal skewers. Prepare grill for medium heat. Grill kabobs 12 to 15 minutes, turning often until pork is cooked through.

Garnish with sliced green onion and sesame seeds, if desired.

Bacon Bourbon BBQ Chicken Kabobs

The smoky bold flavors of barbeque sauce, bourbon and bacon bring an American-inspired flavor to chicken in these bacon bourbon kabobs.

Bacon Bourbon Barbeque Chicken Kabobs

  • Total Time

    30 minutes
  • Serves

  • 1 (16-ounce) bottle barbeque sauce
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 3 tablespoon packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 (12-ounce) package HORMEL® BLACK LABEL® Premium Cherrywood Bacon, divided
  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 inch pieces


Heat grill to 400 F.

In a small bowl, combine barbeque sauce and bourbon. Reserve 1/3 sauce mixture.

Combine kosher salt, next five ingredients and six bacon slices in food processor; pulse until smooth. Place chicken in a bowl and rub with salt mixture.

Cut remaining bacon slices into 1½-inch pieces.

Thread chicken pieces onto metal skewers alternately with remaining bacon pieces.

Place skewers on grill. Cook 3 to 5 minutes on each side, or until cooked through. Brush with barbeque sauce mixture and cook an additional 1 minute on each side.

Serve with reserved barbeque sauce mixture.

Orange Marmalade Honey Mustard Ham Kabobs

The sweetness of orange marmalade and the spices in honey mustard bring the perfect blend of flavors to ham in these kabobs that are perfect for summer.

Summer Ham Kabobs

  • Total Time

    30 minutes
  • Serves

  • 3/4 cup honey mustard barbeque sauce
  • 1/2 cup orange marmalade
  • 1 1/2 lbs HORMEL® CURE 81® Classic Boneless Ham, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 1/2 cups cubed fresh pineapple
  • skewers
  • green onions, chopped


Heat grill to medium-hot.

In small bowl, combine barbeque sauce and marmalade; mix well. Remove ½ cup mixture for basting, reserve remaining mixture.

Thread ham and pineapple chunks on skewers; brush with barbeque sauce mixture reserved for basting.

Grill skewers 10 minutes or until browned, turning frequently and basting with remaining barbeque mixture.

Sprinkle with chopped green onions, if desired. Serve with reserved sauce.

The beauty of the Shish Kabob is there’s no right or wrong recipe, there’s no ‘correct’ recipe for a Shish Kabob. Tap into your inner foodie and get creative with flavors, proteins, vegetables, and marinades!