6 Rules for Grilling the Absolute Best Kebabs

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This time of year, it’s tempting to rush into grilling, throwing whatever ingredients you’ve got onto the hot grates with abandon. We know you can’t wait to dine alfresco, but it’s worth taking a moment to remind yourself of the basics — especially when it comes to kebabs. These crowd-pleasing meals on a stick are a big part of many a griller’s regular rotation. Here’s how to get them right every time.

1: Don’t forget to soak those skewers!

If you’re using wooden skewers instead of metal ones, dunk them in water for at least 20 minutes before you start grilling. This minimizes the chance that they’ll catch on fire.

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2: Cut ingredients into similar sizes — but position them smartly, too.

If your bites are all about the same size, they’ll cook at the same rate — a key factor in a successful kebab. But as a cut of meat tapers toward its ends, you might have some pieces that just can’t help but be thinner than the others.

“Put those in the center of the kebab,” says Alexis Markowitz, recipe developer in Food Network Kitchen. “There, they will be insulated by the other pieces, and protected from overcooking.”

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3: Don’t shy away from cooking veggies and meat on the same skewer.

“Although you can cook more precisely by skewering meat and veggies separately, I like veggie and meat on the same skewer,” says Markowitz. “I love biting into them together, and they impart flavor on each other by touching (especially true with something like pineapple!).”

Try it: Chicken and Pineapple Skewers

4: Don’t overstuff your skewer.

Leave some space between the ingredients on the kebabs. This allows the heat to circulate so the ingredients can cook evenly.

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Foil

5: Get some help from aluminum foil.

“When I’m grilling a more delicate vegetable or fruit kebab (like one with tomatoes), I like to lay a piece of heavy-duty foil down on the grill, and then cook on top of the foil,” says Food Network Kitchen recipe tester Amanda Neal. “This way, the produce still cooks and gets some char, but the direct heat is less aggressive and the kebabs stay intact.”

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6: Grill over direct heat for a nice sear.

For that summery char we all enjoy at backyard cookouts, place kebabs over direct heat on your grill. If they start to get too crispy before they’re cooked through, finish them over indirect heat.

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