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How to Make Shish Kebab: Tender Beef Shish Kebab Recipe

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Nov 8, 2020 • 2 min read

Middle Eastern shish kabob is the perfect easy-to-make food for outdoor grilling.



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What Is Shish Kebab?

Shish kebab is a dish of small pieces of meat grilled on skewers, sometimes with vegetables. An ancient cooking technique in the Middle East, the term “shish kebab” comes from the Turkish şiş (skewer) kebap (roasted meat). This method of quickly grilling meat is similar to Indonesian satay and Greek souvlaki.

What Kind of Meat Is Used for Shish Kebab?

Shish kebabs are traditionally lamb or mutton, but you can make kebabs with everything from beef tenderloin to chicken breasts to quick-cooking veggies like cherry tomatoes, red and green bell peppers, and zucchini. In Turkey and Greece, kılıç şiş is made with cubes of swordfish. The ideal cut of meat for a shish kebab has enough fat to stay juicy and is tender enough to cook quickly. For beef kebabs, try sirloin steak; for chicken kebabs, thighs.

How to Serve Shish Kebab

Shish kebab is a versatile dish. Try serving it with warm flatbread such as pita bread. Add a bowl of hummus, tzatziki, or tahini for dipping extra pita bread. Or, serve shish kebab alongside a simple Mediterranean rice pilaf. For some added acidity, slice a large red onion and marinate in freshly squeezed lemon juice and a pinch of sumac, and serve with shish kebab.

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Perfect Beef Shish Kebab Recipe

Prep Time
20 min
Total Time
1 hr 40 min
Cook Time
20 min


  • ¼ cup olive oil, plus more for oiling grates
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, such as Aleppo pepper
  • ½ cup plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 pounds sirloin steak
  1. Make the marinade. In a small bowl, combine marinade ingredients: olive oil, black pepper, red pepper, yogurt, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, soy sauce, salt, tomato paste, and garlic powder. Whisk to combine.
  2. Cut the steak into 1-inch pieces. Transfer the steak pieces to a resealable plastic bag or airtight container and pour the marinade over the meat, making sure each piece is coated.
  3. Marinate the beef at least 1 hour and up to overnight. If refrigerating overnight, bring to room temperature an hour before you plan to cook.
  4. If using wooden skewers, soak them in water 30 minutes before cooking. Thread meat onto skewers, leaving enough space at one end to easily turn the skewers.
  5. Preheat the barbecue or grill pan to medium-high heat and lightly oil the grates. When the grill is hot but not smoking, add the skewers. Cook until each side is well browned, about 5 minutes per side. You can also check for doneness using an instant-read thermometer (120 degrees Fahrenheit for rare, 130 degrees Fahrenheit for medium-rare, and 140 degrees Fahrenheit for medium).

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