Grilled Chicken Kebabs – Куриные Шашлыки

When Russians grill, there’s about a 95% chance or more that shishkebas will be on the menu. Chunks of meat speared on a skewered and cooked over open flame is almost like a sport or a recreation that has it’s own name. We even invite friends over in the summer by saying “let’s go kebabing”, давай соберемся на шашлыки.

It’s a beautiful tradition, sitting around a campfire, the cooking kebabs filling the air with the wonderful aroma of roasting meat, everyone talking, laughing, eating and even singing. Summer is a time of year to relax and enjoy the great outdoors. Most people do their best to avoid spending hours in the kitchen, bent over a hot stove.

Kebabs is a smart way to go, since you chop up some meat, let it marinate and then simply throw on the grill. There’s a minimum amount of prep and cleanup and the opportunity to spend more time in the sunshine and fresh air.

In our family, we have always been partial to chicken kebabs. They are a very frugal choice, but most of all, we love how juicy and moist the delicate meat turns out to be. I like to add some lemon juice and mayo to the marinade. The lemon juice adds a brightness and acidity while the mayo coats the meat. It helps the seasoning to stick to the meat while at the same time keeps it moist. I like a little bit of garlic and onion, but only enough to add great flavor, but not to overpower it.

I love the flavor of meat cooked over a fire. When you bite into the juicy and moist meat, you can taste the charred and smoky flavor permeating it all the way through each bite. The best part of the party is inviting your favorite people over for a party. Bonding over food in the “wilderness”, or at least a backyard with a grill is a way to build memories that will last for a lifetime.

Yields: about 10 kebabs


6 chicken breast halves

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon McCormick Montreal chicken seasoning, optional

1 garlic clove, minced

1 very small onion, grated

1 1/2 Tablespoons mayonnaise

1 Tablespoon lemon juice

Chop the chicken breasts into 1 1/2 – 2 inch chunks. Add the salt, pepper, chicken seasoning, garlic, onion, mayonnaise and lemon juice. Mix until well combined. Marinate for at least half an hour, preferably overnight. If you’re using bamboo skewers, soak them in water for about 20 minutes, so the water soaks into the wood. This will prevent the skewers from burning too quickly.

Tread the meat onto the skewers. You want the meat to be close together, but not smooshed in too tightly. A glass casserole dish is a perfect vessel to carry the skewers to the grill, the perfect size and shape. just make sure to put the cooked kebabs in another dish, so you don’t contaminate your food. Definitely don’t want people getting sick. Preheat the grill to high heat. Soak a paper towel/regular towel in oil, and hoding it with tongs, coat the grill grates well with oil, at least five times. Place the kebabs on the grill and grill for about 5-7 minutes per side. The outside of the meat should be charred but still juicy inside. It was too dark to take pictures on the grill, but it’s pretty straightforward. Next time we grill, I’ll make sure to take a few shots.

One of the tricks that I have for kebabs to check for doneness is taking off the end piece of meat to pop in my mouth. If it’s not pink in the center, take off the grill. Remember, the outside one will cook faster that the middle pices of meat, but you should have a very good idea of the doneness of the meat by doing this. Pair this with a baked potato and fresh tomato salad and this is the ultimate outdoor dinner.

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  1. Tanya says

    Olya, Thank you sooooooo much for this recipe! I made it yesterday for my daughter’s Birthday and it was so easy and huge hit. We made extra and saved for the next day, and they were even more flavorful. Thank you, again and again. This is my first time ever doing shashlik and it turned out very yummy. All of the guests just loved it and said that this is very, very good. I followed your recipe exactly as you wrote, except I added big pieces of onion in addition to shredding them. Thank you for another great success in the kitchen! I feel as if I’m growing wings with all of the successes I’ve had with your recipes and I am feeling confident as I try your new recipes. Thank you and May God bless you and enrich your talents even more. -Tanya

    • olgak7 says

      Yay! That’s awesome, Tanya! We love shashliki and make them A LOT. I’m so glad you and all your guests enjoyed them. I make them with onion pieces most of the time too:). Last time I made shashliki I made vegetable kebabs on the side with zucchini, peppers and onions and we loved that too.

  2. Yelena says

    This recipe sounds soo good! Although I don’t have a lemon press. I have actually been thinking about getting one, would you recommend one? Thanks.

    • olgak7 says

      I love my lemon press! I use lemons all the time, though. It squeezes out every last drop of juice from the lemon. If you don’t use lemons very often, you can just some girl power and give it a good squeeze. Roll the lemon around on the counter, pressing on it lightly, before you cut it open. This bursts all the tiny cells in the lemon, and makes the juice come out much more freely.

        • olgak7 says

          Yep, AMCO. It is wonderful. I don’t like to have too much clutter, with useless tools, so I keep it at a minimum. I only buy tools that I use all the time:). This one is great. I use it to squeeze limes and smaller oranges too.

  3. Maria says

    This recipe sounds great. Two questions: 1) how much lemon juice should be added (as I don’t see the amount listed under ingredients; 2) can chicken thighs be substituted for chicken breasts?

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