Is there anything better than smoked chicken kabobs, freshly prepared using a charcoal fire? Yes—smoked sesame chicken and beef kabobs coming together in a mixed grill. Combining the two introduces texture and a depth of flavor to your plate, and is sure to satisfy all the smoked-meat lovers in your household.
Whether you’re a beginner who wants to learn how to make kebab from scratch, or a seasoned pro looking for a new recipe, our tutorial has you covered. These smoked sesame chicken and beef kabobs pack a powerful punch in the flavor department, but they’re also impressively low in fat. Adding mushrooms, peppers and onions to the skewers gives the kabobs a welcome crunch while allowing you to get in a solid dose of vegetables at the same time.
How to Make Smoked Sesame Chicken & Beef Kabobs
What You’ll Need For This Kabobs Recipe
- A smoker(preferred) or charcoal grill
- A chimney starter
- Charcoal briquettes and lighter fluid, or lump charcoal
- Aluminum pan for holding water (if using a traditional grill)
- Wood chips (optional, see Pro Tip below)
- Wooden skewers, soaked in water for at least 30 minutes
- A sturdy set of grilling tongs
- A 1-gallon zip-top bag
- At least 2 plates for holding the kabobs before and after cooking
- An instant-read meat thermometer
Pro Tip: If you’re using wood chips, this recipe works well with fruit wood like peach, apple, or cherry.
For the Marinade:
- 1 cup plain yogurt (if you use Greek yogurt, you may need to add more lemon juice to the recipe to thin the marinade)
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup sesame oil
- 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce (we prefer tamari for this recipe, but feel free to use whatever you have on hand)
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, finely grated
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons freshly minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
For the Kabobs:
- 1-1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch chunks
- 1-1/2 lbs sirloin beef tips, cut into 1-inch chunks
- 1/2 lb white button mushrooms, halved
- 1 onion, cut into wedges
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 green bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted (for sprinkling)
- Make the marinade. Combine all ingredients in a bowl made of nonreactive material (such as stainless steel). Set aside about 1/4 cup to use on the kabobs while they’re cooking.
Pro Tip: It’s important to set aside the smaller amount of marinade prior to adding the meat. Once the marinade has been exposed to raw meat, it could be carrying dangerous bacteria and should be discarded immediately after use.
- Prepare the meat. Use a meat tenderizer to pound on the chicken and beef before adding it to the marinade. In addition to tenderizing the meat, it will help it soak up the flavors.
- Add the marinade and the tenderized meat to a sturdy, 1-gallon zip-top bag. Be sure to allow as much air as possible to escape before sealing the bag. Give the bag a good shake to ensure that every piece of meat gets coated with the yogurt marinade.
- Place bag in refrigerator and allow the meat to marinate for 2 to 3 hours.
- While meat is marinating, soak the wood skewers in water so that they won’t catch fire during cooking.
- Prepare your charcoal fire. If you’re using a smoker, follow the unit’s instructions for getting a low and slow fire going. You’ll want the kabobs to cook at about 275 degrees—slightly higher than the temp you might use for smoking ribs or pulled pork.
If you opt to use your charcoal grill as a smoker, you’ll need a water pan (a simple, inexpensive foil cake tin will work). Fill your chimney starter about one-third full with briquettes or lump charcoal. When the fire has died down and the coal is covered with a thin layer of ash, add all the charcoal to one side of the grate. Place your disposable foil pan on the other side and add about two to three cups of water to the pan.
It should take about 30 minutes to one hour for the coals to cook down to the proper temperature for smoking the kabobs. When they’re ready, drop your prepared wood chips onto the coals, then position the cooking grate above the fire. Note that it may be necessary to add more coals during the cooking process if the fire dies down too much before the kabobs are ready.
- Remove meat from the marinade. When the meat has spent enough time in the chicken kabob marinade, gather all your ingredients. Discard the yogurt marinade, allowing the excess to drip off before adding the meat to the skewers.
- Assemble the kabobs. Thread the meat and vegetables through the skewers. The most efficient way to do this is to start with beef, then a layer of onion, one layer each green and red bell pepper, then mushroom, then chicken. Repeat the process with each skewer, adding additional layers if necessary.
Pro Tip: Remember to leave at least one inch of free space at the end of each skewer. This will help to ensure even cooking, and give the tongs something to grab on to when the kabobs are ready to come off the grill.
- Add the kabobs to the prepared grill. For the meat to reach the desired flavor and consistency, the kabobs should cook for about an hour and a half. Turn the skewers every half-hour so that the heat and flavor distributes evenly. Use an instant-read thermometer to ensure that the chicken has reached an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Brush the kabobs with the additional marinade that you set aside earlier as needed to help maintain moisture and boost the flavors.
- Remove meat from grill and sprinkle with the reserved sesame seeds. Serve alongside basmati rice, or substitute brown rice cooked with a little extra-virgin olive oil.
Pro Tip: If you have any fresh or canned pineapple on hand, feel free to add a small amount to the rice. Other ideas for side dishes include raita, a cucumber-yogurt sauce traditionally made with fresh mint; tomato salad; and various chutneys.
Once you’ve tried your hand at these smoked chicken kabobs, you’ll find yourself turning back to the recipe time and again. They make the perfect game-day appetizer, are a welcome addition to any family gathering, and are substantial enough to serve as the centerpiece for a summertime repast—day or night. Enjoy!