According to a recent YouGov survey, kebabs are Britain’s sixth most popular takeaway food, beaten by Thai, pizza, fish and chips, Indian, and Chinese – which reigned supreme with 25 percent of the votes. Only 3 percent of Brits chose the humble kebab as their favourite takeaway food.
Often revered as a typical ‘drunk’ food, kebabs are criminally underrated in the UK – even though kebab shops can be found on just about any high street, many of which serve excellent food that’s sustaining and relatively healthy (especially compared to the likes of fish and chips or pizza). They’re also widely accessible, with most kebab shops open late for us to take advantage of. If you’re looking to recreate takeaway kebabs at home, however, this chicken shish kebabs recipe is both simple and delicious, ideally cooked on the barbecue and stuffed into a warm flatbread with salad.
Chicken Shish Kebab Cooking Tips
Either chicken breast or thigh meat can be used for this recipe. While chicken breast is generally less exciting, it cooks quicker and is considerably leaner. Thigh meat, on the other hand, is more flavoursome and economical, but will take a little longer to cook.
Once cooked, the chicken should be white and opaque in the centre, with the juices running clear. If using a thermometer, chicken breast meat should register at 72C/160F, or 74C/165F for thigh meat.
If you don’t have a barbecue to hand, the chicken shish kebabs can be cooked on an indoor grill, on the stove in a hot skillet or griddle pan, or in the oven. The oven should be used as a last resort though, as none of the smoky flavour will be imparted. If you do need to cook the chicken shish kebabs in the oven, however, preheat to 200C/180C fan/gas 6 and cook the kebabs for 20-30 minutes, turning halfway through cooking.
The chicken shish kebabs are delicious on their own, with the meat removed from the skewer and piled into soft flatbreads with salad, or with sides such as bulgur, keskek, rice pilaf, or simply with chips. Leftovers are also delicious eaten cold.
The chicken shish kebab marinade ingredients can also be adjusted to suit personal taste. For a spicier kebab, use chilli powder in place of paprika, or use a sweet paprika for a milder dish.
If you’re looking to replicate the kebab shop experience, serve the kebab in sliced pitta breads, lightly toasted on the grill. Wrap the kebab in paper for a few minutes to help soften the bread. Serve with typical salad ingredients such as cucumber, tomato, red cabbage, sliced onion, shredded lettuce, and pickled chillies. The kebabs shouldn’t need sauce, but you can’t go wrong with a dollop of chilli sauce or garlic mayo (or even a bit of both).
- 6 metal skewers (or wooden skewers, soaked overnight)
- 1.5 kg chicken breasts or thigh fillets skinless
- 1 large white onion
- 250 ml Greek yoghurt
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- ½ tbsp chilli flakes ideally Aleppo pepper/pul biber
- 1 tbsp sea salt
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 2 tbsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tbsp sumac plus extra to finish
- 6 flatbreads
- Salad such as shredded lettuce, tomato, cucumber, red cabbage, onion and pickled chilli
- Begin by grating the onion using a box grater. Place the grated onion and accumulated juices into a clean, lint-free cloth and squeeze all of the juice into a large mixing bowl. Add half of the remaining onion to the mixing bowl, reserve the rest for a different recipe.
- Add the Greek yoghurt, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, chilli flakes, salt, cumin, pepper, cinnamon and sumac to the same bowl and mix to combine.
- Cut the chicken into approximately 1 inch cubes and add to the bowl. Mix until the chicken is fully submerged, then marinate in the fridge for 2-4 hours.
- Remove the chicken from the fridge, roughly divide by six and thread onto skewers.
- Cook the kebabs on a preheated barbecue, at high heat, for 15-18 minutes, turning occasionally, until charred and cooked through. Alternatively, the chicken can be cooked in the grill or on a hot skillet.
- As a last resort, the chicken shish kebabs can also be cooked in the oven at 200C/180C fan/gas 6 for 20-30 minutes, turning halfway through cooking.
- Serve with flatbreads, an extra sprinkling of sumac and optional salad.