Barbecued Chicken Kebabs

It is almost grilling season – in some areas of the country, it probably already is.  We are on our second day of sun here in the Pacific Northwest, and you can hear the cheering from miles away.  It has been a long time coming.  I love the clouds – but I have even started to get a little crazy when I remember that it is the middle of May.  I know, I know, I am crazy anyway – but even crazier if you can believe it.  Watching my girls play T-Ball and Softball in my thick down puffy jacket in May just doesn’t seem right…

My husband (the grill master of the house) will put anything on the grill that I prepare, but I must say, kebabs is not his favorite.  They are cumbersome on the grill, and it is really hard to cook them properly and consistently without drying out the meat.  He does a great job at it, but I know it is not easy – especially when it is chicken breasts.

I saw this recipe in Cook’s Illustrated where they went into great details about the different variations they tried to make sure the chicken stayed moist – this was the winner.  Well, I had to try it to believe it – and it was perfection!  First of all, the bacon paste was genius.  Who wouldn’t love the taste of bacon grilled onto chicken?  The flavor was outstanding, and the meat stayed tender and juicy.  The BBQ was such a hit as well – I will definitely use it again.  That is, if the sun ever decides to shine in our lives again…



  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup light or mild molasses
  • 2 tablespoons grated onion (used the large holes on a box grater)
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar


  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1″ cubes
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons sweet paprika
  • 4 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 2 slices of bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • metal skewers


Sauce:  Bring all ingredients to simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat; cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce reaches ketchup-like consistency and is reduced to about 1 cup, 5 to 7 minutes.  Transfer 1/2 cup sauce to a small bowl and set aside remaining sauce to serve with the cooked chicken (although I didn’t think it needed it!).

Kebabs:  Toss the chicken and salt in a large bowl; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour.

While the grill heats, pat the chicken dry with paper towels.  Combine the sweet paprika, sugar, and smoked paprika in a small bowl.  Process the bacon in a food processor until a smooth paste forms, 30 to 45 seconds, scraping down the bowl twice during processing.  Add the bacon paste and pice mixture to the chicken;  mix with your hands or a rubber spatula until all the ingredients are thoroughly blended and the chicken is completely coated.  Thread the meat onto skewers, rolling or folding meat as necessary to maintain 1″ cubes.

Place the kebabs on the grill turning 1/4 turn every 2 to 2 1/2 minutes until well browned and slightly charred – approximately 8 minutes for breasts or 10 minutes for thighs.  Brush the top surface of the kebabs with 1/4 cup of the sauce; flip and cook until the sauce is brown in spots, about 1 minute.  Brush the second side with the remaining 1/4 cup of sauce;  flip and continue to cook until brown in spots and instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of the meat registers 160 degrees for breasts and 175 degrees for thighs, about 1 minute longer.  Remove kebabs and let them rest for 5 minutes before serving.  Pass with the reserved sauce.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Barbecued Chicken Kebabs

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