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How to: beef kebabs

Juicy beef and vegetables, grilled together on a stick.
  • When it’s Done:
    • 135°F medium-rare
    • 145°F medium

Beef kebabs pair juicy chunks of marinated beef with aromatic vegetables, which are threaded on a stick for easy grilling and serving. For a juicier kebab, choose a well-marbled cut of meat like sirloin or even a tri-tip roast. These beef kebabs are easy to prep, easy to grill, and fun to eat. They key is cooking them over a two-zone fire, which allows you to sear and move the kebabs to prevent burned vegetables and meat that’s still raw. Here are seven simple steps to making the perfect beef kebab every time.

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    1

    Soak your skewers.

    For making kebabs, most people buy bamboo skewers at the grocery store. These are inexpensive and work well—but since they are made of wood, they will catch fire very easily. To prevent burning, soak them for an hour in water prior to threading on the meat and vegetables.

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    2

    Marinate the beef and prepare your vegetables.

    Start by cutting your beef into cubes or chunks 1 to 1½ inches squared. If the meat chunks are too small, then your kebabs can easily overcook and dry out. Place the meat in a dish and apply your favorite marinade. A marinade with a good amount of oil is preferred in order to keep the meat moist and help the exterior caramelize and form a good crust. Meanwhile, cut your vegetables into chunks about the same size as your meat chunks—1 to 1½ inches. Good choices for vegetables include onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, or even fruit like pineapple. You can marinate the vegetables for additional flavor if you like, but do so in a different container.

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    3

    Assemble your kebabs.

    Thread the meat and vegetables onto the soaked bamboo skewers, making sure not to crowd the ingredients too much. The meat and vegetable pieces should be touching, but not too snugly. If they are packed too tightly, they may not cook through in some places. If they are too loose, you run the risk of overcooking and drying out the meat.

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    4

    Start a two-zone fire.

    Set up your coals in a two-zone configuration. Keep all your hot coals on one side of your grill, leaving the other side empty. It’s a great way to sear the kebabs over high heat and keep a void space in case of flare-ups.

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    5

    Sear and turn.

    Place your beef kebabs directly over the coals on the hot side of the two-zone fire. Let them sear and get some good color, then rotate the skewer to brown the other side. If flare-ups occur or the sticks start to burn, move the skewers over to the cool side of the grill.

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    6

    Finish on the cool side.

    Once browned, move to the cool side to finish cooking. Beef reaches medium rare at 135°F. A digital, instant-read thermometer will really come in handy for indicating a temperature reading quickly. In general, beef kebabs take about seven to eight minutes total cooking time, depending on the size of the beef chunks.

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    7

    Serve immediately.

    Unlike larger cuts of meat, there is no need to let your beef kebabs rest. You can serve them immediately with the side dishes of your choice.

Don’t feel obligated to cook all the skewers at once—it takes longer than you might think to rotate and keep an eye on the skewers. So it’s best to work in smaller batches that are easier to manage.

Be sure to select vegetables that cook in a similar amount of time. Potatoes require a longer cook than bell peppers. It’s hard to cook them both well on the same skewer.

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