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Skewered Meat: Who Invented the Kebab?

Updated on December 30, 2015

Healthy and Colorful Kabob


Fruit Kabob


Shish kabobs (or kababs), as western culture calls this food item, are also known as kebabs or kebaps in other countries. Kabobs are a common food course in the Middle East and Northern Africa. It’s easy to prepare and filling and has been around for centuries. Kabobs has several spellings depending on which country they are made: kebap, kabab, and kebab.

"Shish” is derived from a Turkish term that means “skewer.” “Kebab” is the Turkish term for “roast meat.” A kabob can consist of any type of cubed pieces of meat alternated with vegetables as on option. You can also make kabobs out of fruit which is a great display for summer holiday gatherings. The meat kabobs are grilled and if the meat is marinated, it’s a fun wow dish. Commonly used vegetables used for the alternating method are grape tomatoes, any of the bell peppers, onions and mushrooms.

We don’t really know the exact year kabobs were created, but do know they are native to Turkey. Allegedly, Turkish soldiers would take cubes of meat placing them on their swords and cook on top of an open fire, which was also a faster method of cooking a small piece of meat during that era.

Greece has another type of kabob which consists of the same ingredients, but instead is wrapped in a pita and called a gyro. The shish kabob, however, is the most common type of kabob. In the 19th Century, the doner kabob, or “rotating kabob,” was created. Another type of kabob is the kathi kabob that is spiced meat, still on a skewer, but cooked in an oven called a tandoor, and once such recipe using this method is tandoori chicken.

If you can find a great marinade recipe, then the cubed pieces of meat can be marinated overnight before they hit the grill the next day. You can mix sweet and spicy such as spicy hot sausage and pineapple chunks.

Our Weekend Kabobs - Hot Off the Grill!


Wooden Skewers vs. Metal Skewers

When my family makes kabobs, we use a thick wooden skewer that’s disposable.We soak them in water before using.The difference between the wooden skewer and the metal skewer as far as we can tell is that the metal skewer is reusable, but you also have to wait until the metal cools down before picking it up.You don’t have that issue with the wooden skewer and we have never had a fire issue with a wooden skewer.Obviously, when you make fruit kabobs, no soaking is necessary.I doubt a wooden skewer would catch fire on the grill even if it isn’t soaked.We use thick and sturdy wooden skewers, which I recommend.

Marinade Recipe



1 cup vegetable oil

3/4 cup soy sauce

1/2 cup lemon juice

1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

1/4 cup prepared mustard

1-1/2 teaspoons coarsely cracked black pepper

2 cloves garlic minced

1 teaspoon meat tenderizer (optional)


In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the oil, soy sauce, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, ground black pepper, garlic, and meat tenderizer. Mix well, and add your favorite meat. Seal the bag, and marinate in the refrigerator for 4 to 24 hours.

Marinated Steak Kebabs


Submit a Comment

  • ytsenoh profile image

    Cathy 6 years ago from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri

    I agree, I think it's been around forever. Thanks for your comment.

  • Pamela N Red profile image

    Pamela N Red 6 years ago from Oklahoma

    Great information. I love kabobs but didn't know the origin, never really thought about it. Meat on a stick probably has been around since the dawn of fire when neanderthals discovered it was safer so they didn't burn their fingers.