The Best BBQ Chicken Kebabs Recipe

5 / 5 (5 reviews)

One of the best chicken recipes – BBQ Chicken Kebabs!

This isn’t your ordinary barbecue chicken. In fact, these BBQ Chicken Kebabs are the best barbecue chicken I’ve tasted. It has definitely earned its place among the best chicken recipes out there! A few easy extra steps really add a depth of flavor that you can’t get from just a BBQ sauce. Don’t let it overwhelm you… it’s easier than you think! In fact, you can watch a video of the action HERE.

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One of those extras is the addition of processed raw bacon; a bacon paste, if you will. Stay with me here… I promise it is worth it. Just cut up a few slices of raw bacon, then put the pieces in a food processor or blender and process until you have bacon paste or puree. (I usually use Zaycon chicken and bacon!)

The bacon doesn’t actually add much of a bacon flavor, but more of a smoky flavor that enhances the rub and the sauce. Sounds weird, but it works!

Food processors and blenders can be expensive. A hand blender with accessories can be a great alternative…it’s a multi-purpose tool! It is a great tool to have – there are so many other great uses for it like making protein shakes, whipping eggs, whipping cream, emulsifying salad dressing, pureeing sauces, making salsa, and even guacamole! And it works to make the bacon paste for this recipe. 🙂

Two Types of Paprika

Another element that really adds flavor is a rub made of paprika, smoked paprika, and sugar.  Yes, that’s right…two different types of paprika in there.

I couldn’t find one in the store that said “sweet paprika,” so I use any good quality regular paprika for that. Smoked paprika seems to be clearly labeled and easy to find though. You can always try looking online too!

Before threading the chicken onto skewers, coat the chicken with the bacon paste and the paprika spice mixture. I use my hands to mix it all together and it does get messy, but it rinses right off. A baking sheet makes a good tray for mixing the chicken and transporting the skewers!

My Favorite Skewers

These stainless steel skewers are awesome, by the way. You don’t have to remember to soak them like you would with wooden ones. They are high quality, simple, and work well. I actually have two sets of them!

The chicken only needs 30-60 minutes of “marinating” time total; so it doesn’t take several hours of planning ahead to make these yummy kebabs. Hooray for that!

I have made these BBQ chicken kebabs with the homemade sauce originally included with the recipe and it is good, but I prefer a slightly sweeter sauce. My recommendation is to use 1 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce, whether it is homemade or store-bought. If you’re like me, you might want to try this Sweet Baby Ray’s Barbecue Sauce copycat recipe.

P.S. – Using a Pit Mitt or something similar makes it quick and easy to flip kebabs on the grill! See more grilling gloves.

Watch this delicious recipe in action:

Side dish ideas to go with the kebabs:

I first saw this recipe on Pink Parsley, but ended up adapting it to be more similar the one posted on Mel’s Kitchen Cafe. However, the recipe is originally from Cook’s Illustrated May/June 2011. Hope you try it and love it!

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The Best BBQ Chicken Kebabs Recipe

5 / 5 (5 reviews)
Prep Time: 50 mins | Cook Time: 10 mins
Yield: six 14-inch kebabs | Serves: 6-8

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sweet paprika
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 4 teaspoons sugar
  • 2-3 slices raw bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce

Instructions

  1. Trim chicken of excess fat, then cut the chicken into 1-inch cubes. In a large bowl, toss the chicken with the salt. Then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour.

  2. Turn all grill burners to high, close lid, and heat for about 15 minutes. Leave primary burner on, but turn off other burners.

  3. Meanwhile, pat the chicken pieces dry with paper towels. In a small bowl, combine both paprika and sugar. Place the raw bacon in a food processor or blender and pulse for about 30-45 seconds, until a smooth paste forms, scraping down the sides of the bowl twice throughout. Add the bacon paste and spice mixture to the chicken. Mix with hands or spatula until the ingredients are blended and chicken is coated. Thread the chicken onto the skewers, rolling or folding as needed to maintain 1-inch cubes.

  4. Grill the chicken over the primary burner with lid closed, turning one-quarter of a turn every 2 minutes or so, until browned and slightly charred (about 8 minutes total for chicken breast and 10 minutes for thighs). Brush the top of kebabs with BBQ sauce; flip and cook until sauce is browned in spots, about 1 minute. Brush second side with sauce; flip and cook for another minute or so, until cooked through.

  5. Remove kebabs from grill, tent with foil, and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve, passing remaining BBQ sauce separately, if desired.

Recipe Adapted From: Cook's Illustrated May/June 2011

Ingredients: Bacon, BBQ Sauce, Chicken, Kosher Salt, Paprika, Salt, Sugar
Meal Type: Main Dish, Popular, Father's Day, Summer, Super Bowl Party, Dairy Free, Egg Free, Gluten Free
Categories: BBQ, Meat and Poultry, Grill

Comments & Reviews

  • Wendy McInteer

    These were wonderful, the whole family enjoy it! Served with some grilled vegetables and it was perfect.

  • Cherie

    I made these for a party this past weekend (I skewered whole chicken tenders to save time) and they were so popular that they were all gone before I even had a chance to taste one. Guess I’ll be making them again this week so I can see what all the rave reviews were about!

  • Amy

    Found these on Pinterest, made them for dinner tonight. Very tasty!

  • Betsy

    Oh YuMmY!!! I can’t wait to give these a try!!

    Blessings ♥
    Betsy

  • Shay wells

    I’m hoping to make these tomorrow for the 4th….but I have a TON of other dishes to make. Can I marinate and skewer them tonight? Then just BBQ tomorrow? Has anyone prepared them the night before?

  • Teresa Miller

    These kabobs are delicious, as a mater of fact I’m making them tonight for the 3rd time…..Kudos!! Thanks for sharing!

  • Jackie

    These are AMAZING! Just finishing my last bite and I had to come tell you. I forgot to buy bacon, so I added a squirt or two of liquid smoke. While it was marinating it smelled divine. Then cooking I just drizzled a little bit of bbq sauce on, and ooooh yum. I served it with baked potatoes and grilled pineapple.

    • Melanie

      Great idea to use liquid smoke as a sub for the bacon in a pinch, Jackie. Sounds like you made a very delicious meal!

  • BillJude56

    This recipe is just what I’ve been looking for. BBQing chicken with plain old BBQ sauce gets kinda same old after a while. Adding this to my Evernote Recipes notebook. Thanks!

  • Betty819

    We live in a Sr. Citizens community where grills are not allowed; can these be baked in the oven? Do you use metal skewers or wooden ones? Wooden ones would need to be soaked at least 30 min. prior to cooking to keep them from burning. If I cooked them in a oven, do you bake them uncovered or cover with foil ? I have a small Oskar food processor that I use to chop nuts, cabbage, carrotts, tuna fish or chicken salad that I buy from the deli that is in too big of chunks. I also use it for slicing and dicing onions, celery and bell pepper..I can’t image putting raw bacon in it, I don’t think it would do nothing but toss it around, not cut it up..Maybe I should try it and see what happens.. Why not save your bacon grease in a jar or can and dip the chicken in that first? Would it accomplish the same results?

    • Melanie

      Hi, Betty!
      I think you could definitely broil these kebabs. Adjust oven rack 6 inches from broiler element and heat broiler. Line broiler pan bottom with foil and top with slotted broiler pan top. Arrange skewers on prepared pan. Broil, turning occasionally and brushing on sauce (as in the recipe), until chicken is charred around edges and registers 160 degrees, about 10 minutes.
      Wooden or metal skewers will work great, whether it is in the oven or on the grill.
      It might take a few minutes, but the raw bacon will turn into a paste. I think the bacon paste will have much more of an impact than bacon grease.
      Give it a try! I hope you like it!

  • Melissa

    I took these to a friend’s cookout on Sunday and they were the biggest hit of all the dishes!!! Everybody loved them and I practically had to haul the kids off of them so everyone could have some! This is how I will prepare all BBQ chicken in the future regardless of its form, breast, leg, kebab, whatever:)) Thanks for a fabulously delicious recipe! The only change I made was I added 2 cloves of garlic to the bacon and then pureed it.

  • Heather

    Hi there, i want to make these for dinner but i do not have a food processor to do the bacon…..help please!!

    • Melanie

      A high-powered blender would probably also work, or you could just chop the bacon into really fine pieces until it is as close to a paste as you can get! It might also work if you chop the bacon into small pieces then try using a potato ricer or pressing the bacon through a mesh colander to get the paste.

  • Sara

    Made these for supper tonight. Oh. My. God. They were fantastic! Will definitely be adding these to the meal rotation!

  • Rochelle

    These are amazingly delicious, made these for a dinner party for 16 people and everyone raved about this recipe. Love the smokey flavor from the bacon. Definitely a keeper!!

  • dee

    These look great. Can’t wait to try them. Thanks

  • Anne-Marie

    tried these last weekend. Couldn’t mix the bacon in properly but OMG they were awesome! So your recipe is now a big hit in the Netherlands as well!

  • naheed

    Sound very delicious. ………
    I recommend two table of yogurt except bacon

  • Crystal

    Hi, I want to make these. But I don’t seem to find sweet paprika?
    Should I use all regular paprika?
    I don’t want it to be too spicy. Please advice

  • Bev Daly

    If you want awesome sweet BBQ sauce try Montgomery Inn. It’s mainly sold in the Ohio/KY/IN area because it’s based on Montgomery Inn in Cincinnati. Every time I go home I load up.

  • Amelia Jacobs

    I am on my second smart stick. And I’ve convinced two employers to buy them. Love them. Smoked paprika is amazing. I need to try this.

  • Carol McGowan

    I forgot to add bacon & the kabobs tasted delicious! This was a test run for the 4th, guess one ingredient l won’t be leaving out? Great recipe 🙂

    • Melanie

      Well, I guess that’s good to know – that they still taste awesome even without the bacon! They will be perfect for the 4th! Thanks for commenting and I hope you have a great holiday. 🙂

  • Salwa

    I am so trying these on a BBQ we are having this weekend! Thanks for the recipe

    • Salwa

      Can I replace the bacon with something else? since we don’t eat bacon

      • Melanie

        Hi, Salwa! Someone else commented that they didn’t use bacon at all and it was still delicious. So I would probably just omit the bacon if I were you. Hope they turn out awesome for you!

  • Terah Webster

    Do you have to use the bacon paste. Was thinking this might be a great discounts when camping. Please advise as we have 2 trips back-to-back. Thanks in advance.

    • Melanie

      I haven’t tried leaving out the bacon paste, but some other readers have left comments about the chicken still being good without it. So, you can give it a try!

      • Ed

        Hello I have a charcoal grill so what temp and for how long to cook thanks.

        • Melanie

          Hi, Ed! I have not used a charcoal grill before, so I haven’t done this myself. But from what I read, it sounds like this would might be a good method…
          Open the bottom grill vents completely and place the roasting pan on one side of the grill. Light a large chimney starter filled with charcoal briquettes. When the coals are hot, pour them in an even layer over half the grill, opposite the roasting pan. Set the cooking grate in place, cover, and open the lid vents completely. Heat the grill until hot, about 5 minutes. Cook the chicken on the hotter part of the grill, following the timing and directions from the recipe. (I would guess the temp to be 350.)

  • Tonya

    Can you make these she a d of time and freeze them for later and just reheat them?

    • Melanie

      I haven’t tried freezing this before, so I can’t say for sure. Seems like it would work, but freezing it could dry it out too. Let me know how it goes if you try it!

  • Kimmie

    I followed the recipe as directed, but brined my chicken breast for an hour and used maple bacon. These barbecue kabobs were outstanding! My family loved them! We’ll be making them again!

  • Cathy

    So delicious and worth the minimal extra effort! Rave reviews every time!

  • Bonnie

    I don’t see the cooking time, just the 5 minutes to rest?

    • Melanie

      Oh shoot. We changed to a different recipe format and must have lost the rest of the instructions! I’ll try to fix it asap!

    • Melanie

      Trim chicken of excess fat, then cut the chicken into 1-inch cubes. In a large bowl, toss the chicken with the salt. Then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour.
      Turn all grill burners to high, close lid, and heat for about 15 minutes. Leave primary burner on, but turn off other burners.
      Meanwhile, pat the chicken dry with paper towels. In a small bowl, combine the paprikas and sugar. Place the raw bacon in a food processor and pulse for about 30-45 seconds, until a smooth paste forms, scraping down the sides of the bowl twice throughout. Add the bacon paste and spice mixture to the chicken. Mix with hands or spatula until the ingredients are blended and chicken is coated. Thread the chicken onto the skewers, rolling or folding as needed to maintain 1-inch cubes.
      Grill the chicken over the primary burner with lid closed, turning one-quarter of a turn every 2 minutes or so, until browned and slightly charred (about 8 minutes total for chicken breast and 10 minutes for thighs). Brush the top of kebabs with BBQ sauce; flip and cook until sauce is browned in spots, about 1 minute. Brush second side with sauce; flip and cook for another minute or so, until cooked through.
      Remove kebabs from grill and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve, passing remaining BBQ sauce separately, if desired.

  • Natalie (QSOgirl)

    I recently found this recipe via a blogger I follow, who posted some of her recent favorite recipes. Oh boy oh boy am I glad that I tried this one! It is delicious. Thank you so much– I am excited for it to go into our regular summer grilling rotation!

  • marie bellav

    this was a disaster for me. The bacon paste clumped and wouldn’t stick to the chicken, just slid right off into clumps.

    • Melanie

      So sorry to hear that, Marie! Patting the chicken dry usually helps a lot with a problem like that. Let me know if I can answer any questions or help in some way. 🙂

  • Marilyn

    Have you tried putting them in the oven? It is raining really hard today…

    • Melanie

      I personally have not, but I know you can! Here are some instructions for what I would do to cook them in the oven: Adjust oven rack 6 inches from broiler element and heat broiler. Line broiler pan bottom with foil and top with slotted broiler pan top. Arrange skewers on prepared pan. Broil, turning occasionally and brushing on sauce (as in the recipe), until chicken is charred around edges and registers 160 degrees, about 10 minutes.

  • Gustavo

    I’m looking at the nutrition facts and geez, 445% of Potassium.. is that for a bunch of the kebabs, is it an error, or is it legitimately that much?

    • Melanie

      That must be an error! I’m not sure why it says that. When I enter the ingredients on a nutrition info site, it shows 7% potassium. Sorry about that!

  • Ariel

    I live in a small apartment without a grill and the broiler in my oven is questionable…do you think I could simply just bake these in the oven at 350 for half an hour or so? I know I wouldn’t get any crispy bits, but what do u think?

    • Melanie

      Well, it is probably worth a try! You’re right that it won’t quite be the same. There’s a chance that the chicken could dry out too. I would try baking it at 375 or 425 degrees F, but I really don’t know how it will turn out since I haven’t tried it myself! The safe internal temperature for cooked chicken is 165 degrees F, so I’d make sure it cooks for long enough to reach that. Let us know how it goes!

  • Louie

    You’ll find sweet paprika in a European deli. Hungarian sweet paprika is delicious!

  • Chantal

    This was great! I only have a little chopper that is food processor style and I ground up my bacon still slightly frozen – worked like a charm. Don’t be too concerned with finding sweet paprika, I’ve made it with a bit of spicy paprika when I’ve been short on one variety and it still tastes great (if not better, depending on your preference of course). I’ve also mixed all the ingredients in a large Ziploc and added my chicken chunks dry rub style to marinate the flavors overnight, then skewer them when you get home from work, it makes for a quick and super easy meal!
    Real talk – my husband can be super picky and he loves these, especially when I stick a chunk of sweet pepper between each chicken chunk.

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