Barbecued Chicken Kebabs Revised

I made these BBQ Chicken Kebabs three months ago for a party and they turned out fantastic.  I am posting the recipe again, because in the heat of party there were some important things I missed, plus I added more bacon as someone suggested. I stand by my statement at the time: “this is the best barbecued chicken I’ve ever eaten”.

Delicious Kebobs are the best BBQ ever

The changes were:

  1. Chris Kimball’s recipe leaves the impression that the grilling time is about 12 minutes. In reality, the chicken takes a full 30 minutes on the grill to reach 175-degrees. Also, the recipe doesn’t mention if the grill should be covered or uncovered, but I found that chicken thighs need the heat trapping provided by the grill cover to reach 175-degrees without burning the exterior.
  2. Three months ago I said that it made a low/medium mess. I see now that it makes a bigger mess than I remembered. I’ve reordered a few things in the recipe below to use two fewer dishes, but still the recipe makes (at least) a “medium” mess.
  3. As suggested by a reader last time, I added more bacon. Also because different brands have wider slices, I added a weight (3 ounces). I used Farmland bacon this time, but the slices were exceptionally thin. To calculate 3 ounces without a scale just count the total slices in a package and do the math.
  4. The BBQ sauce takes 9 to 10 minutes to reduce to 1-cup, rather than the 7 minutes specified in the original recipe.

Rating: 4-1/2-stars.
Cost: $5 for 2 pounds of chicken. Makes four 8-9″ kebabs.
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess?  Medium.
Start time 4:30 PM. Ready at 6:30 PM.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here. My descriptions of how I prepare it are given below:

Homemade BBQ Sauce:

1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup molasses
2 tablespoons grated onion
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon light brown sugar

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
4 teaspoons sugar
3 – 4 slices bacon (3 oz)
4 skewers

  1. Grate 1/2 small onion and place in small saucepan. By grating the onion before cutting up your chicken, you can use the same cutting board.
  2. Trim any excess fat from chicken and cut into 1-inch cubes. Put chicken cubes in a large bowl, sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of kosher salt and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerator for 1 hour.
  3. Then add all remaining sauce ingredients to small saucepan with onions and place over medium heat. Stir occasionally until the sauce has reduced to 1 cup; about 9 minutes. Add 1/2-cup sauce to small bowl (to be used during barbecuing), setting the remaining sauce aside to serve at the table.
  4. If using wood skewers, soak them in a Pyrex casserole dish filled with water.
  5. With 5 minutes before your chicken is ready to come out of the refrigerator, light a large chimney starter three-quarters filled, about 75-coals.
  6. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels.
  7. Cut the bacon slices into 1/2-inch pieces, and process in food processor until it forms a smooth paste; about 45 seconds. Scrape the sides of the food processor twice during processing to ensure an even paste. Sprinkle paprika and sugar over chicken, then add the bacon paste. Using your hands, mix until spices and evenly blended and chicken is completely coated with paste.
  8. Thread the chicken cubes onto skewers. Chris Kimball recommends metal skewers, but I used wood skewers without problem. Some oddly shaped chicken cubes required rolling or folding meat to maintain even thickness of the skewers.
  9. Once charcoal is fully ignited and partially covered with thin layer of ash (takes about 30 minutes with new Kingsford formulation), dump all charcoal over half of grill bottom, leaving other half empty. Replace the cooking grate and scrape clean with grill brush.
  10. Place chicken kebabs directly over the coals. Cover, and turn a quarter turn every 2-1/2 minutes (for a total of 10 minutes for thighs). Rearrange the kebabs while rotating to ensure even cooking. After 15 minutes they should be well browned and slightly charred. Brush the tops of the kebabs with 1/4-cup of BBQ sauce, and immediately flip the kebobs (sauce side down). Cook for 2 minutes, then brush the second side with another 1/4-cup sauce. Immediately flip and cook for 2 minutes. Begin rotating for even cooking until a thermometer registers 175 degrees (for thighs); about 10 more minutes. (Should be about 30 minutes total on the grill).
  11. Remove kebabs from grill and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve, passing remaining barbecue sauce separately.

6 Responses to Barbecued Chicken Kebabs Revised

  1. lorri says:

    the comment above your picture includes the words ” best BBQ ever” and I agree – this is a real tasty BBQ chicken dish. And I like the sauce too, as an alternative (alternative to other BBQ sauces I/we like.).

    One thing I’m going to do next time: puree a LOT of bacon, in batches – – but make several portions since I’m already using the food processor. I’ll use a portion and freeze the rest. Bacon paste is now to go for the next time I make this recipe. Mmmm!

  2. Hi Lorri, yes I agree that pureeing the bacon a few ounces each time you need it adds a lot to the cleanup. That’s a good idea to puree a whole 1-lb package at a time and divide up into individual portions before you freeze.

    About how many ounces of bacon did you use? I think I doubled the bacon from the first time, and I definitely liked it more.

    And the sauce only takes about 15 minutes to make, compared to an hour or more for most sauces.


  3. lorri says:

    How much bacon? 10 pieces the first time ! I will note a quantity of the bacon fell off / stuck to the grill. As such – I was glad i used 10 pieces of bacon because there was still a lot of bacon remaining on the chicken.

    I will acknowledge that 10 pieces is excessive. Perhaps 4 “portions’ of pureed bacon, from a 1 pound bag, is still generous, but not too over-the-top.

  4. Thank you so much for the advice about chopping the onions first! I was (oddly) excited about not having to wash the cutting board twice. The weird thing is that when I first made this, I thought that it was decidedly NOT the best bbq ever and was feeling disillusioned in Cook’s Illustrated and all of that extra bacon gone to waste. . . but the next day? It was out of this world. Really, it is the best bbq ever.

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