Barbecued Chicken Kebabs from The Best of America's Test Kitchen 2012

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Remember the parental ‘talks’ that began with, “When I was your age….”? Most are bad enough, but imagine being on the receiving end of those chats when your parents are both European WWII survivors. My most memorable one has something to do with the difference between the dentist drill I had to face and the one my mom had to sit under as a child (I think foot-pedal powered entered the conversation).

I haven’t pulled out the “when I was your age” cannon yet, but I’m sure I will. I’ve already started lining up the various examples. She complains about having to ride the bus home from school; I walked. In Chicago weather. I can’t say it was uphill both ways because Illinois is pretty darn flat and she’s actually already seen the school I went to. Not enough clothes to wear? I shared a dresser with my sister. I won’t even begin to tell you the amount of clothes she has.

One thing I can’t use as a comparison is kebabs. We had two kinds when I was her age. Both were Armenian. One was made from chunks of lamb (shish kebab) and the other was ground beef with onions, parsley and other goodies mixed in ( ¬†kebab). I win.

Except that Dudette will grow up with those two types of kebabs, other varieties that use pork and vegetables. And these; barbecued chicken kebabs. Apparently, we both win.

The Process

If you remember back a couple of weeks, I prepared America’s Test Kitchen’s null and we loved it. Bless the folks there for going beyond the dry rub and wanting to show that they can put forth a good wet barbecue sauce as well.

One thing I like about this recipe very much is the salt that goes on the cubes of chicken breast for an hour prior to grilling. It helped keep the chicken moist while grilling.

The bacon paste is definitely a bit weird and kind of gross. I was curious as to whether the family would notice that it was there.

The sauce, a combination of ketchup, molasses, onion, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, cider vinegar and brown sugar is easy enough to simmer until thick. I applaud the Test Kitchen for grating the onion instead of mincing it. A much more smooth sauce is created that way.

The Verdict

We didn’t actually fight over these, but the amount that everyone ate was watched closely to make sure that no one person got more than another (can you feel the love?). That’s how much we liked these. The kebabs never even made it to the table. They went from the grill, to a plate, to our stomachs. We don’t normally eat that casually, but sometimes it’s just fun to stand around and graze.

And no, no one guessed that there was bacon coating the chicken.

What I’d Do Different Next Time

I found the sauce to be a bit too tangy for me. I like mine sweeter, but that’s personal taste. To ‘fix’ it, I’d reduce the cider vinegar and Dijon mustard to 1 tablespoon each and up the brown sugar to 2 tablespoons.

Barbecued Chicken Kebabs from The Best of America's Test Kitchen 2012
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Reviewed by:
Recipe type: Grilling
Cuisine: American
Serves: 4
  • Sauce
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • ¼ cup light or mild molasses
  • 2 tablespoons grated onion
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar
  • Kebabs
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons sweet paprika
  • 4 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 2 slices bacon, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 4 12-inch metal skewers
  1. Bring all sauce ingredients to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce reaches a ketchuplike consistency and is reduced to about 1 cup; 5-7 minutes. Transfer ½ cup sauce to a small bowl. Set aside remaining sauce for serving.
  2. Toss chicken and salt in a large bowl; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to an hour.
  3. Get a charcoal (or gas) grill going until hot.
  4. Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Combine sweet paprika, sugar and smoked paprika in a bowl.
  5. Process the bacon in a food processor until a smooth paste forms, 30-45 seconds, scraping down the bowl twice. Add the bacon paste and spice mixture to the chicken; mix with hands until ingredients are blended and the chicken is coated. Thread meat onto skewers.
  6. Grill kebabs (covered if using gas), turning one-quarter turn every 2-2½ minutes until well browned and slightly charred, 8 minutes for breasts and 10 minutes for thighs. Brush top surface of kebabs with sauce; flip and cook until sauce is brown in spots, about a minute. Brush second side with remaining sauce; flip and continue to cook until brown in spots and chicken is cooked through.
  7. Remove kebabs from grill and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve, passing reserved barbecue sauce separately.


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