Chicken - Chicken Kebabs with Bacon Paste

In theory, barbecued chicken kebabs sound pretty great: char-streaked chunks of juicy meat lacquered with sweet and tangy barbecue sauce. But without an insulating layer of skin, even the fattiest thigh meat can dry out and toughen when exposed to the blazing heat of the grill—and forget about ultralean skinless breast meat. Simply slathering on barbecue does little to address this fundamental problem. The goal is simple: juicy, tender chicken with plenty of sticky-sweet, smoke-tinged flavor.
Servings: 6 people



  • .5 cup Ketchup
  • .25 cup molasses
  • 2 tbs Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbs onion grated
  • 2 tbs Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbs cider vinegar
  • 1 tbs packed light brown sugar


  • 2 tbs paprika
  • 4 tsp turbinado sugar Any healthy sugar will do in a pinch
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 slices bacon cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 pounds chicken (breast or thighs) cut into 1 inch chunks


For the Sauce

  • Bring all ingredients to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced to about 1 cup, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer 1/2 cup sauce to small bowl and set remaining sauce aside for serving.

For the Chicken

  • Combine paprika, sugar, salt, and smoked paprika in large bowl. Process bacon in food processor until smooth paste forms, 30 to 45 seconds, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add bacon paste and chicken to spice mixture and mix with hands or rubber spatula until ingredients are thoroughly blended and chicken is completely coated. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. Thread chicken tightly onto four 12-inch metal skewers.

For the Charcoal Grill

  • Open bottom vent completely. Light large chimney starter three-quarters filled with charcoal briquettes (4 1/2 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour evenly over half of grill. Set cooking grate in place, cover, and open lid vent completely. Heat grill until hot, about 5 minutes.

For the Gas Grill

  • Turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Turn all burners to medium-high.

Grill the Chicken

  • Clean and oil cooking grate. Place skewers on hotter part of grill (if using charcoal), and cook (covered if using gas), turning kebabs every 2 to 2 1/2 minutes, until well browned and slightly charred, 8 to 10 minutes. Brush top surface of skewers with 1/4 cup sauce, flip, and cook until sauce is sizzling and browning in spots, about 1 minute. Brush second side with remaining 1/4 cup sauce, flip, and continue to cook until sizzling and browning in spots, about 1 minute longer.
  • Transfer skewers to serving platter, tent loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Serve, passing reserved sauce separately.


Use the large holes of a box grater to grate the onion for the sauce. We prefer flavorful dark thigh meat for these kebabs, but white meat can be used. Whichever you choose, don’t mix white and dark meat on the same skewer, since they cook at different rates. If you have thin pieces of chicken, cut them larger than 1 inch and roll or fold them into approximate 1-inch cubes. Turbinado sugar is commonly sold as Sugar in the Raw. Demerara sugar can be substituted. You will need four 12-inch metal skewers for this recipe.
This recipe comes to us from  our favorite meat cookbook Cook's Illustrated Meat Book