Smoky BBQ Grilled Chicken Kabobs (No Marinade)

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Skip the marinade and grill these tender chunks of chicken with cherry tomatoes, red onion, and bell peppers in literally minutes!

They’re perfect for a backyard barbecue and easy enough for a weeknight dinner. Serve the kabobs over a bed of rice or with a nice green salad and grilled flatbread for an easy meal that’s sure to be on repeat once you try it!

Why you’ll love grilling Chicken Kabobs!

  • Fresh Flavor. Enjoy this flavorful meal of juicy chicken cooked perfectly tender and layered with fresh vegetables and a sweet and spicy rub!
  • Easy Dinner. Just chop, slice, assemble, and grill!
  • Perfect for Summer. School’s right around the corner, and this is the ultimate cookout recipe to add to the menu before summer fades.
ingredients for grilled chicken kabobs on a table.

Ingredient notes for BBQ Chicken Skewers

  • Chicken | For tender bites, use boneless, skinless chicken breasts.
  • Onion | Tangy and robust onion flavor comes from the layers of large red onion slices on the skewer. 
  • Bell pepper | Most prefer red bell pepper because of the sweeter taste. However, yellow, orange, or green bell peppers also do the trick!
  • Tomatoes | Add cherry tomatoes to the kabobs for a crisp, juicy bite and sweet tomato flavor.

Smoky BBQ Rub

  • Brown sugar | Bring rich sweetness to the spice rub with dark brown sugar.
  • Garlic powder | For subtle spice and a staple seasoning, add garlic powder to the rub.
  • Chili powder | Bring on the heat with a dash of chili powder. If necessary, substitute with cayenne pepper or chipotle. 
  • Cumin | Cumin makes the rub smoky and slightly sweet. 
  • Oregano | Mix in some dried oregano for a herby touch.

How to make The Best Chicken Kabobs

This quick and easy chicken kabob recipe couldn’t get any easier to prepare. Not only is it delicious, it doesn’t require any special ingredients!

STEP 1 | Combine rub ingredients

rub ingredients in a bowl; chicken cut into bite-size pieces for chicken kabobs.

Begin this easy recipe by mixing the rub ingredients in a small bowl, then set it aside for later.

STEP 2 | Prep kabob ingredients

Next, preheat the gas grill to medium-high heat and cut the chicken into 1-inch chunks. Then, cut the red onion into quarters, separate the pieces, and slice the bell pepper into chunks.

STEP 3 | Assemble and season

chicken pieces, tomaoes, red onion, and bell pepper on metal skewers on a plate.

Now, thread the chicken, red onions, bell pepper, and cherry tomatoes on 8 metal skewers, evenly sprinkling the BBQ rub over the kabobs.

STEP 4 | Cook over direct heat

chicken kabobs seasoned with spice rub on a gas grill.

Then, place the sewers on the preheated grill grates brushed with vegetable oil and cook with the lid closed for about 5 minutes on each side.

Be sure to turn the kabobs often, as the sugar may burn easily. If desired, season the finished dish with a pinch of salt and black pepper to taste.

tips

  • Be sure the veggies and cubes of chicken are cut to a similar size for more even cooking.
  • The size of the chicken pieces may cause you to cook the meat for a different amount of time, depending on the thickness.
  • Use an instant-read thermometer to check the internal temperature of the chicken. When it reaches 165 degrees F, it’s good to go! 

STEP 5 | Serve hot and fresh!

chicken skewers cooking on a gas grill.

Serve immediately with the BBQ sauce of your choosing, or try one of my barbecue sauce recipes, like this super easy Alabama White BBQ Sauce or my classic homemade BBQ sauce.

Must-Have Metal BBQ Skewers

OXO sharp, stainless steel skewers for meat and veggies. No need to soak these before use. They clean up easily, and they don’t break.

  • Flat design is more stable.
  • Comfortable handles.
metal skewers

Variations and substitutions

  • Pork kabobs. For an Asian flair, make skewers of boneless pork tenderloin pieces and veggies and serve with a savory peanut sauce.
  • Steak kabobs. Try this recipe with tender pieces of steak, onions, and mushrooms, and serve with my tzatziki dipping sauce. Remember to adjust the cooking time for other meats as needed.
  • For a lighter molasses flavor, use light brown sugar in place of dark brown sugar in the spice rub.
  • For a smokier flavor, use chipotle chili powder or smoked chili powder.
  • Also, onion powder works fine as a substitute for garlic powder in a pinch.

Storage and reheating tips

  • For leftovers, remove the chicken and veggies from the skewer and store the bites in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  • To reheat, wrap the chicken and veggies in aluminum foil and warm in a 350-degree oven until heated through and steamy.
  • Chicken kabobs may be frozen before or after cooking, but if you plan to freeze them, use bamboo skewers and leave off the tomatoes. Wrap the kabobs tightly in aluminum foil, then place them in a resealable freezer bag for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before cooking or reheating.

Frequently asked questions

What veggies are good for chicken kabobs?

Yellow squash, zucchini, mushrooms, tomatoes, onions, and peppers are some of the most common ingredients for chicken kabobs. And fresh fruit, like pineapple chunks, even works well! 

Can you smoke chicken kabobs?

Yes! Add more smokiness to the recipe by cooking it on the smokerYum!

How do you keep chicken kabobs from drying out on the grill?

If you’re concerned with drying out the meat on the grill, try brining the chicken before cutting it into pieces and adding it to the skewer. To do this, mix warm water and salt and let the chicken breasts soak for at least 15 minutes. Then, remove the chicken, cut it into cubes, and continue with the recipe.

Do you have to soak skewers before grilling kabobs?

When you use metal skewers, as directed, there’s no need to soak before adding the ingredients. However, wooden skewers should be soaked in water for about half an hour before grilling to prevent them from burning or catching fire.

grilled chicken kabobs on a platter on a table with a bowl of white bbq sauce.

Serving suggestions

These easy chicken kabobs are fabulous when served with traditional cookout sides, especially potato salad. Try my Creamy Fresh Herb Potato Salad with Tarragon, or my Mayo-Free Lemon Dill Potato Salad with Asparagus.

Looking for more Easy Chicken Recipes?

Add these Greek Chicken Kabobs, Grilled Balsamic Chicken, and delicious Chicken Meatballs with Honey Garlic Sauce to the menu to change things up!

grilled chicken kabobs on a plate with parsley sprinkled around.

Behind the recipe: Grilled Chicken Kabobs

Depending on who you ask, you’ll get a different story of how classic chicken kabobs originated.

In one theory, kabobs are of Turkish origin, where ‘sis’ or shish means toward and ‘kabab’ relates to meat, giving you ‘shish kababs.’ The Turkish soldiers once held their sowards over large field fires to cook meat threaded onto the soward. 

Others believe kabobs came from modern-day Iran based on records indicating skewers of small pieces of meat were served with wine in the Middle Ages.

No matter what, we can all agree that kabobs will continue to stick around for a long time!

Like this recipe?

Don’t forget to comment below the recipe and please give it a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ star rating!

grilled chicken kabobs on a plate with parsley sprinkled around.

Smoky Chicken Kabobs

Using simple ingredients and colorful vegetables, this Smoky BBQ Grilled Chicken Kabobs recipe is easy, flavorful, and fresh!
4.84 from 6 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Chicken
Cuisine American
Servings 8 servings
Calories 161 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2 lbs. skinless boneless chicken breasts
  • ½ large red onion
  • 1 medium bell pepper
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes

Smoky BBQ Rub

  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • Alabama White BBQ Sauce for serving

Instructions
 

  • In a small bowl, stir together ingredients for the BBQ rub and set aside.
  • Preheat the gas grill to medium-high heat. Cut the chicken into 1-inch chunks, cut the red onion into quarters, and separate the pieces. Then, slice the bell pepper into chunks.
  • Thread the chicken, onion, bell pepper, and cherry tomatoes on 8 metal skewers. Sprinkle the BBQ rub evenly over the kabobs.
  • Place the sewers on oiled grill grates and cook with the lid closed for about 5 minutes on each side, turning often as the sugar may tend to burn.
  • Serve immediately with your favorite BBQ sauce or tangy White BBQ Sauce.

Notes

Original recipe by Southern Living, July 201
    • Be sure the veggies and cubes of chicken are cut to a similar size for more even cooking.
    • The size of the chicken pieces may cause you to cook the meat for a different amount of time, depending on the thickness.
    • Use an instant-read thermometer to check the internal temperature of the chicken. When it reaches 165 degrees F, it’s good to go! 
  • Storage and Reheating: 
    • For leftovers, remove the chicken and veggies from the skewer and store the bites in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
    • To reheat, wrap the chicken and veggies in aluminum foil and warm in a 350-degree oven until heated through and steamy.
    • Chicken kabobs may be frozen before or after cooking, but if you plan to freeze them, use bamboo skewers and leave off the tomatoes. Wrap the kabobs tightly in aluminum foil, then place them in a resealable freezer bag for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before cooking or reheating.
    •  
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    Nutrition

    Serving: 1gCalories: 161kcalCarbohydrates: 7gProtein: 25gFat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0.01gCholesterol: 73mgSodium: 290mgPotassium: 606mgFiber: 1gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 866IUVitamin C: 34mgCalcium: 21mgIron: 1mg

    Life Love and Good Food does not claim to be a registered dietician or nutritionist. Nutritional information shared on this site is only an estimate. We recommend running the ingredients through an online nutritional calculator if you need to verify any information.

    Keyword chicken kabobs, dry rub, grill, smoky, white barbeque sauce
    Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was.
    Sheila Thigpen, blogger

    About Sheila Thigpen

    Recipe Developer, Food Photographer, Food Writer

    Sheila Thigpen is the publisher of Life, Love, and Good Food — a Southern food blog — and the author of Easy Chicken Cookbook and The 5-Ingredient Fresh and Easy Cookbook. After 20+ years in the publishing industry, she retired in 2018 to focus on her own creative endeavors full time. She and her husband live near the beautiful Smoky Mountains and have a precious little granddaughter who has stolen their hearts. As an influencer, Sheila has collaborated with brands like Creamette, Kroger, HERSHEY’S, Hamilton Beach, Garafalo Pasta, OXO, Smithfield, Valley Fig Growers, and more.

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    One Comment

    1. 5 stars
      I cut this recipe out of a magazine some years ago. It’s amazing! Our family absolutely loves it. So good! And it’s easy too.

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