What is the secret to juicy, succulent grilled lamb kabobs? A special Mediterranean marinade that flavors and tenderizes the meat, plus a bit of grilling technique for the juiciest ever kebabs! Don't miss my tips and video below.

Lamb kabobs served on a plate with a tomato salad and hummus

When BBQ season hits, you know we're all about kabobs over here! Just add a salad, your favorite dip, or a little mezze, and dinner is served!

Of all the skewered foods I've shared so far--shrimp, salmon kabobs, souvlaki, kofta, and more-- I was shocked to discover that I had not yet shared my favorite lamb kabobs recipe. Let me tell you, you are in for a treat! And you'll want to use the bold marinade with onions, garlic, and trio of warm spices all the time!

Let's get right to discussing all things lamb skewers...

Lamb kabobs served on a plate with a salad and hummus

What cut of lamb is best for kabobs?

First, best lamb cuts that are ideal for shish kebab? When it comes to kabobs, you want to select meat that is tender but also on the leaner side--a little bit of fat, but not too much (you can trim excess fat). I typically use boneless leg of lamb, but here are three cuts of lamb that will work well for grilled kabobs:

  • Lamb tenderloin
    Also known as lamb loin fillet comes from the underside of the shortloin. This is a superior, very tender cut with delicate flavor and virtually no fat or connective tissue. If you can find it, and you do not mind paying the price, the loin is great for quick grilling and ideal for kebabs.
  • Boneless Leg of Lamb
    This is what I use in my recipe. The BRT or boneless leg is a versatile cut and readily available in most grocery stores. It has a rich flavor and a little bit of fat but not too much. You can buy the whole boneless leg and trim the outer fat layer with a thin knife, from there, cut it up into 1 to 1 ½-inch cubes for kabobs. (Side note, but it is worth mentioning here, butterflied grilled lamb leg is also a great thing to try).
  • Lamb shoulder
    This part of the animal works hard, so the meat is full of flavor, but it does take a while longer to become tender. If you end up using lamb shoulder, it may be easiest to ask your butcher to trim and cut into cubes for you to make things easier. Also, when using lamb shoulders for kabobs, allow time for marinating. In my recipe below, I suggested 2 hours, but you can go even longer with lamb shoulder (4 to 8 hours), just cover and keep it in the fridge.
Marinade for lamb in a blender

Lamb kabob marinade

When marinating lamb, don't be shy to find flavors that will compliment its rich and bold flavor. But it is equally important to use a marinade that will also help tenderize the meat while imparting flavor. This is especially true if you are using lamb shoulder or boneless leg of lamb as opposed to lamb loin fillet, which, as I just shared, is more tender.

Here is what I use to make the lamb kabob marinade:

  • Onions. Pureed onions are the magic ingredient in this marinade, they will work to tenderize the meat and enhance its flavor.
  • Fresh garlic
  • Spices. Allspice, nutmeg, and cardamom, a trio of warm spices that give the lamb skewers a bold Middle Eastern flavor.
  • Fresh parsley
  • Quality extra virgin olive oil, which has the unique ability to help pull the fat-soluble flavors out of some ingredients like garlic and onions and help transfer them into the meat.
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon. Not too much acid here, but a bit of acid adds zing and also aids in tenderizing the lamb.
Ingredients for lamb kabob recipe

How to cook lamb kabobs?

For those of us who are visual, here is how this recipe goes (complete recipe with ingredient list below):

  • Trim and cut the lamb
    Trim any excess fat off the boneless leg of lamb and cut the meat into 1 to 1 ½-inch skewers. Put the cubed meat in a bowl and season well with kosher salt and black pepper.
  • Marinate
    To make the marinate, combine onion, garlic, spices, fresh parsley, olive oil, lemon juice in a food processor. Blitz until everything is well-incorporated and you have a thick onion marinade. Pour the marinade over the meat. Toss to coat, then cover and refrigerate for a couple hours (if you don't have time, even 30 minutes of marinating time at room temp will help)

    Lamb marinating in a bowl
  • Skewer the meat
    If you're using bamboo skewers, they need to soak in water for at least 1 hour. Simply thread the meat through the skewers, leaving a little bit of breathing room between the meat pieces (this will help them cook evenly)

    lamb kabobs skewered and placed in a tray
  • Grill
    Grill the meat skewers over high heat turning every couple minutes for about 7 to 9 minutes, depending on how well-done you like your lamb (on my grill, 7 minutes produced medium-rare kabobs)

What to serve with them

For the ultimate kabob dinner, first, a dip is a must! I love lamb kabobs with tzatziki, hummus, white bean hummus that's been sprinkled with some dukkah, or even a little toum. Plus, of course, a few warm pita or your favorite flatbread.

Add at least one or two fresh salads such as Mediterranean tomato salad, Greek salad, panzanella, or watermelon salad. You can stop here, or complete the party with sides like oven fries, stuffed zucchini boats, or even eggplant pizza bites. The possibilities are endless!

Lamb kabobs served on a plate with veggies and hummus

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A special Mediterranean marinade that flavors and tenderizes the meat, plus a bit of grilling technique, produce succulent, juicy lamb kabobs every time. Watch the video and read the full post for more tips and information.
Prep – 15 mins
Cook – 10 mins
Marinating time 2 hrs
Cuisine:
Mediterranean, Middle Eastern
Serves – 6 people
Course:
Dinner

Ingredients
  

  • 1 ½ lb boneless leg of lamb
  • Kosher salt and black pepper

For the Marinade

  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon cardamom
  • 1 cup packed fresh parsley
  • cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon

Instructions
 

  • Cut the lamb into 1 to 1 ½ -inch cubes or pieces and put them in a large bowl. Season with kosher salt and black pepper.
  • In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade, combine the onion, garlic, spices, parsley, olive oil and lemon juice. Cover and run the processor until everything is finely chopped (you should end up with a thick onion marinade).
  • Pour the onion marinade over the lamb and mix well to make sure all the lamb is well coated with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 hours. (If you do not have time, leave the kabobs to marinate at room temperature for about 30 minutes).
  • Brush the grates of a gas grill (or an indoor griddle) with oil and heat.
  • Shake excess marinade off and thread the lamb pieces on some long skewers, allowing a little room between pieces (I used 6 wooden skewers that have been soaked in water).
  • Assemble the lamb kabobs in one single layer over your heated grill or griddle. Grill over high heat, turning each kabob one-quarter turn every couple minutes, until the meat is browned all over, anywhere from 7 to 9 minutes, depending on how well you like your lamb cooked (7 minutes on my grill produced medium-rare kabobs).

Video

Notes

  • This recipe uses boneless leg of lamb, but you can also use lamb loin or lamb shoulder meat to make it.
  • Do not skip the marinating if you can help it, a couple hours in the fridge or even 30 minutes at room will help. If you're using lamb shoulder, the meat will benefit from a longer marinating time in the fridge. 
  • Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for 2 to 3 days. 
  • Visit our shop to browse quality Mediterranean ingredients including extra virgin olive oil, spices, and more! 

Nutrition

Calories: 275kcalCarbohydrates: 3.6gProtein: 23.6gSaturated Fat: 3.9gCholesterol: 73.7mgSodium: 274.8mgPotassium: 420.3mgFiber: 0.8gSugar: 0.9gVitamin A: 845IUVitamin C: 15.6mgCalcium: 36.1mgIron: 2.8mg
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I'm Suzy; born and bred right on the shores of the Mediterranean. I'm all about easy, healthy recipes with big Mediterranean flavors. Three values guide my cooking: eat with the seasons; use whole foods; and above all, share! So happy you're here...
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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I made this last week and it was, by far, the best shish kabobs I've ever had. There was quite a bit of marinade left over so I put it in a pot and "boiled" it (it's actually too thick to boil, but I got it up to temp and kept it there for 5 minutes or so), since it had had raw meat in it. A few days later I rubbed it on chicken thighs (and put it under the skin). It's now my favorite grilled chicken recipe too! Thank you so much!
    One question; How long will (unused) raw marinade last in the fridge? Can it be frozen?

    1. 5 stars
      I used the marinade recipe for beef instead of lamb. It turned out so juicy, tender and tasty! I will definitely use this recipe over and over again! Thank you 😊

  2. I haven't tried to recipe yet, but I'm so happy that everything on this page is actually useful, interesting information and I didn't have to scroll through a bunch of filler text and fight pop-ups the entire time. I will definitely revisit this blog in the future.

  3. I mistakenly made the marinade a day before grilling. You say marinade 2 hrs and I thought 24 hrs. Should I add it now or hold back and start marinading tomorrow? I can’t afford to discard the puréed ingredients. Thanks!

    1. Hi, Pat. I'm so sorry I'm just seeing this question now. I'm not always able to get on here everyday, especially around the holidays. For future reference, I would recommend keeping the marinade only, tightly sealed in the fridge and adding the lamb the day you want to cook it. The lamb may have been okay marinating for 24 hours, but I always worry about the meat breaking down too much sitting too long in acidic marinades.

  4. 5 stars
    I made this recipe for my family yesterday. Due to 'Spare The Air' restrictions in place for the next few days I couldn't grill these outside so I had to adapt. I marinated the kebabs for 4 hours, then vacuum sealed them and then cooked them using the Sous Vide method at 132 degrees Fahrenheit for four hours. I then opened the bag and drained the liquids, then 'grilled' the lamb kebabs in a hot pan on the stove. Other than adding a bit more salt and pepper to replace that lost in the liquid that I poured out I made no other changes. These lamb kebabs were a huge hit and my family declared that they were even better than those prepared by our favorite Afghani restaurant. This recipe has been added to our favorites list.

  5. 5 stars
    Absolutely delicious! My sister made this a few weeks ago and raved about it so I had to try. Boy was she spot on! This recipe and marinade is a keeper!

  6. 5 stars
    Oh my goodness this was absolutely fabulous!! My husband smoked them a little first and then grilled over direct heat. Super juicy, perfectly done to a nice medium. I love the marinade, and actually cooked it down a bit and used as a garnish on top with garlic sauce. This is definitely a keeper recipe.

  7. This was spectacular. I Made it with one change-cilantro instead of parsley as that is what I had in garden. I made it with leg of lamb snd will try it with lamb steak tomorrow, snd beef in future. Thanks fior the great recipe!

      1. Hi, Lucille! You add the zest to the marinade after blending it in the food processor.

  8. We LOVE lamb and thank you for this recipe, which I will make this coming week - however, I must have fresh rosemary with lamb.

  9. 5 stars
    I made this for my wife and ai this weekend. We reheated the leftovers for breakfast the next day and had them with eggs, tzatziki, and pita bread.

    This is the BEST lamb kabob recipe I have ever made. It is now in my arsenal of meals! I used lamb loin chops, so I had to cut the meat off the little t-bones. I then used the t-bones and a small mirepoix to make lamb broth. I used the lamb broth to make your Lebanese rice/vermacelli recipe. It was gamey, flavorful, and complemented the lamb kabobs perfectly!

    Thank you, once again, for the recipes to make a wonderful meal for me and my wife! We look forward to your next newsletter and recipies!

  10. When viewing the recipes, I try to go to the video as shown, but nothing happens. Are the links inactive, and if so, how do we see the vireos I want to try this recipe asap but would like to see how YOU make the recipe?

    1. Hi, David. The links are active and the videos should appear towards the end of the post, under the recipe card. Unfortunately, some browsers block pop ups which, for some reason, also blocks instructional videos. You may need to adjust your browser settings, or try a different browser.

  11. We buy all sorts of cuts of lamb, With the leg of the lamb, we make soup. We grill, we roast in a fire pit and bake.in the oven. But have not tried kebobs yet but will definitely do so soon. Thank you for all your wonderful recipes!

    1. Hi, Rosa! Lamb does have a distinct gamy taste and smell. First, I would make sure you are buying quality lamb from a reputable butcher. It does make a difference. From there, the onion marinade used here is a great option to help flavor the lamb. Hope that helps!

  12. Wow that marinade looks really yummy! Would that work for other cuts of meat besides lamb? Love your recipes Suzy!

  13. 5 stars
    Have not tried this recipe yet but I surely will! We love lamb and live on an Island called Salt Spring Island in British Columbia Canada. This island is noted for its delicious organic lamb. The Queen of England dined on this lamb when she visited BC.
    We have lived in North Africa and visited many Mediterranean countries so I do cook many N.African and middle eastern dishes. Can not wait to try this one out!

  14. 5 stars
    I can’t believe I have never grilled lamb before! This was such a great recipe to start with! Loved it!