Technique: Prepping a Chicken Breast for Skewers/Kebabs

There’s nothing like the flavour of these slightly charred hunks of chicken breast from the barbecue. And making them ourselves is something we can all do, with a little effort.

I’ve often seen skewers of seasoned chicken breast threaded with peppers and onions in the display cases of delis, butcher shops and grocery store meat counters. Usually at some outrageous price. Anyone can make these at home for a LOT less money, especially when chicken breasts are on sale.

Whether you buy bone-in or boneless, skinless breasts, once you’ve removed the skin and bone and trimmed off the excess fat, you’re left with THIS lovely piece of meat. (Note that, the tenderloin has already been separated from the underside of the breast, the strip of tendon in the middle removed, and it’s been cut into 2 pieces.)


You can butterfly it, cut it into strips for chicken fingers, OR, as below, cut it into roughly 1 inch sized cubes.

I like to start with diagonal cuts from the outside of the breast spacing them evenly (about 1 inch apart) to get 4 strips. Each strip is cut into 3 pieces, except for the one on the far left which is cut into 2 pieces.

These 9 pieces, plus the 2 from the tenderloin, will give you 11 cubes per breast to marinate as desired and thread onto skewers.

For the last bbq, I marinated the chicken in tikka masala paste (2 tbsp paste plus 2 tbsp yogurt for 2 breasts) and threaded them onto metal skewers but you can use wooden/bamboo skewers that have been soaked in warm water for about 30 minutes.

Skewers ready for the barbecue – from 2 breasts, I was able to make 3 skewers. Enough for 3 generous servings as a main course. As an appetizer, you can get twice that many portions. With onions and peppers, souvlaki style, you’ll get 4 servings as a main course to wrap in a pita bread or serve over rice.

If you’ve got a hankering for a Middle Eastern flavour, try the Tawook (Chicken) Skewers with Sweet Potato Couscous recipe here or the Chicken Souvlaki here. I had run out of peppers in the latter so you’ll have to use your imagination and picture cubes of red, yellow, orange or green peppers on the skewers. I love the puffy pocketless pita breads used to wrap these which don’t dry out as much as the thin kind with the pocket. More carbs = more flavour. ๐Ÿ™‚


8 thoughts on “Technique: Prepping a Chicken Breast for Skewers/Kebabs

  1. I also usually cut chicken breasts in this way but I sometimes also make thin long strips that then I pick in several places: one strip per skewer.
    I must say there are many modern food products I have never dared buying (probably it started with the fact that my mum never did it) and such things as a salad dressing or seasoned meat is one of them… I often see pre-seasoned meat in supermarkets and at the butcher’s and always wonder why people don’t take 5 minutes to season this at home and adjust it to their taste… I don’t even mention the cost (which is obviously very high here too).

  2. After cutting my chicken into strips (especially for satay) and weaving them on the skewers for years, I read somewhere that cutting smaller, bit sized pieces, makes for tidier eating without having to cut into the strips of meat with your teeth and scraping them off the wood. As to pre-seasoned skewers, there are people who don’t have the spice assortment in their pantries that some of us do, don’t know what the spices should be or just can’t be bothered making them from scratch. I very rarely make my own dressings. For a single serving of dressing, it’s easier just to grab a bottle of Krafts. I normally have 3 or 4 bottles in my fridge at a time so I’d end up with little bottles of dressing in my fridge if I felt like something different that day.

  3. These look really good. I’m So lazy. I slice or pound the chicken breast until it’s a uniform thickness and then put the skewers in, then I cut them apart. I don’t bother with the cutting into pieces. I do feel lazy now. I do love food on a stick.

    1. I think you should do whatever you feel most comfortable with.

      Food on a stick cooked over a fire … must be a racial memory thing. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Thank you for the kind remark. Sizes of appetites vary so you could do smaller skewers for the little ones so each one gets their own … like the grow-ups. Having to cut up a whole breast can be messy, time consuming and makes them FEEL like little kids. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Thank you for commenting. The technique is pretty simple but there are still people who find it challenging or ‘icky’ to butcher poultry, even if it’s just boning a breast or a thigh.

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