Hello hello! Happy Friday!
Back today with another easy dinner idea.
Last Saturday, when the skies were blue and the temps hit sixty-five degrees I thought, “this would be a perfect night to grill some chicken skewers” and then “chicken skewers would make a great ‘easy dinner’ blog post!”
Coincidentally, we also grilled up some chicken skewers last night here in Florida–they’re so easy and tasty and perfect when it’s nice enough to grill!
Now, don’t get me wrong, the idea of chicken skewers is far from revolutionary, but it’s also not something you automatically think of when you’re trying to brainstorm an easy, healthy dinner–but they’ve become one of our staples anytime it’s tolerable enough outside to fire up the grill. (You could also always use a cast-iron grill pan if you’d prefer to make these indoors though!)
While they may take a tiny bit more work to prep, they are really easy to make ahead of time, they cook super fast, and they’re just so much more delicious than a regular old chicken breast!
Like any recipe post on here, this isn’t actually a “recipe” per say–it’s a “no recipe recipe” which means you can customize however you’d like–based on what flavors you’re craving or what you have on hand! Here are some pointers:
Easy + Fun Dinner Idea: Chicken Skewers
Use boneless, skinless chicken thighs, as they’re nearly impossible to overcook and they allow you to get a nice char on them. They’re a really easy blank canvas and you can use so many delicious spice, sauce, and marinade combinations to make them suit any flavors you’re craving! If you don’t like thighs, I would get the pre-cut chicken breast tenderloins so you don’t even have to do any trimming or cutting–saves a lot of time!
If you’re using wooden vs metal skewers, pre-soak them in water to avoid burning. (Although we don’t always have time to soak them long enough–thus the char on mine above!)
Trim any fat off your boneless, skinless chicken thighs and then cut into strips about 1 inch wide, against the grain. Season with salt and pepper. Then it’s time to decide what kind of sauce/seasoning you’d like! (See below for my favorites!)
If using a sauce (a dry rub would be delicious too–sauce is optional!) mix it together into a bowl. Reserve a small portion to use for basting the meat during the grilling process. (You don’t want the sauce you’re basting with to be contaminated with the raw meat.) Then pour the bulk of the sauce into a sealable bag with the thicken thigh pieces. Marinate for 30 minutes or several hours. (You can do this the morning of if you’d like–5-6 hours is ideal!) However, I’ve just thrown everything together immediately without time to marinate and it’s still delicious. (This is where the basting comes in–it adds so much flavor even if you don’t have time to marinate!)
When you’re ready to grill, thread the chicken on the skewers, and throw ’em on the grill!
Some of my favorite flavor combinations:
I always use a base of salt, pepper, and olive oil–then depending on what flavors I’m in the mood for, I might go with…
Curry powder (or curry paste) + Lime juice
BBQ sauce + Cajun Spices
BBQ sauce + Soy Sauce + Sriracha
Soy sauce + Fish sauce + Brown sugar or honey + Lime Juice and/or Rice Vinegar + Chili paste (What I used above!)
Store-bought pesto + balsamic vinegar
Balsamic glaze (if you want a bit of sweetness) + Italian seasonings + red or white wine vinegar
Balsamic vinegar, honey, soy sauce, and rosemary
Trader Joe’s Zhoug sauce (that’s it! An amazing marinade all on its own!)
Your favorite Shawarma spice seasoning mix + greek yogurt
Your favorite greek salad dressing + brown sugar + optional red or white wine vinegar
Jerk seasoning mix + orange juice + brown sugar
Harissa + yogurt + optional honey if you like a bit of sweetness
Another favorite pre-made sauce, like Trader Joe’s Soyaki, Trader Joe’s Asian-Style Peanut Vinaigrette (I’d add a squeeze of fresh lime juice in with it to marinate!) or a simple Italian dressing.
Baste with more sauce while grilling:
Another major tip: Baste with more sauce as you’re grilling the skewers! (Remember that little bit of sauce we reserved above? That’s what this is for!) Using a grill brush, just brush some extra sauce on the meat after it’s been cooking for a little bit (when the outside isn’t raw anymore). Do this a couple times throughout the cooking process.
This makes the chicken so much more flavorful, especially if your sauce has any sugars in it–it’ll get all caramelized with a little bit of char. SO GOOD.
This tip also works really well with grilled vegetables, such as onions (slice them in thick rounds), zucchini (cut into slices lengthwise), or bell peppers (halve them!)
What to serve your skewers with?
When deciding what to serve my skewers with, I usually stick with the same theme as the flavor profile I’m using for a marinade.
For example, in the bowl pictured above, I went for a Vietnamese-inspired bowl–using Vietnamese flavors to marinate/baste my skewers, and then served with vermicelli noodles and a “salad” of what I had in the fridge–some lettuce, matchstick carrots, shredded cabbage, whatever fresh herbs I had on hand (I always have cilantro and often basil) and some peanuts on top for crunch all mixed together, dressed with some Nuoc Cham. (Which is one of my favorite pantry staple sauces! It’s so fresh and easy to whip up!)
In a bowl:
I love using chicken skewers as the protein in a bowl! (For more tips on assembling a delicious bowl–see this post!)
Choose your starch:
Whether that’s over rice, noodles, farro, barley, or couscous. I love quick-cook farro (it’s ready in ten minutes) or even easier, frozen brown rice packets. (You can mix the rice with a little bit of the sauce you used for the marinade as well to give it more flavor–or even serve with frozen fried rice!) If you have a little more time, coconut rice is also delicious!
You can also add in…
Such as black beans, kidney beans, or white beans. Or you could serve atop lentils, or even quicker–your favorite quick-heat Dal (I like the kind from TJ’s!), or a pouch of pre-seasoned beans. (I like the brand A Dozen Cousins!)
Always really brighten up your dishes and make them fresh and delicious! Fresh dill with a mediterranean dish, basil and Italian parsley for Italian dishes, Cilantro for Asian or Latin flavors–everything is better with fresh herbs!
Fresh, roasted, or grilled! Whatever you have in your fridge. I like to keep pre-assembled mixes like TJ’s Cruciferous Crunch, matchstick carrots, slaw mix, etc in the fridge to save on time. Also almost everything is better with avocado on top! (I really like Hungryroot’s mixes too! If you use this link when you sign up we’ll both get $50 in credits!) Throw some veggies on the grill along with your skewers, or chop up raw veggies into a salad, or a combination of the two.
A finishing sauce:
Such as your favorite salad dressing, a simple yogurt sauce, or a peanut sauce. If you have two extra minutes and don’t mind washing an extra dish or two, see my super fast roasted red pepper sauce here. (It’s SO GOOD and you’ll have leftovers to use on other things too!)
With a salad:
Perhaps even EASIER–make a salad to go with your skewers!
For the fastest route, you can serve them atop your favorite chopped salad mix and favorite dressing. They would also be great served with, say, a caprese salad or a white bean salad. (Throw in some arugula if you’d like greens!) Also see my go-to vinaigrette recipe here.