Grilling season is here, and if you’re making shish kebabs, grilling skewers are a must. These are sharp sticks that you thread through cubes of meat, seafood, vegetables, and fruits before throwing them on the grill. There are plenty of choices out there: You can pick up disposable wooden skewers at the store for a few bucks, or you can invest in a set of reusable skewers.
Whether you choose metal or wood skewers, a flat shape is ideal for keeping food in place so it doesn’t spin around. You also want a skewer with a decently sharp tip that can pierce through food, and something that’s sturdy enough that it won’t bend or break. Bells and whistles like a slider bar or handle can be helpful but may not be necessary depending on your grilling style. Metal skewers are reusable and don’t have to be soaked beforehand, while wood skewers minimize cleanup.
The skewers highlighted below were chosen after I consulted reviews and product information across a variety of retailers. I then put them to the test on my portable Weber grill while making steak, chicken, and vegetable kebabs. Lastly, I reviewed and ranked each one according to criteria like design, strength, and how easy they were to clean. The GRILLART Kabob Skewers are my best overall pick, based on their well-rounded performance during testing.
To help you narrow down your choices, here are some of the best skewers out there.
GRILLART Kabob Skewers with Slider
What We Love: Slider bar that locks into place, flat shape, large surface area for food
What We Don’t Love: Blade could be sharper
This skewer has it all. The flat blade keeps food in place when flipping on the grill halfway through cooking, and it has a considerable length that accommodates lots of meat and vegetables. A helpful slider bar locks into place (so it doesn’t slide around when you don’t want it to) and removes food off the skewer in one smooth motion. When in its locked position, the slider bar doubles as a helpful handle that offers leverage when threading foods onto the skewer and makes flipping a breeze.
It wasn’t the cheapest option I tested, but it wasn’t the most expensive either, and at about $2 per skewer, I’d say you’re definitely getting your money’s worth. The only thing that could be improved on is the sharpness of the tip, but I was able to skewer on food for the test without much issue.
The GRILLART Kabob Skewers are a great all-around option that checks all the boxes as far as material, design, and strength go. The slider bar actually worked, and the flat blade kept everything in place for even grilling on both sides.
"I was excited to use the slider bar, and I like that it locks into place so it doesn’t accidentally slide when you don’t want it to."
Price at time of Publish: $22
Material: Stainless steel | Length: 17 inches | Number of Pieces: 10 | Dishwasher-Safe? Yes
Lucalda Long Double Pronged BBQ Skewers with Push Bar
What We Love: Skewers food securely, large handle for easy flipping, large surface area for food
What We Don’t Love: Slider sometimes gets stuck
If you’re sick of foods spinning around skewers, a double-pronged skewer is the way to go. In my testing, these ones held everything in place even when flipping foods on the grill: chicken, steak, veggies, pineapple— you name it. The large handle at the end was super helpful when it came to flipping, and the combination of the long skewer and my small grill made it so that I didn’t need to use gloves to handle them.
That said, there were a few things I didn’t love about these skewers. First, the tips weren’t super sharp, which made it tricky to skewer foods; the red onions gave me the most trouble. Secondly, you need to be more careful when using a double-pronged skewer as you have two blades to worry about. If the prongs aren’t placed into the food straight on, you run the risk of the food causing the prongs to bend toward each other. Lastly, I found that sometimes the food got stuck on the metal, which prevented the slider from doing its job effectively.
These issues aside, if you’re grilling a lot of food or using heavier ingredients that have the potential for spinning on less-sturdy skewers, this double-pronged option will ensure everything stays on.
"It held the food I skewered on securely and the larger handle made it the easiest [of all the options] to flip. I would make the blades at the end sharper so they can more readily pierce through food."
Price at time of Publish: $22
Material: Stainless steel | Length: 17 inches | Number of Pieces: 6 | Dishwasher-Safe? Yes
Weber Original Bamboo Skewers
What We Love: Flat shape, bamboo holds ingredients in place, sturdy
What We Don’t Love: Soaking required
This might be an unpopular opinion, but I love a bamboo skewer. These made a regular appearance at summer birthday parties growing up, and I like that you can hold them and eat the food right off of them without running the risk of burning yourself. These bamboo skewers by Weber are like a leveled-up version of a traditional wood skewer, boasting a flat shape and a sharp tip that pierces ingredients easily without bending.
I didn’t mind having to soak them for a half hour before grilling. To me, it’s easier than having to wash a bunch of skewers after eating. I liked that the bamboo offered some friction to keep the ingredients in place, unlike the metal skewers I tested. This did mean, however, that it took a little effort to slide the cooked food off the skewers. I found that the chicken was more tender and the steak more medium-rare when cooked on the wood skewers, but that was more likely due to their position on the grill.
For someone like me who wants to minimize the number of dishes you have to clean, this is a top-notch option.
"I didn’t mind having to soak the skewers in water, and I liked that the bamboo offered friction to keep ingredients in place, coupled with the flat design."
Price at time of Publish: $6
Material: Bamboo | Length: 9.8 inches | Number of Pieces: 25 | Dishwasher-Safe? No (disposable)
Related: The Best Chopsticks
Barebones Living Stainless Steel BBQ Skewers
What We Love: Attractive blackened finish, simple design, durable, easy to clean by hand
What We Don’t Love: Expensive, food rotates on skewer
As far as aesthetics go, the Barebones Living Stainless Steel BBQ Skewers are top-notch. I love the antiqued blackened finish and simple, sleek design. If you’re looking to splurge a little, these are a great choice.
That said, while these skewers might look long, there is a considerable amount of skewer that is twisted, and near the tip, the skewer is rounded. The square section of the skewer is only a few inches long and nowhere near as effective at keeping food from spinning as a flat skewer. Despite some turning, I was still able to get smoky shish kebabs with a nice char all around.
Cleaning these skewers by hand (though they are dishwasher-safe) is a straightforward process due to the streamlined shape, and since they are already blackened, I don’t have to worry so much about scrubbing off black residue as I do with the stainless steel skewers. These skewers stay looking like they just came fresh from the box, and the hook at the end is helpful for hanging them to dry or store.
"I had some turning of ingredients when the skewers were flipped due to the rounded shape at the end of the skewer, but these skewers produced smoky shish kebabs with a good char."
Price at time of Publish: $20
Material: Stainless steel | Length: 15.25 inches | Number of Pieces: 4 | Dishwasher-Safe? Yes
Best Splurge, Runner-Up
Williams Sonoma Stainless Steel Skewers
What We Love: Long, sturdy, flat blade, attractive design
What We Don’t Love: Slider is a bit flimsy and wobbly
The Williams Sonoma Stainless Steel Skewers are massive. They’re the longest of all the skewers I tested, and combined with the decently wide blade with a diagonal tip they’re almost intimidating to look at and handle. More length means that you can fit more food on the skewer, and since the blade is flat the steak, chicken, and vegetables I grilled didn’t spin around when it was time to flip the kebabs. The sturdy blade stood up to skewering well, though I found that I preferred to stab down into the food rather than threading it through with the skewer upright for more leverage.
These skewers look great and perform well, but at more than $10 a skewer, they are definitely a splurge item. They’re more than 20 times the price of my Best Budget pick, and honestly, if aesthetics or a slider aren’t that important to you, I’d go with that one.
Additionally, the slider (essentially a metal oval) was a touch disappointing. It didn’t have a lot of weight to it, and since it doesn’t lock in place, it kept sliding around.
"It's a splurge-worthy skewer that fits a lot of food. It's a solid [option] as far as looks and performance go—but for the price, there is better value to be found in some of the other options tested."
Price at time of Publish: $50
Material: Stainless steel | Length: 17.5 inches | Number of Pieces: 4 | Dishwasher-Safe? Yes
Related: The Best Grill Tongs
With its flat, long blade and effective slider bar that locks into place, the GRILLART Kabob Skewers with Slider is a grilling must-have. If you’re looking for a disposable skewer that works just as well as a metal one, go for the Weber Original Bamboo Skewers.
How We Tested
I prepped and grilled three sets of kebabs following this recipe for Beef Kebabs on Simply Recipes. I made beef kebabs, chicken kebabs (using the same marinade), and vegetable kebabs. For each type of kebab, I threaded ingredients onto each of the grilling skewers I was testing. First, I grilled the beef kebabs, flipping halfway through, then chicken, then vegetable. I made three batches of kebabs in all and tested each of the skewers three times, noting my findings throughout the testing process. After the grilling and taste test were done, I threw out the bamboo skewers and hand-washed the metal skewers. I rated each skewer on the following features: Material, Design, Strength, Ease of Cleaning, and Overall Value. Learn more about how we test products.
What Are the Other Options?
Kerkors Stainless Steel Kabob Skewers: This set of 20 skewers is a great deal, especially if you’re planning on grilling for a bunch of people, but it was just edged out by the JOMVERL skewers, which have a similar design and the same price per skewer. The lack of a handle at the end of these skewers made them more difficult to flip, and I can only imagine how difficult it would be to flip them without tongs. Thankfully, my grill was small enough that I could use gloves or even my bare hands, as the ends stuck out. In the end, the JOMVERL skewers won out as the best budget pick for their curved handles and surprisingly sharp tips.
What to Look for When Buying Grilling Skewers
Wood and stainless steel are the most popular options for grilling skewers, and each have their pros and cons. Wood skewers need to be soaked in water beforehand, and lower-quality brands have a risk of splintering. Still, they save you from some cleanup. Stainless steel skewers are reusable, but depending on the quality of the skewer you purchase, they can either be sturdy or thin and flimsy.
As far as shape goes, flat skewers are the best at keeping food in place. “The typical round skewer will hold food together, but food tends to just spin on the skewer as opposed to actually turning when it’s time for the kebob to be flipped,” Matthew Eads, cookbook author, gourmet griller, and founder of the blog Grillseeker, says. If you are using round skewers, he recommends using two per kebab to keep food from spinning.
If you’re planning on loading up a lot of food on each skewer, look for something long, but note that the longer the skewer and the more food you put on it, the more likely the skewer will bend.
Even though you’re chopping up food into 1.5-inch cubes, you want a skewer that is strong enough to pierce through your meat and vegetables without bending or breaking. All of the options I tested were solid in this aspect, and I experienced no bending, even with the thinnest or longest of the skewers.
Ease of Cleaning
If you’re using wooden skewers, good news: There’s no cleanup required! For metal skewers, you can throw them in the dishwasher or wash them by hand, but be careful of the pointy tip. Seriously, though—the super-sharp tips can and will draw blood if you’re not careful.
Are metal or wood skewers better for grilling?
As far as the cook on the meat goes, I didn’t find there to be a huge difference between metal versus wood, so it’s more about personal preference as far as materials go. If you want something reusable, choose a metal skewer, but be careful when handling them as the metal can get extremely hot. If you want something disposable (and with less cleanup after cooking), a wooden skewer works great—just be sure to plan ahead and soak them in water ahead of time to prevent them from burning up on the grill. For me, I didn’t mind soaking the skewers and liked that I didn’t have to worry about cleaning them after.
How long should I soak skewers for grilling?
When using wooden skewers, you should soak them for at least a half hour. Eads soaks his skewers for at least an hour—and more, if possible. “If I am planning on kebabs for dinner, I start soaking the wooden skewers in the morning for grilling in the evening,” he says.
Eads notes that if you’re grilling shrimp, you can get away with a shorter soak time since the protein only takes about 5 minutes to cook. For beef, chicken, or pork, you have a longer cooking time and an increased possibility of a wooden skewer burning on the grill, so you should plan to soak your skewers for longer.
Can I use skewers in the oven or air fryer?
You can use both metal and wood skewers in the oven or air fryer, though for the air fryer you’ll want to choose a skewer that will actually fit inside. Plus, “the same rules apply for soaking the wooden skewers to prevent them from burning,” Eads says. Additionally, you should always be careful when handling metal skewers.
Why Trust Simply Recipes?
Abigail Abesamis Demarest is a freelance journalist who specializes in food and drink content. She interviewed grilling experts to learn about what they look for in grilling tools, and she’s always keen to share this knowledge with readers. In the summertime, she helps her husband make grilled burgers and sausage at their lake house.
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