Enjoy the smokey, charred flavor of tahini marinated grilled chicken and steak. Mediterranean flavors add a bright, nutty flavor that complements the meat. Grilled Kebabs with Tahini Marinade make a flavorful sandwich when added to a warm pita and garnished with tomato and feta sauce.
The season of grilling is here! I'm sure for some people it never ended. However, in the Midwest, you have to be a hearty soul to enjoy grilling in the cold.
But now with longer days, warmer temperatures, and summer holidays such as Memorial Day and Fourth of July, a quintessential summer meal involves some grilling. Think sizzling meat, with charred edges and a smokey flavor.
- Kebabs are a quick and easy meal to grill. It takes about 10 minutes to grill most types of kebobs.
- Variety. You can make a variety of kebabs, with different marinades, vegetables, meats, or seafood.
- Kebabs can be served in various ways - as a sandwich, the skewers served with the charred cubes of meat or threaded on like satay.
Choosing the meat
The best option for beef kebabs is meat that is tender with a slight amount of marbling. The marbling is important. If a cut of beef is too lean, it could become dry when grilling.
Sirloin is the favored choice for many people. I am using tri-tip, which is what my butcher recommends. This cut of meat is from the bottom of the sirloin and has a nice beefy flavor. It can be a little more economical than other pricier cuts of beef.
Pork tenderloin is a good choice for kebabs. It has some marbling of fat, is lean, and is easily cut into cubes. The mild flavor is adaptable to many marinades.
Sirloin or boneless shoulder is the preferred cut of meat if you opt for lamb.
I use boneless, skinless chicken breasts in this recipe. However, chicken thighs would be delicious due to their deeper flavor.
What is tahini?
- A paste made from sesame seeds, tahini is the key ingredient in hummus.
- It looks like nut butter and has similar qualities such as the tendency to separate. Just stir it to combine the oil.
- Tahini has a deeper, almost earthy, savory flavor. The sesame seeds add a slight nuttiness.
- It contains protein and healthy fats
Making the marinade
- Tahini is combined with other Mediterranean flavors such as za'atar, smoked paprika, lemon juice, garlic, and olive oil.
- White wine adds some needed acid for flavor, acts as a meat tenderizer, and helps to keep the meat from drying out as it grills.
- For a bit of funk that plays well with the tahini, Worcestershire sauce is added. I think it is the anchovies in the sauce that provide a flavor kick to the tahini.
- Brown sugar is the agent of caramelization. Known as the Maillard Effect, the combination of the brown sugar with the meat protein produces the charred flavor and crispy edges every grilling fan craves.
The meat marinates for 30-60 minutes while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Preparing the kebabs
If you are using bamboo skewers, soak them in water for at least an hour to prevent them from burning.
It is best to make separate kebabs, each containing one ingredient. You can then grill that ingredient for the correct amount of time. Many times when kebabs have vegetables and meat together, one ingredient will be overcooked and another undercooked.
- The red onion is skewered by itself and just brushed with olive oil before going on the grill.
- The cubes of steak and chicken should be threaded on their individual skewers, with a little spacing between pieces. If the meat is packed together too tightly, the interior of the cubes will be raw while the outside can be charred.
Tomato and Feta Sauce
If it is good enough for pasta, it is good enough for kebabs! The sauce is a play on the popular TikTok sensation. Combine grape or cherry tomatoes with garlic, olive oil, minced fresh rosemary, and olives in an aluminum disposable pan. Nestle a brick of feta in the middle of the tomatoes and cover the pan with foil. Quick, easy, and a great garnish with the Mediterranean flavors of the Grilled Kebabs with Tahini Marinade.
- Get your grill ready. Light the coals or turn on the gas grill to get it preheating. Make sure the rack is clean and give it a coat of cooking spray.
- Start the prep work - make the marinade and thread the skewers (vegetable and meat).
- Prepare the tomato and feta sauce.
- Add the vegetable skewers and the pan of tomatoes and feta to the grill. If you have the room, you may want to have different zones when grilling. Have a hot side for the kebabs and a cooler side for the tomato and feta sauce. Cook the sauce for approximately 20-25 minutes. The tomatoes should be breaking down, the juices bubbling, and the feta has melted.
- After grilling the vegetables and the tomato and feta sauce is bubbling and hot, check your briquettes if charcoal grilling. You need glowing red coals for the meat. Add more if needed.
- Add the meat kebabs. It helps to grill the steak first and the chicken second, as the steak can settle for a bit. Cover the kebabs with foil while you cook the others.
- Rotate the kebabs as they start to char.
- Once the kebabs are all grilled, place the pita or flatbread on the grill to lightly warm and toast them.
- If you do not have a grill, you make cook the kebabs on a grill pan on the stovetop. You can place the kebabs on a sheet pan and put them under a broiler.
- Use other vegetables. Bell pepper, zucchini, or summer squash would work well with the tahini marinated meat.
- Serve on a bed of rice if you aren't making a pita sandwich.
If you are planning a get-together with friends and family, this is a crowd-pleasing, easy grilling recipe. Maybe you just have a primal need to roast meat on a stick. Either way, prep this recipe ahead of time so that you can enjoy being with your guests.
These juicy sandwiches are full of complementary flavors. The taste of summer! Try Grilled Kebabs with Tahini Marinade to scratch that grilling itch.
Other Grilling Recipes
Grilled Kebabs with Tahini Marinade
- 1 grill I used a charcoal grill. These can be cooked with a gas grill, on top of the stove in a grill pan, or under a broiler.
- 1 medium-sized disposable aluminum pan
- 10 skewers
- 1 small bowl
- 2 ziplock bags You can also use medium-sized bowls in which to marinate the meat.
- ½ cup tahini (3.6 ounces/103 grams)
- 2½ tablespoons lemon juice (The juice of a ½ lemon)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, minced (1 teaspoon)
- ¾ teaspoon zaatar
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- ½ cup white wine (118 ml)
- 1 pound chicken, cut into 1 ½" pieces.
- 1 pound tri tip or sirloin steak, cut into 1 ½" pieces.
- ½ red onion (Cut into large pieces to be skewered.)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 8 pita or flat breads
- fresh dill sprigs
Tomato and Feta Sauce
- 1 pound grape or cherry tomatoes (453 grams, 3 cups)
- 1 teaspooon rosemary, minced
- 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 12 olives (I used a Greek olive mix)
- 8 ounces block of feta
Marinate the meat
- Combine the tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, white wine, minced garlic, brown sugar, zaatar, smoked paprika, kosher salt, and ground black pepper in a small bowl.
- Cut the chicken and the steak into 1 ½" pieces. Make sure to trim any silver skin from the beef.
- Use two separate bags or bowls. Add half of the marinade with the chicken in one bag and the other half of the marinade with the beef in a second bag. Marinate for 30-60 minutes.
- While the meat is marinating, cut the red onion into large sections. Add the onion onto two skewers and brush with olive oil.
- After the meat has been marinating for at least 30 minutes, start your grill. If you are using charcoal, light the briquettes. If you are using a gas, preheat the grill.
- Start to skewer the meat, adding 6 -8 pieces. Make skewers of just chicken or beef so that the cooking time is consistent with the type of meat. Don't bunch the meat up on the skewer. The cubes of meat should be spaced apart so that each piece can be grilled evenly. Set aside while you wait for the grill.
Tomato and Feta Sauce
- In a disposable aluminum pan, add the tomatoes, minced rosemary, thinly sliced garlic, and olives. Sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper. Drizzle the olive oil over the tomatoes and toss to combine.
- Nestle the block of feta cheese in the middle of the tomatoes.
- Cover the pan with aluminum foil.
- Add the disposable aluminum pan to the grill. Also, add the two skewers of red onion next to the pan. Rotate the red onion skewers when they start to blacken at the edges. Remove the onion skewers.
- The pan of tomatoes and feta will take approximately 20-25 minutes to cook. This is dependent on how hot your grill is. You can have the pan sitting on the grill rack in an area where the heat isn't too intense. Remove the pan when the tomatoes have started to collapse and the feta is melted.
- When the red onion and tomato/feta sauce has been removed, add the steak kebabs to the grill. Make sure the heat of the grill is high - add more briquettes if necessary.
- After 3-4 minutes, check the steak. Rotate the kebab if the steak is charred nicely. Do not let the meat get overcooked.
- Once the steak kebabs have been grilled, add the chicken. It will not take as long to grill the chicken. Again, rotate the kebabs as the meat is starting to char. Don't overcook as the chicken will be dry.
- Lastly, warm the flatbread on the grill rack for 30-60 seconds.
- To assemble a sandwich, add the meat to the warmed flatbread. Add your preferred amount of tomato feta sauce. Garnish with sprigs of fresh dill.