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It's easy to get the same juicy, flavorful morsels of chicken without a grill with the right method for cooking Chicken Kabobs in the Oven. Tossed in a simple, herbaceous blend of olive oil, garlic, fresh rosemary, salt and pepper and threaded onto skewers, tender chunks of boneless skinless chicken breast cook to succulent perfection in your oven.
Kabobs are an ancient dish popular in a significant part of Asia, the Middle East, and worldwide. Having such a long history, it's only natural that the skewered meat is traditionally grilled. Or, in other words, kissed by smoke and fire.
Modern Methods, Traditional Results
The primal cooking method certainly adds some of the kabob's personality. But with modern cooking options, there's no reason why we can't cook juicy and beautifully charred chicken kabobs in the oven.
The best alternative to grilling chicken kabobs is to cook on a sizzling hot cast iron grill pan, pre-heated in the oven. The cast iron grill is key here, to cook the meat hot and fast and etch every morsel with those bronze grill marks we all love on kabobs.
Ingredients You Need to Make Chicken Kabobs in the Oven
- Chicken: boneless skinless chicken breasts or boneless skinless chicken thighs
- Olive Oil: ideally extra-virgin olive oil
- Garlic: a few large, fresh cloves
- Fresh Rosemary: Dried rosemary is not a good alternative for this recipe.
- Kosher Salt: or half of the amount of fine salt
- Black Pepper: ideally freshly ground
- Avocado Oil: or other high-heat neutral vegetable oil
Don't think of these baked chicken kabobs as an inferior alternative to traditional grilled kabobs. On the contrary, it's a controlled environment that offers consistent results, so you can forget about unevenly cooked or dried-out meat. Using a cast iron grill in the oven cooks the chicken kabobs both with direct heat on the grill itself while the oven cooks the meat indirectly. Think of it as grilling with a closed lid. Refine this method for your particular oven and you can count on kabobs that come out lightly charred outside and juicy within every time.
Grill Pan Alternatives
Don't worry if you don't have an oven-safe grill pan, (though I promise it's a wise investment - here's the one I use). An oven-safe rack set in a baking sheet or just a baking sheet lined with foil will work for similarly exquisite results. (See recipe notes for specific instructions.) And during grilling season, be sure to try the Rosemary Garlic Chicken Kabobs that inspired this recipe.
Oven Chicken Kabobs FAQ
For bite-size pieces of chicken (~1-inch chunks), kabobs take 12-15 minutes at 425˚F on a pre-heated cast iron grill pan.
I recommend an oven preheated to 425˚F for the perfect balance of char on the outside and a juicy center.
You can use bamboo or wooden kabobs in the oven by presoaking them in water for at least 15 minutes.
- Strawberry Spinach Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette
- Greek Salad
- Spinach Strawberry and Walnut Salad with Strawberry Vinaigrette
- Arugula Salad or Arugula Apple Salad
- Wedge Salad
- Lemon Garlic Asparagus
- and Skillet Potatoes or Lyonnaise Potatoes
- or with a simple pasta like Lemon Garlic Pasta or Pasta Aglio e Olio
How to Cook Chicken Kabobs in the Oven
Step 1: Preheat a cold cast iron grill pan and the oven to 425˚F. While they preheat, toss bite-size chicken chunks with marinade ingredients (olive oil, garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper). String chicken chunks evenly onto 6 metal skewers or soaked bamboo skewers.
Step 2: Place chicken kabobs in a single layer on preheated grill pan and cook until lightly charred outside, juicy and cooked through inside (12 to 15 minutes), flipping half way through cooking time. Serve hot.
Chicken Kabobs in the Oven
- 6 metal skewers or bamboo or wooden skewers soaked in water for at least 15 minutes
- 1 ½ pounds boneless-skinless chicken breasts cut into 1-inch chunks (or boneless skinless chicken thighs)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary dried rosemary is not a good substitute here
- 3 large cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper or more
- vegetable oil such as avocado oil or other neutral flavored, high heat oil
- Add cast iron grill pan to cold oven and preheat oven to 425˚F. (recipe note #1)
- While the oven heats, make marinade. Combine chicken, olive oil, rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Stir to coat chicken on all sides. (recipe note #2)
- Thread chicken chunks evenly onto 6 skewers.
- With oven mitts, remove preheated grill pan from oven and brush lightly with vegetable oil. Arrange kabobs in a single layer on grill pan (they should sizzle when they touch the pan). Place in oven and cook 12-15 minutes, until cooked through and still moist, flipping kabobs half way through cooking time. Serve.
- If you don't have an oven-safe grill pan, cook chicken kabobs in a single layer on an oven-safe rack inside a foil lined rimmed baking sheet (or line a baking sheet with aluminum foil if you don't have an oven-safe rack). Increase the cooking time by a minute or two using this method.
- For deeper flavor marinate the chicken for 1-2 hours and up to 2 days in advance.