Lamb kabobs (or kebabs) are a great change of pace from other meaty kebabs and are perfect on the grill. You can also broil the kebabs or make them on a grill pan indoors. The marinade for this Mediterranean skewered lamb is jammed with classic flavors like lemon, oregano, and garlic that pair perfectly with flavorful, rich meat.
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Greek Lamb Kebabs: This marinade is jammed with classic flavors that pair perfectly with flavorful, rich lamb.Tweet This
- Olive oil
- Red onion
- Garlic – Be generous, and absolutely use fresh garlic here!
- Lemon – Fresh juice, please!
- Oregano – You can use fresh or dried.
- Thyme – Ditto, fresh or dried, work fine here.
- Cayenne pepper
- Boneless lamb leg or shoulder – Cut into 1-inch cubes.
For serving (optional):
- Fresh oregano sprigs
- Lemon wedges
- Chopped fresh parsley
- Tzatziki – (the recipe is below)
The Best Lamb for Kebabs
Choose leg or shoulder meat for cubing and skewering. This type of lamb cooks quickly, stays tender, and allows you to get a beautifully browned exterior on the lamb chunks, while the inside stays juicy and rosy pink.
Lamb for kebabbing can be cut into 1-inch cubes, or 1 1/2-inch cubes. As with all meat, lamb will shrink a bit while cooking, so consider how large you’d like your final pieces of meat to be. 1-inch cubes will take less time to cook, but you’ll want to cook them quickly over high heat so the inside doesn’t get too well done before the outside is caramelized.
It’s best to buy kebab meat from a butcher counter, which will probably have been cut more recently. If you choose pre-cubed meat, whether it’s packaged or from a butcher, make sure that it’s the right type for grilling or broiling or searing. Lamb meat meant for stewing is a lot tougher, from a different part of the animal, and while it will become tender during a longer, low heat cooking process, it will result in a very tough kebab. Check with the butcher if you aren’t sure; it’s important to pick the right cut.
How to Grill Greek Lamb Kebabs
- Make the marinade: Add the lamb cubes and toss to coat well. Cover and refrigerate for 6 to 12 hours.
- Soak the wooden skewers: You can also use metal skewers, which do not need soaking.
- Make the Tzatziki: Grate and drain the cucumber. Squeeze the cucumbers to press out any extra liquid. Combine with the yogurt, lemon juice, olive oil, oregano, mint, and garlic.
- Thread the skewers with the lamb: Discard the remaining marinade.
- Grill the kebabs: Or cook on a grill pan indoors.
- Serve: Garnish with the oregano sprigs, lemon wedges, and chopped parsley, if desired. Serve with the tzatziki.
Lamb Kebab Cooking Tips
- If you keep the kebabs strictly lamb only, you can focus on the optimal cooking time and doneness for the meat. The vegetables might cook through to your liking at different times. Consider making separate vegetable kebabs or other grilled vegetables; see How to Grill Vegetables and Veggie Kebabs.
- Feel free to cut this recipe in half for 1 pound of lamb meat if you have a smaller group.
Sometimes the words are used interchangeably, small pieces of meat (often lamb) grilled on a skewer. In Greece and in Greek restaurants and taverns, pressed loaves of meat are grilled on upright spits and then shaved into pitas to make sandwiches or gyros. The meat might be a combination of beef and lamb or sometimes pork.
Souvlaki comes from the Greek word souvla, which means sword.
Traditionally lamb kebabs are served with garlicky tzatziki and pita bread or another type of toasted Greek bread.
What to Serve With Greek Lamb Kabobs
While you can mix and match side dishes to your heart’s content, you will certainly elevate the presentation of these kebabs by plating them with some fresh oregano sprigs and lemon wedges. A sprinkle of parsley adds freshness and eye appeal.
Also, please heavily consider making tzatziki to serve on the side of these lamb kebabs. Tzatziki is a classic Greek condiment made with Greek yogurt, oregano, mint , garlic and lemon, and it’s a truly refreshing counterpoint to the rich meat. You can also buy tzatziki at the supermarket, and sometimes it can be found fresh at a nice prepared foods counter, or Mediterranean-inspired market.
More Lamb Kebab Recipes
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Greek Lamb Kabobs
For the Greek-Inspired Marinade:
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 red onion (roughly chopped)
- 1 clove garlic (chopped)
- Juice of 1 lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano (or 1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano)
- 1 teaspoon finely minced fresh thyme (or ½ teaspoon dried)
- ⅛ teaspoon (big pinch) cayenne pepper
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)
- 2 pounds boneless lamb leg or shoulder (cut into 1-inch cubes)
To Garnish (Optional):
- Fresh oregano sprigs
- Lemon wedges
- Chopped fresh parsley
To Serve (Optional):
- Tzatziki (recipe follows)
For the Tzatziki:
- 1 medium (10-ounce or so) seedless cucumber (peeled if the skin is thick)
- Kosher salt
- 1 cup plain Greek yogurt (preferably whole)
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint
- ½ teaspoon finely minced garlic
- Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
- Place the olive oil, onion, garlic, lemon juice, oregano, thyme, cayenne, salt, and pepper in a large mixing bowl and stir to combine, or place the ingredients in a food processor and blend to puree. Add the lamb cubes and toss to coat well. Cover and refrigerate for 6 to 12 hours.
- Soak about 20 6-inch wooden skewers, or 10 12-inch skewers, in water to cover for 30 minutes. You can also use metal skewers, which do not need soaking.
- Meanwhile, make the Tzatziki: Slice the cucumber half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds with a teaspoon. Grate the cucumber using the large holes on a box grater or the grating blade in a food processor. Toss the cucumber with ½ teaspoon kosher salt and place in a strainer over a bowl, or in the sink. Let rest for 10 to 30 minutes.
- Use your hands to squeeze the cucumbers to press out any extra liquid, then place in a medium bowl. Add the yogurt, lemon juice, olive oil, 2 teaspoons oregano, mint, and ½ teaspoon garlic. Stir well, and add pepper and any additional salt as needed (remember the cucumbers were salted at the beginning).
- Thread the skewers with the lamb. Discard the remaining marinade.
- Heat an outdoor grill to high, or heat a grill pan or a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Grill the kebabs 4 inches from the heat source for about 8 minutes total for medium-rare, turning them every few minutes to get nice grill marks on most sides of the meat. Or sear them for the same amount of time in the hot grill pan.
- Transfer to a serving platter, and garnish with the oregano sprigs and lemon wedges, if desired. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve with the tzatziki.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.