A Guide to Picking the Best Kabob Sticks for Grilling

February 16, 2024
Kabob Sticks
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Kabobs are a grilling staple, but the humble skewer plays a crucial role in kabob success. With so many kabob stick options available, how do you choose the right ones?

This guide covers the pros and cons of various kabob sticks materials like wood, bamboo, and metal. We’ll explore the factors that affect performance, durability, flavor impact, and ease of use so you can determine the best kabob sticks for your grilling style and recipes.

Why the Kabob Stick Material Matters

Not all kabob sticks are made the same. The material affects:

Strength and Durability – Can they withstand flipping without bending or breaking?

Reusability – Can they be used for multiple grilling sessions?

Flavor Impact – Does material impart any taste to the food?

Cooking Performance – Do they cook food evenly by conducting heat?

Ease of Use – Are they easy to skewer and flip food without trouble?

Price – What’s the relative cost value of different materials?

By understanding the pros and cons of each material, you can decide what’s most important for your kabob skewers.

Wood Kabob Sticks

Pros:

  • Natural material with no chemicals
  • Imparts light wood flavor that complements food
  • Inexpensive and widely available

Cons:

  • Not as sturdy or reusable as metal or bamboo
  • Can char and burn if exposed directly to high flames
  • Requires soaking before using to prevent burning
  • Not as durable or straight as metal skewers

Best For: Adding natural flavor nuance and traditional vibe perfect for meat kabobs. Go for cedar, oak, birch, or bamboo.

Bamboo Kabob Sticks

Pros:

  • Stronger and less prone to bending than wood
  • Naturally heat resistant and reusable
  • Absorbs less moisture so doesn’t require soaking
  • Sustainable material that’s organic and biodegradable
  • Neutral flavor that doesn’t alter taste of food

Cons:

  • Not as sturdy as metal skewers
  • Can burn if exposed directly to high heat
  • Not ideal for high weight or acidic foods that erode bamboo
  • Reusable but will degrade over time
  • Slightly more expensive than wood sticks

Best For: Eco-friendly grilling of lighter foods like veggies and shrimps. Provides strength without flavor impact.

Metal Kabob Sticks

Pros:

  • Very durable, straight, and reusable
  • Withstands high heat and flipping without bending
  • Distributes heat evenly for consistent cooking
  • Easy to skewer tough foods like meat chunks
  • Can be used on indoor grill pans

Cons:

  • Can leach unhealthy chemicals if low quality
  • Not as attractive as natural wood appearance
  • Can damage nonstick grill grates
  • Retains heat so caution is needed when handling
  • Imparts metallic taste if not stainless steel

Best For: Heavy kabobs with tough vegetables or chunks of meat. Go for stainless steel or chrome-plated iron.

Factors to Evaluate When Buying Kabob Sticks

No single material is objectively “best” – it depends on your needs and preferences. Here are key factors to consider when shopping:

  • Length and thickness – Longer skewers for grilling whole proteins or veggies. Thinner skewers heat and cook faster.
  • Tip design – Sharper tips penetrate firm foods easily. Rounded tips cause less grill damage.
  • Flexibility – Some bend prevents breakage but too much bend makes flipping tricky.
  • Number of skewers – Bulk packs save money for frequent grillers.
  • Special coatings – Porcelain or other coatings improve performance.
  • Certifications – FDA approved and food grade materials are safest.
  • Appearance – Decorative skewers for serving vs plain ones just for grilling.
  • Price – Set a budget and stick with materials that fit it.

Kabob Grilling Tips for Any Skewer

Whichever kabob sticks you choose, these tips will set you up for grilling success:

  • Soak wood and bamboo in water 30 minutes before grilling to prevent burning.
  • Grill kabobs over direct medium heat, rotating every few minutes. Move to indirect heat if flaming.
  • Leave small space between food to allow heat circulation and even cooking.
  • Use two parallel skewers for ingredients that spin to spread weight evenly.
  • Brush with oil or marinade during cooking to keep moist and flavorful.
  • Ensure food is cooked through before serving. Discard used skewers.
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