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Lamb Shish Kabob with Wheat Pita and Tzatziki Sauce

Lamb Shish KabobRecently I was trying to remember the first time I ever tasted lamb, and decided it must have been in college when I used to work at Le Parisien Restaurant in downtown Salt Lake, where we would occasionally have rack of lamb as a special. We certainly never had it at home when I was growing up. Whenever it was, from the time I first tried it lamb has always been my favorite red meat.

Every one of the South Beach Diet cookbooks has a couple of recipes for lamb, even though South Beach recommends limiting saturated fat and lamb can have a lot of fat. If I’m eating in a fabulous restaurant and I order lamb, that’s definitely a time where I’ll forget about the fat content and enjoy the food. But if I’m cooking lamb at home, I’ll trim off quite a bit of the fat, and then marinate the lamb in a marinade with olive oil, like I did recently when I cooked Grilled Lamb Chops. Do leave a bit of the fat though because lamb fat has so much flavor.

I’m not always partial to Shish Kabobs with different types of meats and veggies combined on a skewer, because things cook at different rates. However three vegetables I will use on a skewer with meat are red onions, bell peppers, or zucchini. Those seem to cook at about the same rate meat does, and in this case even though we cooked the lamb medium rare, the pieces of red onion were perfectly tender-crisp when the kabobs were done.

When you make kabobs it’s important to fold over each piece of meat so the skewer is piercing it in at least two places. The other thing that matters is to push the pieces of meat and vegetables as tightly together as you can. These two things keep the pieces of meat from spinning on the skewer so you can turn the kabobs to get all sides done. Use large tongs for turning kabobs, and turn them several times while they’re cooking.

Of course, you’ve already figured out that this is what I served with the Tzatziki Sauce made by my good friend Georgette, haven’t you? These lamb Shish-Kabobs and Georgette’s Tzatziki made a great combination.

Lamb Shish Kabobs with Wheat Pita and Tzatziki Sauce
(Makes 3-4 servings, recipe created by Kalyn with inspiration from many sources.)

1-2 lbs. leg of lamb, trimmed and cut into pieces 1 1/2 inches square
1 or 2 large red onions, cut into pieces 1 1/2 inches square

Marinade Ingredients:
1/2 onion, very finely chopped
2 tsp. garlic puree or minced fresh garlic
1 tsp. dried Greek or Turkish oregano (not Mexican oregano)
1 tsp. dried rosemary
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika (or use regular paprika if you don’t have the smoked kind)
1/4 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
2 T fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil, plus more to brush kabobs


Trim most, but not all the fat from the lamb and cut into cubes 1 1/2 inches square. Place lamb pieces in large Ziploc bag.

In food processor with steel blade, blend together the onion, garlic, and oregano, rosemary, cumin, paprika, and black pepper. Add lemon juice and pulse a few times until well combined. Take off processor lid, pour in olive oil and stir together.

Pour marinade into Ziploc bag with lamb cubes and marinate in the refrigerator 4-8 hours.

When ready to cook, remove bag from refrigerator, put a colander in the sink and pour lamb cubes into colander. Rinse off marinade with warm water and let lamb drain while it comes to room temperature. When lamb is at room temperature, preheat gas or charcoal grill to high, then thread lamb pieces and onions onto skewers as shown above, making sure to fold over each piece of meat so it gets pierced twice with the skewer, and pushing ingredients tightly together. Put assembled kabobs on a tray and brush both sides with olive oil.

Put skewers on grill and lower heat slightly to medium high. (You may not need to do that, depending on how hot your grill gets.) Grill kabobs 8-9 minutes for medium rare, 9-10 for medium and 10-11 for well done. (Actual cooking time will depend on how hot your grill is and how big the lamb pieces are. I recommend using an instant-read meat thermometer to tell when the meat is done. Lamb should be 145 for medium rare, 160 for medium and 170 for well-done.) Serve hot with Tzatziki Sauce and whole wheat pita bread if desired.

(Many thanks to The American Lamb Board who provided the lamb for this recipe.)

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South Beach Suggestions

This would be a great main dish for any phase of the South Beach diet. For phase one, skip the pita bread and serve the lamb and Tzatziki with something like Grilled Zucchini and Greek Salad with Marinated Onions and Oregano. Be sure to look for 100% whole wheat pita bread for the South Beach Diet.

More Lamb Cooked on the Grill
(Recipes from other blogs may or may not be South Beach friendly, check ingredients.)
Grilled Lamb Chops with Garlic, Rosemary ,and Thyme
Grilled Butterflied Leg of Lamb from Simply Recipes
Rotisseried Leg of Lamb with Rosemary-Garlic Paste Filling from Christine Cooks
Herb-Marinated Lamb Kabobs from A Mingling of Tastes
Red Wine, Garlic, and Honey Grilled Lamb Chops from Je Mange la Ville
Ground Lamb Kebobs with Saffron Rice and Hummus from Kirsten’s Home Cooking
A Molesular Gastronomy Experiment in How to Cook Perfect Lamb Chops from Tomato

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19 comments on “Lamb Shish Kabob with Wheat Pita and Tzatziki Sauce”

  1. Mmmmm. That looks like something I might want to put on the braai (BBQ) this summer! I love the taste of lamb and I love it even more when it’s served in a vaguely middle-eastern way, as it is here. Great idea – thanks Kalyn!

  2. I use almost the same marinade with lamb, but I never used rosemary and oregano. After reading your post, it didn’t make sense why I never used them. Next time I’m adding rosemary and oregano, too. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Kelly, thanks.

    Katerina, Oh I am sorry to hear that onions don’t agree with you that well; I love grilled onions. But your idea of using them to flavor the meat is a good one.

    Katie, I can only imagine the Irish lamb.

    Maria, I’ve only had Utah lamb once and I admit, it was just fantastic.

    Anh, thanks.

    Barbara, I’m so honored, especially to be nominated by you.

    Cinnamon, thanks for reading and commenting. (My brother makes the banners; he’s a gem!)

    Sher, trying to go for using the tripod every time so I don’t get lazy. It does make a difference. I actually had to cook this twice (such a sacrifice) because the first time I forgot to change my camera setting and none of the photos were any good. (And of course we had eaten all the kabobs.)

    Ed, see above about the banner. I haven’t had New Zealand lamb, but I always heard it was good. Don’t imagine we get much of it here (that’s rather a long trip by freezer I’d say.) I’ve never had bad lamb either!

  4. That is a great new banner – I wish I’d thought of it. Also I didn’t realise lamb is so popular. I’ve bnever heard anything about NZ lamb being too gamey. I know Welsh lamb has a unique flavour from whatever they eat as does the French lamb farmed on salt marshes. to me it’s all good.

  5. Well, my mouth is watering after reading that! Beautiful pictures! Did you use a tripod for that? :):)

  6. A regular reader of ur blog, but first time commenting… I guess its the new banner and its amazing 🙂
    The lamb kebabs were a feast to my eyes!

  7. Hi Kalyn – I’ve nominated you for a Blogging for positive change award. You can see it here>

  8. Lovely! I love lamn and kebab is my favourite. The recipe is very inspirational, Kalyn!

  9. I don’t eat lamb, but I hear Morgan Valley lamb is the best in UT. Have you tried it?

  10. I didn’t have lamb growing up either, and not love it! We used to get fantastic lamb in Ireland (no kidding!, duh).
    I think it’s time for kebabs again. Sometimes I do other vegetables on seperate skewers.
    Love the marinade!

  11. I don’t like that many onions (or they don’t like me) but I always but them between meat in skewers because thy totally add flavour. Looks yummy!

  12. I love kabobs this time of year, they look delicious!

  13. Tanna, me too. I don’t hate beef, but lamb just has a richness of flavor that beef doesn’t have imho.

    Padma, thanks. I’d love to go to India and try those lamb kabobs! Maybe someday.

    Donna and Lydia, great ideas to use two skewers or to use the flat skewers.

    Pille, you know how much I love Greece too, even though I was only there for a few days. I remember our discussion about Greek salad!

    Peter this is American lamb, but not from Utah that I know of.

  14. Sounds delish Kalyn. Is this a locally raised lamb or New Zealand? Many find the NZ-lamb to be too gamey and I always say buy local if you can.

  15. Kalyn – I love your Greek food posts – they bring back so many nice food-related holiday memories from my travels to Greece! Thank you!

  16. Beautiful skewers! I love the combination of grilled lamb and tzatziki. By the way, have you seen the flat bamboo skewers in your local market? They address that problem of meat spinning on the skewer.

  17. ++These two things keep the pieces of meat from spinning on the skewer so you can turn the kabobs to get all sides done. ++


    Or you can thread the meat on two skewers. If you’re using bamboo, you’ll want to soak them for 20 minutes or so, but if you plan on two per skewer, things stay in place. 🙂

    Which reminds me…I’ve got a leg of lamb in the freezer…sounds like it’s time for some kebabs.

    – Donna

  18. I love lamb kababs, its favorite for Indians and you will find them in every corner of a busy street in India… Tzatziki sauce goes very well with Lamb…
    Lovely platter!

  19. These are beauties. I think if it’s good lamb, I’d pick it over beef every time.
    Umm and with the Tzatziki sauce, yes these would be perfectly wonderful.

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