Beef Shish Kebab

The inexpensive, tough beef cut called flap meat is full of flavor, with a coarse grain that absorbs marinades well. Marinate it 24 hours and pound it with a meat mallet for the juiciest, most tender kebabs. See How to Make Kebabs on the Grill to see the Martirosyan family's detailed step by step instructions for making the Beef Shish Kebabs and other kebabs.

Beef Shish Kebab
Photo: Photo by Julia Stotz / Food Styling by Caroline K. Hwang / Prop Styling by Samantha Margherita
Active Time:
1 hrs 5 mins
Marinate Time:
1 day
Total Time:
1 day 1 hrs 35 mins


  • 4 pounds beef flap meat, silver skin removed

  • 3 cups vegetable oil

  • 2 small yellow onions (about 1 pound), halved lengthwise and thinly sliced (about 3 1/2 cups)

  • 1 cup chopped (1-inch pieces) fresh flat-leaf parsley stems (from 2 bunches fresh parsley)

  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt

  • 2 tablespoons cayenne pepper

  • 1 tablespoon black pepper

  • 10 large metal skewers (1 inch wide x 23 1/2 inches long)

  • Ghee, at room temperature, for brushing


  1. If flap meat is thicker than 1/2 inch, butterfly horizontally. Cut meat into 2-inch square pieces. Place meat, oil, onions, parsley stems, salt, cayenne, and black pepper in a large bowl. Toss together using your hands to evenly combine. Cover and marinate in refrigerator at least 24 hours or up to 3 days.

  2. Open bottom vent of a kettle grill completely. Light charcoal chimney starter heaping full of briquettes. When briquettes are covered with gray ash, pour onto bottom grate; arrange evenly in a 10-inch-wide strip down middle of bottom grate. Do not place top grate on grill. Arrange 2 skewers in an "L" shape, resting on rim of grill, with 1 skewer parallel to coal strip and 1 skewer perpendicular to coals. These will be used as a rack to suspend kebabs.

  3. While charcoal chimney is heating, skewer kebabs. Starting about 3 1/2 inches down from pointed skewer tip, thread about 5 meat pieces (6 to 7 ounces) against the grain onto each of remaining 8 skewers, inserting skewer crosswise into cut side of meat, scraping off onion and parsley pieces and spacing meat pieces about 1/4 inch apart. Discard marinade. Place 1 meat kebab on a cutting board, and cover with plastic wrap. Using smooth side of a meat mallet, pound meat to tenderize and flatten slightly to about 1/3-inch thickness. Total meat length along skewer should be no longer than 10 inches; if needed, push meat pieces together on skewer. Transfer kebab to a rimmed baking sheet. Repeat procedure with remaining kebabs.

  4. Working in batches if needed, rest pointed ends of skewers on prepared "L"-shaped rack with handles overhanging edge of grill and meat perpendicular to charcoal strip. Grill, uncovered, turning often, until charred in spots and cooked to desired degree of doneness, 4 to 6 minutes for medium-rare (125°F), repositioning kebabs over coals as needed to avoid large flare-ups. If kebabs are browning before reaching desired degree of doneness, rotate kebabs 90 degrees so that they're parallel to charcoal strip.

  5. Using tongs, slide meat off skewers and onto a rice- or lavash-lined platter, if desired. Brush hot kebabs generously with ghee. Serve immediately.

To make this recipe on a Mangal Grill

Divide the hot coals in half. Push coals to each end of the mangal, spreading them in an even layer and leaving about 10 inches in the center of the charcoal bed empty. Cook kebabs over the hot coals, rotating and repositioning the skewers as needed to prevent large flare-ups. Compared to a kettle grill, the coal bed in a mangal is much closer to the skewers, so shorten cook times by about 2 minutes. If kebabs are browning too quickly, finish cooking over the center section.

Suggested Pairing

Darkly fruity, earthy red: Villa Creek Avenger

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