Perfectly Cooked Beef Kabobs – Timing and Techniques

Beef kabobs are a classic grilled meal that combine flavorful beef cubes with colorful vegetables. Getting that perfect balance of tender, juicy beef with nicely charred exterior takes some technique though. Undercooking leaves the beef cubes tough while overcooking results in dry, chewy meat. So how long should you cook beef kabobs for best results? This article covers cooking times, techniques and tips for kabobs with perfectly cooked beef.

Factors that Affect Kabob Cooking Time

Several factors impact the total time needed to cook beef kabobs:

  • Cut of beef – Tenderloin cooks fastest. Other cuts need longer time to tenderize.

  • Size of beef cubes – Smaller 1-inch cubes cook faster than larger pieces.

  • Thickness of kabobs – Thicker kabobs take longer to cook through.

  • Cooking method -Grilling, broiling or oven baking. Grilling directly over heat is fastest.

  • Cooking temperature – Higher heat cooks faster but can burn outside before inside is done.

  • Desired doneness – Rare beef cooks fastest. Well-done needs extended time.

  • Use of thermometer – Measuring internal temp of beef is most accurate way to test doneness.

Recommended Cooking Times for Beef Kabobs

As a general guideline, these cooking times will yield juicy, tender beef kabobs:


  • 1-inch beef cubes: 8-12 minutes
  • 1.5-inch beef cubes: 12-15 minutes
  • Flip kabobs halfway through grilling time


  • 1-inch beef cubes: 6-8 minutes
  • 1.5-inch beef cubes: 10-12 minutes
  • Flip kabobs halfway through broiling time

Oven Baking:

  • 1-inch beef cubes: 15-20 minutes
  • 1.5-inch beef cubes: 20-25 minutes
  • Flip kabobs halfway through baking time

Techniques for Cooking Perfect Beef Kabobs

Follow these tips to ensure beef kabob success:

  • Use metal skewers – Unlike wood, metal won’t char during extended cooking.

  • Soak wood skewers – Prevent burning. Soak wood skewers in water for 30 minutes before use.

  • Cut beef uniformly – Same size cubes will cook evenly. Aim for 1-inch chunks.

  • Preheat properly – Get grill or broiler very hot before cooking. Oven should be 400-450°F.

  • Flip frequently – Kabobs may need turning 4-5 times to prevent burning.

  • Use meat thermometer – Check temp of a few beef pieces to confirm doneness.

  • Let rest 5 minutes – Before serving, tent kabobs with foil to allow juices to redistribute.

How to Tell When Beef Kabobs Are Done

Relying on cooking times alone doesn’t guarantee properly cooked beef. Use these visual and temperature cues:

  • Firm not squishy – Beef should feel firm all over when pressed, not squishy.

  • No pink inside – Cut to check interior is no longer pink.

  • Charred exterior – Look for nice grill marks and charring on outside.

  • Minimum internal temp – Use instant read thermometer to check. 145°F for medium-rare, 160°F for medium, 165°F for well.

  • Juices run clear – Meat should not expel pink juices when pierced.

Cooking Times for Different Doneness Levels

Cooking kabobs to various levels of doneness requires adjusting cooking times.

  • Rare – 125°F internal temp. Cook boneless beef about 6 minutes per side.

  • Medium-rare – 135°F internal temp. Cook 8-10 minutes per side.

  • Medium – 145°F internal temp. Cook 10-12 minutes per side.

  • Medium-well – 155°F internal temp. Cook 12-15 minutes per side.

  • Well-done – 165°F internal temp. Cook 15+ minutes per side.

Check temperature early and often to prevent overcooking.

Allowing Time for Marinating Beef

Many kabob recipes call for marinating the beef cubes before skewering and cooking. The marinade both flavors and tenderizes the meat.

  • Minimum marinating time – Allow beef to marinate for at least 1-2 hours.

  • Ideal marinating time – For best flavor and tenderizing, marinate 4-8 hours or overnight.

  • Marinate in fridge – Keep beef chilled at 40°F or below while marinating for food safety.

  • Save some marinade – Reserve a portion of marinade to brush over kabobs when nearly done cooking.

  • Pat beef dry – Blot off excess marinade before grilling or broiling to prevent burning.

Allow enough lead time for marinating when planning to make beef kabobs.

Testing Beef Kabobs for Doneness

These methods can all help determine when kabobs are cooked to your preferred doneness:

  • Use instant-read thermometer to check internal temperature in thickest part of beef.

  • Cut into a beef cube to check interior color – reddish pink for rare, light pink for medium, brown throughout for well-done.

  • Check firmness by pressing on beef chunks – firmer feels more well-done.

  • Observe outer charring – some black char spots are ideal, all black is overdone.

  • Watch for shrinking in size – cooked beef pieces will be around 1/4 smaller than raw.

  • Cut or pierce and check juices – clear juices indicate doneness, pink juices mean still undercooked.

Checking temperature and visual signs together leads to the most accurate results.

Troubleshooting Overcooked or Undercooked Kabobs

If your beef kabobs turn out over or undercooked, here are some common causes:


  • Kabobs were not flipped/rotated enough during cooking.

  • Cooking temperature was too low.

  • Beef chunks were too large.

  • Not enough cooking time was allowed.


  • Cooking temperature was too high.

  • Kabobs were left on heat too long.

  • Beef chunks were too small.

  • Too much flipping led to burning vs searing.

  • Wood skewers caught fire, charring exterior.

Make adjustments to cooking times, temperatures and techniques to improve results next time.

Tips for Cooking Beef Kabobs

  • Use tender beef cuts like sirloin or tenderloin for quick cooking.

  • Cut all beef cubes into uniform 1-inch size for even cooking.

  • Grill or broil over high heat to sear and caramelize exterior.

  • Turn kabobs frequently while cooking to prevent burning.

  • Remove kabobs from heat when beef internal temp reaches 135°F for medium-rare doneness.

  • Tent cooked kabobs loosely with foil and let rest 5 minutes before serving.

Sample Beef Kabob Recipe


  • 2 lbs sirloin beef, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 red onion, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 cup barbecue sauce


  1. In a large bowl, pour 3/4 cup barbecue sauce over beef cubes. Toss to coat evenly. Refrigerate 1-2 hours to marinate beef.

  2. Preheat grill or broiler on high heat. Soak wooden skewers in water 30 minutes.

  3. Thread marinated beef cubes and vegetables alternating onto skewers, leaving small gaps between pieces.

  4. Grill or broil kabobs 8-12 minutes, turning frequently, until beef internal temperature reaches 145°F for medium.

  5. Brush with remaining 1/4 cup barbecue sauce last 2 minutes of cooking.

  6. Remove kabobs from heat, tent loosely with foil and let rest 5 minutes before serving.

With the right techniques, marinating and cooking times, you can make perfect beef kabobs with tender, juicy beef every time. Adjust cooking methods based on cut of beef, size of cubes and desired doneness. Use a meat thermometer to eliminate the guesswork for fantastic results.

Easy Marinated Beef Kabobs | Grilling Beef Kabobs

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