Barbecue Skewers & BBQ Grill Baskets

Barbecue skewers and BBQ grill baskets are both essential pieces of equipment for easy handling of meat when grilling.

BBQ Skewers

Bamboo Skewers

Fire Wire Flexible Skewers

Churrasco Skewers

Gaucho BBQ Skewers

Marshmallow & Hot Dog Skewers

Where To Buy Quality Skewers

BBQ Baskets For Fish And Meat

BBQ Baskets For Veggies

Barbecue Skewers

We can split the types of barbecue skewers into two fundamentals, wooden (bamboo) skewers and metal ones. Metal ones however can then be broken out into further varieties such as flexible "fire wires" vertical sets (Gaucho & Espetada), flat & dual pronged (Churrasco) and Seekh kebab skewers. You can even buy skewers specially designed for hot dogs and marshmallows.

It really isn't a question of "either / or", it's more "how and what" you plan to cook as each type has it's own place and it also depends on the type of grill that you have got.

For example, metal barbecue skewers are generally longer than bamboo skewers and have a "handle" of some sorts to them. This makes metal great if you're grilling "open top" but if you have a grill with a lid (or a kamado) then cooking with metal skewers isn't going to work. Shorter bamboo barbecue skewers that you can turn with a set of tongs are perfect.

Bamboo Skewers

Bamboo Skewers

Bamboo skewers certainly look the part and are generally suited to most applications but there are a couple of points to watch when using bamboo skewers:-

  • Soak them for 30 minutes before cooking otherwise they will burn on the grill.
  • Generally bamboo skewers are not very long so you’ll have to turn the kebab with tongs.
  • They are disposable which means I always run out of them! I keep a set of metal ones too.

Because they are not very long, bamboo barbecue skewers are ideal for when you are planning to grill on a barbecue that has a lid. If you are grilling lid down you need the whole skewer to fit under the lid otherwise you won't get a good smoke seal and you'll negate the impact of the top draft vent (if on a charcoal grill or ceramic kamado).

Despite being thin, bamboo BBQ skewers have a “friction” with the food so generally the food stays well on the skewer provided you keep the pieces of meat or veg to no more than 1 inch cubes.

If you cook on a Big Green Egg (or similar kamado) then bamboo skewers  are ideal although there are two notable exceptions to this:-

  1. The Primo Oval has a firebox divider that allows you to only cook on one half of the grill, this leaves the other half as a cool area for your skewer handles.
  2. You can still cook in your kamado by using the skewers vertically and plunging the tips into the fire like I did in this chicken tikka recipe but note that using this technique will blacken the tips of your skewers.

You can buy cheap bamboo skewers from Amazon

If you really don't want bamboo barbecue skewers and want to use a metal skewer one a grill with a lid then the "fire wire" is the answer.

Flexible Wire Skewers

Thread your food onto the skewer and when complete, loop the tip of the skewer through the other end to create what looks like a lasso. The loop with the food on it is laid on the cooking grate and the tips are left "hanging on the outside of the grill after the lid has been closed.

Flexible Wire Skewers

These skewers work well on a kamado and there's also a novelty factor in the presentation of your kebab, just make sure that your grill grate has been well oiled (or use a Teflon mat) before you start cooking otherwise your food can stick and if you lift the wire quickly to turn over your food stays stuck to the grate and the wire rips though.

Because these barbecue skewers are flexible it means that you can thread your whole kebab before marinading and that saves a whole lot of mess. If you thread long metal skewers before marinading, you then need a long marinade bowl, with flexible wire skewers you thread and then just use any shaped bowl.

Click here to buy flexible wire skewers from Amazon.

Metal BBQ Skewers

Avoid buying cheap thin metal skewers, they are a waste of time and money. If your skewer is thin and circular in cross section your skewer will rotate inside the food making it impossible to turn and cook on the other side.

Metal BBQ Skewers

Key points when choosing metal skewers:-

  • Oval, flat or V shaped in cross section, this makes them easier to turn no matter how the weight is distributed on the skewer.
  • Try to get them quite “thick” in cross section because this helps the meat "grip" the skewer.
  • Make sure they are long so they can be turned safely by hand without fear of burning.
  • Wooden handles help prevent burning hands but check they are dishwasher safe if this is important to you.
Thick Metal BBQ Skewers

If you already have a set of thin barbecue skewers, don't worry, it's not the end of the world. The other way to create the friction that allows your food to turn with the skewer is to make sure that your food is cooked through to the centre before making the first turn. When food cooks it contracts as it dehydrates and when it reaches this stage it will "fix" itself more readily to the skewer so the trick is just to be patient before making that first turn of your food. It does however mean that your kebab is always going to be well done.

TIP - If grilling vertically (eg. tandoori cooking) then place a slice of potato on the end of the skewer and this will eliminate the risk of your meat sliding off into the coals.

Buy flat blade metal skewers from Amazon now.

Churrasco Skewers

These guys are basically the ones to go for. There are two types

  1. The single blade, good for chunks of meat and sausages
  2. Fork, for bigger hunks of meat
Churrasco Skewers

The critical features of this type of skewer are that it has a large flat blade. In other words it is basically designed to do the job that is was intended to do. Many of the well crafted examples feature a rotator ring close to the handle end and a tapered tip and these are designed to fit in a traditionally designed churrasqueira (the metal support for the skewers that sits over the coals.

You don't necessarily need to go for the "full monty", check out this set of 6 as an example.

For cooking larger hunks of meat, look no further than the churrasco skewer fork.

Gaucho Barbecue Skewers

The Gaucho barbecue originates from the South of Brazil. Meat is arranged on the vertical gaucho BBQ skewers and set around the campfire, it's then a long cookout and the meat is cut and eaten as and when you like.

This style of barbecue would typically be a communal all day affair and a most relaxed way of cooking a serious hunk of beef.

Gaucho Barbecue Skewers

Marshmallow & Hot Dog Skewers

A serious skewer or just one for the kids? Well we all need a bit of family fun every now and then right?

These marshmallow and hot dog skewers are really just toasting forks and the hot dog cooking tool could better reside in my section on BBQ grill baskets below. Here's a picture, Ill let you decide.

Marshmallow & Hot Dog Skewers

Other Styles Of Barbecue Skewer

You may also come across other types of barbecue skewer in your travels such as the Argentinian Parrilla, the Indian Tandoori skewer or the Indian Seekh Kebab Skewer.

Technically the Parrilla is no different in design to the churrasco skewer, in fact the word Parrilla is really just another word for a barbecue grill.

The Indian skewers feature a square cross sectional spike rather than a flat blade but the principle is the same in that this larger surface area allows the meat to better grip the skewer as it cooks. Tandoori skewers typically have a looped handle similar to a shepherd's crook.

The last one to cover is the Portuguese Espetada and again this really isn't different from a technical point of view, it more refers to the style of serving. Typically an Espetada is cooked in the normal way over a charcoal grill but the difference is that it is served at the table suspended from a stand. Diners can then slice of pieces of meat at their leisure.

Where To Buy Quality BBQ Skewers

The best quality and most diverse range that I have found is made by a company called Super Skewer. Use the link to visit their Amazon store.

BBQ Grill Baskets For Fish & Meat

I think that the first barbecue grill tool I ever bought was a BBQ grill basket whilst on holiday in Portugal. Fish was the order of the day on that occasion.

BBQ Grill Baskets

The fishermen were bringing their catches back into port around about lunch time and on the deck there would be a small barbecue grill with a few coals in the bottom and lying on top in the BBQ grill basket were some of the freshest sardines you can imagine – fantastic.

I bought a basket the very next day. You'll see them used for a variety of recipes on this site from avocado and bacon bites or fish, right through to spatchcock chicken.

BBQ Grill Baskets

BBQ grill baskets come in all shapes and sizes (the one above is designed for a fish) so I’m sure you’ll end up buying a few in your barbecuing life so to start you off here’s just a couple of pointers to get you going:-

  1. Make sure there’s a long handle preferably encapsulated in plastic (so you don’t burn your hands)
  2. Consider plastic handles rather than wood if dish washing is your preferred method of cleaning
  3. To prevent food sticking, brush the BBQ basket with a little oil before putting the food in.

The one negative to these baskets is clean up. Soak them for a while in soapy water to loosen any charred on food and than go at them with a wire pad. It's a small negative compared with loosing your fish into the coals!

Hinged BBQ Grill Baskets

TIP - If your basket has hinge rings (they don’t stand much pressure) strengthen the joint using a couple of key rings. This is essential when doing the spatchcock chicken, if you don’t the basket will just ping apart.

Click here to buy a barbecue grill basket.

Grill Baskets For Veggies

These veggie BBQ baskets make cooking vegetables really easy and put an end to using the hotplate. All you do is chop or slice your veggies and pop them in the basket, you can do all sorts even cauliflower & broccoli.

Vegetable Grill Basket

The basket is made of stainless steel and is perforated to let the juices out during cooking. Just a couple of tips for you on using this style of BBQ basket

  1. Always warm the basket up on the grill before adding the veggies, they just cook better this way.
  2. These baskets do get very hot on the grill so always have some oven gloves handy
  3. When finished it's tempting to plunge the basket into water, don't, you'll warp the basket. Just let it cool down of its own accord.

Clean up is pretty simple, just warm soapy water, let it soak and then give it a scrub.

Click here to buy a veggie BBQ grill basket.

See Also:-

More Barbecue Utensils Tool Kits And Gift Ideas
Information About Barbecue Smokers
About Barbecue Grills

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