A Simple Trick for Always Having Soaked Wooden Skewers on Hand

updated Aug 27, 2019
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Credit: Kelli Foster

Grilled kebabs are one of the best ways to serve an entire dinner from the grill, and do it quickly. Because the cubes of vegetables, meat, and even pasta (!) are cut in small, uniform cubes, they cook quickly and there’s lots of surface area for searing, so they taste delicious.

It’s a no-brainer — until you read the fine print. Those brittle bamboo skewers pulled from the kitchen drawer have to be soaked for at least 30 minutes before they hit the fire, otherwise they start to burn and fall apart. It’s the sneaky little secret that’s often forgotten when prepping a quick dinner for the grill. Before you give up on your grill, consider making and storing pre-soaked skewers. That way all you have to do is prep the ingredients, fire up the grill, and get cooking. 

The thing is, storing soaked skewers can be tricky. Alton Brown has a technique that involves a recycled water bottle, but it can be cumbersome, and only soaks a few at a time. I have a method, however, that will keep you stocked in all the soaked skewers you could possibly need, without much trouble. 

Credit: Maria Midoes

2 Tips for Better Pre-Soaked Skewers

Buy and soak wooden skewers in bulk. Unless you’re only going to make kebabs once a year, don’t bother buying the small pack of skewers. My grocery store sells bamboo skewers in packs of 100, and that’s the smallest package I buy. Once back in your kitchen, transfer the entire package of skewers to a 9-x13-inch baking pan. Cover the skewers with warm water and set aside for at least 30 minutes.

Store them in your freezer. Once the skewers are sufficiently soaked, drain the water. Here’s the ingenious part: Freeze the soaked skewers. Wrap the skewers in aluminum foil, plastic wrap, or slide into a reusable container and freeze. And don’t worry about separating them! It’s fine to freeze skewers close together. With just a bit a friction, you can easily separate as many or as few as you need from the frozen pack when you’re ready to cook.

Voila! You’ve got dozens of unburnable skewers ready for all your kebab adventures, right at your fingertips. A quick grilled dinner can now take a reasonable 20 to 30 minutes, instead of 50 to 60. Ready to get your grill on? Here are some recipes.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

More Kebab Recipes from Kitchn