BBQ Chicken Kebabs with a Spicy Bacon Rub

Slathering on a spicy bacon rub before grilling chicken kebabs not only gives them a wonderful smokey flavor, it also keeps the chicken moist and tender. 

Cook’s Illustrated sent me an email with a link to their Barbecued Chicken Kebabs recipe. What’s unique about their recipe is it’s smeared with spicy bacon paste before grilling.

The flavor of these kebabs was fantastic. Cook’s recommended using chicken thighs, but chicken breasts would have been much easier to cube and put on skewers.

I changed up the spices because I don’t like paprika. Also, Cook’s made their own barbecue sauce, but I took the easy way out and just used my favorite BBQ sauce. If you like to grill chicken, give this one a try.

BBQ Chicken Kebabs with a Spicy Bacon Rub


  • 3 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon lemon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 slices bacon, uncooked, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce
  • 10-12 12-inch metal skewers


In a large Ziploc bag, mix chicken and salt and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 hour.

Heat grill to high. While grill heats, pat chicken dry with paper towels.

Pulse bacon in food processor until it forms a smooth paste, about 30 to 45 seconds, scraping down bowl occasionally.

In a small bowl, mix together chili powder, lemon pepper and sugar. Add spices to bacon paste and mix well.

Using your hands, coat chicken with spicy bacon paste. Thread chicken onto skewers.

Place kebabs on grill and cook turning occasionally, until well browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. During the last few minutes of cooking, brush kebabs with BBQ sauce and continue to cook until brown in spots and instant-read thermometer inserted in center of meat registers 160 degrees for breasts and 175 degrees for thighs.

Remove kebabs from grill and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve with additional BBQ sauce if desired.


Adapted from Cook's Illustrated

More BBQ recipes you might like:

Orange Teriyaki Chicken Kabobs, Barbara Bakes
Spicy Grilled Pork Tenderloin, Barbara Bakes
The Secret to Grilled Babyback Spare Ribs, Foodie Crush
Lemon Herb BBQ Chicken, Picky Palate
Grillin’ Recipe Contest Winners, The Pioneer Woman Cooks

Slathering on a spicy bacon rub before grilling chicken kebabs not only gives them a wonderful smokey flavor, it also keeps the chicken moist and tender.

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    Leave a Comment:

  1. says

    Thanks for this great looking recipe. I love the idea of making a bacon paste and using it as part of the rub. I can only imagine the possibilities that you could do with a bacon rub. I bet it would be good with pork too.

  2. tonya says

    I tried this last night on turkey thighs in the oven. I put some under the skin and on the out side. was delish!! however i found it sticky and hard to get to coat. I thought i could be thin down some any ideas?

    • says

      Hi Tonya – what a great idea to add flavor to turkey thighs. The bacon rub shouldn’t be sticky. You don’t add the BBQ sauce to the rub. The bacon rub can be difficult to spread, but just make sure the bacon forms a paste and then use your fingers to spread it. I guess if you wanted to thin out the rub just a bit, you could try adding a tablespoon of chicken broth and pulse it in with the bacon in the food processor. Thanks for the question!

  3. Courtney G. says

    I made this tonight. Very delicious. It was snowing so I did bake it. Great recipe. Not very spicy, perfect for whole family!

  4. Kellie M. Mercie says

    I like this bacon to a rub barbecue .Nice recipe i want to try this .That rub sounds delicious! nice and spicy . Thanks for sharing this great recipe

    • says

      Hi Coleen. Nope I didn’t rinse the salt, just patted the chicken dry, which I assume takes away some of the salt. Good question. Thanks!

  5. says

    OLALA…… these kebabs not just sounds incredible and also looks divine. I know it’s not too good to look at it early in the morning cause I’m going to feel very bad the whole day for not having some of them right now. haha…..
    Hope you’re having a great weekend, dear.

  6. says

    These look so good, I wish I had some right now! I pinned this recipe to try soon– always love to find new delicious recipes for chicken!