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Gourmet Made Deliciously Simple

Pork Kebabs (Russian Pork Shashlik)

Traditional Russian pork kebabs (shashlik) with simple marinade. Detailed tips for juicy, tender kebabs are included.

Traditional Russian pork kebabs (shashlik) with simple marinade. Detailed tips for juicy, tender kebabs are included.

I simply can’t imagine summer without a good authentic Russian shashlik. It’s like an ultimate indication of summer, you know. Streets filled with smoky, herby, meaty aroma from the grill. Or a day at the park (or forest) with friends and family to roast some kebabs on open fire. Or a backyard dinner with the neighbors, filled with lots of meat and veggie skewers, laughter, beer and s’mores.

Oh dear summer, I hope you’ll stay with us for a few more months, or longer. I love you!

For those who aren’t familiar with shashlik, it’s basically meat skewers cooked over charcoal, or wood. Traditionally, shashlik is made of lamb. However, pork is very common alternative nowadays. You can, of course, use beef, or even chicken, but it’s not an ideal choice.

Today, I’ll be talking about pork kebabs. We’ll discuss how to choose the best cuts, the simplest marinating option, and a few tips on how to grill the perfect shashlik.

Traditional Russian pork kebabs (shashlik) with simple marinade. Detailed tips for juicy, tender kebabs are included.

What meat should I choose? For juicy, tender kebabs, I recommend pork loin, or pork neck meat. Pork is naturally fatty meat, so it really is ideal for juicy kebabs. Pork shoulder (aka Boston butt) and pork leg meat yield drier and tougher kebabs. 

Marinade options. There are literally thousands of ways to marinade shashlik meat. You may hear vinegar, beer, wine, yogurt, mayo-based marinades, but you know what? Experts claim that the simplest of marinades yield the best shashlik. And I have to agree with them. All you need is lots of onions, your favorite spices and salt! I do prepare the meat the night before, and I highly recommend it.

Pork Kebabs/Shashlik- step by step photo tutorial

Grilling! I like to roast my shashlik over charcoal or wood for the best flavor. Here, I’m grilling over charcoal in my backyard. And here are couple tips for grilling the best kebabs:

  • Make sure there is no big flames, when cooking kebabs. Whenever a flame comes out, sprinkle some water. This will prevent burning, overcooking and drying out the meat.
  • Don’t turn the skewers too often, or the meat will dry out quicker. Roast the meat on each side, turning only when one side is nicely browned and cooked.
  • To check for doneness, you can cut into the biggest piece of meat. The juice from the meat should be clear.

Traditional Russian pork kebabs (shashlik) with simple marinade. Detailed tips for juicy, tender kebabs are included.

Have you ever tried shashlik before? Hope you give this recipe a try.

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Pork Kebabs (Russian Pork Shashlik)

Traditional Russian pork kebabs (shashlik) with simple marinade. Detailed tips for juicy, tender kebabs are included.

Yield: About 16 skewers


  • 4lbs (2kg) pork loin
  • 4-5 medium yellow onions
  • 1-2 tablespoons spices of your choice (I use ½ tablespoon ground black pepper, ¼ tablespoon red pepper flakes, ¼ tablespoons ground coriander, ¼ tablespoons rosemary garlic seasoning)
  • ½ tablespoon salt
  • 3-4 medium zucchini


  1. The night before the grilling, marinade the meat. Cut the pork into 2-inch cubes. Slice the onions into half rings*. (Alternatively, you can cut the onions into large pieces and thread them into the skewers with the meat.) In a large bowl, mix the pork, onions and all the spices and salt. Mix well until everything combined. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Cut the zucchini into ½-inch rounds.
  3. Thread the meat and zucchini onto metal skewers. (About 4 pieces of meat on each skewer.) Grill on all sides until fully cooked.

For step-by-step photos and additional notes, read the post above.

The half ring onions are good for only marinating the meat. 

All images and text ©Shinee D. for Sweet & Savory


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  1. A Russian friend of mine used to make a variation on this which he marinated in white vinegar, salt, pepper and herbs.  We were young and he was heavy-handed with the vinegar so the flavor was sharp and somewhat tart – but delicious.  The vinegar really broke the meat down a lot if marinated overnight, yielding very tender meat even from the cheap cuts.  

    Here’s the thing though: I’m baffled as to why you’d think pork butt would yield a drier meat.  Pork butt is much, much fattier than pork loin, which is one of the leanest meats available.  Pork neck, which you suggest, is probably most similar to pork butt of the widely available cuts.  In any case, I’m a fan but will likely stick with shoulder cut due to cost and not wanting to dry out the meat.

    • I believe every Russian has their own “best” marinade for shashlik. And I’m sure your friend’s is just as delicious! And Mike, I’m a little mortified reading back my old post and realizing I had made a major mistake on the cuts. You’re 100% right, I ALWAYS use pork butt (aka pork shoulder) for shashlik, and pork loin yields drier meat. Ah, thank you so much for your comment. Updating the post right away!

  2. Growing up in the Ukraine we lived off these 😍 Last summer I took my fiance back there to visit my grandparents and now he loves them just as much as me😊😊

    • Yay, Masha! I know what you mean, I grew up eat these all summer long too! 🙂 And my husband and the in-laws love these too. Hope you and your husband try this recipe this summer. And if you do, let me know how it turns out. 🙂

  3. Hi. This looks just like the shashlik we had at a little place along the Tomb River in Siberia. They served it with flatbread and some sort of red sauce. I’ve been looking all over for that red sauce recipe. Any idea what it might be?

    • Hi, Kim! I personally never had red sauce for meat. But I know that in Caucasian cuisine, they serve red tomato-based sauce with shashlik. Not sure if that’s what you mean. I know you said you had in Siberia, which is far from Caucasus, but I really don’t know what kind of red sauce they serve in Siberia.

      • Thanks for getting back to me. It was just some sort of chunky red “salsa” they kept on the table. I’ll find a recipe one of these days. 🙂 It took me a long time to find a recipe for the rolled waffles filled with caramel they also served there. Tiny place, limited menu, but wonderful food.

        • The sauce you’re referring to is called “Adzhika”, and contain no tomato. It’s made from pureed red bell peppers, garlic and chili peppers, along with spices and herbs.

        • Ron, thank you so much for letting us know!!

    • There’s also a version of this served with a  pomegranate and red wine sauce, and I’ve seen recipes that suggest sumac, which is tart and red.

  4. These kebabs look fantastic! Thanks for linking up with What’s Cookin’ Wednesday!

  5. I like the idea of the simple over night marinade really makes the prok tender, I’d use quater onions as my veg of choice, Thanks for sharing!

  6. Man, just seeing your first picture took me back to the month I spent in Russia! We had so many pork and chicken kabobs that month! Thanks for sharing at Lou Lou Girls’ Fabulous Party.  — Amy @

  7. Another great recipe! I would love for you to share this sweet creation over at my link party Making Memories Mondays going on now! 🙂

  8. I adore discovering new cuisines! PINNING! I have to try this – just starting to learn about Russian food!

  9. I know. I wish summer could last forever! 
    These look amazing! I wonder if my boyfriend tried this when he spent a year in Russia to study. I would love some of these right about now!

  10. I looooove pork kebabs! Love the combination of flavors you have going here. Coriander has become a favorite in my kitchen!

  11. I love this recipe! Sometimes I find that pork can be dry and bland, but these kebabs look really flavourful! Thanks for the inspiration 🙂

  12. Gorgeous pictures! These kebabs looks amazing!  🙂

  13. I love how creative your recipes are! You’re always introducing me to amazing things I’ve never heard of — these look super good!

  14. Shinee, my husband spent a year in Russia teaching English. .  I need to make these kebabs for him!!! love these!!!!

  15. I’ve never heard of this, but it’s so intriguing! Love all the spices 🙂