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

Ingredients:

  • 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

Directions:

  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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