Grilled paprikash chicken kebabs (Photo/Faith Kramer)
Grilled paprikash chicken kebabs (Photo/Faith Kramer)

Kebabs turn paprikash into a perfect grilled summer entree

Think of Paprikash Chicken Kebabs as a summer-friendly take on the traditional, paprika-rich braised Hungarian-Jewish dish. This grilled version of chicken paprikash gets its oomph from flavor-packed Turkish pepper paste (biber salçası).

Pepper paste is made from cooked sweet red peppers and comes in mild or hot versions. Both have a strong red pepper flavor, but the hot version adds a slight tingle to the taste. Find pepper paste in jars in specialty, Middle Eastern, Turkish, and online stores (including certified kosher brands). Use the pepper paste substitute (see below) if commercial pastes are unavailable.

Try stirring in a tablespoon or two of leftover pepper paste to meatloaf, brisket, sauces, shakshouka, soups, stews or wherever you would use tomato paste.

Serve the kebabs over rice, noodles or my Kasha Varnishkes Salad.

Paprikash Chicken Kebabs

Serves 4-6


  • 1 Tbs. minced garlic
  • ¼ cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 tsp. paprika (see notes)
  • ⅛ tsp. cayenne or to taste, optional
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. ground black pepper
  • 3 Tbs. Turkish mild or hot pepper paste (or pepper paste substitute)
  • 3 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 3 Tbs. vegetable oil plus extra for grill
  • ½ cup plain tomato sauce


  • Vegetables for skewers: medium cremini or button mushroom caps and whole mini bell peppers, 18-24 total (see notes)
  • 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into 1½-inch chunks
  • 2-3 Tbs. chopped green onions or parsley, optional

Mix garlic, onion, paprika, cayenne, salt, black pepper, pepper paste, juice, 3 Tbs. oil and sauce in a bowl until combined. Set aside ½ cup to use for basting during grilling. Pour the remainder in a baking dish large enough to hold all the chicken. Stir in the chicken. Cover with plastic wrap. Marinate at room temperature, turning occasionally, for 30 minutes or refrigerate for up to 24 hours. Allow to come to room temperature before using.

Prepare 6 or 8 (10-inch) bamboo skewers (see notes). Soak skewers in hot water for 30 minutes before using to help prevent them from burning.

To make 6 skewers, thread a mushroom cap or mini pepper onto skewer and push to the bottom, leaving 1-1½ inches at end. Thread chicken chunks to about halfway point, thread a mushroom or pepper and then more chicken. stopping about 2-2½ inches from end. Thread mushroom or pepper. Repeat with remaining skewers. If making 8 skewers, use the additional vegetables and adjust amount of chicken on each skewer.

Oil grate of barbecue, electric grill or stove-top grill pan. Heat to medium-high. Place kebabs on grill. Grill until chicken is cooked through (15-20 minutes), adjusting heat to prevent flare-ups or burning. Turn occasionally and brush regularly with the reserved marinade. Chicken should be firm to the touch (but not hard) and opaque inside, with clear juices. (The kebabs can be broiled, but timing varies.) Serve on or off skewers garnished with green onions or parsley.

Pepper paste substitute:  Substitute 3 Tbs. of tomato paste for pepper paste. Add extra 1½ tsp. paprika.

Notes: Paprika comes in sweet (mild) or sharp (hot). If labeled simply “paprika,” it is mild. For more heat, use the sharp or cayenne to taste. You’ll need three vegetables for each 10-inch skewer — either mushroom caps or red, yellow and/or orange mini bell peppers. If mini bell peppers are not available, replace with red bell pepper cut into 1½-inch chunks. For 4 servings (or for appetizer-size kebabs), make the 8 skewers instead of 6. Be sure to baste only with the set-aside marinade; for food safety reasons, marinade that’s been in contact with the raw chicken should be discarded and not reused.

Faith Kramer
Faith Kramer

Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer and the author of “52 Shabbats: Friday Night Dinners Inspired by a Global Jewish Kitchen.” Her website is Contact her at [email protected].