Shish Kebab Marinade Recipe

By Marcus Samuelsson |

Khorovats or Armenian shish kebabs are something I hold very dear to my heart. They remind me of many family memories over Sunday barbecues. Picture My Big Fat Greek Wedding: loud conversation, endless plates of aromatic foods, plenty of wine, music, and everyone in everyone else’s business, not afraid to give their opposing opinions. Pure bliss. Unfortunately, I’ve lived 3,000 miles away from this ritual for six years now, but the smell of lamb, onions, peppers, and fresh mint sizzling away on the grill has the ability to bring it all back. There is something about that scent and those flavors that make me feel at home again; surrounded by good people and good vibes.

With the sun making more of an appearance these days, and my California dreaming in full bloom, I’ve been inspired to provide you with a taste of my home, and an essential part of my family’s spring celebrations. This taste is a shish kebab marinade that has been passed down through at least three generations of strong, beautiful, and innately talented Armenian women cooks and has now, along with a plethora of others, been passed down to me. Spring represents new life and new beginnings; its a time to spend with family and friends and to celebrate the bountiful seasons to come. With these thoughts in mind I felt this fresh tasting marinade would be a perfect Friday try in order to fire up that grill and  kick off a weekend of lovely Spring weather. I also find this marinade a great way to add flavor without adding loads of fat.

My family and I use the marinade on lamb tenderloin, lamb being a staple meat in the Armenian diet, (cubed), onions (quartered), and bell peppers (2″ squares) and let them marinate overnight. However, it can also be used on chicken, beef, fish, pork, or simply an assortment of  vegetables. If you are doing a vegetarian kebab, you can cut down the marination to a few hours.

So grab good company, your sunnies, and a grill or grill pan, and try this marinade on your favorite skewerable delights! See if you don’t feel right at home wherever you may be.

And here are some sides to accompany those fresh flavors:

Red Pepper Hummus

Barley Salad

Crisp Green Bean Salad


Prep Details

Servings: 4

Calories per serving: 14 per serving

Prep time: 10 minutes

Total time: 10 minutes


1 cup red wine vinegar

1 tbsp mint, dried

1 tbsp mint, fresh and chopped

2 tsp salt

2 tsp pepper

2 tsp Cavender's Greek seasoning

1 half white onion , sliced

1/2 cup olive oil


photo by: Barron, Anna Brone

photo by: whatleydude

1. Combine first 7 ingredients, and mix together. Then slowly add olive oil while whisking to incorporate.

2. Add protein of choice, cubed, and/or desired vegetables, uniformly cut. Allow to marinate overnight, unless only vegetables, then for 3 hours.

When finished marinating:

3. Skewer onto metal or wooden skewers (if wooden, make sure to soak in water before to avoid splinters) in desired order.

4. Place onto hot grill or grill pan, allow to cook for amount of time necessary for particular ingredients.

5. Eat right off the skewer or pull off and serve.