This simple, flavorful Cheddar Chicken kababs are the perfect appetizers slash tortilla wrap material. This recipe includes tips on how to make juicy tender kababs, without letting the cheese burn off while cooking, including pan frying, baking and air frying instructions.
What are Cheese Chicken Kababs?
“Kabab”, which is spelled in many difference ways ( kebap, kabob, kebob, or kebab) simply means piece of meat or vegetable thread onto a skewer and grilled. It is a traditional style of cooking in the Middle East, Eastern Mediterranean, and South Asia. In South Asia, kababs also refers to patty style appetizers, like spinach and potato cakes.
The chicken cheddar kebab is a fusion variation of its traditional counter part : The chicken seekh kabab. They are made with mince and shaped into long kababs on skewers. Usually made on an open grill, you can get the perfect results at home on a stove top.
Traditionally, when “cheese” is used in Indian and Pakistani food, it is usually Paneer i.e Cottage cheese. Whenever European style cheeses are used in Desi cooking, it automatically becomes a style of fusion food. Although, most mainstream Indian Pakistani food now, use European style cheese in a lot of recipes.
I was going through my recipes and realised I haven’t made any traditional skewer style kababs for the blog, which is ironic because we make SOME form of kebabs almost every week! So here it is, in all its glory and simplicity the chicken cheddar kababs.
Ingredients you need to make the kebabs
Here are the 12 ingredients you will need to make Chicken cheddar kebab, plus some notes on ingredient selection.
- Ground Chicken – I’ve used chicken mince from my local store but you can make your own by adding boneless chicken into a food processor, which is better in any case. For using other types of meat, read the FAQS below
- Coriander and Mint leaves – Substitute mint leaves with more coriander if you don’t have any or the other way round. If you are one of those who don’t like coriander, substitute with parsley.
- Red and Green chilies – The red and green chilies I’ve used for this recipe are called “Indian Chilies” or “karhayi”chilies in Pakistan. Theyare mild as compared to Serrano or Bird’s eye chilies. I’d recommend using Jalapenos if you can’t find these. You can also use Red bell peppers instead. Ofcourse, if you can’t find any, skip the red chili altogether and add more green instead.
- Onions and garlic – I’ve used red onion for this recipe, but use any that you have at hand. To keep the moisture minimum, I’ve used chopped garlic instead of paste. You can use garlic powder too if you want too.
- Powdered Spices and Seasoning
- Paprika – You can substitute with Kashmiri lal mirch if you want
- Blackpepper – Bring out the perfect balance of spices in this recipe.
- Garam masala powder – This bring out the earthy flavor of the recipe. Use Allspice powder instead or skip it entirely
- Salt – Adequate amount of salt is important to bring out the flavor in your recipe. Remember, when seasoning kababs, you are also seasoning all the additives, like eggs and herbs etc. which is why don’t be stingy with that salt.
- Cheese – For this recipe, you need non-stringy cheese with a mild flavor of its own. I’m using mild English Cheddar because that’s what my family likes. Feel free to use any according to your taste. Sharp Cheddar, Emmental and Monetery Jack are all excellent options! (See more about cheese selection in the FAQS section)
- Egg – The egg helps in adding a little binding and tenderness to the kebabs.
- Breadcrumbs – All good kababs need “fillers”. These are ingredients that give body to the kebab while avoiding shrinkage, that happens when you grill any kind of mince meat. Homemade or store brought, both breadcrumbs work!
- Oil – You only need oil for panfrying, air frying and coating your hands while shaping the kababs.
How to make and shape Cheese Kababs
Click Here to watch steps in a Reel I made for these kebabs
STEP 1 – Make the kabab mixture/dough
- To do so, you simply chuck all your herbs and onion into a food processor and process until its nice and finely chopped.
- Then you need to squeeze out all the water from the mixture. I wear gloves while doing this, because my skin is senstitive to garlic. You can also use a nutmilk bag or a cheese cloth to do this.
- Add the herb mixture and all the other ingredients in a bowl and knead them by hand. A stand mixer with a paddle attachment would also do the job.
- I add cheese last so that it gets less time while being kneaded. This avoid cheese to soften up from the heat of our hands.
STEP 2 – Shaping the Kebabs
- To divide the mixture into equal portions, use a tablespoon or an icecream scooper. Scoop out small portions on to a plate.
I find the easiest way to shape these kababs are when they are cold. So after portioning, I stick the plate in the freezer for about 15 mins before shaping. This makes the mixture firm and easy to handle
- To shape the kababs, grease the palm of your hands with oil so that the mixture doesn’t stick. Shape them into thick cigars by squeezing and rolling them in your palms.
- Then you insert a skewer on one end of the kabab.
I am using a makeshift skewer aka straw for this step. You can use the regular metal ones or wooden sticks too. I shape the kebab around the straw some more and pull it out. IF you are
using a wooden or metal skewer, you can also leave the kababs on it and grill it as is.
- Shape all the kebabs, pull out from the straw and prepare to pan fry.
STEP 3 – Cooking the kebabs
- I panfry these kebabs at medium heat for 3 to 4 mins, tossing and flipping for even browning.
Avoid overcooking the kebabs as it will lead to dry hard kebabs and burnt cheese.
Chicken mince cooks very fast, don’t worry about it being raw.
Best Cooking Method for Chicken Kababs
In order of the best results:
- On an outdoor charcoal grill – This is usually how restaurants make skewer kababs.
- On the stove – Pan-frying or grilling is the best indoor way of making these, in my opinion
- In an Air-Fryer – Less oil than pan frying, but similar results taste and texture wise.
- In the Oven – Easiest to do, but definitely not as tender as the pan-fried ones
Can I make this recipe with any other meat?
Sure! You can make this recipe with beef, lamb or mutton. You will need to add 1 inch chunk of ginger in your herb mix. And your grilling / pan frying time would increase to 6 – 7 mins. DO NOT skip the skewers for beef kebabs, as it can shrink a lot without it. I would say this, beef kababs require a special set of instructions and tips that would go beyond the scope of this post but hopefully I should write one soon on just Beef cheese kababs.
Why does my cheese melt and burn in the pan?
When I posted this recipe on Instagram, most of you have had this issue with other cheese kababs recipes you’ve tried. This is something you can’t avoid completely. There will be some oozing whenever there is cheese incorporated in kabab and when the kabab has no coating. But we can minimize it by a LOT
- Using Pre-Shredded Cheese
Pre-shredded cheese packs you get in stores are actually better for this recipe! Those packs use corn flour to coat the cheese strands and this helps in stabilizing your cheese while frying and not ooze out and burn
IF you are shredding cheese yourself at home, coat them with 1/2 tsp of cornflour and freeze before using for the kababs for BEST results! You can apply this tip for any recipe kabab recipe that uses shredded cheese in the mixture.
- Avoiding Over-browning or Overcooking
Most of the time, if you are pan frying the kababs longer than needed, the cheese WILL melt and ooze out regardless of how good they were coated with cornflour. Make sure you are not cooking them longer than instructed.
Can I make the kababs without egg?
Some of my readers avoid consuming egg so I’ve tried the recipe for you all without eggs too. You can skip the egg and add an extra half onion instead for similar results.
Can I freeze Chicken Kebabs? And for how long?
Yes! Absolutely! To freeze the kababs, pan fry them for 2 mins or until they change color. Let the kababs cool, transfer them into ziplock bags and freeze for upto 2 months. Freezing the kababs raw is not such a good idea, because they leach out moisture that way and you end up with dry kebabs when you fry them eventually.
Can I shape the kababs without the skewers?
The hole provides an airvent. When you grill the kebabs, they shrink towards the pan, which makes the hole bigger but overall preserves the shape of your kebabs. You can still shape the kebabs without a skewer but you might see minor reduction in size of the kebab once cooked.
Why does my kebab become sticky and hard to handle?
One answer – Moisture. If your mixture is holding a lot of moisture, it will become difficult to handle and shape. Here are a few things that help
- Ground the chicken yourself from a breast or thigh fillet instead of buying mince.
- Squeeze out water from the herb mixture to reduce overall water content
- Freeze the kebabs for a few minutes before shaping.
- Last resort is to add more bread crumbs to increase binding.
These kababs are a meal on their own honestly! I love the fact that they are so uni-cuisine. The flavors are so neutral that they go well with everything! Here are a couple of my favorite pairing
- A simple kebab platter with Mint Chutney, and sliced onions on the side
- Serve with boiled rice and lentils for lunch.
- Serve with masala dal and roti or flat bread.
- And My personal favorite! for kebab wraps with more cheddar, onions and lettuce and a tortilla to go with
- You can also always go simple with a side salad.