Juicy, tender, and succulent spicy cumin lamb skewers are savoury, spicy, so flavourful and so delicious. The bold cumin and cayenne marinade mixed with oil, garlic, and soy sauce, adds such an incredible depth of flavour to these lamb skewers. My favourite part? They are super quick and easy to make, taking just 10 minutes to cook on the grill.
What are Spicy Cumin Lamb Skewers?
Spicy cumin lamb skewers, also known as yang rou chuan, are a popular Chinese street food originating in northern China, in the Xinjiang region. They sold by street vendors all over China and are traditionally cooked over a charcoal grill or a Chinese barbecue grill. To see how it's done with a Chinese grill, check out our Grilled Spicy Cumin Lamb Skewers recipe post.
Today, we are taking these ethnic flavours and making them on a grill pan (outdoor barbecue grill also works). Here is what you will need to make spicy cumin lamb skewers at home:
- lamb leg or shoulder - cut into 1 inch cubes.
- vegetable oil
- Chinese cooking wine - also known as Shaoxing wine.
- soy sauce
- cumin powder
- cayenne pepper
- cumin seeds - optional. I love cumin seeds on these skewers. They add extra flavour and a nice texture.
How to Make the Best Spicy Cumin Lamb Skewers (Three Ways)
First, marinate the lamb. Add cubed lamb into a ziploc bag and add vegetable oil, cooking wine, soy sauce, minced garlic, cumin powder, cayenne pepper, cumin seeds (optional), and salt. Press the air out of the bag and seal tightly. Press the marinade around the lamb to coat. Place in the fridge to marinate at least 30 minutes or overnight, to infuse all the seasoning and spices into the meat.
Next, thread the lamb onto skewers. Depending on the size of your skewers, you should be able to thread 6 skewers with 6-7 pieces of lamb on each.
Finally, it's time to grill. Preheat grill (or grill pan) over medium high heat for 4-5 minutes and lightly brush the grill with remaining vegetable oil. Grill the skewers for 10-15 minutes (rotating every few minutes), or until the internal temperature of the lamb reaches 155 F (or 160 F for well done). Near the end of grilling, sprinkle some more cumin seeds on top.
Serve hot with an extra sprinkle of cayenne pepper, if desired.
How to Cook Lamb Skewers in the Oven
To cook spicy cumin lamb skewers in the oven instead, simply place the skewers on a baking tray and bake at 440 F for 15 minutes, rotating the skewers halfway.
How to Cook Lamb Skewers in the Air Fryer
To cook spicy cumin lamb skewers in the air fryer, cook them (unskewered) at 375 F for 15 minutes, shaking the basket halfway. Once done, leave the basket in the air fryer for another 2 minutes, as it will continue to cook with the residual heat.
Tips for Making Lamb Skewers
- Marinate the lamb. It is crucial to let the lamb marinate for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavours to infuse into the mean and to tenderize the meat, aka making it juicier. If you have the time, I recommend marinating it even longer or overnight for the best results.
- How to adjust the spiciness level. These skewers are spicy. For a milder taste, add just 1 teaspoon of cayenne powder or even less, depending on your personal preference. If you want them extra spicy, add up to 1 tablespoon.
- How to make the lamb even more tender. Turn off the heat and remove the the grill from heat a couple minutes earlier, when the internal temperature reaches 150 F (5 degrees lower than the desired level). Let it rest for a few minutes in the pan as the residual heat will continue to cook the skewers. Resting after cooking helps the juices redistribute into the meat. Once the internal temperature reaches 155 F, remove from the pan and serve.
- Use a digital thermometer. A digital meat thermometer is very useful when grilling meat skewers for checking doneness. Simply insert halfway inside the meat to get a quick measurement.
- Make extra. This is a smaller batch recipe that makes 6 skewers. Simply double or triple the recipe to feed a hungry crowd.
- How to serve. Serve this alongside a fresh Chinese garlic cucumber salad.
- How to store. Unthread the lamb and store it in an airtight container for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.
More Grilled Skewer Recipes
- Greek Souvlaki Lamb Skewers
- Chicken Satay Skewers with Peanut Sauce
- Easy Greek Chicken Souvlaki Skewers
- Souvlaki Beef Shish Kebabs
- Teriyaki Chicken Skewers with Pineapple
- Persian Saffron Chicken Kebabs (Joojeh Kabob)
Did you make this recipe? I would greatly appreciate a comment and rating below, letting me know what you thought of the recipe. You can also snap a picture and tag me on Instagram @aheadofthyme or share it on the Pinterest pin so that I can follow along.