Skewers

Published July 1, 2013. From Cook's Illustrated.

We got grilling with six different sets to find the best of the bunch.

Overview:

We’ve been burned by skewers before. Bamboo and wood scorches; super-thin double prongs are flimsy; smooth, rounded prongs let food spin in place when you’re trying to flip it. Still, manufacturer innovations promise improvement, so we gathered six sets ($6.85 to $29.95), including our previous no-frills favorite, and threaded them with chicken-vegetable kebabs; scallops; and kofte, a kebab of ground meat and herbs. Metal was best, but solid tab handles on one set retained heat, so serving was a burn risk; loop handles on our two favorite models dispersed heat quickly. One model’s “heat-resistant” plastic slider melted. Double-pronged skewers splayed out awkwardly, so threading them through food was a struggle. Their thickness also tore tender scallops. Curved rods occupied too much grill real estate, tangled easily, and only let us turn food 180 degrees. We’ll stick with our former champ: Not only does it have the smartest design, but it’s also the cheapest.

We’ve been burned by skewers before. Bamboo and wood scorches; super-thin double prongs are flimsy; smooth, rounded prongs let food spin in place when you’re trying to flip it. Still, manufacturer innovations promise improvement, so we gathered six sets ($6.85 to $29.95), including our previous no-frills favorite, and threaded them with chicken-vegetable kebabs; scallops; and kofte, a kebab of ground meat and herbs. Metal was best, but solid tab handles on one set retained heat, so serving was a burn risk; loop handles on our two favorite models dispersed heat quickly. One model’s “heat-resistant” plastic slider melted. Double-pronged skewers splayed out awkwardly, so threading them through food was a struggle. Their thickness also tore tender scallops. Curved rods occupied too much grill real estate, tangled easily, and only let us turn food 180 degrees. We’ll stick with our former champ: Not only does it have the smartest design, but it’s also the cheapest.

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  • Product Tested

    Results Key:

    Good ★ ★ ★ Fair ★ ★ Poor
  • Prices are subject to change.
  • Highly Recommended - Winner

    Norpro 12-Inch Stainless Steel Skewers

    The only set to ace every task, these thin, flat stainless steel spears supported thick kebabs, threaded delicate scallops without tearing them, and turned easily. Plus, their looped handles cooled quickly.

    • Durability ★★★
    • Ease of Use ★★★

    $6.85 for six

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  • Recommended with Reservations

    Weber Original Kabob Set

    With large loop handles and wide, flat prongs, these looked like jumbo versions of our winner and made turning food particularly easy. Unfortunately, their broad surface also came at a cost: It tore scallops when we used two at a time (a single skewer didn’t prevent scallops from spinning on the axis).

    • Durability ★★★
    • Ease of Use ★★

    $21.99 for six, plus rack

  • Recommended with Reservations

    Cuisinart Stainless Steel Skewers

    The major downfall of these simply designed, thick, flat prongs was their handles—solid steel tabs that retained heat for many minutes. Testers had to wait for the handles to cool to remove food without burning their fingers, which meant that the food cooled considerably before it could be eaten.

    • Durability ★★★
    • Ease of Use ★★

    $12.99 for six

  • Recommended with Reservations

    Rösle Stainless Steel Skewer Set

    These sturdy, hefty, and pricey rods were the better of the two double-pronged skewers we tested, but the prongs still splayed out or pinched in as we tried to thread them through food. Their solid metal handles also retained heat longer than any other model.

    • Durability ★★★
    • Ease of Use ★½

    $29.95 for six

  • Not Recommended

    Charcoal Companion Circle Kabobs

    Prioritizing style over substance, these skewers are designed to match the curve of a plate for presentation. As a result, they hogged grill space, were prone to tangling, limited our turning options, and were nearly impossible to double skewer. Their nonstick coating also scratched.

    • Durability ★★
    • Ease of Use ½

    $8.99 for four

  • Not Recommended

    Sliders by Quirky

    These double prongs come fitted with a plastic sliding guide to push cooked food off—which promptly melted from the grill’s heat and fused to the rest of the handle. Worse, the prongs were flimsy and splayed out when we threaded them through food.

    • Durability ½
    • Ease of Use ★½

    $24.99 for four

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