How to soak wooden skewers

Updated April 17, 2017

Most everyone who has ever grilled or eaten grilled food is familiar with the skewer: a long wooden or metal pole that holds various vegetables and meat to form a shish kebab. Those who have cooked with skewers, however, know how quickly a skewer can scorch if not previously soaked in water. Follow these instructions to ensure quality grilling every time.

Fill a bucket or pan with liquid. You can use all water; this is the most common and accomplishes the basic purposes of soaking skewers. However, you can also soak skewers in beer, juice, wine or other liquid to impart some of the flavour to the skewers. Fill the bucket or pan halfway with water, then top off the liquid with your choice of liquid.

Soak the skewers. Anywhere from 30 minutes to 24 hours before you begin grilling food on skewers, place the skewers down into the pan or bucket. The skewers should completely submerge below the surface so that there is no part of the skewers protruding above the surface. If you are soaking the skewers for a long period of time, such as more than four to six hours, check the skewers to ensure they are not getting pliable under the water.

Remove the skewers and load with food. Once you are ready to grill, drain the liquid from the skewers and line them with various meats, vegetables or other foods. Place them close together, as the spaces left between some food may burn in the intense heat of the grill. Although soaking should prevent the skewers from burning, ensure the kebabs are full before placing on the grill. Once cooking, turn the skewers delicately; wood is more fragile than metal skewers, and the skewers could easily break if you do not exercise caution. Grill until the meat is finished and the vegetables are tender.


Some recommend using metal skewers instead of wooden skewers, since wooden skewers can easily splinter or burn. However, soaking skewers in water helps prevent this from occurring. Buy the thicker, sturdier skewers for grilling. If you buy the cheap and thin type, the skewers will likely splinter and break no matter how long they spend soaking.


Do not let the skewers soak for longer than 24 hours. Too long underwater will make the skewers soft and pliable, and they will no longer hold up under the intense heat of a grill.

Things You'll Need

  • Water or other liquid
  • Bucket or pan
  • Wooden skewers
  • Grill
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About the Author

Jack Stone, a 25-year-old freelance writer, has been writing professionally since 2009 for sites such as eHow, Golflink and Trails. He holds a Bachelor of Theology from Ozark Christian College, a certificate to teach English to speakers of other languages from Biola University and a Masters of Arts degree from Wheaton College.