Russian grilling and barbecue can be summarized in one word — shashlik. In Russian speaking countries, shashlik (or the plural shashliki) is used both as a noun and as a verb. Shashlik literally means skewered meat. Going for shashliki often refers to an outdoor grilling party or get-together. It is as much about the process as it is about eating.

Shashliki are a cultural phenomenon in Russia and many other former Soviet countries. Roasting meat in the outdoors is the epitome of summer fun. During the hot summer months, thousands of families leave the hustle and bustle of city life for the countryside to enjoy some rest, relaxation and shashliki.

There’s just something about the fresh air of the woods that makes you extra hungry for a delicious, mouthwatering piece of freshly grilled shashlik.

What’s so special about Shashlik?

Shashlik is the Russian version of a shish kebab, and is traditionally prepared with lamb.  Fresh meat is cut into chunks, marinaded overnight in a variety of sauces and threaded onto a metal skewer. Skewers are then cooked on an open coal grill called mangal.

Grilling pros and meat lovers swear that the secret to an excellent shashlik is the marinade. Marinades help break down the tough proteins often found in lamb meat, leaving the juicy and tender and ready for grilling.

Popular Shashlik Marinades

Whether you’ve got an hour or a day before your big shashlik grilling party, make sure you leave some time to prep and marinade the meat. There is no shortage of sauces, marinades and home-made concoctions to flavor the meat.

Many shashlik veterans swear by fresh pomegranate juice, kefir, citrus, and myriad of native Caucus wines that enhance the meat’s flavor.

Whether you soak the meat in wine, knead it with oil, drench it in kefir, make sure you give it enough time to absorb. Once the meat absorbs the marinade, it will stay juicy and tender as you cook it on the open fire.

TIP: Keep the coals burning red hot so that the outside of the meat has a chance to char. The best shashlik is tender on the inside and slightly blackened on the outside.

To experience the true taste of shashlik, don’t forget the gourmet sauce.

Traditional Shashlik Sauces

Traditional sauces for shashlik include tkemali and satsebeli.

Tkemali is a classic Georgian sour plum sauce made from both red and green plum varieties. It has a pungently tart flavor which balances out the gaminess of the shashlik meat. The plums are seasoned with bold spices like coriander, chili pepper and garlic. You can order a classic Kinto Tkemali “Shashlik” sauce for just $5.99 for a 10.58oz bottle.

Traditional Tkemali Shashlik Sauce

Satsebeli is an exotic tomato sauce made from fresh vegetables, garden green herbs, and seasoned with garlic and aromatic spices. It’s an ideal pairing for shashlik or any other meat, chicken, fish and even macaroni dishes. Spiced, but not too spicy, satsebeli has a distinctly bright and bold flavor. Pick up a bottle of authentic Satsebeli Sauce for just $3.99 for your next grilling party.

Classic Satsebeli Shashlik Sauce

If you’re feeling adventurous, try the Kinto Pomegranate Sauce. Made from wild pomegranates, this sauce has a deliciously tangy flavor and can be used either as a sauce or a meat marinade. Available at for $8.99 per bottle.

Pomegranate Sauce for Russian Shashlik

We hope you enjoy the last weeks of summer with your friends and family, making exquisite traditional shashlik. Got a favorite shashlik sauce or recipe? Send us a message or share it on Facebook.